The Supreme Value of Righteousness
Let me please now talk with you like a good friend who is genuinely concerned about you—and I truly am concerned. If I were able to do so in person, I could sit down with you over a cup of coffee or tea and share my heart in a similar manner. But since that is impractical when considering the size of my global audience, I will just sit here and chat with you on this page as if we were face to face.
Though I may not know you personally, in an empathetic sort of way, I do—because I once was in the same exact spiritual condition that you might be in right now. So in a brotherly tone, I want to first share with you three main concerns that I have about you, and by extension, even about your family.
Then I will “change hats” further down and take on a role as if I were a physician talking with you over the phone. I will simply ask you a few questions that are intended to help you diagnose your own condition. If you then determine that my concerns are well-founded, then you will be comforted to know that I will also give you the good news that there truly is a cure. It is called, “Righteousness”—and nothing can compare with its worth.
So please “listen” for a moment. Let me begin my heart-to-heart chat with you by sharing my three main concerns for you. And though these may be “touchy” subjects, please know that my concern is genuine, and I truly care about you. In fact, the more you read, the more my care should be increasingly evident to you…though we may not have ever met in person.
My First Real Concern…
There is a very real statistic that I need to share with you first. Out of every 100 people living today, 100 of them will eventually die. In other words, there is a 100% chance that you and I will both physically die one day.
Sure! You and I do what we can to put that day off. We may go to the gym, eat right, have good hygienic habits. We may even try to avoid dangerous parts of town, and endeavor to wear our seat belts while driving our vehicles with caution. But no matter how long we manage to put off the inevitable, it is still inevitable.
My special concern for you in particular is the chance of a sudden or unexpected death. I said, “for you in particular,” because I have addressed this issue already on my end (as I will share with you in a moment). In fact, that is why I am discussing this with you now. I want to be sure that you have also prepared for the certainly of death—even if its timing turns out to be a surprise.
None of us expects to die, really. However, it happens anyway. And as this sampling of “final words” attests, physical death can come when we least expect it:
Go away: I’m alright.
They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist….!
—General John Sedgwick, who died by a gunshot during the heat of battle in 1864
That was a great game of golf.
I am late by ten minutes. I hate being late. I like to be at the prayer punctually at the stroke of five.
Never felt better.
—Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.
(Quotes source: The Evidence Bible)
These people never saw it coming. So I am very concerned that you might not either. The Bible puts it this way:
For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others.
(Psalm 49:10, NIV 2010)
…it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…
(Hebrews 9:27, NASB)
My Second Concern…
Now my second real concern for you arises if you happen to profess to be a Christian, or a Jewish Messianic believer in Yeshua Meshiach Ben David. That may sound quite strange to you since you were likely assuming that I am talking to you about obtaining salvation through Jesus Christ—and that is exactly what I am doing. However, my apprehension for you comes as a result of something that Jesus said within the Bible:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'”
(Matthew 7:21-23, NKJV, emphasis added)
To be frank, that is a very frightful thought. For one to think that he or she was a Christian, to die, and then to hear these dreadful words from God Himself…oh, what a tragedy!
Now to put your mind at ease, I am not arguing denominations with you at all. I could not care less whether you profess to be a Baptist, Catholic, Messianic believer, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, or any other legitimate Christian denomination (i.e. I am excluding the pseudo-Christian cults, of course). The fact still remains that God Himself has determined who gets into Heaven, and that standard is NOT measured by what denomination you may belong to.
So what is Jesus really talking about in the passage above?
Many professing Christians do not realize that Jesus declared that there would be people who THINK that they are saved from damnation, but who are really not. He used metaphors to describe this phenomena. Jesus told us about the “wheat” but also about the “tares” (Matthew 13:24-29, 36-43); the “good fish” but also “bad fish” (Matthew 13:47-50); the “sheep” but also “goats” (Matthew 25:31-46); and the “wise virgins” but also the “foolish” ones (Matthew 25:1-13).
