The world isn’t much concerned with doing right. It prefers to do what feels good. People look for immediate gratification rather than adhere to a standard and enjoy the fruit of righteousness. Opinions then become an individual’s guide and the arbitrator of what is good and right. This explains a major part of the mess the world is in.
Those who have decided to be right about what God’s message is, and to get right with God, can then be certain of doing right. They then have the possibility of doing right.
Being right and getting right are the framework within which any doing must possess in order for us to do right. That means that two people can perform the same actions, and one will be doing right and the other will be doing wrong.
The author of Hebrews calls the gospel “the word [message] of righteousness” Hebrews 5.13. He may mean that it is the word that God uses to make us right with him. Several versions understand it to mean, however, that it is the word which informs us about what is right-doing.
- NLT: “For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.”
- GW: “All those who live on milk lack the experience to talk about what is right. They are still babies.”
The importance of doing right appears early in the Bible. After the Fall, Cain faces the great choice of all mankind since. His sacrifice is rejected. What now? God appears to him in all kindness to point the way:
Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it, Genesis 4.7.
God chose Abraham on this same basis. While the choosing was an act of grace that kicked off the marvelous plan of salvation, it came with conditions. He said about the patriarch:
I have chosen him so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then the Lord will give to Abraham what he promised him, Genesis 18.19.
People these days talk about “doing church,” quite the odious phrase. But the Bible does talk, if we read it literally, about us “doing righteousness” (see ESV, NASB, NRSV). That would never be a popular phrase among religious folk today—much too restrictive. Abraham “did righteousness” because he was certain that “the judge of the whole earth [would] do what is right” Genesis 18.25.
At the bitter waters of Marah, the people of Israel learned what would be to them a bitter lesson because they refused it.
He said, “If you will diligently obey the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and pay attention to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, then all the diseases that I brought on the Egyptians I will not bring on you, for I, the Lord, am your healer” Exodus 15.26.
The healer heals those who do what is right in his sight. And so it is today.
Where do we discover what is right in God’s sight? You know where I’m going with this. Straight to the Scriptures. And the Bible needs no editor. God requires submission, not erudition that cuts and pastes and redefines. He requires “diligent obedience” of all his statutes (see Matthew 28.20), not a pick-and-choose process that puts human intelligence above the Word of God.
It took Peter a while to come to the right conclusion, but finally, finally, as he looked upon Cornelius and household, he declared,
I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people, but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is welcomed before him, Acts 10.34-35.
His statement still stands as a fine inspired description of the person that God welcomes in his presence.