Do you have the same problem I do?
Yeah, I figured. This whole “trying to be a decent human being” thing is hard to do. “Righteousness” is what the Bible calls that.
Righteousness: being in a right relationship with someone. You can be in a righteous, right relationship with your family or society. You can be a in a righteous, right relationship with God. When you’re righteous, things are, well, right. You treat others rightly. You’re holding up your end of the relationship perfectly. You treat them as you would want them to treat you, and because of your actions toward them, things should go well. It’s how God designed Adam and Eve in the beginning: to be in a right relationship—righteous—with God and Creation.
Being that decent, righteous human being is what I’m really bad at. And you are too. It’s because we’re sinners. In fact, it’s the essence of sin. Our relationships are not right; they’re all out of whack. We are not righteous toward each other, we’re not righteous toward creation, we’re not righteous toward God.
Which is why I really get a kick out of Lot. You know, “righteous Lot” as 2 Peter 2:7 calls him.
Yeah, the same guy who chose to live in Sodom, the same Sodom that was destroyed by fireballs from heaven because of their sin. Yeah, he chose to live there (probably because he was interested in the same sins).
The same Lot who, when angels showed up to his house and warned him to leave because the forecast called for fireballs, he hesitated. (I don’t know about you, but if angels showed up to my house with that same message, I’d be bookin’ it.)
The same Lot who, when the men of the city wanted to rape the angels that showed up at Lot’s door, offered up his own daughters to the men of the city instead (like that’s any better).
The same Lot who, after the angels dealt with the men of the city, took all night to mull over whether he would rather leave the sinful city he loved or risk death by fireball.
The same Lot who, with warning sirens wailing throughout the city that fireballs were coming, had to be dragged out by the angels because he was still hesitating!
Yeah, that Lot. That’s who the Apostle Peter calls righteous. And Lot isn’t an isolated case. Read and you’ll see, all of our Sunday School heroes—Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, David, Solomon, Jonah, you name ‘em—were dirty, rotten, no-good sinners who really enjoyed sinning. And you know what they’re called? Righteous.
That’s because a new righteousness comes from God. Jesus takes your sin on himself on the cross. He becomes the world’s “most wanted” for you, so that you are given his righteousness. God simply declares you righteous, and you are as righteous as Jesus. God, the Creator of heaven and earth, has made you brand new. He has made you his new creature, and he has made you a new creature who is now forevermore in a right relationship with him and all creation that he is making new.
Now, that doesn’t mean we take after Lot in Sodom and enjoy a night “on the town.” But know that, despite all of his sin, Lot’s legacy is “righteous Lot.” In Christ, you are righteous.
Righteous Pastor Jonathan