Upright in the Sight of God by Scarlett Stough

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Add to Your Faith, Goodness.

When God looked for a couple to become the parents of the one prophesied "to prepare the way for the Lord" (Isaiah 40:3-5), he chose Zechariah and Elizabeth. "Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly."(Luke 1:6) The Greek word translated in the NIV as "upright" is usually translated "righteous" which refers to right conduct. Zechariah and Elizabeth had chosen to live their lives according to God's standard--in agreement with God's commandments. However, as we discover in verses 18-20, they made mistakes, but God called them upright, righteous by his standard.

No one has ever met God's standards perfectly, including Zechariah and Elizabeth, but they made an excellent aim for it. God has a way for imperfect people to achieve his standard of righteousness so that we can be upright in his sight. Jesus is that way. (Romans 3:20-26)

Jesus compared our unrighteousness to a sickness that needs medical intervention. He has a cure for everything that ails us. But we have to first recognize the cause of our disease and then turn to him for healing. (Luke 5:31-32; Luke 18:9-14) [This article is about spiritual healing.]

The problem with our illness is that our illness is chronic which requires his continuous monitoring and management. Once we begin to think we've been cured and stop using his prescription, our spiritual disease attacks, sometimes with more severe symptoms. (Hebrews 6:4-8)

Peter exhorts us:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

Faith is the starting point. Does God exist? Is Jesus the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and the only way to God? Is God trustworthy? Does he even care about us? Is the Bible his word? Can we trust the Bible to teach us God's standard for right conduct? When we answer these questions in the affirmative, then we have to choose--God’s way, or my way.

Once we turn from our way to God's way (repentance), then we need to add goodness--moral excellence or right conduct--to our faith as Zechariah and Elizabeth did. Peter told us how to begin living by faith:

Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call. (Acts 2:38-39)

The Holy Spirit dwells in us to convict us of wrongdoing, to guide us into right doing, empowers us to want and to do whatever is right in God's sight. (Philippians 2:12-13; Galatians 5:16-26) God does not force anyone to choose his way of living. Each person has to choose and make the effort to live an upright life. (Titus 2:11-14)

Without the healing treatment Jesus provides, our sin illness is terminal. (Romans 6:23) We have to allow his word to cut out the diseased parts and to wash away the toxic attitudes and actions that make us sick. Above all, we need the infusion of his blood sacrifice to give us eternal life. (1 John 5:11-12)

Volume 07 Issue 07 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation

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