No one is righteous, not even one.

Jazzimusaurus asked a great question in the “Itching Questions” page if you would like to check out some of his other ‘humdingers’ as my old maths teacher would say. This question is quite a profound one that alot of people ask so I thought I’d make it its own post.

Jazzimusaurus: ” ‘Christianity is very unique from other religions in that it is not about rules or guidelines or laws that must be fulfilled in order to get into heaven it is actually the opposite’  So you’re practically saying, the most evilest person can go to heaven  as long as they believe in Christ?? I mean, I kinda look favourably on the guidelines that need to be fulfilled. I mean isn’t it kinda iunno gay that you who have done nothing but good go to heaven and someone whose done nothing but evil can just cause they believe in Christ…and as much as having all your sins punishment taken by Jesus sounds tempting wouldn’t it be better if you faced judgement for your actions?? ”

I’m going to attempt to explain a concept that is probably the most rejected concept of Christianity. In Romans it says this:

“But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? ( I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say – as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say – “Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is reserved.

“What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles are all under sin. As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
They have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”

“…Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silences and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather through the law we become conscious of sin.”

Romans 3:9-20

Here Paul is writing a letter to a church in Rome. The definition of righteous is being ‘right’ with God, so being in a spotless relationship, no sin to account for. Since everyone is sinful, no one is ‘right’ with God.

Paul has identified how people can react to being told that they are sinful. They can recognise that our sinfulness shows us how sinless God is and therefore we are bringing him glory and ‘enhancing his truthfulness’ so why should we be condemned as sinners? So in a sense its showing the angle you are presenting, if I can be saved, then I’ll just keep on doing evil, still get into heaven and by doing evil create a contrast for which Gods purity can be seen more clearly. But as Paul says “Their condemnation is reserved”.

I’m sure you agree when I say that they have not had a change in heart. If you become a Christian, you are recognising that you are sinful, that you’ve wronged God and you can’t get yourself out. So you ask God to forgive you and if you have an honest heart, he will. Think about it this way, if you are honestly sorry for something, would you go and do it again and again and again?  No, you try not to do it again.
For example, a friend of mine just got her P’s, it was a wet day and she drove too fast around a corner because she was so cocky. As a result of her thoughtless behaviour her car fish-tailed in an intersection. This freaked her out so much that now she is so conscious of the speed limit and never ever speeds.
The same thing applies to sinning. There is no way you can stop yourself from sinning completely, but you can try to, if you believe and are a Christian, you feel the consequence and apologise to God. He forgives, no matter how many times you ask.

The point of becoming a Christian is so that you can be freed from sin and made alive in righteousness. Later on in Romans 6:15-23, Paul explains when you recognise your sin and accept God’s solution (which is Christ), then you are dead to sin. You no longer belong to it and no longer have to answer to it. But just like the slave that has been freed from a lifetime of service, they will still respond to their old master out of habit. So will we, once saved, still respond to sin out of habit. The thing is: we don’t have to anymore.

Also you mentioned these people as the ‘evilest’ in a sense we are placing ourselves above them, looking down at them, thinking we ourselves are ‘less evil’ than those Paul talks about.
In his letter to the Romans which I quoted above, Paul draws on a conflict that happened in his own time, that of the Jews and Gentiles. Before Jesus came there was this idea that only the Jews were Gods people. There are passages in the Old Testament that talk about God accepting Gentiles into ‘his people’ but they don’t receive the full benefits etc etc.
The Jews always had this attitude towards the Gentiles as ‘more’ evil people than themselves. This is magnified in the fundamentalism of the Pharisees in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
When Jesus came he brought in the new covenant, so the new contract with God if you like, that sounds so official, sorry if this image doesn’t work for you. This new covenant included everyone, both Jew and Gentile alike. (Gentile are people who aren’t Jews).
No longer does the law of the Jews divide people, that law is only there to make them realise they are sinful. Fulfilling the law which is impossible, would mean that they don’t need God or Jesus’ sacrifice and can make their own way to heaven, sad for them, this doesn’t work.

Therefore both Jew and Gentile are ‘all under sin.” So everyone is sinful, you can’t distinguish between ‘evil’ and ‘evil’ because ‘no one is righteous, not even one’. No one can make it into heaven by fulfilling the law because that would mean that you are sinless. I am confident that every person in the world has at one time or another lied to someone, talked about someone behind their back, or maybe stolen, pirated music or films, or maybe they have thought evil things about a person, judged them at a glance…..

