Wicked? Righteous? Neither? … You Sure?

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for July 26, 2020; Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Deuteronomy 7:6-9; Psalm 125; Romans 8:28-39; Matthew 13: 44-52

This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:49-50)

Woe! As a believer in a higher power, a Creator and spiritual overseer of my soul, this passage can and should be a scary passage. As I mentioned last week, a lot of people believe in a higher power, believe in a god, believe in life after death, believe in a heaven and a hell. And the above verse, along with many of its adjoining verses make it very clear that there will be a separation of the wicked and the righteous, the removal of the wicked from his presence and their placement in hell, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Woe, that’s sobering stuff. No, that’s downright scary stuff.

I would guess if you didn’t believe in a higher power than you wouldn’t be reading this. But, if by chance you don’t believe and you just stumbled across this devotion. If by chance you believe this world is all you have so you can live however you want with no regard to a possible life eternal, either in a glorious realm or in a torturous hell, then go on living just as you are. But let me ask; what if by chance you are mistaken? What if there is a heaven, and a glorious life eternal with the God that created you to be exactly whom he desired you to be and who loves you beyond your wildest dreams? A God who desires you to be reunited with him forever? What if you’re wrong and you’ve just denied yourself a life of peace and joy and glory not just in eternity, but even right now? Oh, and not only that; but despite your denial, you are faced with the alternative weeping and gnashing of teeth for all of eternity, because it is either one or the other: the righteous or the wicked? What if you’re wrong?

But then, could it be even more horrifying in knowing there is an after life, and it is either in Heaven with the one and only God, or in Hell with the father of lies and all his demons. As a sinful human being I fall short. I am not righteous. No one is righteous, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) and I am told, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) This fact should scare all people. The fact that we can try all we like on our own to meet God’s requirements that would label us righteous, but we will never ever, ever be able to fulfill such requirements on our own. We are lost and dead to sin and no different than those who have chosen not to believe in the one and only God.

However, the difference is this; it is in knowing and acknowledging our helplessness to redeem ourselves before God that He- the Almighty, the Alpha & Omega, the First and the Last, the Great I AM- clothes us in his righteousness. For our righteousness is accomplished through Christ’s sacrifice. He has done it and it is ours. In fact, “this righteousness is given through faith inJesus Christ to all who believe, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22a, 24, italics added) Our righteousness is not dependent upon ourselves, but on Christ. Therefore, in believing in Christ, our home is with the one and only God, and our relationship with him is restored now and for eternity. There is no fear of our destiny, of hell, or an eternity of weeping or gnashing of teeth. There is no fear of working hard enough or ‘doing’ enough. In Christ, we wear his robe of righteousness, and no one or nothing can change that: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35,37)

Prayer: Dear God, no matter how hard I try, it is clear I am a sinner. I do not deserve to be counted among the righteous, for my sin has rendered my being ‘wicked’ as scripture states. But thank you for loving me so much that Christ came down to this earth and obtained your required righteousness on my behalf. You arranged my ransom. You paid my penalty. And then you laid upon me your righteousness. For this I am ever indebted to you. Thank-you! In Jesus’ name alone I pray. AMEN!

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