Righteousness is doing good and not sinning

by Mark Railey
Dec. 28, 2020

Eccles. 7:20, teaches “For there is not a righteous man upon the earth that does good and does not sin.” This means that there are righteous people but they do not do good and they continue to sin (to transgress God’s law). They are not lawless for they have the Torah, indeed they may even know enough to be the teachers of the Torah. Nevertheless, sometimes they transgress the Law or transgress the will of God (just like all of us). Should we then abandon God’s Law because we (or they) might transgress it? God forbid! Instead, we keep the Law, bare it lovingly in our minds and hearts, write it upon the doorposts of our homes and teach it to the next generation, our children. This same Law teaches us how to approach God so that we may lay our plea before the One, knowing that He may hear us because of His abundant mercies (Dan. 9:18). Because God is good, he shows mercy to the undeserving, even those who transgress His Law or will (those who sin - that is, all of us). Sin is to miss the mark while Torah means to hit the mark. Thus, sin is not doing the Torah. So we may rightly be instructed to do what the Rabbis say but not what they do, when they are not practicing righteousness by missing the mark. Does this mean the Rabbis always miss the mark? No! Even teachers of the Law can occasionally do something good, be it ever so small. We believe in God and that He rewards us for doing good - doing His will or His Law. Believing in God is a mitzvah (the first positive commandment). After believing, after faith, we agree to change our lives to walk the path of knowing and loving God. God helps us in all that we do for Him. To put it another way: Salvation/Redemption happens to us by grace through faith, then goodness and righteousness grow in our lives as we learn to love God in the way that He wants to be loved - through obedience to His instructions. This is what the Torah teaches. In fact, the Torah teaches us to set up courts of justice (Deut. 16:19) and when we have a question or challenge too great for us, we are to go to the Rabbis and do what they say (Deut. 17:10). So it is God’s will that we appoint righteous ones, well studied in Torah, who will instruct us on matters that are too challenging for us to know or to know how to act upon. We may be righteous, nevertheless we must continue to practice what is good and to obey the Law and the will of God. When we fail, God may hear our plea for mercy and forgive us from His abundant mercies, and if He finds our hearts are repentant and by faith and with hope we approached Him, He may restore or at least strengthen us for another day. This is what it means to be righteous. It is a journey, supported through the Torah, by the right hand of God.

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