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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Self-righteousness, the deception above all things

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jer. 17:9,10).

“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.” (Jer. 17:5).

The Lord had a good reason for giving us the book of Job in His word to the human race. From the beginning of mankind, His omniscience saw the self-righteousness in the fallen human heart.

Job cried,
“I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.
The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.
I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.
I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.
And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.
Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand.
My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch.
My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.” (Job 29:12-20).

 I, I, I, me, me, me, my, my, my. I do this, I did that. I do righteousness because I am righteous, I am just. And I am a part of a larger group, a federation that does the same righteousness, “we who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles.” (Gal. 2:15).

“Boasting” (Rom. 3:27).

As undependable sinners, even justified sinners as Job was, we too often fall into glorying in our exaltation in the earth, our goodness that “is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.” (Hos. 6:4). “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.” (1Pet. 1:24). “For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.” (Ps. 103:16).

“The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isa. 40:6-8).

Our own righteousness, which appears to exalt our nation or denomination, doesn’t last long. This is what happened to Job. He exalted himself when he was put to the test, in horrific pain and surrounded by people who didn’t know God.

“Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;
When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness;
As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;
When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me;
When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;
When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!
The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up.
The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.
The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth.
When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me:…
 My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.
Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel.
After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped upon them.
And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain.
If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down.
I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners.” (Job 29:2-11,20-25).

We have no reason, and the redeemed will never have a reason throughout eternity, to congratulate self. Jesus alone deserves the praises that many have ignorantly given to Job. Jesus was infinitely righteous, in horrific pain on the cross, discouraged by wicked men who surrounded Him, and even engulfed in His Father’s wrath against Job’s sins. Yet, Christ alone did not fall into self-justification or self-glorification.

Self can’t refrain from boasting itself. “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward…. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” (Matt. 6:2,5). We might laugh at the old Jewish religious leaders’ outlandish, forms of self-boasting. However, “there is no difference” (Rom. 3:22) between the Jews of ancient Israel and us in our 21st century world. Really, the boasting of Job was the very first testimony of Jesus because we are all guilty of boosting and boasting self, from the worst of us to the best of us.

Job’s boasting the goodness of self is the unavoidable condition of the sinful fallen heart. “Guilty? Not me.” “Shameful? Not me.” “Horrendously hideous to God? Not me.” “I am good. I am great. I never did anything wrong, therefore I will never need repentance.” “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen,… for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” (Rev. 18:2,7). “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Rev. 3:17). But, God will destroy it and them.

Deceitful above all things is the human heart. “Peter said unto Him, Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake.” (John 13:37).

Little did powerful Peter know his weakness. Only love for Jesus would cause his survival in the great cleaver of truth that would break and cut away and square Peter’s stumbling stone, and that would qualify him for a place in the living temple of God.

Only faith in the love of Jesus for Peter kept him from being destroyed by his own wisdom and righteousness. Peter was the perfect example of every disciple of righteousness. Everyone comes to the offer of redemption full of self, and in great need of a knowledge of God and of their own propensity to self-management. “Jesus, my Lord, You don’t need to bother with my sinfulness; I can take care of it myself.” “Don’t dirty Thy holy hands with my little idols. Don’t spend Your most precious time and efforts on re-arranging my priorities. Take care of other people’s much bigger problems, all those who have huge, really bad behavior. There are those drug addicts and LBGT, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA, and LGGBTQQIAAPPK folks. Lord with all my heart, I beg you to save them and sanctify them. Their sins have reached up to heaven and they are in danger of destroying themselves and missing out on an eternity with You! But, I’ll be OK. And I’ll see You at the tree of life.”

What we need is a knowledge of ourselves apart from the Law and good behavior. What we need is a repentance caused by the conviction of a species of sin that is not measured so much by God’s Law of good behavior, but by Christ’s Law of self-abasement—God’s other Law, His hidden Law. We need the “righteousness of God [separate from] the Law” (Rom. 3:21)—the spiritual Law, the Law of self-sacrifice that judges the motives of the heart. We need “the humbling”; we need conversion and a creature born again into a new and living Adam. We need to fall upon the Stone and be broken. We need to see the righteousness of God. We need natural obedience, natural righteousness, which comes from a new heart and new spirit that the Great Physician has duly humbled and healed.

“Now we know that what things soever the Law saith, it saith to them 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 there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the Law is the knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the prophets;
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:19-23).

Have we examined our motives? Have we looked seriously at our shortcomings and mistakes? “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2Cor. 13:5)?

