Goodness Required by God
Proverbs 11:5
The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.

The main characteristic of all heathen religions is that their gods do not demand righteousness, but certain outward and formal observances. Sacrifices must be offered to them, their vindictive temper must be propitiated, their anger averted; if the dues of the gods are paid, the stipulated quantity of corn and wine and oil, the tithes, the first-fruits, the animals for the altar, the tribute for the temple, then the Worshipper, who has thus discharged his obligations, may feel himself free to follow out his own tastes and inclinations. In the Roman religion, for example, every dealing with the gods was a strictly legal contract; the Roman general agreed with Jupiter or with Mars that if the battle should be won a temple should be built. It was not necessary that the cause should be right, or that the general should be good; the sacrifice of the wicked, though offered with an evil intent, was as valid as the sacrifice of the good. In either case the same amount of marble and stone, of silver and gold, would come to the god. In the Eastern religions not only were goodness and righteousness dissociated from the idea of the gods, but evil of the grossest kinds was definitely associated with them. The Phoenician deities, like those of the Hindoos, were actually worshipped with rites of murder and lust. Every vice had its patron god or goddess, and it was forgotten by priest and people that goodness could be the way of pleasing God, or moral evil a cause of offence to Him. Even in Israel, where the teaching of revelation was current in the proverbs of the people, the practice generally followed the heathen conceptions. All the burning protests of the inspired prophets could not avail to convince the Israelite that what God required was not sacrifice and offering, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him. Again and again we find that the high places were frequented, and the ritual supported by men who were sensual, unjust, and cruel. The Sabbath Day was kept, the feasts were duly observed, the priests were handsomely maintained, and there, it was supposed, the legitimate claims of Jehovah ceased. What more could He desire? This is surely the most impressive proof that the truth which is under consideration is far from being obvious. So far from treating the truth as a truism, our Lord in all His teaching laboured to bring it out in greater clearness, and to set it in the forefront of His message to men. He painted with exquisite simplicity and clearness the right life, the conduct which God requires of us, and then likened every one who practised this life to a man who builds his house on a rock, and every one who does not practise it to a man who builds his house on the sand. He declared, in the spirit of the Book of Proverbs, that teachers were to be judged by their fruits, and that God would estimate our lives not by what we professed to do, but by what we did; and He took up the very language of the book in declaring that every man should be judged according to his works. In every word He spoke He made it plain that goodness is what God loves, and that wickedness is what He judges and destroys. In the same way every one of the apostles insists on this truth with a new earnestness. St. John more especially reiterates it, in words which sound even more like a truism than the sayings of this book: "He that doeth righteousness, is righteous even as He is righteous"; and, "If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one also that doeth righteousness is begotten of Him."

(R. F. Herren, D.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.

WEB: The righteousness of the blameless will direct his way, but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.

The Pricelessness of Integrity
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