In the beginning the Lord made an agreement or covenant with Adam and Eve. He gave them—and us—a perfect and abundant life in exchange for our obedience to Him.
Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17
8And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. ….. 15And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
This was the proposition: He gives us abundant life and security, and we give Him our obedience. This exchange is important to remember. If you think about it, this is an amazing deal. All we have to do manage and enjoy what we’ve FREELY been given, and we’ll have abundant life FOREVER. Still, Adam and Eve broke that covenant agreement.
When you break an agreement, you automatically enter into debt.
Principally speaking, when you break an agreement, you are attempting to keep your benefits while robbing the other party of theirs. So, when Adam and Eve sinned, they broke covenant with God, seeking to take their benefit (life) and rob God of His (obedience).
If you walk into a place of business and attempt to walk out with something you value without leaving something they value, that is robbery. This is essentially what Adam and Eve attempted in the garden.
SOMETHING TO CONSIDER: The love God created, basically a perfect and trusted value exchange system. This understanding about love is powerful, and in one interesting side note, it actually explains the rise in popularity of cryptocurrency. Without love, there is no trust, and a rise in govt corruption has caused a deterioration of trust in things the governments owns and manages, from politics to federally managed mediums of exchange (money). So people begin to create their own elsewhere.
***Matthew 24:12 “*12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”
In the value exchange between the Lord and Adam and Eve, the benefit Adam and Eve (we) received from God was life. Therefore, the minute they failed to give God the obedience He valued, they effectively robbed God of the life He had given them. Now they—and we—are effectively “indebted” to God. Specifically, we “owe” God our lives.
Romans 12:1 1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
SOMETHING TO CONSIDER: The concept of debt is very spiritual and worthy of an entire message all on its own. Sin creates debt, because it always robs someone else of something due to them, even if the only one being robbed is God.
On a broader scale, scriptural evidence suggests that excessive debt is largely a symptom of people who struggle to keep covenants, while on the other side, harsh debt-collectors are often unforgiving and unmerciful.
***Matthew 6:12 “*And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
If you search other scriptures on debt (especially the laws mentioned throughout Deuteronomy), the Lord is teaching us two principles. a. Debtors cannot demand that their debt be forgiven, and b. Creditors should be merciful towards their debtors as God has been merciful toward us.
In fact there is a scripture that we often read with the wrong interpretation….
1Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Love Fulfills the Law
8Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.*
It is often believed thought that Romans 13:8 means we don’t owe men anything but love. It can inappropriately be used to justify being cold or indifferent toward people and situations we don’t want to be engaged in. Interestingly, it actually commands quite the opposite. It is more of a command to diligently responsible to pay the debts we owe others, especially those in power over us, UNTIL the only remaining obligation is love.
From an appropriate understanding of God’s definition of righteousness comes another way in which we can understand what sin actually is….
Furthermore, those in debt can’t force those to whom they are indebted to accept any form of payment. In fact, the debtor must, at minimum, pay back what was taken, in the same condition! God gave us abundant and perfect life. So it is unfair to pay Him back with a tainted, dirty, lesser form of what He gave us.
Imagine lending a car to a friend only to have them return it dirty and damaged, inside and out. Now imagine the damage our choices cause to our lives and the filth we attempt to return to Him. The fact of the matter is, on our own, we can’t pay God the quality of life that what we owe Him.
Righteousness is the only form of life—the only thing of value—acceptable to the Lord, and we don’t possess any. So, we have to be given something to even pay God back. So Jesus literally GAVE us the life that we already owed Him just so we could pay Him back. Grace is the free credit we receive to pay off our debt. So, consider this: every breathe of life you take is a reminder of God’s mercy; He is a gracious giver and lender of life who has given you the opportunity to return what you’ve stolen rather than fully collecting on the debt you owe—your very life.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Remember, YOU can’t tell God what YOU are going to repay Him. God values HIS righteousness, and anything less is unacceptable payment. This is precisely why we need Jesus.
The Human Condition
It is a part of the human condition to be viewed as “right.” Like financial debt is permanently attached to our credit identity (credit score) in real life, our spiritual debt is permanently a part of our spiritual credit identity. In just the same way bad credit haunts and negatively affects our quality of life, bad spiritual credit does the same on a greater, spiritual scale. Prayers we request can’t be spiritually cashed and we find our selves reaping high interest rates on the sins we’ve previously sown. Every one desires good credit. Put another way, every single person alive wants their individual value recognized; people just define that value in different ways. “Nobody wants to be a throw-away.”
