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lesson 3: our character is our defense

Updated: May 30

“Our Character Is Our Defense!”

Falling In Love With God’s Word #3

Read Psalm 119:5-8


These four verses intensely express the end goal of our commitment to God and his

word – we want to be right before him! Ultimately, we want to be free of shame (v. 6),

found competent and faithful in carrying out his desires (v. 5), and to stand favorably

before our creator at the end of our lives (v. 8). Since the author says we are learning

God’s “righteous laws,” it will be good for us to define righteousness.


Upon hearing the word “righteousness,” many have visions of commands, laws, do’s,

don’ts, rules and regulations. Of course that is a necessary part of God’s plan, but if that

is ALL we see, the Christian life is drudgery, and the word is woefully misunderstood.


God’s righteousness is our goal, but if carrying out his commands like good soldiers

were the extent of fulfilling this, the old law would have never needed to be replaced.

Jesus himself tells his followers “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the

Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

(Matt. 5:20). This is remarkable, especially since the Pharisees were the strict “law

abiders.” No, it goes much, much deeper than that. The word “righteousness” comes

from “Dikaiosune,” which means “equity of character,” or “a character or quality of being

right.” A focus on mere actions sells this word short. It is not just what we do, but who

we are becoming. It is not just what we stand for, but who we really are in our

character. No wonder the old spelling of righteousness used to be “rightwiseness,”

seriously! Actions often flow from character. True righteousness is a heart that is

continually committed to becoming more holy, consistently moving towards greater and

deeper transformation and Christ-likeness. If THAT is our goal (and believe me, that is

much more inspiring that trying to just DO good things), then our actions will generally

remind everyone that we belong to God.


Lastly, that classic passage in Ephesians 6:14 tells us to guard our hearts with the

“breastplate of righteousness.” This is so crucial to understand. In our fight against

Satan and the destructive forces of this world, the defense of our heart is left to our

character. Let’s face it - there are plenty of times we make wrong choices. We do

compromise and violate God’s commands. We blow it, we fall short, we sin. If our

defense depended merely on our performance record in following God’s word, we’d be

toast. It doesn’t. The truth is, Satan can’t penetrate a heart guarded by strong

character. The building of Godly character includes many victories and failures in

carrying out his commands. However, by persistently continuing to follow what God

lays out in the Bible, no matter what, over time we achieve just that.

Thank God he cares more about who I am becoming today that by simply how I am

doing in the task. His grace is ridiculously motivating to me!


Reflections

1. If you have children, what do you care more about: their performance scorecard, or

the big picture of who they are becoming? Think about this in relation to God and his

word…

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