Proverbs 11:3-11Authorized (King James) Version
3 The integrity of the upright shall guide them:
but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
4 Riches profit not in the day of wrath:
but righteousness delivereth from death.
5 The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way:
but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.
6 The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them:
but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.
7 When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish:
and the hope of unjust men perisheth.
8 The righteous is delivered out of trouble,
and the wicked cometh in his stead.
9 An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour:
but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
10 When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth:
and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.
11 By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted:
but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
Practical wisdom for righteous living comes to us through the length and the breadth of the Bible, especially in Jesus’ example, and also by way of the people around us—wise leaders and mentors of all kinds in our family and community.
Our memories of good, helpful people and their ways of modeling moral living, dealing with life, can be an indescribably great blessing. Righteous people often easily share wisdom by word and example in ways that make an impact on us.
Remembering how a friend modeled calm, dealt wisely with difficulties in his or her life can be highly inspirational and instructive. Remembering how someone walked with and trusted God in their easiest, hardest days is deeply motivating.
We are truly blessed when we can easily remember righteous people who have imparted wisdom to us.
Among those coming to my mind is a dear friend who in their last days held tightly to the words of Scripture in Matthew 5:8 Amplified ……
“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God.
He challenged me to preach them to others upon his death — at his funeral!
People’s words accompanied by righteous living make for blessed memories.
Rabbi Jesus’ example of model living by teaching the way of wisdom through his Beatitudes—and the good examples of the people who have followed him since those ancient days —make all the difference for us, in life and in death.
In Proverbs 11, God says He is calling for His people to be men and women of legend.
He is calling us to be people known for our integrity.
People who can’t be bought, “living by unbalanced weights and scales.”
People who stand and live by what is moral and correct – for righteousness in a land that is filled, overwhelmed by imbalanced scales, with evil and corruption.
In Micah 6:8 God declares:
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
So, what God says He expects from us is…
• And a Humble Spirit
All that and being a man and a woman who walks “a balanced” life with God
He calls us to be legends in our world.
And so here in Proverbs 11 God tells us what a righteous person looks like.
As God often did in the book Proverbs God draws a contrast between the righteous and the wicked.
Verse 3 says “The integrity of the UPRIGHT guides them, but the UNFAITHFUL are destroyed by their duplicity.
Verse 5 says “The righteousness of the BLAMELESS makes a straight way for them, but the WICKED are brought down by their own wickedness.”
In verse 6 “The RIGHTEOUSNESS of the upright delivers them, but the UNFAITHFUL are trapped by evil desires.”
Verse 8 declares: “The RIGHTEOUS man is rescued from trouble, and it comes on the WICKED instead.
Verse 9 says: “With his mouth the GODLESS destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the RIGHTEOUS escape.
In verse 10 it says “When the RIGHTEOUS prosper, the city rejoices; when the WICKED perish, there are shouts of joy.
And in verse 11 God says: Through the blessing of the UPRIGHT a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the WICKED it is destroyed.
Are you and I catching the compare and contrast pattern being taught here?
God is saying:
• These people are the righteous… those aren’t.
• These folks have integrity… those folks don’t.
• God loves the good guys… He despises those other guys.
• The upright He protects and honors… but the wicked will be trapped and destroyed.
God is making a comparison. And He’s telling us: MAKE A CHOICE.
MAKE A CHOICE:
Live upright for God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit or ‘upright’ for the WORLD.
His message is crystal clear: DECIDE what kind of person we are going to be!
What I believe God said to me was this:
Those who respected the God of the Bible were more likely to embrace balance and the righteousness only found through Jesus Christ than those who didn’t.
To paraphrase the great writer Dostoyevsky, once you remove the God of Scripture from your life… “everything is permissible”.
Those who reject God’s righteousness do so because it interferes “too much” with “the adrenaline rushes” they themselves want to risk doing in their lives.
It’s kind of like a conversation I had with a homeless man seeking “recovery.”
He complained, “I’ve been doing some very risky things in my life, and I know it, Tom, my conscience is always troubling me, it just won’t leave me alone.”
