Random Blog Clay Feet: March 17, 2009
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

False Witness Righteousness

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)

Something interesting came to my attention yesterday. I was pondering the problem of how often Christians try to act “good”, put so much emphasis on appearing righteous – whatever they happen to think that means – and focus so much attention on behavior instead of the real beliefs of their hearts. As a result we tend to create a great deal of hypocrisy whether we like it or not. Even Jesus rebuked the evangelism of the Pharisees and told them plainly that the converts they worked so hard to produce only became worse hypocrites than they were.

But this is certainly not just a problem of ancient times or even just some other church. It is a problem of human nature and if we are human we are going to gravitate in this direction. Humans have a sinful nature that has skewed our perception of what is important and has rearranged our priorities incorrectly. As a result we assume that sin has to do with behavior more than anything else and so the way to get away from it is to change our external behavior and intellectual beliefs. Or we may go another direction and think that if we just induce enough intense emotions during some form of worship experience that it will make up for all our failures and that God will save us in spite of our selfishness.

But both sides miss the real point of the problem of sin. Sin at its root has little to do with behavior or even appearances. In fact, such thinking is already deep into the deception that sin causes in our thinking. The original problem that caused Lucifer to evolve into Satan was a shift in focus from internal integrity and beauty to external appearances and beauty. He started a revolution based on the idea that external performance was more important than joyful loyalty to the heart of God. And everywhere that sin has infected minds and hearts this same symptom is always sure to appear.

As I have become more familiar with the bigger picture, the context in which we all live and struggle in this life, the clearer it becomes that the core issue in life is not stopping the bad behaviors we do and eliminating “sin” from our lives externally. It is coming to perceive the real truth about God beyond all the mass of lies and misrepresentations of Satan and learning to live in the light of that truth from our hearts. Our lives are not about putting on a good performance as many suppose but about becoming authentic and useful witnesses in the great trial of God being conducted in the universe.

Consider the following verses in relation to the one above.

Isa 43:10 You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.”

Isa 43:12 “It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, And there was no strange god among you; So you are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And I am God.”

Isa 44:8 “Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.”

It occurred to me that when we encourage people to act like we suppose Christians might act without first having the core heart condition and connection with God in place with a correct view of the heart of God, then we are really training them to become false witnesses. For to claim to be a Christian whether with words or with actions while failing to understand the real reasons that should be motivating such behavior and words is to live a lie while pretending to live in the truth.

When we think that just learning a set of doctrines is all we need to be a Christian, we are deceiving our own minds as well as trying to deceive others. Of course, the nature of deception is that we soon don't realize we are even deceived and become very defensive if anyone happens to point it out. We tend to assume that Christianity is all about performance and intellectual profession. But sadly the truth is that this is actually setting us up to bear false testimony in the trial of God. For God is interested primarily in a heart connection with His children, not a good outward show. He is not waiting for us to get our act together and look good before men or to even impress Him, He is doing everything possible to get us to surrender our efforts at trying to “do good” and to learn to enter into His rest and joy where He can live in us and produce the righteousness that is impossible for us to ever achieve in our efforts.

But when we resist all efforts by the Holy Spirit to reveal the real truth about God to our hearts, when we choose to live in fear and keep our religion only in the external realm of our life, then the only conclusion that can be made about our life will be that we are bearing false witness against God. For God has stated very clearly in His Word that He is the only one who can cause us to walk in His ways if we will allow Him full access to our hearts and affections. Any other method will result in a denial of His claims.

Abraham is represented in the Bible as one of the examples of how to properly live in a saving relationship with God. Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6 NIV) Paul and James both quote this text in their seemingly opposite explanations of how to live effectively as a Christian. But for those willing to carefully examine both sides of this issue it can be seen that James' emphasis on works does not undo the emphasis of Paul on faith but simply addresses the popular notion that one can have saving faith without having it then change the whole life.

The main point that I think is very easy to miss is that without a heart-based motivation for our works, a real emotional and honest attachment in a real relationship with our Creator and Redeemer, it is impossible for us to live an authentic life of true righteousness. The real problem that we are facing is not a lack of righteousness in our lives as bad as that may be; the real problem is a lack of true belief in the righteousness of God. And I think that is largely due to a great lack of understanding of what that word even means to begin with.

Over the past few years I have begun to perceive that pretty much every word and phrase in religion has had its true meaning transposed into something different than its original. As a result, we can use Bible verses to justify all sorts of false ideas about God and about how to get to heaven, etc. But as I have come to realize the real root meanings of many of these words and phrases such as righteousness – which was a real challenge – I have come to see God in a radically different light than ever before. And the more I see the real truth about God and His attitude and feelings towards me the easier it is to want a deeper connection with Him and the easier it is to surrender my will to His will and allow Him access to the deeper parts of my soul.

I, like everyone else on this planet, have been victimized by false witnesses about God. There is an incredibly huge conspiracy to keep us in the dark about how God feels about us and it has largely been successful. But God is gaining ground on unmasking this conspiracy of lies about Him and He invites all who come into a fuller knowledge of the real truth about Him to become truthful witnesses to what they are encountering in their new relationship with Him.

I do not want to be party to training either myself or others to be false witnesses for God. I do not want to encourage pretending to be Christian while not having a heart filled with the passionate love of the Father. I do not want to motivate people to obedience by frightening them with fears of condemnation or false ideas about God's wrath. I want to increase the light level about God at the heart level and allow this revelation of God's glory to do the work that it does best – produce the righteousness of God in human lives naturally.

When our righteousness is spontaneous, when it is authentic and truthful, when our obedience comes from the heart instead of being forced by the head or motivated by fear, then our testimony in God's trial will become effective to influence others to want to know Him better and respond to His love for them. As we do this we will come into line with the command about bearing false testimony and will find our lives truly authentic and alive. And we will begin to truly know and encounter the glory that Moses begged to see. We shall begin to see the true face of our loving Father.