The righteousness presented in many parts of the bible is not the righteousness of God. Jeremiah declares that a righteous branch from David’s line shall be called: “The LORD Our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 33:16). It is Jesus, and not the bible, that is the righteousness of God. If we persist in using the bible as a yardstick for righteousness, we will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Jesus was at pains to explain this to Paul. Paul obtained his righteousness from the bible of his time: the law. As a result, he regarded the killing of Christians as a righteous requirement of God, according to the tradition of Moses. But Jesus showed Paul that the righteousness of Moses is flawed. He showed him the righteousness of God is not the righteousness of the “bible.”
Let me present the incident here as a parable, the better to highlight its significance to the undiscerning dogmatic reader of the bible. Jesus meets Paul on the road to Damascus and asks him: “Paul, why are you persecuting me?” Paul answers in protest and agitation: “I am not persecuting you Lord. I am serving you. I am getting Christians killed out of great devotion to you.” Jesus replies: “Getting Christians killed? How can you kill my brothers and then claim you are serving me?”
Saul becomes even more confused. Like most Christians of today, he had been told the bible is the word of God. Therefore he tells Jesus: “The bible says I should kill them. Let me show it to you in Exodus:”
“Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, ‘Whoever is on the LORD’S side, come to me.’ And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.’
So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, ‘Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD that he may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother.’” (Exodus 32:26-29).
Like Jesus, like God
“Can’t you see, Lord Jesus?” pleads Paul. “The Levites showed they were on God’s side by killing their brothers and their neighbours. In fact, because of what they did, God showered blessings on them. I am also getting Christians killed so that God can bestow blessings on me.”
Paul thought he was serving God by killing Christians, but God in Christ met him on Damascus Road and told him he had been misled. You can never serve God by killing men. Jesus is the exact image of God. Whoever has seen Jesus, the son of God, has seen God, the Father. (John 14:9). The Son of God does not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them. (Luke 9:56).
God does not bless murderers. But even more than that, Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22).
You cannot kill someone and then conclude that God is on your side. You cannot kill the children of God and then expect to receive God’s commendation.
Righteousness of God
God is not a murderer but the devil is. When we kill somebody, it shows we are the sons of the devil. (John 8:44). When we sin, it shows we are the sons of the devil. Jesus says the man who commits sin is a slave of sin. (John 8:34). But a son of God is not and cannot be a slave; therefore he refuses to be a slave of sin.
So what did Paul learn from meeting Jesus on Damascus Road? He thought he was serving God, only to discover he had been misled. Christians need to appreciate this: Paul was misled even by the Old Testament bible. Moses led Paul to believe he could serve God by killing men. This is a fallacy. On the contrary, Jesus says: “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life- life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10).
So what did Paul learn from this experience? He learnt something even the Apostles did not learn with such dramatic effect. He learnt that we should not use the commandments of Moses in the bible as our yardstick for the righteousness of God. Our righteousness must be based on the life and words of Jesus Christ.
Jesus says: “Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:32-33).
End of bible righteousness
Therefore, Paul says to those who continue to insist that the righteousness of God can be learnt from Moses: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:1-4).
Substitute the law for the bible and you have a better understanding of this. Christ is the end of using the bible as our yardstick for righteousness. Substitute the law for the Old Testament and you get a clearer understanding yet again. Christ is the end of using the Old Testament as the yardstick for righteousness.
Jesus is: “The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13). Thanks to Jesus, we have received the liberty not to be enslaved to the Boko Haram righteousness of the Old Testament bible. This prophecy of God is fulfilled in believers:
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).
Today, the Holy Spirit writes the righteousness of God in the hearts and minds of those who know the Lord, where it is accessible to us through our conscience. Accordingly, Jesus asks: “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” (Luke 12:57).