David expressed the perfect example of failure, but of confidence in the mercy of God and of examining/judging himself in the light of the righteousness of God, rather than a spirit of rationalizing/justifying himself. He was so humbled by his error that he publicized it! “To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David”! Let every good commandment keeper take heed! He that is least, as David humbled himself, shall be the greatest!! Obviously and most definitely, David preached the new covenant salvation by faith in the self-abasing Son of God. He knew the Lord and trusted in His mercy. Therefore the humbled David had the power to publish his error so that his descendants would not fall into his same trap. He was thinking of them; and Jesus was thinking of us.

David wrote, “I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.” (Ps. 39:1).

David had tried to fluff himself up and be his own Creator of goodness. “I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.” (Ps. 39:2).

But, his own righteous will-power could not prevent his true, self-dependent, sinful will-power to complain and burn in self-preservation.

“My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned”.

All of our fluffing and the holding of our breath always comes to a horrid end. Our self-righteous afflatus to hold in secret sin explodes in putrid human flatulence everywhere.  “…then spake I with my tongue” (Ps. 39:3).

May we know the depth of our true self-dependence, our dug-in roots of sin and self-glory. Then our righteousness and worship will be more than a show, a production for human entertainment, to receive applause and self-congratulation from Pharisaical men and women instead of the approval of God. “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43). There will be the fullness that comes with redemption instead of empty emotion that comes from self-made righteousness. There will be the promised revival of primitive godliness such as the world has not seen since apostolic times.

The end of pride, self-protection, which are the fruit of the hidden sin, self-righteousness, is separation from the God of peace, and the sure by-product of anxiety. Anxiety, the world-wide lack of peace with God, is the tell-tale sign of being cut-off from God for the hidden sin of self-righteousness. Did you ever wonder where anxiety comes from? It comes from God; it is “the wrath of God” (John 3:36) upon all who aren’t trusting in His Son. They are trusting in themselves, “whose heart departeth from the Lord” (Jer. 17:5). Anxiety, “the chastisement of our peace”, infinitely “was upon Him” (Isa. 53:5) who “was made to be sin for us” (2Cor. 5:21). Anxiety is the essence of sin. Yes, all of us self-righteous anxiety-ridden folks, we are sinning. We have not fallen on the Rock and broken. We need to fall by viewing the infinite self-sacrificing obedience and righteousness of the Son of God. Then we will break and be humbled, and be wonderfully healed of our horrendous anxiety. Then our righteousness will be of Him.

Our praise will not be of self, but of Jesus. We will have something to say about Him and His great power to humble and heal. Our happy testimony will be Nebuchadnezzar’s. “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.” (Dan. 4:37). Otherwise, if you flee the pain of the humbling, you will get cancer and die in your anxiety.

Self-righteousness is so secretive that it is impossible to see, by the individual transgressor of it as well as the group he has joined. Self-righteousness evades both the moral religionist and the ethical, atheistic irreligionist. Anxious self-righteousness and self-preservation affects the whole world. It is very difficult for Jesus to weed it out of His people, especially “the mighty and the holy people” (Dan. 8:24, cf Rom. 9:30-33). But, if it is not discovered—“found” (Rom. 4:1); if Jesus cannot point it out; if we won’t let Jesus point it out [“their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (Matt. 13:15)], then, worse than death by cancer, the end of the living unresolved anxiety will be the madness of strong delusions and God’s ultimate visitation of judgment.

“The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God. They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore He will remember their iniquity, He will visit their sins.” (Hos. 9:7-9).

“The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.” (Mic. 7:4).

The end of the secret sin of self-made righteousness will be the Mark of the Beast. Therefore, the secret sin that is apart from the obvious sins listed in the Ten Commandments; the hidden sin of the heart, which is the greatest of all sins, that of self-sufficiency and the inner recognition of one’s own goodness, the silent boasting of one’s own good track record, will receive the greater judgment of endless restlessness and permanent emotional turmoil in the last days.

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:9-11).

May this be our prayer “while it is called To day” (Heb. 3:13),

“LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.
Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.
And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.
Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.
I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.
Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.
When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.
Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.
O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.” (Ps. 39:4-13).

“Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.
I counsel thee to keep the King’s commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.
Be not hasty to go out of His sight: stand not in an evil thing; for He doeth whatsoever pleaseth Him.
Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto Him, What doest Thou?
Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.
Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.
For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?
There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.” (Ecc. 8:1-8).

We need the righteousness of God apart from the law. Not without law to God, but under the Law to Christ. We need the conviction that comes from His self-sacrifice. We need to mortify our fig leaved righteousness.

“The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.” (Ecc. 10:12,13).

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