Summary: God calls us to live righteous lives. But Romans tells us that no one is righteous. So, God wants to me to be righteous. I want to be righteous... but no one is righteous so I can’t be righteous. How can that possibly make sense?

OPEN: Back in 1929, Chicago had a problem. In fact, the tentacles of that problem infested much of the nation around Chicago. The problem had a name. And that name was Al Capone.

Capone was a criminal. A wicked man who literally ran the city of Chicago. He owned most of the politicians and policemen, and those he couldn’t buy, he threatened or had killed. Capone and his mob ran prostitution rings throughout the city and sold bootleg liquor worth millions.

Then, one day, a young Treasury agent and eleven of his handpicked men decided it was time to declare war on Capone.

Does anybody know the name of this young 26 year old Treasury Agent? (Elliot Ness).

Ness and his team ran continuous raids on Capone’s operations and cost the mobster millions in lost revenue. As you can image, Capone was not happy with this and attempted numerous assassination attempts on Ness and succeeded in killing one of Ness’s closest friends.

But before Al Capone took out a contract on this Treasury Agent, he decided on a softer approach. He sent a messenger to Elliot Ness with an envelope. At the time, Ness was making $2,800 a year (this was back in 1929) and the envelope contained $2000 inside. The messenger made it clear that this could be a weekly salary for Ness… if he would just lay off Capone.

Ness put the money back in the envelope and sent it and the messenger back to Capone.

THEN he called a press conference. Ness told the assembled newspaper men all about Capone’s attempted bribe and of made it clear how much contempt he had for the man who had offered it.

The next day, the headlines read “Ness and his men are UNTOUCHABLE.”

And thus began the legend of Eliot Ness and his Untouchables.

In a day of corrupt officials and policemen who were on the take Ness and his Untouchables became heroes. They were righteous men who could not be bought. They were upright men of integrity who fought evil and corruption.

They were the men of legend.

In Proverbs 11, God says He is calling for His people to be men and women of legend.

He is calling us to be people known for our integrity.

People who can’t be bought

People who stand for righteousness in a land that is filled with evil and corruption.

In Micah 6:8 God declares: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

So, what God says He expects from us is…

• Righteousness

• Mercy

• And a Humble Spirit

He calls us to be legends in our world.

And so here in Proverbs 11 God tells us what a righteous person looks like.

As God often did in the book Proverbs God draws a contrast between the righteous and the wicked.

Verse 3 says “The integrity of the UPRIGHT guides them, but the UNFAITHFUL are destroyed by their duplicity.

Verse 5 says “The righteousness of the BLAMELESS makes a straight way for them, but the WICKED are brought down by their own wickedness.”

In verse 6 “The RIGHTEOUSNESS of the upright delivers them, but the UNFAITHFUL are trapped by evil desires.”

Verse 8 declares: “The RIGHTEOUS man is rescued from trouble, and it comes on the WICKED instead.

Verse 9 says: “With his mouth the GODLESS destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the RIGHTEOUS escape.

In verse 10 it says “When the RIGHTEOUS prosper, the city rejoices; when the WICKED perish, there are shouts of joy.

And in verse 11 God says: Through the blessing of the UPRIGHT a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the WICKED it is destroyed.

Did you catch the pattern here?

God is saying:

• These people are the righteous… these aren’t.

• These folks have integrity… these folks don’t.

• God loves the good guys… He despises the other guys.

• The upright He protects and honors… but the wicked will be trapped and destroyed.

God is making a comparison. And He’s telling us: MAKE A CHOICE.

DECIDE what kind of person you’re going to be!

ILLUS: Back in 2008, Barna did a nationwide survey asking about their views on “righteousness”. Now the survey organization didn’t put it that way. What they did was ask people to evaluate what they thought about 8 specific activities:

1. Watching pornography

2. Using profanity in public

3. Gambling

4. Gossiping

5. Engaging in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married

6. Seeking revenge against someone

7. Getting drunk and

8. Lying.

What they found was that

• Evangelicals were the group most likely to follow to embrace morality, while atheists and agnostics were more likely to reject it.

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