Let us only take a look at what He said about the fish for now, and you can look up the other passages later if you like:
“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
(Matthew. 13:47-50, NIV 2010, emphasis added)
Jesus said that the Gospel message would go forth like a giant “net” and brings many into the Kingdom. However, not all of these new people are genuine Christians, though many do surely think that they are. The apostle Paul discussed this issue also, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He put it this way:
Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
(2 Timothy 2:19, NKJV, emphasis added)
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
(2 Corinthians 13:5, NIV 2010, emphasis added)
The Lord knows who is really “His” among the people claiming to know Him. Consequently, Paul even admonished the members of the Corinthian church to each take the time to examine themselves to ensure they were truly counted by God to be among His sheep. So what determines a genuine Christian from a false profession of faith? Membership within a certain church or denomination? NO! A certain way to be baptized? NO! Jesus said it is this, and ONLY this:
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.‘”
(An excerpt from John chapter 3, NIV 2010, emphasis added)
When Jesus mentioned being “born of water” He was referring to when a mother’s “water breaks” during the child birth process. That is why He tied that in the next sentence to “Flesh gives birth to flesh.” So our “first birth” is when we were born into this world through our mothers.
But Jesus did not stop there. He said clearly that we must be “born again” (i.e. a second birth) in order to enter into the Kingdom of God as genuine children of God. He said that this one is a spiritual birth, in which our spirits are “born again” by the working of Holy Spirit of God Himself. “Spirit gives birth to spirit,” Jesus said. And just as our first birth was dramatic, so is the second birth also—but on the inside of a person, rather than on the outside.
In my own case, I thought I was a Christian for many years. As a boy, I attended not one, but TWO different Christian private schools. The middle school was Lutheran, and the high school was Southern Baptist. Surely, if one could be a Christian it must be one who was subjected to all of that!
When I joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve years later, I wrote down on the line for “religion” that I was “Protestant.” I had no idea what that was, or what differentiated that from Roman Catholicism, or any other branch of the Christian religion. Back then, I just figured that since I had never even attended a Roman Catholic church, I must not be Catholic. So I must be a “Protestant”…whatever that meant. I had heard the term used as a kid, and it just stuck with me.
And if you had asked me, “Are you a Christian?” I would have answered, “Yes.” I knew about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ through my private school education. I was certainly not Buddhist, Hindu, or affiliated with any other religion. So I must be a “Christian,” right?
But to be truthful about the matter, if I had died in that condition I would have gone straight to Hell in my sins. I discovered later that being “born again” was not merely a doctrine, a concept, a philosophy, or merely some emotional euphoria. It is an experience. And to be quite honest about it, it is a very dramatic experience to be born of God’s Spirit on the inside.
I was finally born again just a few years later while standing in a Methodist pastor’s office. When it took place, I was absolutely dumbfounded about what had happened to me. Nobody had explained what would happen to me beforehand. At that time, in my mind a “born again” Christian was nothing more than someone who was just really excited about their religion. So when this event occurred, I frankly did NOT know what it was! I only knew that something dramatic had happened on the inside of me.
In my own case—because the massive load of iniquity that I had been carrying for years had just been removed—I even felt physically “lighter” after praying. That may sound strange to you, but it is true. Furthermore, I had a joy in my heart that words could not express; and a smile was plastered upon my face that did not go away for over a week. The weight of my many sins was off of me, my guilt was removed far from me—and I still had NO IDEA what had happened.
It was about six months later before my theology caught up with my experience, and it was then that I finally knew what had happened to me.
So my concern for you, if you profess to be a Christian, is that perhaps you might be in the same boat that I was in back then: Separated from God by my own wicked heart and deeds…and without even knowing it.
Oh, what a horror it would have been for me to have died unexpectedly and to wake up in flames of torment! Thank God I lived to see the day when my sins would be truly washed away. It is my sincere desire that you would experience this dramatic event within your own life—and that you would likewise avoid the pains of torment and regret.
My Final Concern…
My third and final concern to share with you is my sincere worry that you may feel that you are a good person. Now, this may again seem VERY strange to you. After all, should we not all strive to be good people? Should we not all try to do what is right, and to treat other people well? Of course we should.
