Early in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes the following: “For He (God the Father) chose us in him (Jesus) before the creation of the world to be ___________.”
Now, without looking, can you fill in the blank? What is it that we are supposed to be? Why did God choose certain people before the world was even created? It had to be for something special, right? Was it so that we would be saved? Go to heaven? Or was it for some other reason?
THE CORRECT ANSWER
The correct answer is “holy and blameless in his sight.” (See Eph 1:4) If you got it right, well done! If not, are you surprised?
The next question is this: Have we taken the time to find out what it means to be “blameless”? Have we asked ourselves if it is even possible for a human to be blameless? If not, let me suggest this: it is a worthy exercise. So, let’s take a few minutes to unpack those questions.
ON THIS TOPIC, SCRIPTURE IS ABUNDANTLY CLEAR
Let’s start with the second question. Did you know that Scripture names people who were blameless? With little effort, I found four of them – not including the Messiah, who was also blameless. Who do you think the others were?
The first, is the one that just about everybody remembers – Job. In verse one of chapter one of the book by his name, we read these words, “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright;” There it is, in black and white. Again, in verse 8 God tells Satan that Job “is blameless and upright.”
Luke 1:5-6 tells us that both Zacharias and Elizabeth were “blameless”. Phillipians 3:6 tells us that Paul was “blameless”.
GOD’S NICKNAME FOR HIS PEOPLE
It’s true – God has a favorite nickname for his own people. It’s the name “Jeshurun”. Wow, a name picked by God for those who are “the apple of His eye”. How cool is that? It is a name that is only used 4 times – all of them found in the Hebrew Scriptures.
But wait. What does “Jeshurun” mean? No need to grab your Bible dictionary – I’ll tell you. It means “the upright one”. It’s a poetic name that can also be translated “the beloved one”.
CHOSEN AND NICKNAMED
Let’s summarize before we move on. God chose His “boys and girls” before the world was formed, to be upright and blameless. He has even given us a collective nickname: “the upright one”. Do you get the impression that being “blameless” is important to God?
Let’s wander back to the book of Job where it says: “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:8) Do you hear the creator pride in God’s voice as he singles out this faithful servant.
To dig a little deeper, we might ask the question: “Was anyone ever commanded to be blameless?”
As a matter of fact, yes. Back in Genesis 17:1 we hear God command a man (Abraham) to be “blameless”. God said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before me and be blameless.” Does that strike you as a “tall order?”
Another person commanded to be blameless, was YOU. That’s right! We find this in 2 Peter 3:14. Speaking to you and me it says, “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”
So, you and I are in good company – with brother Abraham. We have all been commanded to be blameless. Did you catch Peter’s knowledge of the Scriptures in that last verse? Look at the second word – “beloved”. Remember what Jeshurun means? It appears that Peter was making a reference to God’s nickname for His people by combining the thoughts “beloved” and “upright”.
DIGGING A LITTLE DEEPER
Now let’s consider another key question: “What did these people do to become blameless?” If God identified four very ordinary people as being “blameless” and if He commands US to be blameless, then clearly it is possible. We should go further and say that not only is it possible, it’s expected! So again, what did they do and what must we do?
We don’t have to look very far to find the answer. In fact, the answer appears in the context of the texts I have shared. Let’s look at them again, starting with the book of Job. Reading in chapters 1 and 2 we see God tie being blameless with being upright and shunning evil. We also see that fearing God himself is an aspect of being “blameless”. Just note that “fearing” God means something more like “reverent worship” than “terror” – though a “holy terror” always falls on the man who finds himself in the presence of the Almighty.
In the Luke passage, we read of Zacharias and Elizabeth that “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” So, in order to “shun evil” we must have clear instructions as to what is evil. God’s ordinances and commandments provide those instructions.
In the Phillipians 3 passage Paul says, “concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless”. Here it is again – the importance of a standard for what is right in God’s eyes.
At this point, we might ask, “Is there a verse or passage that spells this out clearly?” Indeed there is. Deuteronomy 6:24-25 puts it this way, “The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” (NIV)
BLAMELESS, NOT PERFECT
When some people see the word “blameless” in Scripture, they immediately substitute the word “perfect” in their mind. Folks, that’s not right. Job was certainly not perfect. In fact, He dared to criticize God for the way He was running the world. He questioned God’s righteousness for allowing a “blameless” man to suffer.
Now, while it is true that he sinned and therefore was not perfect, God still declared him to be “blameless.” This is because Job was keeping all of the commandments he had been given. His commitment to obeying God placed him head and shoulders above everyone else on earth at that time.
If we are familiar with Job’s story, we will recall that Job suffered losses and endured prolonged suffering beyond what any of us have ever faced. He was also totally in the dark about all the events going on behind the scenes – that is, between the Evil One and God himself. God was silent and did not respond to his cries for answers for many days.
Job was also unaware that his own suffering as a blameless person, was an illustration that pointed to another blameless man who would one day walk this earth. That man would be falsely accused, would suffer unjustly at the hands of wicked men and would experience God turning HIs back on him at the point of his greatest need. Ultimately, he died from his suffering. Yet this man, our savior, never accused God of any wrong.
HARD TO FOLLOW?
Some believe that God’s laws are too hard to follow. God tells us that is not the case.
In Deut 30:11-14 we hear Him say through Moses: “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” (NIV)
Proverbs 11:20 tell us “The Lord detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.” (NIV) The psalmist wrote “May my heart be blameless toward your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.” Psalm 119:80 (NIV)
To recap, our heavenly Father chose us before the world was created to be blameless. Indeed, He is delighted when we are blameless and upright. Job reminds us of this. Not only are we commanded to be blameless, we are quite capable of it.
With the exception of Job, all the “blameless” people in Scripture knew how to be upright from the commands in the Hebrew Scriptures. (In Job’s case, it’s not entirely clear where his understanding of righteousness came from.)
Let’s delight God today by being what he created us to be – blameless.