Tag Archives: Righteousness


Meditations on the Psalms

“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:3 ESV)

People do not understand freedom. This is because everyone, whether they realize it or not, are enslaved to sin. Freedom is not the ability to willfully decide to do either right or wrong but the natural, since we are created in the image of God, ability to always do what is right. God determines righteousness according to His divine character. Originally, He embedded this natural ability for righteousness in those created in His image. However, because of Adam’s sin all are corrupted and now only rebel against God with their whole being. People want to be something other than as they were created by Him. How absurd.

God emphasizes the inflexible thinking of those in rebellion against Him with metaphorical language. To burst bonds apart means to snap or violently separate, to tear apart. To cast away means to throw as far as possible, to hurl or shed, the cords, which is a rope or line like that which binds together, as in removing the shackles which have bound and throwing them away in anger. These people view God as a malevolent despot and tyrant, who has and will never give them anything good, nor allow them to pursue their own desires.

Jesus, declares Himself the only way to God. There is no other way. A rebellious worldview and mindset demands Jesus be wrong. Yet, He, being God the Son, cannot be wrong. He upholds God’s justice and declares emphatically that anyone who naturally sins, is a slave to sin.

Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father. (John 8:34-38 ESV)

It is the enslaved, sinful world which views obedience to God as unnatural, abnormal and untenable. And it is the leaders and teachers of the world which train people to rebel against God in specific ways. The natural tendency to sin is found within everyone from birth. Everyone sins because everyone has the bent to rebel against God. But, there are those who train and encourage people to rebel in distinctive ways and by precise means, justifying their rebellion with intellectual and emotional arguments.

Everyone teaches and trains others. Everyone leads and directs others. They may not think they do but every motivation and action coaches people who you are and, in some minor or major way, affects their inner person.

People think freedom is defined by what they believe is true and their decisions to act in a individual way. Our world has trained its population to believe truth, and the perception of truth, is an personal matter which affects no one else. Yet, everything we see, hear, read, think, feel either directs us toward God or away from Him.

The image of God in man is the natural, eternal essence to do that for which God designed people. He gave the image to people so He might have a relationship with them and so they might intimately know Him. He made us a particular way and for any to not fulfill the original purpose of God for them does not mean they are a free agent but are broken, bent in a way which precludes them every doing that for which they were designed.

Those who are rebelling against God want to reduce Him to insignificance or nonexistence. They want to kill Him, if they could. His righteousness and justice are odious to them. There is no one in hell who wants to be with God just as there is no one in heaven who hates being in His presence. The world believes that abdicating the eternal, created relationship with God will bring freedom, which has no evidence in reality.

God allows sin to continue so those who are called by Him and drawn into His presence will know thoroughly the power of corruption brought by sin. They seek truth and are directed by the Holy Spirit to know and embrace truth with the thinking of their hearts. Those who embrace sin have turned truth on its head, demanding and teaching that which is true is a lie and the lie is the truth.



Meditations on the Psalms

for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:6 ESV)

Righteousness is shown by thought, motive and action. Those who are righteous will think in a righteous way. They will do righteous acts. Their motivation for righteousness will come from their love for God because of His love for them. Created in His image, righteousness is a natural, integral element of the essence of people. However, sin corrupted the vessel making it impossible for people created by God to think and act in a righteous way. It is the thinking of the heart which is known through the actions of the will which shows to whom the individual gives allegiance.

Conversely, those who are wicked are betrayed by their actions. Their motives are known by their actions, or in some instances, their inaction. Sin is not just an action. Sin is also notorious for the willful decision to not confront or restrain evil. Even the corrupted person has the uncorrupted image of God and knows when a motive, thought and action is unrighteous. Wickedness is the willful giving oneself permission to think and act in an ungodly way, justifiably condemned by God.