However, most of us measure “good” by human standards. In fact, many of think that if we have not done anything particularly heinous, then we’re pretty good people. “Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini…now THOSE were really bad people,” we comfort ourselves. “I have never done anything THAT bad. Maybe a sin here or there…but only little things.” Really?
Well, the truth is that we are not going to have the privilege to be our own judges when we die. We will ALL stand before a very Holy God and have to give an account. So wouldn’t it be really smart if we “studied for the test” ahead of time in order to ensure that we know how to “pass” it when we DO stand there?
In truth, none of us could ever be “good enough” to pass the test before God on our own merits—no matter how hard we have tried to live decent, conscientious lives. Consider for a moment how the Holy Creator actually views sinful humanity:
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin….
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
(Romans chapter 3 excerpt, NKJV, emphasis mine)
In short, we cannot “earn” our way to Heaven by good deeds. In God’s eyes, if we have EVER sinned, then we are sinners. His standard of righteousness is absolute perfection.
Consider for a moment the Pharisees of old. During Jesus’ time here on the earth, this was THE most stringent sect of Judaism (Acts 26:5). They wore special clothing and little boxes on their heads with Scripture verses in them (called “phylacteries“). They were very meticulous about keeping the “Law”—and not only the Law of Moses (Torah) as explained within the Bible’s first five books, but even an extra set of laws even more complex than THAT…the Talmud. Note a few points that Yeshua listed about the strictness of the Pharisees’ religious practices:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
(An excerpt from Matthew chapter 23, NKJV)
To “pay tithes” under the Law of Moses, Israelites were required to pay “one tenth” (i.e. 10%) of their wages, as well as of their increase in business, agriculture, and other profitable pursuits. The Pharisees were so meticulous about this, however, that they would sit down and count all the mint leaves, anise, and cumin seeds, to ensure an EXACT tithe of their garden herbs! Are you that conscientious to obey God?
Because it was considered “unclean” under the Law of Moses to eat certain animals and other foods, the Pharisees were also extremely cautious to constantly strain their wine and water. They wanted to ensure that even a tiny “unclean” gnat would not be accidentally swallowed! Are you that exact in your efforts to honor God everyday within YOUR life?
In truth, even the Pharisees were not righteous in God’s eyes—though they certainly were within their own eyes. That is why Jesus rebuked them above for “swallowing camels” (i.e. committing big sins in their hypocritical hearts that they did not even recognize as such). That is also why the Messiah warned everybody else that the standard of righteousness was MUCH HIGHER if they were to ever attain salvation:
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:20, NKJV, emphasis added)
My friend, if you and I have not come anywhere close to the legalistic “righteousness” of the Scribes and Pharisees, how are we going to ever exceed that by our own merits or through our own efforts?
Can you now understand somewhat why I am concerned for you? Do you see now why I am also concerned about your family and their own eternal welfare?
I am VERY concerned, because the “Lake of Fire” is no laughing matter, and there is NO PAROLE. Damnation is forever. And those that choose to go there simply because they preferred sin over righteousness, will still regret that decision a million years from now. So do you understand now why I am worried about you and your family?
Again, I have three main concerns:
- That you are physically mortal, and that you could die unexpectedly. Many have done just that—even in their youth. Regardless of your age, however, this really bothers me.
- That EVEN if you do profess to be a Christian or Messianic Jewish person, your religious observances might be actually in vain. Jesus Himself said that there would be, “Many who will say to Me in that Day, ‘Lord, Lord!’…and I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.'” This is a terribly horrific thought that has me truly burdened for you!
- That you might think that you are a “good person” and thus, that your own merits are sufficient to gain salvation. An extremely Holy Creator will judge us ALL according to His Own chosen standard. Moral perfection is what He requires. If you have EVER sinned in your life, then you have already failed the test. This really concerns me about you, too.
