The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
Such questions are usually spoken as accusations against God for being indifferent. God is on trial. They would be wonderful questions if asked as a matter of personal examination. “If God is good and powerful, should I be examining myself for the reason he seems distant?” God will not bless the wicked, but he does desire for the wicked to repent and be blessed. “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?”
And it is not that the wicked must make himself righteous in order to be heard. He does not have to merit God’s hearing; he needs, rather, to turn to God in submission. Yes, it is the righteous whom God hears, but then no one is righteous. Our blessing is to receive the righteousness of God the Son freely given to any who call on his name.
This is the gospel message for the lost, but also for the saved. For so many times it seems to us that God is distant; he seems distant, not because he is, but because we keep placing between us and him idols and works. We either do not want to be near because of wanting to hold on to sins and idols, or we put in the way obstacles that we somehow believe will aid us in getting God’s attention. Like the believers at Colossae, we make up rules and restrictions that seem to have value, but in truth merely make us trust in man-made rules rather than resting fully in the work of our Lord. Righteousness is not about what rules we make up to appear reverent; it is about resting; resting on and in the Lord of Righteousness.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it[a] says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”[b]
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Instructions for Christian Living
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.