Why do we do what’s right?
Fear of getting into trouble, looking good in the eyes of others, feeling good, avoiding put-down, avoiding correction and punishment, to be liked, and to gain position are the general reasons for us trying to do what’s right.
“Don’t tell me what to do” is really the real you
Our motivation for doing right is almost always selfish. The real subtle motive for doing right is the love of MYSELF and this is hidden in the crevices of our heart and, if squeezed, is expressed as “don’t tell me what to do“. Therefore, doing right is more often than not, sin and evil, even though the act looks good. Most people’s rightness is based on their experiences of hurt and thus they use their feelings as their judgment of what’s right.
In direct contrast, the motivation for righteousness is the love of God.
The Word of God declares that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach, and that all unrighteousness is sin (1John 5:17). Therefore, anything you do that’s unrighteous, is sin, no matter how right it is.
What is righteousness?
We can understand righteousness by comparing it with the opposite Greek word ‘anomia’ which means ‘lawlessness’. Righteousness, therefore, is conforming to the law of God by the Spirit of Truth and Faith and is confirmed by the quality of your thoughts and actions. Righteousness is the law of God in your heart by faith and by Spirit. Righteousness is doing right when your heart is surrendered to God’s heart. Righteousness is doing what’s right by the Spirit of God doing it through you, not by your flesh of willpower and mind-power.
Sin hardens your heart
Like the rich young ruler in Luke 18, you can do as much right as you like but if you are envious of others’ position or covetous of others’ success, then your ‘right’ is definitely a counterfeit. Envy is evidence your heart is not right no matter how much right you do. The problem is, envy blocks your thoughts and feelings so you can’t see or sense that your right isn’t righteous. That’s because sin hardens your heart (Hebrews 3:13). Envy thinks it’s righteous, but that’s just the deception of a lying spirit. Envy feeds on the stubbornness of its will to not be corrected for its wrong because that would make it look bad that it wasn’t right.
It usually requires someone else to point out your insincerity, and your reaction to their observation about you will either lead you to repentance or to deeper resistance to righteousness and thus more unrighteousness and even more vain attempts at being right to regain your position of favour, and unwittingly, greater demonic influence over your mind and spirit.
The sin of rightness will never understand righteousness until it gives up its will to be elevated and valued and ceases its resistance to the will of God.
Righteousness is the action, Love is the motivation
Righteousness is measured by love towards one another John 15:12, and love isn’t a feeling; it’s the action of no presumptive thought against your neighbour, no presumptive judgment against your neighbour, no envy towards your neighbour, and no elevated thought above your neighbour.
This true agape love can only be performed by your spirit when your spirit is dead to itself and alive to Christ’s will over your own. It requires a God-given revelation of your inherent pride no matter how good you think you are, followed by a God-inspired repentance incorporating an unconditional surrender to the will of God, followed by a God-stirred thanksgiving for His gracious mercy, forgiveness and love towards you. Until you reach this position in your heart, like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, your burden of sin and your elevated vanity by looking down on others’ short-comings will never leave you by simply being good and doing right. It’s only God’s own righteousness that can save you for heaven; you can’t save yourself with your own rightness.
The root word of righteousness is the Greek word ‘dike’ meaning ‘vengeance, or punishment’ (Jude 1:7). What this word literally means is, that if you live in a certain society and want to enjoy the benefits of that society which outsiders can’t enjoy, then there is an expectation to adhere to the standard of that society. The enjoyment of one’s rights in a society presupposes the acceptance of duties and responsibilities by that citizen. This is true of Australia, USA, and even God’s kingdom. In order to protect its citizens and maintain the acceptable behaviour or custom of any society, punishment is prescribed whenever the standard is violated. Serious crime is punished by separating the individual from the society.
In the same way, righteousness is the actions and attitude of a citizen of heaven because their heart desires to conform to God’s laws and that as a citizen you are more willing to suffer correction and punishment in order to retain your citizenship and to re-establish you in His law rather than being expelled from His kingdom. Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying the command of God, showed no remorse or repentance, and thus were separated from God and expelled from the Garden.
In God’s kingdom, you return to righteousness, not by doing right, but by surrendering your heart back to the laws of God’s standard, through repentance. The modern church has put its confidence in God’s grace and conveniently devalued the place of God’s Ten Commandments evidenced by the acceptance of divorce, adultery, homosexuality, graven images, Sabbath abuse, covetousness, and worldliness. On this foundation, the church will never find righteousness.
Repentance isn’t just saying sorry and isn’t just admitting you’re wrong. Repentance isn’t searching for the right feeling of regret. Repentance isn’t doing something to make it right again; that’s penance. Repentance is owning your sin and trusting God’s judgment because you don’t want to lose your citizenship.
The problem is, envy loves correcting others and hates being corrected itself because it thinks it is right; thus envy can’t find repentance without a God-inspired revelation of its arrogance.
You can’t find repentance without forgiving others for hurting you. If you want an offender to suffer for their hurt against you, you’re most likely setting yourself as the judge of rightness, and thus confirm your arrogance of sitting in God’s seat. You can’t forgive unless you’re seeking God’s righteousness; neither can you repent unless you’re seeking God’s righteousness. A ‘right’ person always forgives and repents for their own benefit; they’ll always be trying to gain something for themself. A righteous person does everything for the kingdom of heaven, not for the kingdom of themself.
A righteous person doesn’t always have to forgive
Contrary to the church’s opinion, if you are righteous you won’t have taken a grievance from someone’s offence towards you and you won’t have to always forgive. The righteous God doesn’t have to forgive (Matthew 18:35, & 6:15) and He instructs His citizens as such in John 20:23. When you choose righteousness you choose love and thus you choose to not listen to yourself but to God, and thus you have the freedom and privilege of God’s character. Therefore you don’t have to do what everyone else says is right. If you can’t see this truth, you’re simply caught up in religious rightness, not righteousness.
Forgiveness and repentance does not equate to reconciliation (eg. David and Saul). Reconciliation requires true repentance and true forgiveness on both sides.
The Fear of God
Contrary to the fear of man, the fear of God is healthy. It’s the fear of being punished by God and the fear of being expelled from His kingdom, and it motivates us to righteousness and repentance.
Righteousness, not right, is the measurement of salvation
Everyone that does righteousness is born of God (1 John 2:29). If you’re not practicing righteousness you’re not saved.
Suffering defines and refines righteousness
The sad reality is that no one really cares about righteousness. Everyone is happy with their comfortable state of rightness and no one wants to hear that they’re not right. You won’t see righteousness without persecution. The western church is comfortable and unrighteous and nothing will change without persecution. In fact, just as in Christ’s experience, if you stand up for righteousness, your own family and the modern church will be your main opponents (Matthew 10:36), and that’s the persecution you’ll suffer as a righteous western Christian. Like they did to Jesus, people will judge you for being unright, and that’s the suffering of righteousness and God’s refining tool for your spirit to be more surrendered to Him and His way.
You can be as right as you like, but if you’re not suffering for Christ or at least bearing the burden of someone who is (Galatians 6:2), you’re not saved and you won’t understand righteousness and neither will you be able to practice it (2 Timothy 3:12).
The instruction from the Lord is to seek 1st the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
Pastor Craig Wright