Doing the Right Thing According to the Bible

The Bible has a lot to say about living a righteous life and doing the right thing. As Christians, we are called to follow God’s commands and walk in His ways. Here are some key takeaways on what the Bible teaches about doing what is right:

Key Takeaways:

  • God’s laws and commands should be obeyed because they are for our good
  • We should love God and love our neighbor
  • Acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God are essential
  • We will be judged according to our deeds
  • Righteous living brings blessings and joy
  • Sin leads to death and destruction
  • God gives us wisdom and discernment to know right from wrong
  • The Holy Spirit guides us into righteousness
  • Doing right is linked with purity, honesty and self-control
  • God rewards and honors those who do what is right

The Bible makes it clear that followers of God are called to live by a high moral standard that honors Him. Although we are saved by grace, our faith should compel us to strive to do what is right.

Doing the Right Thing According to the Bible

Obeying God’s Laws and Commands

All throughout the Bible, believers are instructed to follow God’s decrees, laws and commands carefully. Obedience to God’s word is equated with loving Him and living righteously. Deuteronomy 6:5-6 says:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

The psalmist linked following God’s laws with upright living, saying:

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart (Psalm 119:1-2).

God gave the Ten Commandments and many other laws in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These laws covered all aspects of life, including moral conduct, religious rituals, civil justice, health and hygiene. By following them, the Israelites would be blessed, experiencing prosperity, fertility, victory over enemies and God’s favor. Disobeying God’s commands would lead to curse, punishment and exile (Deuteronomy 28-29).

In the New Testament, Jesus affirmed the importance of God’s laws, saying:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matthew 5:17-18).

Paul wrote that the law is “holy, righteous and good” (Romans 7:12). It brings conviction of sin and awareness of the need for redemption. While Christians are not saved by works of the law, God’s laws still provide wisdom and discernment on how to live.

Loving God and Neighbor

Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). 1 John 4:21 further states: “And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

Loving God means having a close, intimate relationship with Him, loving His precepts, taking delight in His word, serving Him wholeheartedly and seeking to please Him in all things. Loving our neighbor includes caring for the needs of others, being kind and compassionate, forgiving others, living in harmony, and carrying each other’s burdens. Romans 13:9 says:

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Paul encouraged the Galatians to “serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13). Living out God’s command to love others is a core part of righteousness.

Acting Justly, Loving Mercy, Walking Humbly

One of the most well-known passages on practicing righteousness is Micah 6:8:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Acting justly means dealing fairly with others, being ethical in business, defending the rights of the poor and needy, and ruling with justice and integrity. Loving mercy means actively caring for those who are suffering and extending compassion to others just as God has had mercy on us. Walking humbly with God is having an attitude of humility and moral integrity rather than pride.

Jesus demonstrated what it means to act justly, show mercy and live humbly through his ministry. He brought good news to the poor, release to the captives, healing for the sick and freedom for the oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). As his followers, we are to live out righteousness through fighting injustice, serving the marginalized, and caring for the vulnerable in humble submission to God.

Judged According to Our Deeds

The Bible often emphasizes that we will be judged for the deeds we have done in this life. 2 Corinthians 5:10 states:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Jesus portrays the final judgment as a time when people will be separated as sheep and goats based on how they treated others (Matthew 25:31-46). Those who showed love through caring for those in need will receive eternal life, while those who failed to show compassion will go to eternal punishment.

1 Peter 1:17 describes God as the one “who judges each person’s work impartially.” Our works and conduct have eternal implications. Revelation 20:13 declares: “each person was judged according to what they had done.” Our deeds reflect the state of our hearts and whether we have aligned our lives with righteousness.

Righteous Living Brings Blessings

The Bible often promises blessings for those who live uprightly and practice justice. Proverbs 11:18-19 states:

The wicked earn deceptive wages, but those who sow righteousness reap a sure reward. Truly the righteous attain life, but whoever pursues evil finds death.

Similarly, Proverbs 21:21 says: “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” In Psalm 106:3, the one “who acts justly” is called blessed. Isaiah 56:1 exhorts, “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.”

Those who follow God’s ways experience the fruits of righteousness – a life of meaning, peace, security, happiness, prosperity, and divine favor. God blesses and protects the righteous because they walk in obedience to him.