I asked him, “And you want something that will strengthen your will power?”
The man replied, “Well, no, I was actually thinking of doing some things even more risky than before – an impulse to risk weakening my conscience more.”
Ask yourself, your neighbor, how many people don’t want God’s righteousness?
How many members of our family, how any friends and neighbors simply want something that will make them feel better about their own unrighteousness?
How many churches desire or “prefer” or want that ‘something’ that will make them feel better about what they perceive is the “other guys” unrighteousness?
The Religious Leaders of Jesus time repeatedly tried to trap Jesus so they could discredit him and discredit his message and greatly weaken his moral integrity.
Never did they succeed.
They only ended up embarrassing themselves in front of the people witnessing the exchange. In the eyes of these beholders, they all weakened their credibility.
As a Lay Pastor, I have been repeatedly asked if I would preach against certain “hotter than the sun” hot button topics?
I told them I preach God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!
I preach the Gospel based upon my own ability to interpret God’s Scriptures.
The rest I leave unto God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!
Because God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is going to do what God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is going to do.
Maybe God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit uses what I said and perhaps they will not. God knows what change I want to see in their hearts.
We bring our own biases and prejudices into our own witness and testimonies.
Without fail, we consciously, sub-consciously, will always bring our biases, and prejudices to church every Sunday and we will “righteously” settle in our pews.
Maybe we are inspired, maybe we are not.
Maybe our conscience is “tickled,” “poked, stabbed, with a really sharp sword.”
Maybe we will ‘change’ our biases and prejudices – but just as likely we won’t.
But what change I desperately want to see in their hearts is most definitely not the same change God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit KNOWS is needed in their hearts.
My words will only go “skin deep,” have no power to go any deeper than that.
God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit filters out all the minutiae.
Only the power of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – possesses that power.
There is nothing we can ever do to stop God from being God. (Hebrews 13:8)
Hebrews 4:12Amplified Bible
12 For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged [a]sword, penetrating as far as the division of the [b]soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Isaiah 55:10-11Amplified Bible
“For as the rain and snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth,
Making it bear and sprout,
And providing seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
So will My word be which goes out of My mouth;
It will not return to Me void (useless, without result),
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
People are always going to do whatever is “right in their own minds.”
However, the Word of God for His Children has a different standard for us:
Exodus 23:2 says, “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”
Wrong is wrong, even if you do not follow the crowd, and don’t get caught!
Proverbs 15:3 warns “the eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good”.
We cannot possibly do anything that God does not know “everything” about!
Wrong is wrong, even if it doesn’t bother your Conscience!
The conscience can be trained to accept wrongdoing.
You can build up a callous over your heart.
Ephesians 4:18 tells us what happens to people who live in sin long enough:
“They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”
WRONG IS WRONG.
And God does not accept excuses.
God calls for… no, He DEMANDS righteousness from His people.
He demands an upright heart –
Psalm 51:4-6Authorized (King James) Version
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done this evil in thy sight:
that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest,
and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity;
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
To those who would choose wickedness, God says:
• The LORD’s curse will be on your house. Proverbs 3:33
• You’ll be brought down by your own wickedness. Proverbs 11:5
• You’ll be trapped by your evil desires.” Proverbs 11:6
• And, when you die… people will rejoice. Proverbs 11:10
But if you choose righteousness… that’s a whole different ball game.
God will bless you.
• God will hear your prayers. Proverbs 15:29
• You’ll sing and you’re glad – you’ll be a happy person. Proverbs 29:6
• You won’t go hungry. Proverbs 10:3
• You might get knocked down 7 times but each time you will get back up again. Proverbs 24:16
So… God calls His people to righteousness.
But there’s a fly in the ointment.
There’s a problem we run into when we strive to be righteous.
Does anybody know what that problem is???
Romans 3:10 says “There is NO ONE righteous, not even one”
Job 9:2 agrees: “… how can a mortal be righteous before God?”
