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작성일 : 13-02-18 11:07
The Kingdom of God (Romans 14:17), Part 2 of 5 / A: Form versus substance, and our unrighteousness as the starting point for God’s righteousness
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THE KINGDOM OF GOD (Romans 14:17), Part 2 of 5

Subpart A: Form versus substance, and our unrighteousness as the starting point for God’s righteousness


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Romans 14:17
for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 23:27-28
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
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Jesus did not actually speak like this. He was cursing them; do you think He would have said “Oh, you Pharisees”? He would have said, “You lowdown scoundrels.” We just translated it that way because it is the Bible. He wouldn’t actually have said “Oh, you Pharisees who adorn your outward appearance” when He was cursing them. Otherwise they might have stupidly thought He was praising them. We’re going to see why He spoke such ill of them, when He embraced everyone else. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28. There is form and, separate from that, there is substance or being. Even if one’s being is bad, it can appear good; and even if one’s being is good, it can appear bad. The form is not the truth. Who Jesus directed His scolding at was those who focused on the form. Religion is that way. These are people who focus on form.

Why did Jesus treat them so severely? To put it another way, Jesus embraced most people – tax collectors and prostitutes and the like. This is it: people who focus on form. You have probably experienced this. These are not those who have been called. Those who focus on form are not people who have received God’s call. The result is the important thing. We’ve said before that you can’t mimic the result, the fruit. Praying a lot, working hard, this is not the objective. What is the result of praying a lot? Denying oneself, being humble, the agape of Christ overflowing from me; this is the fruit. The form is not important, even the process is not important. Jesus said a good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. That good fruit is borne means the substance is already good. But even though the substance is good, it can appear feeble. Even though the substance is bad, it can appear good.

I have reached the conclusion after many years that if you don’t come into life, you can’t hear. Those who God has called can hear. It is like this water bottle. Some people can see there is water in it, can see I’ve drunk about a fifth of it. Other people only see the bottle. Seeing only the bottle, you can’t actually drink the water. This is like not being able to hear. Those are the people who say sermons are always the same. Because they only see the bottle. But the more deeply you see the water substance that is inside, it is multifarious and different every day. If you can’t hear, the outward form is all you perceive. Because you only hear the passage or the title. Some people say the sermon is the same just because the scripture passage is the same. There are people who can’t hear the life. If you strive to your utmost, you can get as far as knowledge. You can recite that many scholars have said this or that about the Bible; but it does not become reality for you. The most you can achieve in that case is the form of theology; you can go as far as the form. But life is in the substance. It is within the substance that your being is transformed. Being born again means to have new life.

The reason Jesus did not embrace them – there is the fact that He did not call them – but also, the characteristic of those people was that they regarded themselves as righteous. They are sick. People who say they are always right. People who have never with their own lips repudiated themselves, only others. Because they are always right. That life is hell. A life of pointing fingers at others. Because they regard themselves as right, they don’t need salvation. There is nothing to do. But those who have hit rock bottom, like Jesus’ disciples – they were pitiful – why did He choose such a pitiful bunch? Maybe He should have held some interviews before picking them. But He picked well, because He picked those who were exactly suited for hitting rock bottom. Every time they hit rock bottom, exactly in line with their personalities. People need to see their lowest point. Because God’s righteousness starts from my unrighteousness. God’s righteousness takes off from man’s unrighteousness.

The sufferings that come to us make us see our rock bottom. Most of the time we are nice. But when someone pokes at you, and you see your reaction, then you can see your lowest level. Things that are bottled up for a long time, that you usually don’t see, suddenly burst to the surface. So most of the time you don’t know your lowest level, but when suffering comes, you become aware. When pain comes, you can know how far you will go. Usually you may say: just let it go, get over it through faith. But then you witness yourself who has said this being unable to let something go. You discover that you can’t overcome it through faith. You think you should be able to transcend it, but then you discover your true being who is unable to transcend. When the situation testing your limits comes, you realize that you can’t gain salvation on your own. So actually, it is often people who have meek, virtuous natures that have a hard time meeting Him. It takes more time. But even virtuous natures have a limit where they will break. I find myself saying these kind of things less, like when I’m watching the news: “what a terrible person, what a wretched person.” Now I think: if I were born with that person’s DNA, if I also lived in the environment that person lived in, I could see how I might do that also. When people see their children in some moment crumbling because of weakness, they come to know at that moment that people are not righteous. It starts from there. Because light shines in darkness. My lowest level, my true darkness; from there, God’s righteousness begins. When there’s nothing bad left you can do, no worse you can become, it’s only gonna get better. The only thing left is to become better. This is perfect for returning glory to God. Those who have the right ingredients for returning glory to God, God called them the poor in spirit. The point is not that your nature is bad. Human nature is bad to begin with. Outside of God, no one is good. We didn’t know that, but He helps us to know that our nature is not good. The method God uses most for that is suffering. Things that poke at us keep coming up. At those moments, we realize we are unrighteous. There is no way I can attain the standard I want. God’s righteousness starts from people’s unrighteousness.