I am in search of a balance between God’s righteousness and our imperfect human righteousness. Is there actually such a thing so that we can please God with some of our human righteousness?
The blind man who was healed by Jesus and harassed by Pharisees as to who healed him said:
“We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.” (John 9:31, NIV)
This moral theology is in line with Isaiah’s moral theology, where the sinner is not heard by God, and that God only listens to godly persons. Isaiah speaks to a rebellious Israelite people in Isa. 58:3 saying:
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
It causes me to ask: Will God only be appeased when we show a righteousness that is totally transformed? Does God close his eyes and stop his ears from listening to sinners until we exhibit a righteousness that is good enough? I’m not certain.
If God demands only a righteousness that has already moved from darkness to light, then sinners stuck in our sins would have no hope of being heard by God? I mean, what about those who are in a positive movement toward righteousness but are not yet there? Will they not be heard by God until they have been totally transformed? There are many Christians who are not yet living a totally righteous life, but yet they pray, read the bible, and do things to serve the Lord. Does God ignore their requests until they are in total alignment with God’s righteousness? If so, many of us would be ignored by God.
Paul’s theology of grace of the transforming (simul) saint and sinner gives us a chance at receiving God’s approval while we are still yet sinners. After all, St. Paul called himself the chief of sinners. Is he discounting his sainthood? No, he’s just being humble in calling himself a sinner, but he is simultaneously also a saint in Christ who has received God’s righteousness imputed to him.
My prayer: Thank you Lord for making sinners like me a saint. When I am taken into your glory, you will fully transform me into your true likeness. Amen.