How Jesus Describes Righteous And Unrighteous People

How Jesus Describes Righteous And Unrighteous People

How Jesus describes righteous and unrighteous people is found in a parable in Luke 18:9-14. The story involves a Pharisee and tax collector who pray next to one another in the temple. Here are three differences between them that Jesus points out in the story.

But first, what does the Bible means by righteousness? And here is what it is NOT: A person who is morally superior to other people.

However, scripture does consistently describes righteous people as those who strive to follow God’s commands and the teachings of Jesus. In other words, they try to do the right thing according to scripture. But while righteous people strive to keep God’s law, they regularly fail. They know it, confess it, and then move forward to pursue it again.

How Jesus describes righteous and unrighteous people. A self-righteous person measures against other people. A righteous person measures against God’s standard

V.11 God I thank you that I am not like other men…

V.13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven

The Pharisee in the parable already considers himself righteous. And why does he qualify? Because he compares himself to other people he considers morally inferior to him. And let’s give him some credit. On the outside, his religious life was probably exemplary. He did all the right religious things and avoided the moral misdeeds of those sinful people he compared himself to.

But he neglected an important aspect of sin. It goes beyond our physical actions and is often committed in our minds and heart. And when God measures our righteousness, he looks at the heart.

The tax collector understood that his real level of accountability was to God’s standard. He was so shamefully below that standard he couldn’t even look towards heaven. But he knew something else too. And that’s what drove his prayer.

A self-righteous person celebrates their virtue. A righteous person confesses their sin and celebrates God’s grace

V.12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get…

V.13 God be merciful to me, a sinner.

The Pharisee lists all his virtues and they actually are pretty impressive. Some of the things you and I do are pretty impressive too. And when we compile a list and compare it to the horrific deeds of bad people, we may look morally superior.

But here’s the problem. God doesn’t grade on a curve. His standard is absolute perfection. And absolutely no one–except for Jesus Christ–meets that standard.

That’s what Paul means in Romans 6:23 when he says the wages of sin is death. If you are counting on your good works to earn your way to heaven, you aren’t going to make it.

The tax collector knew this and he cried out to God for mercy. And we can too. Because the good news of the gospel is that we are not saved by our good works, but by the grace of God.

How Jesus describes righteous and unrighteous people. A self-righteous person demonstrates pride. A righteous person demonstrates humility

V.14 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

Nothing blinds us like pride. The Pharisee was oblivious to it. And as he itemized the good deeds that qualified him as righteous, he completely missed his sin. Or conveniently ignored it.

Sin is the white elephant in the room. We all recognize it. Acknowledge its often devasting consequences. But avoid even using the term. And instead we say things like, “nobody’s perfect” and “everybody makes mistakes.” But admit we often intentionally do things we know are wrong, and that deep in our hearts and minds are some pretty horrible thoughts? Well, we don’t want to go there.

But to be truly righteous, we have to. With honesty…vulnerability…and humility. Because God is not impressed with our virtuous actions, religious pedigrees or spiritual presentations. He’s looking directly into and surveying the condition of our hearts.

And when you willingly face your depravity and call on God’s mercy, He raises you up. It’s what he does in the story with the tax collector. And with you and me. So be real. Be broken. And healed by God’s grace.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.

When Civil And Moral Order Disintegrate

When Civil And Moral Order Disintegrate

When civil and moral order disintegrate, chaos ensues. We see this happening today, but it’s not new. It shows up in an Old Testament story presented in Judges 19-21. Here are some thoughts for us to consider.

There are two key statements that drive the story.

  • In those days when there was no king in Israel
  • Everyone did what was right in his own eyes

They are like bookends. The first appears as the first verse in chapter 19 and the second as the last verse in chapter 21.

And the unfolding story between them reveals the most horrible acts that humans can inflict on one another. It demonstrates the moral degradation and evil capacity of a sinful heart with no civil or moral restraint.

When civil and moral order disintegrate and no one is in charge

During the period of the Judges, the 12 tribes of Israel were essentially 12 independent clans surrounded by enemies who raided and oppressed them. The Judges were military leaders that God raised up to unite the tribes during this time to fight these enemies. Essentially, the Judges kept the nation together enough so it wasn’t wiped out by its enemies.

But there was no civil law or governing authority except within each tribe. Or a consistent, moral standard guided by the Jewish religion.

Within this context is the story of a Levite man who takes a woman as a concubine. But when she leaves him and returns to live with her father, he follows to win her back. And during the return trip home, they stop for the night in the town of Gibeah in the region inhabited by the tribe of Benjamin.

When civil and moral order disintegrate and there’s no moral conscience

There weren’t many accommodations for travelers during this time. So the Jewish people had a hospitality custom. When you were in Jewish town, you waited in the town square and it was custom for a town resident to take you in for the night. So the Levite and his concubine waited in the square and finally, a man returning from working in the field offered to put them up for the night.

