People used to be a lot wiser than they are today. They were familiar with God’s word and they knew how life works. I used to work with men who were a generation older than me. Whenever something good happened to one of them, the others would tell him, “You must be living right.” They knew that God rewards those who do what is right, and he punishes those who don’t. Most people today have never read this verse, “For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy.” (Ecclesiastes 2:26)
The Lord knows our hearts, and he wants us to be motivated by love. We know that sin is showing a lack of love for others. Sins are the stupid mistakes we make that prevent God from rewarding us. “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins (motives), even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 23:24)
The word “Righteousness” is used two ways in the Bible:
(1) Your salvation is not based on the righteousness you do. It’s based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God counts your faith in Jesus as righteousness, and righteousness is right-standing with God.
(2) Righteousness is the opposite of sin. It’s doing what’s right. When you’re doing what the Bible says, you’re doing righteousness. “And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:25)
God has promised to reward you for your righteousness. “Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.” (Proverbs 11:31)
SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Your flesh, or your old sin nature, is your enemy. It is driven by lusts, and it wants what it wants when it wants it. It never stops trying to get its own way. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like . . . (Galatians 5:19-21)
First Corinthians 13 describes what God’s love is like. Your flesh is the exact opposite of that. Your flesh is: impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, and easily angered. It keeps a record of wrongs, delights in evil, rejoices with lies, never protects, never trusts, never hopes, never perseveres. And it always fails.
If your flesh is running your life, you cannot possibly succeed. You’re closing the door to God’s blessing and his favor.
The only way to overcome your flesh is to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit minute by minute. That is what the Bible calls, walking in the Spirit. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
All of God’s promises are like contracts. Put your faith to work by doing what God says; and, then you will receive what he’s promised. When you do your part, God will do his part. When you’re keeping the Love commandment, your faith is working because “faith works by love.” The master key to all of the promises of God is loving your neighbor as yourself.
THE PROBLEM IS SIN
Sin is violating the Love Commandment, and it prevents God from blessing you. “Your sins have withholden good things from you.”(Jeremiah 5:25) Love is fulfilling the law. When you’re loving your neighbor, you’re loving God too, because you’re obeying him. You’re expressing your faith in God and his word.
SIN IS BASED ON PRIDE
In my life, I had to face reality. I found out that I was not as smart as I thought. I thought that I could get everything I needed on my own, but I was wrong. I tried running my own life and failed miserably at it. The best decision I ever made was to surrender control of my life to God.
RIGHTEOUSNESS IS BASED ON LOVE
Righteousness is the opposite of sin. It is loving God. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good to those who love God.” You know when you’re keeping the Love Commandment, and when you’re not keeping it. If you want this promise of God fulfilled in your life, you have to love your neighbor as yourself.
GOD SHOWS FAVOR TO THE RIGHTEOUS
“For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor you will surround him as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:12 NKJV)