THE UPWARD CALL
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God
IN CHRIST JESUS.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NASB)
“Righteousness is My Standard!”
February 15, 2010
I have made this point in several other writings, but when I listen to the many words coming forth
through our modern-day media, especially that which is related to politics, I seldom see or hear the
words righteousness or righteous being used. It is as if these words and their meaning are not even part
of the mindset of man today.
Many years ago, the Lord spoke to my heart: “Righteousness is My standard; Holiness is My
character; Love is My way; Glory is My end !” I will address holiness, love, and glory in
subsequent issues, but what is burning in my heart this day is righteousness.
Does your heart groan for practical righteousness based on God’s righteousness, not man’s self-
righteousness? Do you know such righteousness in your own life? John, the apostle of love, identified
the source of righteousness, as well as unrighteousness, and the need for us to practice righteousness.
(7) Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is
righteous, just as He is righteous; (8) the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the
devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to
destroy the works of the devil. (9) No one who is born of God practices sin, because His
seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (10) By this the
children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice
righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother (John 3:7-10 NASB.)
I listened to the speeches given by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton at the recent
National Prayer Breakfast and heard many things, including the call for civility in the public-
political forum, as well as a defense of gays and lesbians, but I never heard a need or a call for
righteousness. Frankly, I would have been quite surprised, if not shocked, to hear such a call, since
there is so little of godly-righteousness in our day and so much of self-righteousness. Self rules the day.
As David wrote, many are saying, “With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who
is lord over us?” (Psalm 12:4). Does this not speak profoundly of the political system of our day?
As an aside, it was particularly telling to hear a defense of gay and lesbian behavior at a supposedly
Christian event in light of what Scripture has to say on the matter (Leviticus 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1
The use of the word civility caught my attention, for it was used as if this is all that is required among
the politicians in order to represent the people that elected them into office and get things done. Civility
is defined in terms of political behavior as “courtesy, politeness, and consideration.” In other words, the
call for civility is a call for courteous and polite discourse among politicians. It is a process, not a result.
Like so many other words that fly off the tongues of politicians, this may sound like a great and lofty
standard that deserves attention, but I see it much differently. Without a qualifier added to the word
civility , it simply refers to an outward show or what could be called political theater . In other words,
men and women could be openly civil toward one another as if they were on stage with each one acting
a part in a play. Such a thing is simply a political performance, a process to impress the people.
We saw something quite similar when the president was called a liar during one of his addresses to a
joint-session of Congress. The outcry from the politicians was that it broke the decorum, not whether he
was lying or not. Consequently, political theater requires decorum even if politicians flagrantly lie to
one another or, as some would say, “twist the truth,” “misstate the facts,” “conveniently leave out some
of the facts,” or “shave the truth around the edges”; all euphemisms for lying. Oh, may the cords of
falsehood be cut soon!
As far as I am concerned, it is far more important to know what standard, other than politeness,
regulates the civility. Most importantly, is there righteousness or unrighteousness behind the façade of
civility? After all, thieves and liars can have a civility toward one another when in the light of day for the
world to see while in the darkness of night plot their evil against one another. Liars can smile in the face
of their opponents as they slowly twist a knife in their backs. In fact, in some cultures, lying is a norm,
and it is done in a civil manner, even if it is not honorable, right, or good.
In a day of relativism , humanism , revisionism , and self-exaltation , we need spiritual discern-
ment to interpret the meaning of words and the standard that buttresses them, especially ones used in
the political arena. For example, the words smart and intelligent are often used as if they are related to
that which is good, and yet, smart and intelligent people can be good or evil. Another word I hear being
used frequently is the word brilliant , as if brilliance is only associated with that which is good. Need we
be reminded that evil or unrighteous men can be just as brilliant as good or righteous men!
See issues #03-0902, January 5, 2009, Babylonian Leaders Are Smart ; and #03-09128, June 3, 2009,
Moral Excellence and Intelligence .
Back to my point made at the beginning, the words righteousness and righteous are practically extinct
in the language of man today, especially in the language of the US political system, which is coming
under the judgment of God. I suppose that politicians do not use these words, for they know that they
cannot speak of their actions and character as righteous, unless they were to attach the word self to it.
Self-righteousness is the standard by which much is propagated and defended.
However, as Christians, we are commanded by our Lord Jesus to seek first His kingdom and His
righteousness (Matthew 6:33), even if it leads to persecution. Blessed are those who have been
persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens
(Matthew 5:10). Today, many are not willing to be persecuted for righteousness sake, especially
politicians who will do and say anything to secure votes and retain their seat of power. They are not
much different than the scribes and Pharisees that sat in the seat of Moses (Matthew 23:2). See issues
#03-09151 through 153, August, 2009, Seated in the Chair of Moses .
So that the point is not lost, what is righteousness ? According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old
and New Testament Words by W.E. Vine, righteousness is “the character or quality of being right or
just; it was formerly spelled ‘ rightwiseness ,’ which clearly expresses the meaning.” According to Jesus’
words, it refers to whatever conforms to the revealed will of God, whatever has been appointed by God
to be obeyed by man, and the sum total of the requirements of God and man’s duty to God. An old
version (1956) of Webster’s Dictionary defines righteousness as “moral integrity.” We could say that
righteousness is the morally right way to think or act in accord with God’s character, will, and law.
Simply, righteousness is God’s standard by which all things are done and will be done within His
kingdom. After all, the foundation of His throne is righteousness (Psalm 89:14; 97:2).
The good news is that for all who come under the New Covenant in Christ, the Lord Himself will put
His laws into their minds and write them on their hearts (Hebrews 8:10).
By the spirit of the Lord, this is taking place within those born of God with the seed of God so that they
can practice the righteousness of God, even while they occupy bodies of death, awaiting the resurrection
and transfiguration when this mortal must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53). Praise God!
For more on this vital matter of righteousness please see issues: #01-0704, September 25, 2007,
Righteousness and Justice ; #01-0706, October 2, 2007, The Inhabitants of the World Learn
Righteousness ; #01-0725, November 20, 2007, Effective Prayer of a Righteous Man ; #02-0848,
August 8, 2008, The Sun of Righteousness, The Dayspring ; #02-0850, August 26, 2008, The Path of
the Righteous ; #03-0934, March 12, 2009, Justice and Fairness - Making All Right ; #03-0963,
January 20, 2009, The Kingdom of Our Lord #3: Righteousness and Justice .
Let us seek His righteousness and practice it, for God declares: “Righteousness is My standard!”
The Upward Call: #04-1016
by: Stuart H. Pouliot