But worthless men of the city surrounded the house with evil intent for the Levite. Hospitality rules made the resident personally responsible for his guest’s welfare. So he pleaded with the evil men to stop, but they refused. And there was no one to call for help.

From here, the story recounts a list of moral atrocities.

  • Evil men from Gibeah ignored a time honored, moral custom
  • The sexual abuse and murder of the Levite’s concubine
  • Dismemberment of a dead body
  • The tribe of Benjamin refused to hand the perpetrators over to Israel for justice
  • A war is fought between Israel and tribe of Benjamin that cost thousands of lives on both sides
  • After the war, Israel had to make an unethical provision to keep the tribe of Benjamin from extinction

When civil and moral order disintegrate you are primed for destruction

Throughout the Old Testament Israel had a hot and cold relationship with God. When they morally disobeyed, God let enemies conquer and place them under subjection. But when Israel turned back to God, he delivered them.

Rome is another example of how immoral behavior weakens a culture. And many historians cite the increase of immorality in Roman society as contributing factor in its fall. Certainly, the growing level of unrestrained moral and criminal behavior in our nation makes us weaker and more vulnerable to our enemies.

Wonder why God left such a gruesome story in the Bible? Maybe so we can see where our current course is headed.

The Gospel writes a new story

The story in Judges 19-21 is tragic. But it’s not the end. Because a thousand years later, the gospel story brought hope. It’s the story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who sacrificed himself for our sin. He redeems us, spiritually transforms us, and empowers us to walk in righteousness. The gospel writes a new story for every person who chooses to follow Jesus.

And as people change from the inside out, heart by heart, society changes for the better. And for a much happier ending.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.

The Question Jesus Asked We All Must Answer

The Question Jesus Asked We All Must Answer

The question Jesus asked we all must answer is presented in Matthew 16:13-16. Do you know how you will answer it?

The question Jesus asked we all must answer was presented to his disciples

Jesus did not directly and publicly announce he was the Messiah. The Son of God. He was subtle and indirect, but when you examine scripture, he makes it clear that’s exactly who he was. And he carried himself in a confident manner that demonstrated he was fully aware of his identity and his mission. The one we celebrate on Easter.

How we answer his question is significant. And it’s important to understand the importance of the question and its answer.

Jesus asked it when he and the disciples appeared to be hanging out. A casual question in a relaxed, informal moment. But it was pointed and direct. Not rhetorical or philosophical. He wanted a specific answer with a complete commitment. The future of each disciple’s ministry and the future of the Kingdom of God depended on it.

The question Jesus asked we all must answer has one correct answer

However, Jesus wanted more than the glib answer to a Sunday school question you’ve answered a thousand times. He wanted gut check honesty from the heart. So he didn’t ask a leading question that contained the answer in it. Or provide a clue. Perhaps that’s why he referred to himself as the “Son of Man.” They had to come up with “God” on their own.

So, the disciples played it cool and offered a variety of answers. They named off John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. All religious Hall of Famers and therefore, safe, Sunday School answers.

People today play it cool too. Ask, “Who do you say Jesus is?” and answers include things like a…

  • Good man
  • Spiritual leader
  • Prophet
  • Moral teacher

And yet, none are sufficient. It’s like comparing Jesus to Mother Teresa or Billy Graham. Both are considered Hall of Famers among Christians today. But they were still sinners and didn’t come close to the perfect life of Jesus. Or his crowning achievement–resurrection from the dead.

And while people today will admit there is something special about Jesus. Something remarkably undeniable. They stop short of declaring him the Son of God. And are especially uncomfortable on how he himself presses for the answer. And demands exclusive allegiance in John 14:6.

Still, it’s a simple question. True or false. Yes or no. Right or wrong. And we all have a 50% chance of getting it right.

The question Jesus asked we all must answer will determine our eternal destination

Contrary to a popular belief, Jesus doesn’t meet you at the Pearly Gates with a spiritual weight scale to weigh all your good deeds against your bad deeds. And when the good deeds outweigh the bad deeds you get in.

Entrance into heaven is based on who you know. Specifically, do you know Jesus?

And it has to be more than head knowledge. Like how you know about Abraham Lincoln. You have to know Jesus like someone you actually care about and spend time with. Jesus himself said in Matthew 7:21-23 there are people in for an unpleasant surprise because they never understood the difference between the two. And never formed a real relationship with him. Even though that’s exactly what he wants with you and me.

Can you imagine the horror? The utter despair? You thought you had it all figured out. The highest expectations for eternal bliss. Only to find out you got it all wrong?

