Monday, April 5, 2010

Righteousness Shown In Works

Did you know that Psalm 111 is connected to Psalm 112? They are both acrostic poems/songs and they are united by a theme of righteousness being shown in works.  However, the interesting thing is that Psalm 111 speaks of God's righteousness being shown in his works, but Psalm 112 declares that man's righteousness is shown in his works! 

Right off the bat I should point out that this is NOT saying that our righteousness comes from our works, or is earned by our works. The Bible is clear that our righteousness, apart from God, is filthy rags in God's sight - tainted and useless for getting anywhere with him (Isaiah 64:6).  Scripture is also very clear that salvation is not man earning or obtaining righteousness of his own, but receiving as a free gift God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-26).  But even though Jesus' righteousness is imputed to us through faith as a free gift, it is then shown - revealed to God and man - through our works. Faith without works is dead. You will know the tree by the fruit it bears.

Psalm 111 praises God for his glorious works:
"Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever" (vs 2-3, ESV). 
See the connection between his works and his righteousness?

Psalm 111 then closes with a word on fearing God: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (v10).  This is the very theme that Psalm 112 takes up!  It is an elaboration of what it looks like for man to fear God.  Psalm 112 begins this way, "Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!" (v1)

First, notice that the fear of God that is described here is not a dread that makes us run from God.  Fearing God is connected with Delighting in him (even in his commandments, or his word).  We can fear God and Delight in God!

The rest of the psalm describes the man who fears God. How do we know he fears God?  By looking at his works!  He "deals generously and lends;" He"conducts his affairs with justice;" He is "not afraid of bad news," but "trusts in the LORD;" He has "freely...given to the poor."

And just as God's righteousness is shown by his glorious works, Psalm 112 declares the same thing about the man who fears and delights in God:  "his righteousness endures forever."  What a thing to say about man!  And this short psalm makes this declaration TWICE (verse 3 and verse 9).  Wow!  The man who fears God has a righteousness that endures forever!!

We are created in God's image.  Just as God shows off his glory through his works, so man is to show off God's glory in our works.  He has given believers in Christ a spotless righteousness. This is not in theory, but in fact. It is positional, applying to our standing before God; but it is also experiential and must be seen in our lifestyle!  We who possess Christ's rightousness by faith, who fear God and delight in his commandments, should show through our works that our righteousness "endures forever!"

No comments: