Skip to comments.Hey, Iím Not A Bad Person!
Posted on 11/15/2013 8:03:20 AM PST by WXRGina
Once, when I was talking to a friend about the Christian doctrine of salvation, he told me he didnt feel like he needed to be saved. Ive never done anything seriously bad, like stealing or murdering. And whenever Ive hurt anyone, Ive always apologized and made amends. No one needs to die for my sins. This attitude is fairly common. Lots of people dont think of themselves as sinful because they equate sin with specific anti-social or criminal acts.
To their way of thinking, sin is bad because it violates moral or civil standards of behavior. So, if they are responsible members of their community, living according to the civilized rules of society, they dont see themselves as sinful. This attitude fits nicely into relativism. If moral and civil standards are subject to change, according to how society evolves, then concepts such as good and evil are equally subject to change. A sin in one society or culture may or may not be identified as sin in another society or culture.
Often, those who equate sin with specific sinful acts (transgressions of the law) point to various Old Testament laws against acts that are no longer considered sinful by most people today (such as the eating of certain unclean foods). If those things are no longer sins (they argue) then the Biblical standard for sin is obsolete not absolute, as Christians argue.
But this thinking does not reveal the Biblical concept of sin. The Pharisees were an ancient Jewish sect who were known for their strict (legalistic) obedience to all the Jewish laws (about 613 of them). As a result, they had a reputation for being the most righteous Jews. But Jesus pointed out that sinlessness wasnt a matter of perfect legal or religious behavior. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).
Notice Jesus said that even if those sins are dealt with satisfactorily (as in the case of the scribes and Pharisees) a person still wont be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. Its not only a persons sins that will keep him from going to heaven, but his sinfulness the intrinsic sinful nature we all share, which separates us from God. If we hope to ever be with God, we must be holy, because God is holy. This message appears several times in the book of Leviticus and is repeated in 1 Peter 1:16.
Someone reading this might be thinking, No ones perfect. God should know. He made us this way. But thats only half-true. Yes, no ones perfect. But though we were made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26), we chose to rebel against God. We chose to sin. On hearing this, a lot of people get bent out of shape. Im not evil!, they insist. Im not doing anything wrong! Maybe it would help to examine a Bible story about pride. God considered this particular sin so egregious that he divided the one people of the earth into many peoples each with its own language. They were forced into being separated and going their own ways a pretty extreme measure.
The story of the tower of Babel is considered a myth by those who choose not to believe it. And if that includes the reader, I ask that you suspend your disbelief long enough to grasp the Biblical concept of sin, as it is illustrated in this story. First of all, for some historical perspective, the destruction of the tower of Babel occurred during the lifetime of Peleg (in his days the earth was divided, Genesis 10:25). According to my computations based on Genesis 11:10-18, I determined that Peleg was born 101 years after the flood and that when he was 30, his son Reu was born. That means the destruction of the tower of Babel occurred sometime between 101 and 131 years after the flood. (If it had occurred after Reu was born, the Scripture would say that the world was divided in Reus lifetime, not Pelegs.)
This means that Noah was still alive at the time, because Genesis 9:28 tells us Noah lived another 350 years after the flood. The significance of this is that those who decided to build the tower of Babel apparently ignored the option of consulting the wise counsel of the oldest man living a man who had walked with God (Genesis 6:9). Granted, there was migration to take into account, but we also know that traveling great distances was not unknown in Biblical times. Also, as cited later, God called them one people, which implies at the very least a familiarity with Noah and the story of the flood. Surely those who had survived the flood would have remembered Gods judgement against the wickedness of Man and would have advised against the hubris that motivated the builders of the tower of Babel.
Noah was Pelegs great, great, great-grandfather (Noah Shem Arpachshad Shelah Eber Peleg). In Pelegs day, the story of the flood had apparently lost its freshness. It was yesterdays news, old and irrelevant. As always, for the younger generation, that was then, this is now. They had big plans. In Genesis 11:4 they said, Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name . They werent just aspiring to greatness. Their aim in building their tower was to create a reputation a name that would put them above all others. We see their focus in a repeated phrase: let us build for ourselves let us make for ourselves.