Jesus, just before His passion, spoke about the final judgment of God. In Matthew 24 and 25 He gives a chilling description of what will happen before and during this final judgment. God, the Son of Man, will finally separate those who are His from those who are not His. He “knows the way of the righteous” and will bring them into His presence. He knows “the way of the wicked” brings His righteous judgment as He drives them from His presence.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:31-32 ESV)

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41 ESV)

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:46 ESV)

God’s righteous judgment is based upon the thinking of the hearts of all people measured against His divine moral law. Read the entire Matthew 24-25 passage. You will see throughout God separating one from another, those who love Him from those who hate Him. Those who love God, doing that which is driven by the righteous thinking of their hearts, will be persecuted by those who are driven by ungodliness and sin. Wickedness will grow and try to overwhelm and destroy righteousness. But, Christ will return to gather to Himself those who are His and to banish from His presence those who war against Him by attacking the righteous.

Jesus illustrates His teaching through the parables which follow. All of the parables speaks about the deepest motivations of the thinking of the hearts of each person. The parable of the ten virgins show those who consciously pursue their relationship with Him versus those who lazily believe they have to do nothing. The parable of the talents illustrates those actively serving God through abandoned devotion to Him are blessed. Those who refuse to serve Him with what He has given lose that which was initially given and their lives. Jesus illustrates this in other places describing salt losing its saltiness. “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:34-35 ESV). God judges the thinking of the heart based upon the evidence of the life.

We are engulfed in a war where those who hate God actively and purposefully choose to rage against Him. Since they cannot touch God they actively and purposefully rage against those who are His. Read carefully the passage in Matthew 5:31-46 and you will see God identifying with people, just as He did trough the physical life of His Son. God’s righteous judgement is against those who refuse to act in a righteous way but instead embrace the world and its refusal to pursue righteousness in every way.


Meditations on the Psalms

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; (Psalm 1:6 ESV)

God gives another parallel statement about the ultimate end of those, beginning with the Deceiver, who rebel against Him and do that which is unrighteous. Stand is a different word than used in the first verse and means to fix oneself, to endure, to validate and prove. Judgment is to stand before a court, to declare your case and receive the judgment and sentence. Congregation is a gathering and righteous means right, correct, justified.

Those who are wicked will not prevail as they present their case before God. Those who are sinners are not included in the community of those who are righteous before God. Since the basis for righteousness is identity with God the Son, Jesus Christ, nothing done by the righteous qualify them for inclusion in the community of believers standing before God.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. … And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12, 15 ESV)

God separates those who are righteous in Jesus Christ from those who disobey His command to follow Christ and continue in their rebellion and sin. Scripture is filled with separation. From the beginning of Genesis to the end of the Apocalypse, God continually separates from Himself those who rebel against Him. Yet, there is even more to separation, which seems like a normal function of the created universe.

In the beginning God separated light from darkness. He separated day from night. He separated waters from waters and the expanse above from the waters below. He separated one species from another, plants and trees and herbs, each with seed according to its kind. He separated animal from animal, fish and birds and the beasts of the field and the livestock. He separated seasons from seasons. He separated Man from the rest of creation, giving Man dominion over the earth.

He made a garden and placed Man in the garden and told him to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lest he be separated from both physical and spiritual life. When man rebelled, God separated Adam and Eve from Himself, from the garden and from each other. He separated Cain from his family when he murdered his brother. He separated Noah from the rest of humanity, whom He then put to death in a flood.

He separated out Abraham, then Isaac then Jacob. He separated out Moses and Joshua. He separated Israel from the rest of the people of the earth, not because Israel was special but because through the people of Israel would come His Son. He separated out David from his brothers, Solomon and the line of Judah. He separated the northern kingdom from the southern kingdom, then He separated the northern kingdom from Israel forever.

He separated out His Son, the disciples, the Church from the world.

Scripture is filled with separations. It is no wonder Psalms begins with a hard separation between the righteous and the wicked.

Separation is a spiritual and eternal principle, woven into the spiritual laws of eternity and natural laws of the physical universe.

Tree of Life

Meditations on the Psalms

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3 ESV)

The Psalmist continues to describe the blessed Man who does not follow the ungodly into their sin but actively seeks to intimately know God through Scripture. We are given an illustration, a metaphor, of who Jesus Christ is in this world and throughout eternity. He is like a tree planted in the one place where that tree will always bear fruit and will always be healthy. The tree is planted next to streams of water for abundant nourishment. It is hard to not think of the trees planted next to the nourishing river coming from the Garden of Eden.