That’s why we need Jesus, because without him we haven’t got a chance.

No one is sinless, not even one.

A Brief History of Time

Stephen Hawkings is on of the most brilliant physicists and cosmologists of our generation. Here’s an excerpt from his book ‘A Breif History of Time’ in which he laments over the unsatisfying nature of science:

” Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual scientific approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the question of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?”

Food for thought.

Perspective in a World that Lives for the Moment

I’ve been reading ‘Distinctives’ by Vaughan Roberts and I’ve found his writing clearly explains the Christian life, so this is the beginning of a series of posts regarding this book. I just wanted to say up front that that is where most of these ideas come from and if you’re interested in finding out more than that’s where to look.

Romans 12:2
“Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

That verse gives an overall summary of this series as such.

Titus 2:11
“For the grace of God has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

Titus says the first way to be different in this world is to say “No”. “No” can sometimes be the hardest word in the English language to say. The reason it’s so hard is because the voices around us and inside us are telling us that these temptations that we face are not that big a deal, God’s just a killjoy and it can’t hurt anybody.

But Titus clearly says that a Christian is to live ‘self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age’.

Proverbs 25:28
“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”

Without self-control a Christian is completely vulnerable to sin, and there is no way they can withstand the worlds temptations. Being about the control yourself leads you towards godliness. Every Christian is called to live like this, to say ‘no’ to worldly passions’ and ‘yes’ to godliness.

Why is it so hard? Our world lives in the moment, if it feels good, do it. Because we live for the ‘here and now’ its really hard to see reality, to see the big picture and we make a mess of the world and that’s what’s happening around us. The world has cultivated this reliance upon the now and feelings. ‘I feel like this, I don’t care about tomorrow or yesterday a nd if now’s the time then I’m going to do it.’ When you think into it, this thought is destructive. Alot of Christians live this way in their Christian lives and some as a result are not living changed, distinct lives in this world.

To give some Christian perspective on this world is seen in Titus in the appearance of Christ in inevitably, grace. V11 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men’. Grace has appeared in Jesus. Grace: God’s iches at Christs expense. Jesus came, the promised Messiah, the Christ, who had been promised for hundreds of years, finally came to bring salvation. He won through his death in our place to save us and set us free from the power of sin and from Gods wrath and anger, to bring us into his family.

The way to capture a money is simple. You make a hole in a coconut shell and put a pebble inside. The monkey is attracted by the pebble and puts its hand into the shee to grab hold of it. Once its hand is inside, it is trapped – its clenched fist is too large to get out. Escape is very easy in theory – the monkey just has to let go nad its hand will fit through the hole again. Easier said than done. Having got the pebble, the monkey is very reluctant to lose it, so it sits there helpless until its captor arrives. It is trapped by its own desire. Humans are similar. We cannot stop ourselves from clutching things that are wrong. The result is that we are unable to escape the consequences of what we have done, the judgement of God. This is where Jesus comes in, God sent him to redeem (to set free by the payment of a price) us and set us free. The price was his death, he died to take the punishment that we deserved so that we need no longer face it.

Christians also gain perspective from looking forward to Christs return.

Titus 2:13-14
“while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

We want to look backwards and forwards as Christians. Jesus will come back and take us who are believers in him to be with him in heaven. This is really important because often Christians are pulled into thinking ‘I’m sinful, Jesus died for me in the past and that seems so long ago and a little bit irrelevant’. If you know that Jesus will be the judge in the future and that you have to stand before him and give an accoun for every word, action and thought, it’s scary.

Heaven and Hell are real. Jesus will come back. Tose who trust in him will go to be with him in paradise, despite the fear of being judged they are saved through their faith in Christs sacrifice for them. Those who don’t trust Jesus will have to deal with separation from him: Hell.

Christians need to stop listening to themselves and start talking to themselves. If you just listen to yourself and the voices around you, its easy to lose perspective and forget what Christ has done for you.

To sum up this first episode of Disctinctives:
“The world says is it feels good now, go with it. Chrisitanity says, Jesus came in the past and will come again in the future, live in light of that.”