EVERY Human being is searching for righteousness….EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Prideful or ungodly people measure their righteousness (which is self-righteousness) by how well they can generate their desired response in others. It makes them feel valuable or justified or righteous.
Even people people who claim they don’t care about the opinions of others are still seeking some sort an emotional response. It is just a different response from those who DO care about the opinions of others. Those who want to be liked assess their value (righteousness) through the acceptance of others. Those who DON’T care to be liked assess their value (righteousness) through the agitation of other. Either, way these are regarded as evidence of respect or value for the self-righteous.
Furthermore, such value is desired for the preservation of life, whether it be celebrity or infamy. People strive for their own preservation or longevity of life through the assistance of those who are their friends, fear in those who are their enemies, or both. Therefore, the quest for righteousness is ALWAYS about the accumulation of value in exchange for life. The righteousness of God provides us with that benefit, and all forms of self-righteousness fall far short.
1My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding; 3Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures; 5Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. 6For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth [cometh] knowledge and understanding. 7He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: [he is] a buckler to them that walk uprightly. 8He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. 9Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; [yea], every good path. 10When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; 11Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: 12To deliver thee from the way of the evil [man], from the man that speaketh froward things; 13Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; 14Who rejoice to do evil, [and] delight in the frowardness of the wicked; 15Whose ways [are] crooked, and [they] froward in their paths: 16To deliver thee from the strange woman, [even] from the stranger [which] flattereth with her words; 17Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. 18For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. 19None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. 20That thou mayest walk in the way of good [men], and keep the paths of the righteous. 21For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. 22But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.
In today’s language we have a phrase where we we ask others to whom we are indebted, “Am I level with you,” or “Are we even”? This is a good place to begin when seeking to understand God’s definition of righteousness. It is value. It is worth. It is to equity, and obtaining it grants us the wisdom and discernment needed to avoid the seducing spirits at work in the self-righteous.
1 Timothy 4:1
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
What is a seducing spirit. It is a spirit that aims to manipulate an audience in man-made definitions of righteousness. These man-made definitions are the doctrines of devils. They preach lies and falsehoods that boost carnal worth and stir the masses into a frenzy of selfishness. Doctrines of devils give value to men and idols. The doctrine of truth preaches value is only attainable through Christ.
If self-righteousness—attempting value and preservation without God—is rooted in the response one can generate from others, then manipulation is the only way to accomplish that. It comes in all forms.
*1 Kings 21:1-10 1And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. 3And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. 4And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.
5But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? 6And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. 7And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
8So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth. 9And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: 10And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.*
Unrighteousness and Self-righteousness always leads to gullibility (aka spiritual blindness) The problem is that those who please people to obtain value are gullible before those whose value comes from demanding that people please them. Both the feared and the fearful a both deceived.
Proverbs 29:25 “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
Galatians 1:10 ESV For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
2 Timothy 3:13 13But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
And this is where the story of Samson and Delilah comes in..
15 And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth. 16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death; 17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
Remember, Samson was blinded after he gave the secret of his strength to Delilah. In many similar ways, the desire of the modern church to be accepted has blinded it from any spiritual discernment.
Signs of seduction or a seducer (can be aggressive or passive-aggresive):
With these things, it is not about the act, but the intent behind them. If your desire is to manipulate attention, adoration, anger or any emotional response by doing them, self-righteousness is likely at work.
- Suggestive clothing
- Sensual ads
- Sexy body movements
- Withholding praise
- Withholding affection
- Intentionally slow
- Intentionally late
- Intentionally forgetful
- Withdrawing presence
- Breaking communication
- Being intentionally needy
- Having pity parties
- Throwing temper tantrums
- Giving scowls and condescending looks
- Acting hopeless unless a rescuer arrives
Signs that you are in position to be seduced:
- What others think is more important than it should be.
- At times, you find yourself going against your better judgment or conscience.
- Identity misplaced in the manipulator
- “I must have you in my life.”
- “I can’t live without you.”
- “I have to have your approval.”
- Afraid of disapproval
- You can’t say no
- You’re afraid of rejection
- “I am accepted only because of what I do.”
- “I have worth only if I please others.”
- You have anger toward the manipulator or one you feel manipulated by.
- You’re consumed by the power or authority of another and what they do or don’t do
- You are in denial of the signs in the manipulator and make excuses for them
5Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. 6For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. 7Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.