Scripture begins and ends describing the tree of life (see Genesis 2:9) planted in the Garden of Eden. Before the fall, Adam was given permission to eat from the tree of life. After the fall, Adam and all men are excluded from the Garden so they could not eat from the tree of life and live for eternity in their fallen state. “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—’” (Genesis 3:22 ESV). People were created in the image of God for relationship with Him. When sin corrupted that relationship God’s justice required they be excluded from His presence. Yet, God provided a means for people to be righteous before Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God the Son and who is also the perfect Man.

Scripture ends with the tree of life. “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2 ESV). From this tree those who dwell in eternity may eat and be healed.

We have already seen, in Jesus’ response to the temptation of the Deceiver, that “‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus then tells us that “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:53-54 ESV; see John 6:55-58). Jesus Christ is the source of life for those who belong to God. This suggests that Jesus was present in the Garden of Eden as the tree of life. People are now commanded to accept Jesus and in doing so will receive life.

One sin excluded Man from the presence of God. That sin was committed by one man, Adam, when he ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Because of his action all men are condemned. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 ESV; see Romans 5:12-21). So, because of the sacrifice of one Man, Jesus Christ, redemption is offered to all men.

Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many (Romans 5:14-15 ESV).

Adam was a type of Christ. Now, the command is to eat from the tree of life, which is also a type of Christ. One act of disobedience excludes those who disobey from the presence of God. That act of rebellion is to not obey God’s command to eat His flesh and drink His blood. God’s command to all is to eat from the tree of life, which is the body and blood of Christ, and live spiritually with Him in eternity.


Meditations on the Psalms

but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2 ESV)

God has declared one Man righteous because only that one Man has not rebelled against Him. That one Man is Jesus Christ. He is not wicked and ungodly, He does not sin because His essential nature is righteousness, and He does not scoff at God with His words and actions. God now tells us what this one godly Man does which sets Him apart from all others.

Jesus Christ, the godly Man, delights and meditates day and night on the law of God. This delight and meditation gives the godly man the tools needed to fight and combat against the guerrilla tactics of the enemies of God. God’s enemies are His enemies.

The Psalmist uses another set of parallel statements to describe the motivation of the blessed man. He unceasingly delights and meditates on the law of God. Delight means longing and pleasure. Meditate means to speak or groan in musing, devising or plotting a circumstance. The blessed man finds pleasure in contemplating and considering the law of God.

Law is the word torah and includes the entire writing of God’s Scripture, especially the Hebrew Scripture. Torah is the teachings of God for Man. Torah is derived from the word yara which means to throw or cast, as in shooting an arrow, a teaching which hits the mark. So, the torah, the law, is the perfect instruction of God given to lead men to righteousness. We learn the truth about God through the writings of God, which makes the contemplation of Scripture of vital importance in intimately knowing Him.

Man’s sin nature precludes any from accomplishing a complete and thorough understanding of Scripture. This does not mean those who are called by God should cease their efforts to delight in and meditate upon Scripture but should redouble their efforts in their struggle against sin. God gives Scripture so we might know Him and His Son and the work of the Holy Spirit.

God, speaking through Moses, commands the people He brought to the Promised Land to love Him. He then tells them how to love Him. People are created by God for relationship with Him. To do anything less than to love God is to live a truncated and ineffective life.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV)

Jesus, the only One who has perfectly fulfilled the eternal intent of God for Man, uses His knowledge of Scripture to counter the wicked intent of the Deceiver to tempt Him to sin. Even the Deceiver knows the Scripture and uses it to further Its deception. But to know God intimately, and the Scripture He has given, is the only means available to counter temptation. Jesus uses truth to counter and defeat the lie.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (see Deuteronomy 8:3)

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (see Psalm 91:11-12)

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (see Deuteronomy 6:16)

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (see Deuteronomy 6:13)

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Matthew 4:1-11 ESV)

Jesus knew the Scripture because He is the Author of all Scripture. God created all. God sustains all by an act of His will. God governs all, determining the scope and direction of His creation without fault. To question His will is an act of rebellion. God gives purpose to all, demanding from His creation as a natural function of its existence, obedience to Him and His will.

