INTRO: One of the prominent subjects of the book of Proverbs is righteousness. As I read through this book, I come across the words righteous and righteousness a great many times. It seems to me that it would a wise exercise to see just what it is that inspiration reveals to us about this subject of such prominence. I know, from previous study, that the subject of righteousness is found in all three of the great periods of Bible history: that of the great Patriarchs, of the Mosaic covenant and of the Christian dispensation. Of righteousness Peter said to Cornelius, ...he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness , is accepted with him (Acts 10:35). I deduce from that single statement that our subject tonight is vital to our eternal future.
1. Righteousness can only be understood in context of Gods word - 2:1,9
a. Rom 1:16,17 - For therein is the righteousness of God revealed...
b. historically, there have been a great many philosophies of life
c. some concept of right & wrong has usually been part of those philosophies
d. even the most decadent of societies will have its rights and wrongs - that delineation is basic to human nature
e. not all, however, will have the same definitions of right and wrong
f. for righteousness that is of the godly sort we must depend on Gods revelation of this vital subject - 8:20
2. The overarching benefit of righteousness is eternal - 10:2
a. there are undeniably many benefits of a righteous life - and we will see some of them as we proceed
b. 10:2a reminds us of the futility of a wicked life
c. wicked living may have some immediate attraction - but no eternal benefit
d. perhaps its the deferred nature of eternal benefits which make the more immediate attractions of worldly living so strong, so compelling
e. but there is an end of the day ... and what foolishness to have ignored it
f. consider: Eccl 8:11-13 - But it shall not be well with the wicked...
3. Righteousness becomes a life directive - 11:5 & 13:6
a. notice keepeth him...in the way
b. in Proverbs the way refers, of course, to the way godliness
c. a life committed to and practicing righteousness develops into the habit of righteousness
d. I know some object to the word habit as it relates to the Christian life
e. but righteousness becomes so ingrained over years of time that it is truly second nature ... every moral/ethical/spiritual decision is not an agonizing process
f. I am not suggesting that a mature Christian could not sin ... but given a lifetime of study, prayer, devotion, commitment, sin would go against the grain
4. Righteousness is better than material wealth - 16:8
a. as we have seen, Proverbs is filled with comparisons and contrasts
b. and we must remember that we are looking through Gods eyes here
c. so, wisdom tells us something that the world (and, perhaps, we) would find difficult to accept ... its better to be righteous and poor than unrighteous and rich
d. now, its true one can be rich and righteous ... but most of us will not be in the rich category ... and we may look longingly and enviously at the rich
e. 1 Tim 6:6 - But godliness with contentment is great gain.
f. can we learn to be contented with godly living ... no matter the economic circumstances?
5. Being old can be a time of glory if one is righteous - 16:31
a. I would guess that no one is excited about getting old! Im not, for sure
b. but here, again, is Gods viewpoint ... an old man or an old woman who has been faithful to God is a glory to behold
c. 1 Tim 4:12 is often quoted to our youth ... but I wonder if we should not give great attention to being sure that in our old age we are examples of the faith?
d. I pray often that in my older age I can be as gracious, kind, loving, good humored and faithful as was my Dad
e. folks, we dont get a get to heaven free card when we reach a certain age - we must continue in the way of righteousness
f. Titus 2:2-5 - apparently, the Lord has work for us old people to do ... will be work carefully and faithfully all the days of our lives?
CLOSE: I would like to close with this passage: Prov 10:25. The only sure and certain foundation for your life is righteousness. We have seen the great devastation of storms and high winds in recent months. Well, life will have its storms and high winds ... and righteous living will give us the kind of foundation which stands through them. Devote yourself, then, to righteousness.
Cecil A. Hutson
12 December 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)