Sin Leads to Death and Destruction

Conversely, the Bible sternly warns that sin results in dire consequences. Ezekiel 18:4 states bluntly: “The one who sins is the one who will die.” In the New Testament, Romans 6:23 explains: “For the wages of sin is death.” James 1 outlines how evil desires give birth to sin, and sin results in spiritual death when fully grown.

God’s judgment is inescapable for those who indulge in wickedness. Psalm 34:21 declares: “Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.” Proverbs 13:21 warns: “Disaster pursues sinners, but the righteous are rewarded with good things.”

Proverbs 11:5-6 further contrasts the outcomes of righteousness and wickedness:

The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness. The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.

The message is clear throughout Scripture – forsaking God’s way and indulging in sin leads only to ruin, while living righteously rescues us from death.

God Gives Discernment of Good and Evil

Since we live in a fallen world filled with moral complexity, it is not always easy to discern the right path. Thankfully, Scripture teaches God will give wisdom and discernment to those who seek it.

King Solomon prayed for an “understanding heart” to differentiate between good and evil when governing Israel, which pleased God (1 Kings 3:9). James 1:5 promises “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

The Psalms exalt God’s laws and precepts for imparting clear insight:

Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:129-130).

As believers, we have the mind of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us into truth and righteousness.

The Holy Spirit Produces Righteousness

A key ministry of the Holy Spirit is transforming believers into the moral likeness of Christ. Paul wrote:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

These virtues represent the true righteousness of Christ which the Spirit produces in us. Paul further explained:

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God (Romans 8:13-14).

The Spirit enables us to walk in obedience to God’s commands and liberates us from the power of sin. His work results in a life characterized by righteousness and holiness.

Purity, Honesty and Self-Control

Several other moral qualities are linked closely with living righteously in the Bible. Paul instructed Titus that the grace of God teaches us “to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12).

He wrote further: “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Holiness is demonstrated through moral purity, honesty, integrity and self-control by the Spirit’s power.

Proverbs 21:8 states: “The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright.” Those who walk blamelessly steer clear of devious, crooked behavior. In contrast, Joseph demonstrated righteousness when Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce him, refusing to sin against God (Genesis 39:7-12).

As followers of Christ, we must resist temptations and walk uprightly with pure hearts and minds, overcoming evil desires through the Spirit.

God Rewards and Honors the Righteous

From beginning to end, Scripture reveals God’s esteem and reward for those who faithfully follow His ways. In Genesis 15:1, God told Abraham in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

Enoch “walked faithfully with God” and was commended as one who “pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). Job was described by God Himself as “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). David, for all his flaws, was still lauded as a “man after God’s own heart” for his righteousness and obedience (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22).

At the final judgment, the Bible promises the righteous will be vindicated and receive their full reward. Jesus assured:

“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:12).

Those who are wise and lead others to righteousness “will shine like the brightness of the heavens” for eternity (Daniel 12:3).

Our motivation for doing right should not be reward alone, but reverence for God. Still, it is marvelous that He honors and values righteousness by promising blessing and reward to those who walk in His ways. This strengthens our resolve to live righteously in a sin-stained world.

Applying Righteousness in Today’s World

The clear message of Scripture compels us to think carefully about how we can apply God’s standards of righteousness in our lives today. Here are several recommendations:

  • Study God’s word diligently to understand His commands and precepts
  • Live with integrity even when it is difficult; refuse to compromise morally
  • Handle your responsibilities, work and finances ethically
  • Speak the truth in love; avoid gossip, slander and dishonesty
  • Treat all people with dignity, empathy, fairness and compassion
  • Forgive readily; seek reconciliation when wronged
  • Engage in social justice; defend the rights of the poor and marginalized
  • Be generous with your time and resources; volunteer to meet needs in your community
  • Advocate for biblical values in the public square with humility and grace
  • Let the fruit of the Spirit grow in your life; yield to the Spirit’s guidance each day

This is not an exhaustive list, but provides a framework for pursuing the righteousness God desires. With the Spirit’s help, we can reflect God’s light in a darkened world through virtuous, loving lives.

In summary, the Bible gives indispensable instruction for living righteously through obeying God’s word, loving others, acting justly, rejecting sin, walking in purity, and pursuing holiness with the Spirit’s help. Our hope rests in Christ’s finished work on the cross. Still, as followers of Jesus, we are called to a life of righteousness bearing fruit through the Spirit as we await the glorious return of our King. May we walk steadfastly in God’s ways to the praise of His excellent name.

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