At that time Noahs name and reputation would have still been large. Also, Nimrod had a big name: a mighty hunter before the LORD (Genesis 10:9). But even Nimrod was older than Pelegs generation. He was only three generations removed from Noah (Ham Cush Nimrod). The younger folks who conspired to build the tower of Babel wanted to make a new big name a name for themselves and for their generation. They wanted to leave names like Noah and Nimrod far behind them and reach even higher heights.
So, why was that a bad thing? Wasnt it nothing more than the desire to excel and achieve? To answer that you have to know what was in their hearts. What motivated them is the issue. The act itself of building a tower wasnt sinful at all. But the desire of their hearts was. After God sized up what they were doing, he said in Genesis 11:6, Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. God saw their unity (they are one people) and knew that together they could achieve whatever they wanted. Again, God did not see this as a good thing because they were doing it for no other reason than to exalt themselves.
God is not opposed to progress, excellence or achievement. He is opposed to rebellion against him. The building of the tower of Babel was nothing short of rebellion against God. When God said, this is what they began to do, he was referring to making a tower for themselves that reached into heaven as if to say they were gods themselves. They literally wanted to put themselves in the place of God, using all the resources of their unity to achieve a goal that fed their own self-interest. This is clearly understood because had their plans been intended to glorify God, they would have made that clear. What they did make clear is that they were doing it for themselves.
Because of our sinful nature, exalting our self-interest is rebellion against God. Looking at self-interest in this way helps us to understand verses like 1 John 2:15, Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. What this means is that we are to love God more than the world, more than our self- interests. Its all about our priorities, because when we consider God and his purposes above our self-interest, he supplies us with all the blessings of life. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). So, even though we deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23) we receive abundant life from God (John 10:10).
Life from Gods perspective is putting him first, last and always. Death is the consequence of not doing so. And that is what Eve doubted when the serpent lied, You will surely not die. For God knows that when you eat of it [the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4, 5). There was just enough truth in the serpents lie to deceive the unwary Eve. Eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil did indeed open her eyes, but as God had warned, it also brought death. Why? Because the knowledge of good and evil can only be handled by an infinitely perfect, eternal, holy, righteous God, not a disobedient humanity, looking to satisfy its own self-interests.
But, the good news is that just as self-interest is turning away from God, repentance is turning back to God. Maybe you see yourself like those builders of the tower of Babel. Maybe youve got your own project, your own castle in the air, your own self-interest. Take an honest moment to consider. Is it self-serving or God-serving? If your way isnt Gods way, its rebellion against God, even if it doesnt seem wrong at the time. But you arent the judge, nor am I. God is our judge, and his word tells us what sin is. Dont let pride get in the way. If there is any meaning to the phrase give back, then consider giving back your heart and life to the One who gave it to you in the first place. Give your life to God and you will not lose it, you will find it (Matthew 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24).
I thought that the moral of the story (tower of Babel) was that they were claiming they could reach heaven and have personal conversations with God.
Christ himself said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)”
So, all you righteous folks, go your ways. Jesus didn’t come for you.
Just be sure you’re really really righteous, though, mmm-kay? Hate for you to have a nasty surprise later.
“Just how ‘good’ and ‘righteous’ do you need to be to escape hell and how do you know that for sure?”
It all comes back to “how do you know”. If it’s a self-defined standard, how do you know it’s correct? Willing to bet eternity on it?
this is an essential part of the “blindness.”
all flavors of leftist/liberal carry this belief in their own essential “goodness.”
Here, Jesus seems to be saying that being more righteousness than the scribes and Pharisees is a necessary (but not necessarily sufficient) precondition for entering the kingdom of heaven.
