Psalm 85:13 Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.
There’s an interesting difference in tenses between the NIV and the Japanese here. The first half of the verse is in complete agreement, but in the second half the Japanese says, “[righteousness] makes His footprints a road.” In other words, righteousness follows God as well as goes before Him. The point, I think, is that righteousness is intimately involved with God. Righteousness invites (goes before) His presence, and where God has been, righteousness follows. There are people today who so emphasize grace as to say our behavior makes no difference at all, but that flies in the face of the whole Bible. However, that’s hardly a new heresy; Paul had to deal with it as well. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2) God has provided His righteousness for us in Christ, (2 Corinthians 5:21) but we are to accept, receive, and walk in that righteousness, or we are essentially spitting in Jesus’ face. We were created for fellowship with God, but since He is perfectly righteous, we need to walk in righteousness in order to maintain that fellowship. It only takes a moment of confession and repentance to become righteous, but we then need to walk that out to maintain fellowship. Otherwise, we grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) and His presence lifts from us.
I have to be as careful as anyone else about this. If anything, I am more in danger of fooling myself into thinking that because I know the truth I’m walking in it. By God’s grace I can walk in righteousness, but only by His grace can I do so. I am called to lead others into fellowship with God, but that will happen only as I am walking in that fellowship myself. The benefits are incalculable, but the distractions and obstacles can be intense. I’ve got to be alert at all times, choosing God over all the other options presented by the world, my flesh, and the devil. However, I can do that by faith, (1 John 5:4) because the Holy Spirit in me is far greater than the devil. (1 John 4:4)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the awareness that my own righteousness is no more than filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) Help me abide in Christ indeed, so that I may walk in Your righteousness rather than any other. May nothing interfere with my fellowship with You, so that I may be fully available and useful to You for the sake of the Body of Christ, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!