Righteous living is honorable in the sight of both God and man. We live in unstable times among evil men in a world that is overshadowed by darkness. People want to know how to live righteously in these troubled times. But is it even possible to live righteously in a lawless world? More than two thousand years ago, the Bible described what it would be like to live in the last days. The Amplified Bible says it this way:
“But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 AMP).
These verses of Scripture warn the world of approaching evil. They also prepare this generation for the darkness and immorality that has already spread throughout the world. Although we live in dangerous times, it is possible to live godly. The Holy Spirit wants us to know that God has given us the grace to live righteously in these evil days.
What Does it Mean to Live Upright?
To live righteously is to conduct yourself honorably. It means demonstrating excellent moral standards that mirror your relationship with the Lord. It means doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching. When you live righteously, you know that God sees you when nobody else sees you. Therefore, you practice doing the right thing to please the Lord.
One of the things that irritate my wife, is when I wash my hands in the kitchen sink. Whenever I work outside, I habitually go straight to the kitchen sink to wash my hands. I know it bothers Dorth when I do this, so whenever she is home, I make it a point to do the right thing, that is, I go to the bathroom to wash my hands. One day, I was outside edging the lawn. The sun was beaming hot and I was thirsty, so I went inside to get something cold to drink. Dorth had gone grocery shopping, and I was home alone. I usually wash my hands before opening the refrigerator door, but I was in a hurry. I thought, “What would it matter? No one is going to know.”
As I was about to open the refrigerator door, I heard a voice within say, “Wash your hands.” I knew it was the right thing to do, so I went over to the kitchen sink to wash my hands. I thought, “Dorth is out shopping; she’s not going to know that I washed my hands in the kitchen sink.” As I was about to turn the water on, I felt as though Dorth was standing there watching me. I started feeling guilty, so I decided to do the right thing and go to the bathroom to wash my hands.
The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Live Godly
With so many things to do daily, it is easy to stray off course. Because we are so busy, we sometimes take shortcuts to save time. But taking shortcuts will only cause you to stray off course. By insisting that I wash my hands in the kitchen, I was, in essence, taking a shortcut. I had strayed off the course of godliness. That voice, that feeling that I heard and felt on the inside of me was not coincidental. It was the voice of the Holy Spirit gently nudging me, urging me to get back on course.
Scientists say many people get lost in the woods because they walk in circles. That’s because most people have one leg that is longer or shorter than the other. Over time, these differences amount to a curving course, causing the lost person to walk in circles. To avoid this, hikers carry a compass to assure them that they are traveling in the right direction. In the same way, we need a compass to help us stay on the path of righteousness. The Holy Spirit is the compass that helps believers stay on the road to godliness.
Do you sometimes feel like you have strayed off course? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you. He alone can help you live righteously in troubled times. Jesus called Him the Helper. He said, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). These are indeed troubling times. The world might be in trouble, but don’t let the trouble in the world get inside you. Greater is the One in us, than the one who wants to harm us.
Guard Your Heart
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” The New Living Translation says it this way: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT). Have you ever wondered how a big bulky ship can stay afloat in the water? It’s because the water is on the outside of the ship. As long as the water does not get into the hull of the ship, it will stay afloat. You’ve got to be like a ship in the water. Don’t let the world’s troubles get into your heart.
The Scripture said to keep your heart pure above all else. Don’t let negative people shape your character. When people criticize you, hold your head up and float through the criticism. Don’t allow their negative words to get inside your heart. When people hurt you, resist the urge to become bitter. If you plant bitter seeds in your heart, you will harvest bitterness. The kind of seeds you plant in your heart will determine the course of your life.
The Gift of Righteousness
People work at being righteous because they want to be justified by God. But the Bible says we are made righteous by our faith in Jesus Christ, and not by our works. Are you working, or believing? When sin entered the world, we forfeited God’s righteous covering. We are powerless to overcome sin. But God gave us new life through Christ Jesus. It was Christ who showed us God’s plan of salvation. He is the One who made us acceptable to God. Christ made us pure and holy and gave himself to purchase our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31 TLB).
The Scripture does not say Abraham obeyed God or that he worshiped God to become righteous. It says Abraham believed God and God declared Him righteous (Romans 4:3). The turning point for Abraham was when he entered into what God was doing for him, and not what he did for God.
Are you trying to become righteous by your efforts? Why don’t you stop trying to be righteous and start believing that you are righteous? The Scripture says, “He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Now stop listening to the voice of the enemy and start believing what God says about you.
I pray that the Lord will give you the grace you need to live righteously and be an overcomer in these troubled times. May the Lord make you increase and abound in love, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness so that you may live righteously before the Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.