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Bible verses about God's Standard of Righteousness
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 12:1-3

God tells Abram to head toward a different land, which is linked with his people becoming a great nation. We usually interpret this as meaning a vast number of physical descendants, and God has certainly fulfilled that, considering the teeming populations of his offspring. However, the real meaning of being Abraham's children has to do with those who have the faith of Abraham (Galatians 3:7).

The Jews boasted that Abraham was their father, yet they were concerned only with physical lineage. Jesus told the priests and Pharisees that the kingdom would be taken from them and “given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (Matthew 21:43). That nation is defined, not by a physical bloodline, but by a certain faith and a different spirit. Peter calls those with the faith of Abraham “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (I Peter 2:9).

Genesis 12:3 says that in Abraham “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Paul explains this promise in Galatians 3:8: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, 'In you all the nations shall be blessed.'” From the Genesis 12:3 promise, Paul derives the idea that justification by faith would become available. In addition to foretelling a spiritual nation, God's promise of the land also suggests many being brought into alignment with God's standard of righteousness based on belief in Him.

David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part Two)


 

Psalm 10:4

Is God a reality to us all the day long, or are there long periods when He is not in our thoughts? Do we go through long stretches of time when we think only of carnal or secular things? Is everything we do filtered through the spiritual knowledge God reveals to us for creating Himself in us? Does everything we do pass the bar of His standards? Are we really part of His Family, the Body of Jesus Christ? Do we know? Does everything we do reflect the way the Family of God would do things?

Honestly answering these questions in the affirmative is a daunting order. Indeed, none of us can answer them all with a "Yes." However, the apostle Paul charges us with this very obligation in II Corinthians 10:3-5:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Could we do this? Why would God set it as a standard if it were not possible?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Eight): Conclusion (Part One)


 

Isaiah 28:16-17

In verse 17, the plumb line is defined as justice and righteousness. We have seen that already in our word "upright," a synonym of "vertical." What is upright is righteous, and God will judge according to that standard. He will set us up so that we can see—and He can see—how close we are adhering to godly judgment and right doing. He and we will see how much we are living by the standard.

He writes, ". . . the hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters will overflow the hiding place." The process of this judgment will sweep away 1) the deceptions that we have allowed ourselves to believe and 2) the hidden, secret sins that we have allowed to continue. We will not be able to hide from the lies and the sins that we have ignored for so long.

The plumb line is nothing to sneeze at. God is serious. When He holds the plumb line next to His people, He is deadly serious, "eternal life and death" serious—especially to those who are converted. We had better measure up.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 5)


 

Matthew 24:12

This is a warning to us—that the iniquity that is in the world will cause a loss of love in the church. If we understand the progression of events in Matthew 24, then verse 12 speaks of the time of the Tribulation. We are leading up to that, living in a period in which the stresses against the church—from the world—are increasing. As they increase, it can have the psychological effect—because we begin to get weary of dealing with it—of becoming apathetic, that is, without feeling for what we formerly loved so dearly.

So the iniquity is in the world, but resisting it is a constant stress because it exerts tremendous pressure through an appealing façade—to give in and go along with it. As we live with it and everybody else is doing it, the world's behavior gradually becomes acceptable to us, thus giving evidence that apathy is taking over.

We need to look at every aspect, even in areas we may consider "minor things." How do they dress? What kind of music do they listen to? What are the world's movies like? What are their attitudes in dealing with each other—in stores, on the street, in communities? In many places, we can hardly get anybody on the street to greet us! There are many little behaviors like this. The iniquity is in the world, but it pressures us into doing things as it does—and then it becomes our behavior.

This is just hypothetical, but what if we evaluated ourselves against the world ten years ago and judged that we were 50% more righteous than the world. Then today, we did exactly the same thing, and figured that we are at least 50% more righteous than the world. However, if the world had become more unrighteous during that same period, then, even though we may be 50% more righteous than the world now, we have actually gone backwards in those ten years—right along with the world!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Hebrews: A Message for Today


 

John 12:48

God will judge us by the things written in the "books," that is, His Word. The Bible contains God's laws, the standard of righteousness by which everyone is judged.

Staff
Basic Doctrines: Eternal Judgment


 

Romans 3:20

The Bible displays the Father's and the Son's standard in a multitude of word-pictures that reveal their nature and characteristics in word and deed. Just in case we have difficulty understanding clearly what sin is from the word-pictures of God's attitudes and conduct, He provides us with specific and clear statements. For instance, Romans 3:20 reads, "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." He has made it even simpler by inspiring I John 3:4 (KJV): "Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."

At its simplest, sin is a deviation from what is good and right. However, within any given context, the deviation and especially the attitude involved in the conduct are often revealed more specifically by other terms. It helps to be aware of these terms so that we can extract more knowledge and understanding.

