Beyond Holiness (Part 3 of 6) 

  1. Righteousness and Wickedness 

Holiness has a cousin called Righteousness which, on the horizontal axis, describes a just relationship between humans; that is, how rightly and kindly we treat one another, rather than how purely we relate to God vertically – without idolatry, honouring His name, honouring His Day.  The opposite of righteousness, as commonly seen in scriptures, is wickedness, describing cruelness in relating with other humans. 

Whereas holiness is what we ‘give’ to God, righteousness is what we ‘give’ to other humans. The opposite is wickedness.  Holiness relates persons to God; righteousness relates persons to persons in the opposite way as wickedness relates persons to persons.  In other words, even a non-Christian can be righteous without being holy.  They can be truthful, kind and caring, even when they do not know the Father in Heaven.  All righteous people are not in the church.  In fact, there are many in the church who are wicked; very religious and very cruel.  They show copious piety towards God but are deceitful, unkind, unmerciful, partial and mean to fellow humans.

The fact that wickedness, like righteousness, is something that a person does to another person, horizontally, is shown in several scriptures.  For example, Psalm 10:2 states, “The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor…”; that is, wickedness is what one bad proud person does to another weaker person. Psalm 37:32 states, “The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him”; in other words, the wicked is not only the opposite of the righteous but is someone who does bad things to other humans.  In Psalm 27:2, we read further that the wicked are “enemies” and “foes” who come to another human to “eat up” their flesh.  Psalm 7:11 says, “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”  In other words, God is on the side of the righteous but opposed to the wicked who is opposite to the righteous.

The wicked does something bad to other humans, the righteous does something just to other humans, the holy relates with God in that nature of dedication.  The vertical bar of holiness together with the horizontal bar of righteousness makes a perfect cross: +. For some, though, their horizontal bar is wickedness, so, for them, it is a broken cross.

  1. The Pattern of Christ 

Like righteousness, blamelessness is something on the horizontal axis of human relations, but it is not a quality that one gives, it is a quality that one possesses.  Whereas righteousness might describe an act, blamelessness describes a state of being.  Much more than being righteous in how one acts towards others, blamelessness means being in such a state as none can point a truthful finger to say, “There are question marks about your person.”

We often strive to live a dedicated life, but not so much do we strive to live a blameless life, because we think that, so far as we are dedicated to God, it does not matter how anyone else perceives us.  Jesus didn’t think so, therefore, once upon a time, He asked His disciples two consecutive questions bordering on blamelessness.

First, He asked to know from them what the outer society thought of Him.  “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (Matthew 16:13).  The feedbacks were very impressive.  People generally and sincerely thought of Him as a prophet, a holy man.  No one called Him a blame name. None blamed Him for having raped their child or molested their wife or stolen their offerings.  Of course, there were always those who would often find a bad name for whom they dislike.  They are not the factor here.

Secondly, Jesus asked His disciples what they themselves, as insiders, thought of Him.  Peter, apparently speaking for everyone, said that Jesus was the Christ (Matthew 16:13-17).  None called Him a thief, or a liar, or a murderer.  So, even among the insiders, who walked more closely with Him, He was blameless.

Once upon a time, Jesus had to pay a tax that He did not have to pay.  Why?  According to Him, “lest we should offend them” (Matthew 17:27).  Should the Son of the mighty God have bothered about whether mortals were offended or not?  Paying that tax was slightly inconvenient, but it did not take anything from Him.  It rather endeared Him more to the people.  Holy as Jesus was, He also sought to be blameless before men.

From The Preacher’s diary,
November 23, 2023.
(continued in Part 4 of 6)

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Caleb Yakubu
4 months ago

This is a great piece, sir. Though further questions arose in my mind, and I wish to think aloud here.

When Abraham believed God, and God accounted it for righteousness unto him, was that act of believing God an act towards man to have qualified as righteousness by the definition provided here, or we might have a problem with our English translation?

Secondly, when the bible talks about not being righteous, and putting on the righteousness of Christ by Faith to approach God, does that also bother only about acts towards men, and not God?

Apst Rita FLO
Apst Rita FLO
4 months ago

What an insight! I never saw Holiness and Righteous in this light! Hmmm…. Thanks for sharing, dad!

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