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Pointers along the way #193

Only a righteous life can make us happy
- Jacob Ninan

We may go to one extreme or another, because it takes determination and effort to keep ourselves balanced. One of the positions we tend to take is that of rejoicing so much over receiving salvation as a free gift of God that we don't like to hear about living righteous lives. We tend to name that as 'going back under the law.' Living right is not the same as living under the law. Living under the law means a way of life where we believe it is by living in obedience to the law that we qualify ourselves to be acceptable to God. Of course, no one can really qualify like that because everyone keeps failing (Ga.2:16;Ro.3:10). On the other hand, just because God has graciously accepted us 'just as we are' we can't live carelessly and still be pleasing to the Lord (Ro.6:15).

God points out to us 'believers' (children of God, saints!) that after having once taken the children of Israel out of Egypt and given them all kinds of fantastic blessings including food from heaven, water out of rock, shoes and clothes that never wore out, protection from all diseases and victory over all their enemies, He was displeased with most of them (1Co.10:1-5). In fact, only two out of the hundreds of thousands who came out of Egypt finally entered the promised land! God was angry with the rest, telling them that they would never be able to enter that land.

This shows us that there is a difference between being forgiven our sins and being accepted by God as His children, and being pleasing to Him. How can we be pleasing to Him? Is it not by giving Him joy as He watches us living in accordance to His ways? (3Jn.1:4).

We are really not going to be happy if all our life we are repeatedly falling into sin and asking for forgiveness. Yes, we can still try to turn our attention towards grace and to rejoice in the richness of God's mercy and largeness of heart. But deep in our heart the roots of sin will be continuing to be strong, and fruit will be appearing now and then. When sin comes forth, it produces death, first in us and then also in the people we deal with (Jas.1:15). That is not going to make us happy, will it? Our sinful deeds will also produce consequences, and also lead to more sinful deeds from us as well as others, and all this is only going to make us more unhappy.

On the contrary, think of how blessed we can be when we walk in God's ways? (Ps.1:1,2). Think of how close and intimate we can be with God when we walk with Him (Jn.14:23;Ps.16:11). He will bless us, teach us, guide us and transform our lives. We will become such a blessing to people around us too that our happiness will abound (Jn.15:8).

Our life is meant to go from grace to grace and from glory to glory, like the sun going up from dawn (Pr.4:18). Grace has brought us freedom not only from the guilt of sin but also its power (Ro.6:14). Let's not miss what Jesus already prepared for us (He.4:1).