And then the chapter closes with "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," thus implying that it is, in fact, perhaps sufficient, since no other requirements are listed (rather, only "examples" of "perfection," like being "nice" by, e.g., forgiving others, etc.).
No mention is made of any sacrifice made by Jesus, himself, or others being also necessary.
Salvation through good works, eh?
Genesis 11:6, Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.
The population of the U.S. exceeds 300 million; at least a quarter of a billion of its citizens have English as a mother-tongue; The U.S. is a 1st World Nation possessing lots of high-tech. If God was "worried" about a few (at most) hundred thousand Bronze Age people who all spoke a single language - if "nothing would be impossible" for them - shouldn't that be even truer of the U.S.? Thus, necessarily, God should again intervene and "punish our rebellion." Yet, our high-tech endeavors are still succeeding. Ditto every other high-tech nation.
They didn't need to build a tower to have personal conversations with God. That wasn't what they were doing. Their efforts were toward reaching heaven to make themselves equal with God, just like Satan tried.
“I thought that the moral of the story (tower of Babel) was that they were claiming they could reach heaven and have personal conversations with God.”
No. “....let us make a name for ourselves....” They were trying to usurp the position of He who would later become known as Hashem (The Name).
The implication of Matthew 5:20 is that no one can be righteous through his own efforts. That’s where Jesus comes in. He is our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30) when we receive him.
In order to understand that assertion, I would have to understand how the word "is" is being used in it - certainly not in the usual sense of "equality."
In other words, what does it mean to say that "He IS our righteousness?"
Does the quote perhaps means that Jesus somehow "confers" righteousness upon us? That he "imbues" us with righteousness?
That would be less puzzling than saying that he IS our righteousness.
In my opinion, a personal trait or quality of being cannot be conferred, and a substitute sacrifice (for it would have to be his "perfect sacrifice" - not his mere existence - that effects the forgiveness of sin) could not truly expatiate the sins of another.
But that's just my reading.
But was there ever any real possibility of their achieving that goal? If not, why then was it necessary for God to intercede?
This is a false premise. The Pharisees are not known for strict obedience to the Torah.The 'legalism' of the Pharisees is their tradition - they did not keep the Torah.
No, the explicit and outright example in Matt 5 is that religious power in the hands of men corrupts the purpose of true religion - There is not one thing that Yeshua railed at the Pharisees for that was not added onto or taken away from the Torah. Theirs was a false righteousness that comes from lording one's 'perfection' over others. Think 'church lady'.
They certainly cannot be held up as 'being righteous' according to the Torah, because they did not keep the Torah. Their traditions had made it null.
If you’re asking me, I have to refer to Romans 3:10-12 and Isaiah 64:6.
“Filthy rags” refers to what those ancient Israelites used in place of toilet paper. Or maxi-pads. Either way, nasty. Not what I want to hold up in front of God, saying “see this? Now let me into Heaven!”
Elsewhere— the reference escapes me for the moment— the Bible speaks of our being “clothed in His righteousness”— our sin covered and no longer seen. Hope that helps :)
Why cast down Lucifer, who had no way of achieving his boast?
Christ is our righteousness because we are found IN Him:
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3:9)
So, yes, faith IN Christ places us IN Him and HIS righteousness is conferred upon us. Whatever righteousness we have can never be sufficient to make us right with God. Christ died so that HIS righteousness is credited to us - those who have received His gift of eternal life through faith.
He mentions the Scribes, because they were the more learned part of the people, who were employed in writing out, and expounding the law; and the Pharisees, because they were the strictest sect among the Jews for outward religion and righteousness; and yet, it seems, their righteousness was very defective; it lay only in an external observance of the law; did not arise from a purified heart, or the principles of grace; nor was it performed sincerely, and with a view to the glory of God; but for their own applause, and in order to obtain eternal life: besides, they neglected the weightier matters of the law, and contented themselves with the lesser ones; and as they were deficient in their practice, so they were very lax in their doctrines, as appears from the foregoing verse.
