There’s no one reading this article that doesn’t want our world to be delivered from evil, for creation to be set right. We want things in our lives made right, and we want things in our world made right. We want things made right for our friends and the people we care about. We want peace on this earth and we want people to be good to one another. In other words, we want the new earth and we want it now. But do we understand that we are part of the evil in this fallen world?
J.D. Greear encourages Christians to take a deeper look at what we’re asking when we ask God to make things right. He shares this in his article, The Problem With Wanting God to Set Things “Right”, at jdgreear.com:
"...as much as we yearn for the world to embrace right-ness (which is all righteousness means), our own words and actions constantly betray God’s picture of rightness. We want God to deliver the world from evil, but the evil we want him to deliver us from is also inside ourselves."
There are many people praying for a better world, for peace; yet they have not prayed for God to take hold of their own lives because they do not understand that they are part of the evil in this world.
““Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.”" (4:1-2)
The people were waiting for a Messiah, but even after these words there were 400 years of silence. And when the Messiah did come, he was not what the people were expecting. God ushered in a righteousness that no one saw coming. Can you imagine if the story ended there in Malachi? Who would have been worthy without the Messiah?
The world is not comprised of innocents choosing good or evil for themselves; the world is comprised of sinners living a sinful existence in a fallen world…utterly unable to make themselves right before God. If God were to justly destroy all evil in the world, he would have to destroy us too. God knew this from the beginning, and he knew his Son would have to pay the price for sin…it was the only way we could be made worthy.
Though the religious teachers at the time of Jesus would have been familiar with messianic prophecies, they had it in their minds that this Messiah would usher in a new political kingdom—someone who would deliver them from outward oppression rather than inward oppression. But the Messiah didn’t come to make things right politically; he came to make us right with God.
The only way that we will not be destroyed along with all the evil and sin in the world is if we are separated from sin—so that it can have no claim on our lives. And the only way to be separated from sin, is to have him who knew no sin to take on our sin and claim it as his own paying the debt we owed and taking on God’s just wrath. By God’s grace this has already been done, once and for all at the cross. And this substitution of Christ’s life for ours, salvation, is offered to us freely. God desires that we would accept this gift and join his family forever. This true story is ultimately better and more amazing than any super hero movie we could ever come up with.
“Jesus absorbed the curse, taking upon himself the furnace of God’s wrath so he could be the healing Sun of Righteousness to us. His first followers didn’t expect it. His opponents wouldn’t accept it. But we all desperately needed it.”
We didn’t have a choice to be sinners or not…that choice was made with the first humans, but we do have a choice whether we remain marked by sin or whether we accept ultimate healing from the “Sun of righteousness.” The Son of God, Jesus our Messiah, is the only one who can remove the deep stain of sin from our lives. It is this rightness, righteousness freely offered, that we should cling to in this world.
Greear wisely concludes,
“God has solved the dilemma of our righteousness, but it is only ours if we grasp it for ourselves. If we cherish our sin, God’s righteousness will appear like the blazing heat of a furnace. If we repent of that sin and turn to God in desperation and faith, then the only heat we will feel is the purifying fire of the Refiner(Malachi 3:3).”
To read Greear’s article in its entirety please visit jdgreear.com.
Often in today’s society, it seems that we place more emphasis on being moralists than we do on being ambassadors of Christ. We like morals and we like the society they can give us, but morals won’t get us past sin’s gate. It’s not even morals + Christ…it’s just Christ! Christ + nothing else = redemption from sin. Next time you look at someone’s life and you see what appears to be a moral life, but you never hear them talk about Jesus, don’t let them slip away without a true understanding of what righteousness looks like before God. Righteousness only looks like one thing: Jesus standing in our place.
The problem with wanting God to make everything right, and the one thing we need to understand when we ask him is that we are part of the evil. Without Christ in our lives, God is just in sweeping us off the earth and throwing us into the furnace with the rest of evil. We must accept that nothing we do will earn us merit to have everlasting life with God; then we must accept what Jesus has already done for us, the grace and redemption that he freely offers. Only then can God grant us his righteousness that overrides sin’s hold.
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. ...So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)
Crosswalk contributor Jaquelle Crowe states,
“Being a Christian means that we love God more. Every day we die a little more to our old selves and live a little more like Christ (John 3:30). That’s why we are called Christians, because we are of Christ, for Christ, with Christ, and in Christ alone.”
Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/ThomasNorthcut
Publication date: June 26, 2017
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.