So do you now understand why I wanted to sit here and have this important chat with you? Do you now know why this is a critical issue that cannot wait to be addressed? Tomorrow is guaranteed to neither you nor me. So it is imperative that we discuss this a bit more so that I can tell you how this all can be fixed for you, as it has been already for me.
Six Key Questions
It is now time for me to “switch hats” like I told you I would do after I expressed my concerns above. It is time for me to walk you through the “self-test” examination of your spiritual condition. Like a medical doctor talking to you over the phone, let me walk you through only SIX examination questions. You can use these to measure your condition, and to determine where you stand with God at this moment.
After this series of test questions, however, I will tell you what the “cure” is, and how this “prescription” can be obtained. Nevertheless, the full importance of the “cure” cannot be truly appreciated unless you have first comprehended how severe the “disease” you may be afflicted with really is.
Of course, God’s Word will be the source of our “test” questions. The Bible has some very strong words to speak to humanity, which is why it is often so despised by some people. However, wisdom begins when the fear of God is present (see these Scriptures). Those who despise “wisdom and discipline” will run from those passages of Scripture that are designed to instill a holy fear within us. Nevertheless, if one takes the time to think the message of the Bible through, he or she will find that “good news” awaits them with open arms. Let’s walk through the message together.
Let’s look at just a few of God’s holy standards within the Ten Commandments to see how much higher HIS standard is from our own (from Exodus 20). I will ask these questions in a different sequence than that in which these Commandments were given, however, in order to better use them for our self-examination purposes:
My First Question: Have you ever spoken a lie?
This question is based upon, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (The Ninth Commandment)
Have you ever told a lie to anyone? I am not talking about a simple mistaken statement, or even a “half-truth.” Have you ever in your life told even one bold-faced lie? When you were a child or teenager? Perhaps even as an adult? Maybe even regularly?
No matter how often, or how little: If you ever told even one lie, what does that make you? Well, if you even ever committed one act of rape, you would be considered a rapist, right? If you had ever only committed one act of murder, you would then forever be considered a murderer, correct? And if I only told you one lie—and you caught me—what would you call me? A liar, right?
So if you have ever told even one lie, what does that make you? A liar, of course.
You have to remember what we learned further above: God is so holy and so pure, that He considers even ONE sin to be worthy of damnation. So even if you only told one lie EVER within your entire life, you would certainly be considered a liar by such a holy God—Who sees and knows everything. So consider this fearful warning from the Book of Revelation (God speaking):
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
(Revelation 21:8, NIV, emphasis added)
My Second Question: Have you ever committed adultery?
This query is based upon, “You shall not commit adultery.” (The Seventh Commandment)
Have you ever committed adultery? I would certainly be pleased if you could reply with a very certain, “No.” However, some widely published statistics show that—within the United States, for example—upwards to 60% of married men admitted to at least one act of adultery; and up to 40% of married women confessed the same. I am sure the rate is similar within many other countries too, as “sin is sin” no matter where you live in the world. So there is a VERY high likelihood that this might apply to many of my readers, and it should certainly be addressed during our spiritual “self-examination.”
There are many websites out there that like to use such statistics as “justification” for doing such immoral things. I guess their attitude is, “Well, so many are doing it, it must be okay!” However, the cold reality that you have to face is the fact that the people writing those articles are NOT going to be the ones judging your eternal destiny: God is. And He has made it VERY clear within Scripture that this is unacceptable even once. For instance, under His holy Law given by Moses, this act was even punishable by death (see Leviticus 20:10). The New Testament also extends this prohibition to both genders when it states, “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:4, NKJV). So if either gender commits any sexual act outside of their marriage, it is adultery in God’s eyes.
And the New Testament extends this category to just about any sexual act outside of marriage:
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
(An excerpt from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, NIV, emphasis added)
However, even if you can honestly tell me, “Nope! I’m good on that one!” you may yet still have guilt unawares on this point too. The Son of God Himself, Jesus, said in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus was tying the Seventh Commandment to the Tenth, “You shall not covet” which explicitly forbade even desiring another man’s wife. This point would apply to either gender also, in the light of the New Testament.
