The Price of Righteousness

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, April 21, 2015 2 comments

by Bill Seng

“We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” ~Romans 6:2

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” On April 14, 1865, the United States of America was about to revisit the truth of this prophetic statement. A war-worn Abraham Lincoln, who not long before had mourned the death of his son, was settling down at the Ford’s theater for what was supposed to be a night of entertainment and relaxation. Unknown to him, and most everyone else, his assassin John Wilkes Booth traveled up the stairs to the President’s seat to put an end to his legacy. (Link)

The purpose of a sacrifice is to make people right in the eyes of God by covering over sin. Since the consequence for sin is death, only death can satisfy the cravings of sin. But it is always the righteous who must suffer on behalf of the wicked. In the book of Leviticus, it is written that the burnt offering must be a “male without defect” (Leviticus 1:10). Historically, this has been the case time and time again as mankind has gone astray; not just in the form of animals, though, but people dying for noble causes.

There is no doubt that slavery was one of the sins of America. Although there were many that stood against the institution of slavery, there were still many that supported it. Not only did people support slavery, but they also attempted to justify its wicked practice through Scripture. And not just slavery, but racism as well! I cannot speak for Abraham Lincoln’s true intentions, but he is famously credited for siding with the words of the Constitution in saying, “All men are created equal.” True, he is only thought to have converted to Christianity at the end of his life, but he still recognized this truth inside of the Holy Scriptures, in which he believed, for quite some time. It was for his boldness against slavery that he would one day pay with his life. (Link)

The above Scripture verse states, “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Most of us are fortunate that we do not literally have to pay in the form of martyrdom. We are fortunate enough that we get to enjoy the duration of our existences as “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). But how beautiful it is when someone stands for truth and righteousness to the bitter end. Take, for instance, Abel.

If you do not recall, Abel was the first martyr. He and his brother Cain brought sacrifices before God. God rejected Cain’s sacrifice, as it was nothing more than crops he had gathered and probably not even his best, while Abel brought his best livestock before the Lord as a sacrifice pleasing to him. God’s rebuke of Cain did not lead toward repentance. Cain’s hatred toward his brother was ignited through God’s gentle warning. Eventually Cain invited his brother out to the field, for whatever reason. Unsuspecting of his brother’s ill intentions, he accepted this invitation and went out to the field. Shortly after, he was murdered. Jesus refers to Abel as righteous, and that is because he was murdered for doing what was right. Through Abel’s death a separation between light and darkness was created in the land of the living. Within two generations following the death of Abel, though, a child was born named Enosh. It was after the birth of Enosh that mankind finally began to call on the name of the Lord.

Yet, there have been others who have blasphemed the name of God through self-righteous hatred. There is an infamous law of Islam that states that if one gives his life fighting in the name of Allah, he most certainly will be rewarded in paradise. This teaching has been taken to an extreme as it has led to suicide bombers, savage murders, and rhetoric that sends chills to your very soul. The Quran clearly states,  “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward” (Quran 4:74) and “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” (Quran 8:12). When we were still God’s enemies, Jesus died for us. But in this instance, it appears the enemies of Allah are to suffer horribly, lest they recant.

Do not hold these teachings against those who promote them. They simply do not know what they are doing. Jesus warned that people would kill his followers because they think they are doing God’s will. We know that Satan blinds the minds of the unbeliever and causes them to do atrocious things against the saints. But it is for us to stand in the gap and suffer for Christ’s sake. For to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

Lincoln died, Abel died, and Christ died. Can we not die to our sins? There are still many others who have died for righteous causes that I have not mentioned and many of which are not Christians. Even though we know that as Christians we need to suffer for the sake of Christ, sometimes we behave as though we desire the death of the unbelievers. Let us not be so arrogant. If Jesus died for our sins, so that we no longer need to bare them, we can rejoice in our sufferings. For as the Apostles once wrote, we should be honored to suffer for the sake of Christ (Acts 5:41).

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Anonymous said...

This weighs heavy on my heart. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. In moments I feel like I am "better" because I "want" to do right, yet, two minutes later, I see where I have not died to sin even in simple retorts I just made. Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit in me.

Charlie said...

This is Romans 7 in a nutshell, Anonymous. I fully understand as well. I have areas where I am like "Can't you just die yet so I can get the Resurrection?"