Saturday, November 21, 2009

How do we teach righteousness - right standing, right doing, both?

Below are extracts of exchanges that took place in Stanley's facebook page in response to his blog posting titled "Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind"


Stanley wrote:
There is no such thing as "the process of making you righteous"; you are either righteous or not righteous ie. you either have a right standing before God or you don't.

C wrote:
Why did Paul wrote the following verses if growing in righteousness is not a process?

"PUT to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the WRATH of God is COMING. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you MUST RID yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, CLOTHE yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

Lip Kee wrote:

We are all for righteous acts by Christians. We delight in witnessing right behavior among believers.

I suppose we differ only when it comes to HOW we can or should cause or help or encourage ourselves and our fellow siblings in Christ to manifest the righteous acts that glorify our Lord.

Some of us believe that we should focus on INSTRUCTING fellow believers on the what-to-do's and the what-not-to- do's. So when such among us read Col 3:5-14, we see a list of instructions and commands: YOU must put to death...YOU must RID yourselves of...YOU should not lie...YOU are to clothe yourselves with....YOU are to forgive

Some of us, on the other hand, believe that we should focus on AFFIRMING ourselves and our fellow brothers and sisters of our right-standing before (and intimacy with) our loving Father and our identity in Christ. Therefore, when reading the same passage, we would choose to read it in its wider context (i.e. to start from Colossians chapter 1, or at least from Colossians chapter 3 verse 1 onwards), and we see affirmations and promises: you were raised with CHRIST...your life is hidden in CHRIST with God...when CHRIST who is your life appears, then you also will appear with HIM in glory, THEREFORE put to death...rid yourselves not lie...; as the elect of God, HOLY AND BELOVED, put on...even as CHRIST forgave you, so also forgive.

I used to belong to the first group, but I've switched to the second, and I intend to stay put. I believe the power to bear fruit (act righteously) does not come from focusing one's attention on the fruit, but by putting one's attention on the root (right standing before God in Christ).

For he who lacks these things (faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love) is short-sighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. (2 Peter 1:9)

According to Peter, the reason why a believer is not fruitful and does not exhibit godly behavior and righteous acts is because he has lost sight of or is ignorant of the precious truth that he is a forgiven person.

If we wish to see more manifestation of godly behavior and righteous acts in the Church and in the communities we live in, we would do well to relentlessly preach the good news of God's forgiveness, to share the life-liberating message of no condemnation, and to build one another up in the teaching of righteousness (right-standing before God because of Christ's work on the cross).

My 2-cent worth. :-)

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