So you can ignore the question. Pretend he didn’t ask it. Or simply blow it off. But you can’t avoid it. Because one day we will all face him and have to answer when he asks: WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.

The Prodigal Son Bible Parable On Lost And Found

The Prodigal Son Bible Parable On Lost And Found

The Prodigal Son Bible Parable On Lost and Found is recorded in Luke 15:11-32. Here are three lessons it teaches.

The Prodigal Son Bible Parable on lost and found teaches God let’s you decide for yourself

The story involves a father and son and illustrates the relationship God desires with you and me. He is a heavenly Father that wants a personal relationship with each one of us. In the story however, the son thinks only of himself. He demands his inheritance in order to leave home, live independently, and pursue his own desires.

It reveals the truth of our sinful, selfish, human nature that puts “me” first. And the lustful desires and passions that lure us away from our heavenly Father’s love and care.

The father in the story was under no obligation to grant the son an inheritance before his death. But did so out of love. Why? Because he wanted his son to willingly choose a relationship with him. It is the same with you and me. God won’t force himself on us. We all choose to accept or reject a relationship with him. And to ignore him or say that’s a decision you will make later is to reject him.

The Prodigal Son Bible parable on lost and found teaches you must recognize your sinful condition

When the son leaves, the story focuses exclusively on him and the father is out of the picture. But is he?

Now the son follows his passions without restraint. But the pursuit of hedonistic pleasure has consequences. He eventually runs out of money and has to find work, although he is still hungry and miserable. And it makes you wonder. What if the supply of money hadn’t run out? Would the son have returned home or simply lived a party lifestyle the rest of his life?

The same question applies today. How long will people chase the illusion of hedonistic pleasure? Yes, it seems great at first. Because as long as you can keep the fun going–one pleasurable moment followed by another–you can numb the pain and ignore the emptiness. But it eventually catches up with you. And grows stale like old cigar smoke.

And only when you reach rock bottom physically, emotionally or spiritually do you see the reality of your condition. God is the last resort when you are all out of options. Which is what happens in the story. The son finally comes to his senses as he suffers the most deplorable conditions and turns back to his father.

The Prodigal Son Bible story teaches God waits eagerly for your return

When the father sees his son returning in the distance, he rushes to meet him. He doesn’t condemn or chastise him for leaving. Say “I told you so.” Or even wait for the son to finish his full apology. Because he is filled with unbelievable joy that the son has returned.

Have you left God and now wonder if it was a good idea? Wonder if God still loves you? If he will still take you back? Then let this story answer your question. YES!

God is waiting for you. Eager for your return. But it has to be your choice. And you must do so in humility and with a repentant heart. When you do, he will rush to meet you. And there will be a heavenly celebration.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.

Rahab The Hooker Who Got Hooked On God

Rahab The Hooker Who Got Hooked On God

Rahab the hooker. She played a minor role in a Bible story recorded in Joshua chapter two. But a major role in Christian history. Here’s her story.

Rahab the hooker turned from her old life to follow God

As Israel prepared to capture the city of Jericho, Joshua sent two men to spy out it out. And there, the two spies met Rahab, a prostitute. She told them she believed in the almighty power of Israel’s God, and Israel’s certain victory over Jericho. And she strikes a bargain. She will help them if they spare the life of her and her family when they captured the city.

Was this simply about self-preservation or something more? Because Rahab took a big chance in hiding the spies and even lying to the king of Jericho about it. Which presents an interesting moral dilemma about truth telling in God’s service.

However, one thing is clear. Rahab made a full commitment to God. Her actions were treasonous to Jericho and would have cost her dearly if discovered. But Jesus demands a full commitment and warns that following him may come with a cost.

Rahab the hooker was saved by faith

Faith is the foundation in Christianity. It’s where God’s grace and salvation are experienced. And how you live as a disciple of Jesus.

Both James 2:25 and Hebrews 11:31 commend Rahab for her faith. They confirm her genuine declaration of faith in God that she demonstrated by her actions. Something Jesus also consistently taught.

Nor did Rahab have any guarantee the spies would keep their promise. It was another exercise of faith, although thankfully, Israel kept its end of the deal.

But wait. That’s still not the end of the story.

Rahab was redeemed and given a new purpose

After the fall of Jericho, Rahab didn’t return to her life as a prostitute.

Instead, her life changed with new purpose.

We don’t know all the details, but we do know she remained with the nation of Israel. She eventually married a Jewish man and Matthew 1:5 says she bore a son named Boaz, who married Ruth a Moabite. Another outsider who joined Israel’s community because of her faith in God. It was through this lineage that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born.

In other words, Rahab was redeemed both physically and spiritually as a follower of God and became a great great grandmother of the Messiah.

It’s a story of hope for all of us. You can leave your past behind through the transforming and redeeming power of God. When you follow him and live according to His purpose.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.