Wherefore Christ informs his hearers, that they must have a better righteousness than these men had, if ever they expected to enter into the kingdom of heaven. There will be no admission into heaven without a righteousness: it was the loss of righteousness which removed Adam out of his earthly paradise; and it is not agreeable to the justice of God, to admit man into his heavenly paradise without one; yea, it is contrary to his nature, and would be destructive to the comfort of saints, to receive an unrighteous person into his kingdom and glory. A "pharisaical" righteousness will never bring a person thither; nor will any righteousness of man's, be it what it will, because the best is imperfect; it must be a righteousness exceeding that of the Scribes and Pharisees; and such is the righteousness of the saints: indeed their inherent righteousness, or the sanctification of the Spirit, is preferable to any righteousness of a natural man; it exceeds it in its author, nature, effects, and usefulness; yea, even works of righteousness done by believers are greatly preferable to any done by such men as are here mentioned: but, above all, the righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to them, and received by faith, is infinitely more excellent in its author, perfection, purity, and use; and which is their only right and title to eternal glory; and without which no man will be admitted into that glorious state. http://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/matthew/5.htm
Perhaps what fascinates me about His solution to our condemnation is to identify faith as the salvific element.
Think about it.
How do you communicate to a human lacking a regenerated human spirit, what is provided in His sacrifice on the Cross?
That, in itself, is a miraculous work.
Unfortunately for us, many people might think the Lake of Fire as an eternal punishment is too dire a fate for those fallen. The human condition will provide proof positive to all Creation that the past Judgment was not only necessary, but righteous and just and necessary so that those who remain faithful might not have their rewards stolen from them by the same adversaries sentenced to the Lake of Fire.
Is this it?
I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 8:12)
One must be taken to Mt Sinai first to be presented God’s Holiness as expressed in His Law. Once we are convicted we are seriously lacking, one must be taken to Mt Zion for deliverance by the shed Blood of Christ.
In Acts 10 there were no hands laid on Cornelius and his household to receive the Holy Spirit.
What amazes me the most is that God was willing to humble Himself and become a man so that we could be redeemed. His love and mercy endures forever. Hallelujah!
2 Corinthians 5:
21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Amen! Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
And that just proves the point, doesn't it?
Every command ever issued by God was for our good. The law emphasizes this. God gives a law. We break the law. Our rebellion shows that we don't want the things that are for our good.
Here is another of those Hebraisms that expands the meaning the scriptures:
To 'destroy' and to 'fulfill' had an idiomatic meaning in rabbinical terms. To 'destroy' was to interpret the Torah incorrectly. To 'fulfill' was to interpret the Torah correctly. The following oppositional style, 'You have heard it said, but I say...' is a pretty typical delivery of a rabbinic interpretation. Coupled with the excoriation of the Pharisees preceding the lesson, reading Matt 5 in this light gives it a wholly different flavor - It is an hugely political and powerful statement defending the Torah. These were very powerful men, and Yeshua was calling them out.
Does that necessarily negate typical Roman interpretation of the passage? It doesn't need to, except in the idea that Yeshua changed anything - His upbraiding of the Pharisees was followed by a correct interpretation, showing point-by-point examples where the Pharisees certainly had 'destroyed' the Torah.
This is really pretty close - 'Law' means something closer to 'instructions' in Hebrew... Think more along the lines of a father instructing his child in the ways of his House... and of course there is "Fire....Hot... No!" involved in that too ; )
Thank you. I really appreciate your comment. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of understanding. But a lot of the comments to this post are nothing more than vain imaginings.
I think so, too, MetMom. :-)
An interesting commentary. By defending His own Law Jesus Christ was emphasizing Holy, Holy, Holy. Meaning the Law given is God’s Holiness. So other than Jesus Christ present in the discourse all fell and we continue to fall short of this Holiness. Thus the reason the Spotless Lamb of God marched up Mt Zion to deliver us from His wrath.