Summary: People often misperceive righteousness as goodness or perfection. This sermon encourages righteousness as faith & actions combined... (Book of James.)
When we read about righteous men and women of the Bible, such as King David, Father Abraham, even Rahab (a former prostitute!), we tend to forget their shortcomings and trick ourselves into believing that goodness and perfection determine how close we are to God!
Illustrate the story of Moses at the Red Sea.
When we see how powerfully God worked through the man Moses, we think, “Gee! He must have been a perfect saint! After all, the Bible does say he was the most humble man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3)!
Yet, in fact, Moses was punished for being Imperfect! He ended up just like the Israelites who wondered 40 years in the desert and died before entering the promised land because of his shortcomings! He was humble, but not without a temper…
Many follow the footsteps of that nation even today, never reaching our promised land because of our lack of faith and our unrighteousness… Don’t you want to be like those who went in and received the promise? Don’t you want to be a conduit of God’s power and Glory? Don’t you want to go down in the annals of the Kingdom of Heaven as a righteous man or woman of God?
We all do! That’s why we’re here this morning. All of us are on a quest: a quest for personal righteousness. Unfortunately, we spend so much time seeking righteousness through attempts at being good and perfect that we give up realizing we can never be what we feel God wants us to be, and we miss the true way of righteousness.
Exod 14:10-16, “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ’Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!" Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.”
CRISIS OF FAITH: Moses had to exercise enough faith to believe that GOD would part the waters if he extended his staff. Moses HAD to raise his staff with everyone watching, and stretch out his hand. Everyone would anticipate something happening, and if nothing happened, Moses would surely have been killed by his own people. “What if I stretch out my hand and nothing happens?”
Have you ever been afraid to stretch out your faith in the presence of unbelievers? Suppose you were driving along and notice a car accident. If God told you to stop and run through a crowd of police to pray over the wounded victims, would you have the faith to follow through with the action, even with the possibility of being arrested?