Have you ever looked with lust—i.e. with sexual desire—at ANY other person in your life? If you have, God considers it a wicked sin just as much as if you committed the very act.
This sin of the heart would also apply to unmarried people as well. If you have ever looked with lust could it be that that person was married? Sure.
So regardless of your gender or marital status, have you ever even looked upon another person with lust? If so, then you are as much an adulterer in God’s eyes as those who have violated this commandment by deed.
Now, let me point out here once again that this is a self-examination. I do NOT want you to email me to tell me what you have done, or to make ANY kind of “confession” to me. I really do NOT want to know anything about your sins, so please do NOT tell me about them.
These questions are designed to probe your heart as you consider them in sequence. This is the light of God’s Word shining upon your heart to reveal to you your own true spiritual condition. If you feel uncomfortable, that is good! Your God-given conscience is responding to His Word and Truth. So let’s continue.
My Third Question: Have you ever murdered someone?
This one is obviously based upon, “You shall not murder.” (The Sixth Commandment)
I would certainly hope that you would respond to me, “Well, I KNOW that I’m good on that one! I have not murdered anybody.” I would be very concerned to know I was sitting here chatting with a murderer (though there still is hope even for you, if you have done such a wicked deed).
However, even this question might not be so easy to avoid as it first seems. Have you ever murdered someone in your mind?
The Bible says clearly, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him” (1 John 3:15, NIV). Have you ever hated anybody? Then God’s Word says that you are actually a murderer in His holy eyes. Again, God looks not only upon our deeds, but also upon our hearts and motives:
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7, NASB, emphasis added)
My Forth Question: Have you ever used the Name of God in a disrespectful manner?
This important question is based upon, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (The Third Commandment)
Have you ever used God’s name in vain? In other words, have you ever uttered an abusive profanity or expletive using His Holy Name? If you EVER have, then you have taken His Holy Name—which represents His very Person—and used it as a profane thing to express disgust.
This is called blasphemy; if you have ever spoken it, then the Lord already stated clearly within the Third Commandment that He will NOT hold you guiltless when you stand before Him on Judgment Day.
My Fifth Question: Have you ever made, or prayed to, or even worshiped, an idol or false god?
This key point is based upon, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image…you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me…” (The Second Commandment)
Now, this would certainly apply to anyone who has worshiped a pagan deity of any kind. This would also apply to anyone who is a Deist, and anyone who might be a Freemason. (In fact, it would really apply to anyone who is not a genuine Christian already.) God’s Word explains:
What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.
(1 Corinthians 10:19-21, NKJV, emphasis added)
There is NO other God, but the One true God of the Bible. There is only one Creator, and thus, according to Him, everything else is demonic. That is why, when preaching to Gentile pagans, Paul was always careful to explain that the real Creator cannot be symbolized with mere idols, and that He detests such things:
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us….
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.
(An excerpt from Acts 17:16-34, NIV 2010, emphasis added)
Paul knew that they could not properly accept and receive the free gift of salvation from the One True God unless they first forsook the false gods they already worshiped. The Second Commandment above makes it clear that God is jealous about His Creation, and He has no intention of sharing the affection due to Him with demons. Thus, if you have ever practiced Paganism, been a Freemason, worshiped any god other than the One revealed throughout the Bible, (etc.), you will need to repent of that sin that God despises so much if you want to ever experience His salvation.
This is one point I need to also bring to mind if you are one of my Roman Catholic friends: Though papal traditions permit praying to “saints” and representing them with statues—and your Catechism even omits the Second Commandment for this reason, and instead splits the Tenth Commandment into two parts in order to give the commandment list a full count—if you will simply turn to Exodus chapter twenty in your Catholic Bible, you will see that the Second Commandment is still there. God condemns this practice, even if your traditions permit them. I have known born again Catholics, and so I am not denouncing everything Catholicism teaches. Some of it is quite biblical. However, if you have been practicing Paganism through saint-directed prayer and/or worship, then you are likely not born again. And once you know the true and living God of the Bible through Jesus Christ, you will have absolutely no reason to attempt to pray to anyone else; for God Himself will be real to you; and He will answer your prayers Himself.
