In the World–May 5, 2019

By April 30, 2019 May 6th, 2019 "In the World"

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AN EVIL VIEW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Suicide bombers blew up three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Islamic State representatives claimed responsibility for the terrorist acts. These bombings show us what human attempts to create righteousness, according to one set of extremist religious views, can lead to. It should not surprise us that human attempts to be righteous turn into legalism and judgment that sometimes produce evil results.

THE ONLY RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COUNTS

As Christians, we also may be tempted to focus on an external appearance of righteousness. Legalism prompts us to develop lists of supposedly righteous acts and beliefs that elevate us above “ordinary sinners.” But according to the apostle Paul, this demonstrates the pride that can infect even the good that we do! In today’s background text (Romans 3:10), Paul tells us that no human can be righteous on his or her own. Only Jesus, the Righteous One, can make us pleasing to God, and that happens when we come to Him through faith in Christ and His righteousness, not through pride in ourselves.

  1. How can one’s thinking get so twisted as to think that God is honored by committing murder in His name?
  2. What does Paul’s life before meeting Jesus on the Damascus road (Acts 9) suggest about this?
  3. In what ways have you struggled with a focus on the appearance of external righteousness?

—Charles R. Boatman

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