Against Wickedness

Meditations on the Psalms

Blessed is the man who …. walks not in the counsel of the wicked, (Psalm 1:1 ESV)

There are three parallel thoughts which follow this declaration of happiness and supports the contention that the person spoken of has a righteous standing before God. Only Jesus Christ is perfectly righteous before God and only He fits the description which follows. These are actions the Man avoids because of His righteous relationship with God.

First, the person who is righteous before God is not wicked and does not think like a wicked person. Wicked means ungodly, and describes those who have decided to mutiny against God. They are guilty, and proud of their guilt, of their campaign against God. Counsel means purpose and advice. These ungodly people not only have thought through their rebellion but instruct others to defy God, justifying rebellion against God to those willing to listen.

This man does not walk with, come to or associate with anyone whose council or purpose for living is to increase their wickedness, criminal activity, or moral evil. He is godly and never listens to the counsel or associates with those who are ungodly, except to confront them of their godlessness with His godliness.

When people walk in the counsel of someone, some teaching or worldview, it is because they think they can determine the direction and purpose of their lives. Someone who walks with God follows Him, being directed by how He has created them, seeking to strengthen the relationship for which they were created. Those who walk in the way of the world follow the countless directions of the world, their own flesh and the devil.

As Jesus faced His passion, He was judged by those in the world according to the standards of the world. There were three juries before whom He stood. First, were those who accused Him of blasphemy, the religious leaders of the nation of Israel. If there were any in the world who actively taught people to rebel against God it was those who were tasked to teach the truths of God.

From the time Jesus appeared on the scene, teaching repentance and the advent of the kingdom of heaven, the religious leaders of Israel opposed Him. They believed His teaching usurped their traditional power and authoritative place. Finally, even after witnessing Jesus’ words and deeds, they decided and conspired to murder Him. He, who had done nothing wrong and taught the truths of God, was eventually murdered by the religious leaders using the Romans as their tool of execution.

Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”

And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?”

They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” (Matthew 26:59-68 ESV)

Israel’s religious leaders were looking for any excuse to have Jesus murdered by the Romans. Any excuse would do. Every charge brought against Jesus was a lie because those who are ungodly refuse to see and acknowledge truth. It was the religious leaders of Israel who sanctioned wicked counsel against God.

Jesus stood alone against these wicked religious leaders.

Moral Image

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

People are conscious of their surroundings and themselves, capable of knowing their own thoughts and remembering with detail their experiences. But, people also have a conscience, knowing the difference between right and wrong, or between what is good and what is not good. Each person has a moral compass and this moral knowing is integral to the image of God given.

God uses the word “good” seven times in the first chapter of Genesis. He declared what He had done, what He created, as “good,” fulfilling His standard of excellence. Before He began shaping the universe out of the material He initially created, He formed “light” and separated from it, darkness. Physical light is a type of moving energy necessary for life. Darkness is the absence of light and is detrimental to life. God created both darkness and light and by implication determined darkness not good when He judged, or declared light, “good.”

God has an objective standard for “good.” This standard is based upon Himself and His eternal characteristics. There is no other creative force in the universe.  When He created all things and began shaping all things, He designed the universe and all in it with function and purpose. By declaring what He created “good” He declared His created design and purpose fulfilled His eternal intentions.

Part of the image of God in Man is the ability to consciously know the difference between right and wrong and to know what is good. Man cannot create in the same sense God created but Man can make and fashion objects with specific function and purpose. Man’s standard of excellence is not found in himself but in God. With the image of God embedded in people they will know when what they have done is good and meets God’s rule of excellence.

God’s image in Man gives everyone the tools needed to know what is morally good and excellent. As created by God, people are also given the absolute ability to fulfill their created function and purpose in a righteous and holy manner. Yet, as we will discover, because of sin none do or want to do that which is righteous.