Of course, even this commandment likewise has a heart-based application as the others above: One can carve an idol with their hands…or with their minds. If you have ever created a “god” in your mind to suit your chosen sin and “lifestyle” then God considers that you are an idolater (i.e. a worshiper of idols). Within the Second Commandment above, He even ended that passage by saying such people “hate” Him. That will not be a good way to start off when you face Him in judgment.
For example: Have you ever said something like, “My god is love, and he would never send anyone to someplace terrible like Hell.” If so, then you are right…because your god does not exist. It was an idol you built within your own mind as you “created” your own god to suit your lifestyle. Your “god” is not based upon anything but your own theories and philosophies. So your “god” cannot do anything, because it simply does not exist except within your own mind. And the God Who has revealed Himself through the Bible considers that “hate” toward Himself. So do you think He is happy with you?
Or, have you ever let money (including gold and silver) get ahead of your Creator in your priorities? If so, Jesus said you have been serving the Babylonian financial idol called “Mammon” instead of the God of the Bible (Matthew 6:24) which also means you broke the Tenth Commandment “You shall not covet.”
If you have committed ANY variation of these examples, then you have violated these holy commandments, and again, you are a criminal in the eyes of divine justice. Now one more question, and then it is time for the cure…
My Last Question: Have you always served ONLY the true God of the Bible, by honoring Him in thought, word, and deed, all your life?
This strong final question is based upon, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (The very First Commandment)
Obviously, if you have broken ANY commandment that we have discussed, the answer to this question is a resounding and damning, “No.”
Jesus clarified this commandment by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and saying:
“The most important [commandment] is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'”
(Mark 12:29-30, NIV, emphasis and bracketed note mine)
Can you honestly say that you have loved God with such totality? Has every moment of every day of your life been focused upon your love for the Creator? If not, then you have violated this holy commandment and are a criminal in the eyes of divine justice.
How Did You Do?
So how did you fare with the self-examination?
Of course, we did not cover three of the Ten Commandments for brevity sake. (Note: I slipped in the Tenth Commandment within a couple of the other questions above.) However, it should be clear that if you have done the sins above, you have surely “dishonored” your father and mother (the Fifth Commandment) regardless of their own sins. I am fairly sure that many reading this have stolen something within their lifetime, even if it was something small (thus, breaking the Eighth Commandment). And I would be rather shocked if anyone who has done any of the above has not also neglected the Sabbath Day, and failed to rest one out of seven days in a week in order to honor and worship God (thus, breaking the Fourth Commandment).
To be frank about the matter, I had broken ALL of the Ten Commandments in either thought, word, or deed, as one time or another myself. So again, I am not judging you or condemning you directly. If you are HUMAN, you have sinned, for the Bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is because we have ALL broken His Holy Law.
God’s Holy Law stands ready to condemn every sinner for every sin they ever committed in their lifetimes. God is pure and holy, and He cannot stand the presence of the impure and wicked. However, God’s Holy Law is also intended to be a teacher to lead every sinner to the Savior:
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made;…But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
(Excerpt from Galatians 3:19-25, NKJV)
…I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”… Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.
(Excerpt from Romans chapter 7, NKJV)
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the One who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
(Romans 3:19-26, NIV)
That is why I took the time to take you through this self-examination in the light of God’s Holy Law: To teach you your need for a Savior, so that I could NOW tell you the Good News about what He has done for you.
The Penalty Has Been Paid
This is the sum of the entire Bible (i.e. the quick version): God our Creator intended humanity to be in fellowship with Him and walk with Him. The original man disobeyed God’s one command to him (see Genesis chapter 3), and this resulted in the condition of “sin” or “iniquity.” This condition replaced the righteous holiness originally created within humanity. After this single event, mankind could no longer walk with God because sinfulness became a “normal” part of the human condition. So we have all willfully sinned within our own lives due to this situation, as your self-examination above should have made clear.
