The other day my wife, Kelly Clayton Rambo, showed me a meme that was on her Facebook page. I read it and immediately stated the corollary back to her…
“Righteousness, even if contrary to the traditions of men, is still righteousness, regardless of what everyone else thinks!”
While I have no idea who Russell M Nelson, the assumed author of the quote at left, is, I do know the quote is true. Scripture says so in multiple ways, but the most significant is,
Whatsoever thing I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add to it nor take away from it.Deut. 12:32
See? The two initial statements above, Nelson’s and mine, state in part the same truth. Let’s look at them in a little more detail.
“Sin, even if legalized by man, is still sin…” Man can’t change God’s Law by ignoring, overwriting, legislating or even erasing it. His Law is eternal and unchanging. To paraphrase God about some of His prophecies, ‘If you can make the sun stop coming up, or the sea cease to rush to shore, then you may be able to change the Torah.’ Murder is still murder, regardless of what the general populace believes, the government legalizes or how many copies of the Bible you burn. Murder (or, insert any other action condemned by God) is sin. Period.
The corollary for this is also true. Righteousness is righteousness, even if you don’t like it. Maybe people who keep the Feasts of the Lord, something He commands on multiple occasions, rankle you. Maybe it really irritates you that they choose to ignore, or even point out the verifiable pagan roots of some holidays. So? Keeping them is still righteousness, whether you like it or not. Same for Shabbat. Same for God’s everlasting dietary restrictions in Leviticus 11.
What is particularly interesting is when ‘believers’ don’t like a fellow follower of the Word because that follower actually does or believes what the Word clearly teaches. Imagine: someone studies the Word and sees that going to Jerusalem for the feasts is a commandment and begins to actually keep it while others, who may not understand or be convicted of that commandment, tear them down or separate from them. Does that action in any way undermine or change God’s commandment? No, it just exposes the sin and rebellion in the heart of the divisive.
How about a believer who separates from another because believing what the Bible says about a matter is ‘bad for public perception or public relations.’ Division and shunning is better than truth? Really? Pray tell what you think the Father’s opinion is of that course of action. I don’t see a single example of righteous men suppressing truth that ended well. In fact, the righteous in Scripture, prophets, apostles and the Messiah Himself, were willing to die for the hard truths, traditions and customs of men be damned.
Bottom-line: Sin is sin only if God says that it is sin. Righteousness is defined by Scripture, therefore, if Scripture calls something righteous, then we can’t call it otherwise. And, if God never calls something ‘unrighteous’ then we can’t either.
This really is simple stuff, yet people get wrapped around the axle. Do Bible stuff in Bible ways. Everything else is just religion and ‘religion’ is man-made rules for self-righteousness which, if based on man’s self made rules, is, by definition, sin!
So, do we instruct God in righteousness, or does He, the Lawgiver and Judge instruct us?