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What Really Is the Standard of the Righteous in God’s Eyes?
By Li Nan, United States
The Standard By Which Man Judges the Righteous
By chance, a friend of mine shared with me these Bible verses—the parable of the net in Matthew 13:47-50, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like to a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” She said, “Recently, when studying these verses, I got some new enlightenment: The Lord used this parable to tell us what He will do when He returns in the last days. At that time, God will perform the work of dividing us according to our kind and rewarding good and punishing evil. The good fish will be picked out and then kept in the vessels; the foul ones will be thrown away. That is to say, God will separate the righteous from the wicked. Finally, only the righteous can enter into the kingdom of heaven, while the wicked will be the people that are cast off and eliminated.”
When I heard this, I said confidently, “Thank the Lord! We, those who believe in the Lord, have been selected before Him, been separated from the Gentiles and been justified by faith, and thus we are the righteous in His eyes. As long as we can keep on attending meetings, praying, and reading the Bible often, practice His word and have tolerance, patience and compassion for people, don’t hit or curse people, don’t smoke or drink and moreover, can often spread the gospel, devote ourselves and work for the Lord, we will be the righteous in His eyes and be after His heart.”
Appearing to Behave Well on the Outside Does Not Mean Being the Righteous
After hearing my fellowship, she said to me patiently, “I held the same viewpoints as you before, thinking as long as we could provide a little more help and support to the weak brothers and sisters with a loving heart, expend ourselves more for the Lord, spread the gospel more and bear more fruits, we would be the righteous in God’s eyes. But the Lord, ‘Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity’ (Matthew 7:22-23). Then I pondered: ‘If as long as we behave well on the outside, we can be deemed righteous by the Lord, then why did the Lord Jesus still say those who preached and worked in the Lord’s name committed evil?’ Later, I thought of the Pharisees. They served Jehovah God in the temple without change, and even traveled far and wide to preach the gospel, enduring lots of suffering and paying a large price, but when God incarnated Himself and came to earth to do work, they furiously hindered and persecuted Him, and in the end they even joined forces with the Roman government to nail Him to the cross. As a result, they were condemned and cursed by God and were subjected to unprecedented destruction. Now, our many sisters and brothers in the Lord have done so much work and gone long distance, and can also keep attending meetings, praying, reading the Bible and making offerings, exhibiting many seemingly good behaviors, but they just fail to practice the Lord’s word and still involuntarily sin often. Once their personal interests are harmed, they will misunderstand and blame God. This shows that those who can preach and work for the Lord are not necessarily the righteous.”
After hearing her words, I thought of myself: Every day I, saying I’m willing to give myself into His hand and submit to His sovereignty and arrangements; however, when my family encounters mishaps, my heart is full of complaints and requirements toward God. More than this, I also possess many behaviors that disobey and oppose God. For example, I passionately serve on appearance, but actually I struggle for fame and fortune against my co-workers in every way. Once I see they are better than me and that I can’t exhibit myself, I will become jealous of them, and will even judge them behind their backs so that I can be supported by other believers; during my preaching, my purpose isn’t simply to exalt God, bear witness to God or bring brothers and sisters before God, but to use letters and doctrines to show off myself to make them look up to me, and compete with God for people. … Reflecting on all my manifestations, I felt very shameful and was also very worried about myself because I was really too far off from meeting the standard of the righteous.
The Standard of the Righteous in God’s Eyes
When seeing I was disheartened, she shared with me a passage of God’s word which she saw on a gospel website recently, “It is a truism that ‘there are no righteous upon this earth, the righteous are not in this world.’ … ‘Righteousness’ does not mean giving alms, it does not mean loving your neighbor as yourself, and it does not mean not fighting, arguing, robbing, or stealing. Righteousness means taking God’s commission as your duty and obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements as a heaven-sent vocation, regardless of the time or place, just like all that was done by the Lord Jesus. This is the very righteousness spoken of by God. … No matter how good your actions, no matter how you appear to glorify the name of God, not hitting and cursing others, or robbing and stealing from them, still you cannot be called righteous, for such things can be possessed by any normal person” (“The Wicked Must Be Punished”).
Then she continued fellowshiping, “God’s word tells us the standard of the real righteous man. The righteousness in God’s eyes doesn’t mean the good behaviors, does not mean being charitable, being friendly to others, or not arguing or quarreling with others, and also doesn’t mean reading the Bible and praying to the minute every day. Real righteousness refers to people who can have God’s heart as their own, and can be duty-bound to accomplish what God has entrusted to them as their own duty without intentions and impurities, who don’t consider their own interests, gains and losses and who can fear God and shun evil and submit to God’s orchestration and arrangements, and in the end, can be compatible with God. Only this is the standard of the righteous in God’s eyes. The Bible shows us that people who were called righteous by God were rare. Genesis 6:9 mentions, “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations.” When God’s will was revealed to Noah—letting him build an ark and spread the gospel, though he faced the derision, slander, and judgments of the people then and all kinds of difficulties, he didn’t lay conditions or make excuses but simply obeyed God’s demands—persisting in building the ark, spreading the gospel, and accomplishing God’s commission; furthermore, Job, who was known to us, spent all his life seeking to walk the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Though he was faced with the repeated temptations from Satan, and lost all his property and his sons and daughters and even got sore boils all over his body, thus enduring extreme pain both physically and mentally, he still praised the holy name of God, bearing a beautiful and resounding testimony for God. Therefore, he was a righteous and perfect man in God’s eyes.”
Through this fellowship, I had an accurate target, and the way of how to be a righteous man. If we want to become a righteous man, we shouldn’t just have a good wish or commit superficial good deeds, and instead we should put God’s word into practice, act according to God’s word, and seek to walk the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Thank God! I became confident in being a righteous man!
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