And since our sins are as putrid to Him as vomit and manure are to our own senses, God decided to make a way to “cleanse” humanity and restore righteousness to those willing to receive His freely given grace. This redemption of mankind back to Himself, however, would require a substitute.
Therefore, God gave His holy Law to mankind through a chosen race of people: The ancient nation of Israel. The Law shows us our corrupt nature, and brings us into understanding of His holy nature and standards. Within the light of that contrast, we realize that we are not only wicked sinners, but ALREADY destined for eternal damnation away from His presence:
They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; they have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols…For a fire is kindled in My anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell; it shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
(Deuteronomy 32:21-22, NKJV)
“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
(Matthew 18:8-9, NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.
(An excerpt from John chapter 3, NKJV, emphasis added)
The above passage is saying, “He who has not received the redemption, is already going to Hell—because of the sin that yet remains upon him.” The problem is SIN. So without a Savior, there is no salvation.
That realization should then make us seek a pardon for our sins and transgression. This was God’s intent in bringing His holy Law to light—to serve as a warning of the wrath and judgment to come. However, the Law itself could not save anyone. Though its requirements were holy and good, humanity’s sinful nature made it impossible for us to obey its ordinances. Again, it judged us and damned us…but is also promised us One would come to redeem us from this curse.
God, the Lawgiver, took upon Himself flesh and dwelt among mankind (see John chapter 1; Isaiah 9:6-7; 1 Timothy 3:16) in the Person of Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life under the Law, as He was the very holy One Who gave us that Law. Though innocent, however, He then suffered the full penalty for our own sins and transgressions. In short, we did the crime, but Jesus paid the penalty for us so that we could be acquitted:
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:4-6, NIV)
The penalty Jesus paid for our sins satisfied the eternal courts of justice, and through His precious sacrifice we can be cleansed from the very sin that renders mankind disgusting in God’s eyes. Then the Savior was raised from the dead by God’s own design and power, so as to be “the mediator of a new covenant” and to administer the very salvation He purchased for us with His own life’s blood. Further, this same Jesus Who came to earth the first time as a “Lamb” to be sacrificed for our sins will return again soon as a “Lion” to reward His people and to destroy His enemies (for example, please note Revelation chapter 22; and also Isaiah 63:1-4 in comparison with Revelation 19:11-21).
As the Lord’s apostles explained it:
“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ” ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” ‘ “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
(Acts 2:29-41, NIV, emphasis added)
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
(Acts 26:16-20, NIV, emphasis added)
However, all legal proceedings have legal requirements. The salvation of God does NOT come upon any man automatically, but most be first believed, and then received. Paul’s three steps are very clear: Repent (i.e. turn away from all sin, with the same alarm that would make you want to turn away from a viper or poisonous scorpion); Turn to God (i.e. put your faith for your salvation in the saving work of Jesus Christ alone, and not upon your own “good deeds” or merit, for you have none of your own in God’s holy eyes); Prove repentance by deeds (i.e. a truly repentant person, who has truly put their faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation, will have a true change in heart that modifies their behavior).
For this last point, John adds this clarification:
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
(1 John 3:2-10, NIV)
The Righteousness Imputed
We have examined the fact that you and I were bound in sin, and sinners by nature. We have detailed at length how this prevents us from having a right relationship with God. But now we see God Himself, born of a virgin, living a sinless life, and dying an excruciating death upon an instrument of torture—a Roman cross.
Why did He do all of this? To redeem us from damnation, Hell, and all sin. So what do you think His attitude will be towards those who reject His sacrifice? Do you think He would be pleased that He suffered such torture, only to be rejected by you? It is imperative that you accept His free gift, because He will be extremely angry towards all those who reject His grace:
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. [i.e. every sin ever committed, judged according to His Holy Law]
The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades [i.e. Hell, the holding place for sinners awaiting Final Judgment and the Lake of Fire] delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.
(Revelation 20:11-15, NKJV, emphasis and bracketed notes added)
Please do not reject Him and His freely given redemption! Eternity is forever!
