Jesus continues teaching in parables. “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The parable of the net is very similar to the parable of the weeds. Fish swim together in the same water just as plants grow together in the same field. In the case of the weeds, Jesus said that the land-owner instructed his workers, “Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”” Both illustrations talk about an end-time sortation – a separation between the righteous and the wicked.
But what is righteousness, and what is wickedness?
God is righteous. We all get that. But not many understand that what makes God righteous is Himself. He is right, and He is the right by which all others might be compared. To that end, what God declares as like Himself is right, and what God declares is not like Him is not right. And because God is righteous, what is not like God is unrighteous.
When God’s Word says that stealing is wrong (Ex 20:15, “You shall not steal”), it isn’t because God is giving us an arbitrary edict. God is saying that because He does not steal – He does not take that which is not rightly His. Therefore, it is unrighteous to take what does not belong to you, and as God’s people (who bear His image) must reflect Him in character, we should not steal.
Likewise, when He says that lying is wrong (Ex 20:16, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor”), it is because God is truth and only speaks truth. There is nothing false in or about God, or in God’s character or in God’s ways. Therefore, it is unrighteous to un untrue. It is unrighteous to misrepresent yourself or to not speak truth when you present something to another.
This same principle is at work when God says, “You shall not commit adultery,” and when He says, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Adultery and homosexual acts are not practices God participates in and are therefore unrighteous. God knows we are tempted by our fallen nature to participate in these things, so the Word of God includes teaching that we might not do so.
To be God’s people, we must avoid that which is not like God and practice that which is like God. Why? Because the day comes when God draws our age to a close, and those who practice what is like Him stay with Him, and those who do not are cast out forever.
That is what it means to be holy, and that is what it means to be righteous!
The call to right and holy living is first of all founded on the fact that God himself is holy.Daniel C. Arichea and Eugene A. Nida
Godliness has many benefits, but chief among them is that we might better reflect our Creator, Redeemer and Lord! What can you do to better reflect Him to others in your circle of influence?