The fly in the ointment is
– NO ONE is righteous before God.
We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
So, let me see if I’ve got this right:
1. God wants me to be righteous
2. I want to be righteous
3. But I cannot be righteous, because NO ONE ever is righteous.
Did I understand that correctly???
(Pause) Yes I did.
So, if I cannot be righteous, why would God demand it of me?
Why? Because God sets the bar too high.
He says – that “too high a standard” – this is what we are aiming for.
He’s not saying we are always going to reach it, but that is our objective.
Philippians 3:7-16Authorized (King James) Version
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 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: 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also, I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
We are going to touch the bar now and again, but there’s no way we will consistently, constantly, continuously be able attain that goal in our life.
The Bible is telling us we’re not in the same league with God.
You and I will never come close to being as righteous as God.
As Job 9:2 says: “… how can a mortal be righteous before God?”
We are not on the same playing field as God is.
We do not have any bragging rights to say we have been righteous enough to DESERVE to be on His team.
That’s why Ephesians 2 tells us
“Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved… not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:3-5, 8-10
So, not righteous enough to be saved.
But if that’s true, how could I possibly make it into heaven?
Well, that’s what 2 Corinthians 5:21 explains to us:
“God made him who had no sin (Jesus) to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Philippians 3:9 says You and I do not have
“a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ— the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
Or as 2 Corinthians 5:21 put it “God made him who had no sin (Jesus) to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
So, how do You and I get “INTO Jesus so I lay hold of His righteousness?”
Galatians 3:26-27 says,
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
You see, when you and I believed and were baptized into Christ, we suited up for His team.
When that happened, God called us to live lives dedicated to righteousness.
But in the righteous life we strive for, we need to realize that we will not get into heaven by any measure or degree our own righteousness… but ONLY by His.
The Difference Between our “Roots and our Fruits?”
Ephesians 2:1-10Amplified Bible
Made Alive in Christ
2 And you [He made alive when you] were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you once walked. You were following the ways of this world [influenced by this present age], in accordance with the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit who is now at work in the disobedient [the unbelieving, who fight against the purposes of God]. 3 Among these [unbelievers] we all once lived in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by the sinful self-], indulging the desires of [a]human nature [without the Holy Spirit] and [the impulses] of the [sinful] mind. We were, by nature, children [under the sentence] of [God’s] wrath, just like the rest [of mankind]. 4 But God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace—His undeserved favor and mercy—you have been saved from God’s judgment). 6 And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, 7 [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption]. 8 For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; 9 not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. 10 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].
The English politician William Wilberforce is best known for his efforts to end slavery in the British Empire.
It was a decades-long struggle, but abolition was finally accomplished.
Wilberforce not only had great determination; he was able to discern spiritual truth.
He was perplexed that many who considered themselves Christian supported the slave trade, which he believed was in opposition to Christian faith.
In response he wrote A Practical View of Christianity to show the danger of making good behavior the basis for salvation.
Can we imagine any politician today calling for social reform by making direct appeals to Christian doctrine? That’s what Wilberforce did. He rightly pointed out that good works do not create new life in Jesus; they only demonstrate it.
The “Root” – People who consider themselves “good” but do not abide in Jesus Christ are risking placing more of their trust in their own work than in God’s.
But the only possible result is nominal Christianity—surface-level goodness without internal renewal. That’s why Jesus called the Pharisees, who were undoubtedly very good people, “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27).
Obedience is the fruit, not the root, of being accepted by God.
Work hard and labor much with God at integrity.
Work hard and labor much at being good, but always remember that your good works and your labors only the “show the incomparable riches of God’s grace.”
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Lord, Savior, Jesus Christ, thank you that you are the resurrection and the life, death holds no power over you. In your name, you have gathered your people to form the church. Your life and love are seen in the life and love of Christians within that church. May your church be like a city on a hill, shining your light into the darkness of the world. Neither death or life, angels or rulers, things present or future, height or depth, or anything else in all creation, will be able to separate your people from your love. Through your mighty name, Gloria! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.