Now that Jesus has suffered for us as our Substitute, how do we partake of His salvation? By our repentance from all sin and everything that is disgusting to God; by our believing what He did for us on that Cross as our Substitute; by our putting our entire faith in Jesus Christ (Yeshua Messiah Ben David, in transliterated Hebrew for my Jewish friends); and by submitting our entire lives to His Lordship as our Ultimate “Commander-In-Chief.”
In short, Jesus offers to give us HIS righteousness—imputed (i.e. credited) to our account by His work of salvation on our behalf, and not because of our own merits—in exchange for our sins. What a deal!
So what do you need to do now? The Bible answers that question too:
For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”(that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation..
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
(Romans 10:5-13, NKJV, emphasis added)
“Call upon the name of the Lord, and you will be saved.” Seek Him in prayer right now where you are, repent of your many sins, and put your faith in Jesus as your ONLY source of salvation.
Trust Jesus Christ entirely for your salvation, just as you would trust a parachute entirely to save you from the law of gravity if you had to jump from a burning airplane. The law of gravity would not make an exception for you if you failed to be wearing and using the parachute when you jumped—even if you are a “good person” and even “believed in God.” No, it would mercilessly smash your body into the ground if you did not wear and use a working parachute.
In the same way, when the inevitable time for you to “jump” through the door of death comes, you will find that God’s Holy Law will throw you into a fiery Hell to await Final Judgment—unless you have “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ through complete trust in Him, and are wearing His righteousness when you stand before our Holy Creator.
Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” He is the ONLY way, because He is the only One Who was God manifest in the flesh, and Who could redeem us by His Own substitution for our sins. Thus, there is no other “parachute” out there than can save you from the Holy Law of God when it is applied to your sins.
Jesus is also the ONLY One EVER confirmed to be the Savior, because God the Father raised Him from the dead. I serve a living Christ; and I would just love to have you know Him personally, like I do.
As necessary, please read this teaching again, and give this strong consideration. Feel free to also visit NeedHim.org if you still have unanswered questions.
Again, for professing Christians: If your life does not show the good fruit of a redeemed soul—e.g. a hunger for God’s word, a desire for things pure and holy, a repulsion from things impure, a desire to fellowship with other Christians and to worship—then you have to honestly evaluate whether you were ever truly saved. If you are not walking with God, then you likely do not know God:
“At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.“
(An excerpt from John chapter 14, NKJV, emphasis added; see also John chapter 10)
If you merely made a “decision for Christ” without understanding your wickedness in the light of God’s Law, then you are truly without a total trust in Jesus alone as your source of salvation. You are likely what the Bible refers to as a “bad fish” (i.e. a false convert) as we discussed further above. Jesus make it pretty plain that in the Day of Judgment, there would be “many” shocked to discover that they were not genuine Christians:
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!“
(Matthew 7:21-23, NKJV)
Please do not take anything that I have said lightly, if your conscience has been convicting you that you are NOT right with the Lord.
It matters not whether one is a Jew or Gentile, a “good person” socially speaking, or religious “in their own way.” In God’s eyes, everyone who has violated His holy standard is a wretched criminal, destined for punishment. Consequently, we all need His freely given grace of salvation…and the time to discover whether one has it or not is NOT after dying and facing the fiery eternal judgment.
As we move forward on this website explaining the economic and financial truths from God’s Word, please ensure you have your eternal destiny secure in Jesus Christ. For as Jesus pointed out:
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
(Matthew 16:25-27, NIV)
Jesus is coming again soon. Make sure your heart is right with God now…and please do not delay. Once you have this issue settled, then you will be further profited by the remainder of this website’s content.
Lastly, I hope our conversation made it perfectly clear that I care about you. I did not take this time for my sake, but surely for yours. (Okay, I would really love to have you with us all in Heaven. So I did have a little bit if a selfish motive.) 😀
I hope to see you in the Glory of God’s grace throughout eternity. Please join us.
Always in Jesus,