The most common verbal root in Hebrew for the noun sin literally means "to miss, to fail, to err, or to be at fault," and it is often translated by these terms depending upon context. It is chata' (Strong's #2398). Job 5:24 does not involve sin, but chata' appears in the verse: "You shall know that your tent is in peace; you shall visit your habitation and find nothing amiss." Here, chata' is translated as "amiss": Nothing is wrong; the habitation is as it should be. Chata' is also used in Judges 20:16, translated as "miss." Again, no sin is involved.

Solomon writes in Proverbs 8:36, "But he who sins against me [wisdom personified] wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death." Here is a context that involves moral or ethical issues, requiring chata' to be translated as "sin." The person is failing to live up to the moral or ethical standard.

Genesis 20:9 also contains it:

And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, "What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done."

The word "offended" is translated from chata', and "sin" is translated from a cognate. Abimelech charges Abraham as having missed the standard of behavior against him and his nation.

Jeremiah writes in Lamentations 5:7, "Our fathers sinned and are no more, but we bear their iniquities." Here, the fathers missed achieving God's standard, that is, the level of conduct He would have exhibited were He involved in the same situation as they. "Iniquities" is translated from the Hebrew avon, which suggests "perversity."

Leviticus 4:2 presents us with a different situation: "If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and does any of them. . . ." Chata' appears as "sins," but it is modified by the Hebrew shegagah (Strong's #7684), which means "inadvertently, unintentionally, unwittingly, or by mistake." It can also indicate that "wandering" or "straying" is involved. These suggest weakness as the cause of missing the standard. The descriptor defines the sin more specifically, helping us to understand that God's judgment includes more than the bare fact that a law was broken. It more clearly delineates the deviation.

David writes in Psalm 58:3-4: "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born speaking lies. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; they are like the deaf cobra that stops its ear." Also, Ezekiel 44:10 reads, "And the Levites who went far from Me, when Israel went astray, who strayed away from Me after their idols, they shall bear their iniquity." In both contexts, the people sinned through ignorance, wandering, and other weaknesses. Even so, it in no way tempered the effect of them as minor. The sins wreaked destructive results, even though they were committed by simple carelessness, laziness, indifference, or not considering the end.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sin, Christians, and the Fear of God


 

Romans 9:14-25

Sometimes these concepts are tough mental nuts for us to crack and swallow because we emotionally recoil at thinking of God as doing the things Paul mentions. Nevertheless, the Bible's record is true. Clearly, the sovereign God, in working out His plan, purposely makes people for destruction, while at the same time giving abundant grace in His calling to others who are just as worthy of destruction as those destroyed! Were Pharaoh and the Egyptians any worse sinners than the Israelites? Hardly, but in God's purpose they died while the Israelites received grace.

As Paul says, there is no unrighteousness in God. He is free to exercise His powers as He wills. His actions are always done in love, and in the end, they will produce righteousness, love, and honor for Him. The Egyptians will be saved. When God gives them grace in the Great White Throne Judgment, they will come to know Him and glorify Him as their God too.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part Two)


 

Ephesians 5:26

Until God calls us, we are subject to the constant bombardments of the words—the thinking and the ideas, the hopes and dreams, and the ideals and standards—of this world. Some of them also come from God. It is a mixture. But would it not be far better to use the pure thing? Every Word of God is pure. If we want our thinking to be pure (I John 3:3), then our minds must be fed with what will make our thinking pure.

We have the use of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Then we must put God's instruction into practice so that it becomes inscribed on our hearts. This is done by making those behaviors habitual. God gives most of us a long time to do this. He gave the Israelites forty years to inscribe it on their hearts. He gives us so much time because it takes an awful lot of time to change a carnal mind—to purify it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 8)


 

Philippians 3:16

Verse 16 adds an exhortation not to slip from what has already been attained. Our aim in life is to so know Christ—to be so united with Him—that day by day we share the life He lived, walk as He walked, even suffer as He did. We grow in His faith and come to share His hopes, joys, sorrows, and disappointments. We bear the stake and perhaps, as some have, die the death He died. In this way, we are sharing life with Christ, and through this process, we are perfected.

We are not complete yet, so we must press on. God has grasped us as well, not in the same abrupt manner He demonstrated with Paul, but He undoubtedly has laid hold on us. It is comforting to know that in Philippians 1:6 He tells us He is able to finish what He has begun. He will finish His creative work if we give Him the chance.

Because of Jesus Christ, God accepts us, and we have access to Him. As we are being perfected, we should see ever more clearly the standard of conduct God requires of us. It is indeed a high standard, but at the same time, our acceptance should give us peace to live confidently. The death penalty is no longer hanging over us; we do not have to feel guilty. Since the standard is to come "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13), we are given goals that will always be higher than we can reach. We will always have something to strive for, so we cannot honestly say we are "rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," as the Laodicean so proudly proclaims (Revelation 3:17).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Nine): Conclusion (Part Two)


 

1 John 2:17

God is mostly concerned about the world's ideals, its standards, its concepts of right and wrong. These influence the way we look at everything, and produce inclinations, attitudes, feelings, and the purposes for which we live. In the final tally, the world's standards are short-sighted and selfish—unlike God's, which are eternal and outgoing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism


 

 




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