"For we grow in grace by applying grace and mercy - and in understanding as we try to understand. For it is the try, the attempt, that is the righteousness of man. Not by any deed or act, but "by the fruits ye shall know them." [Cayce (1598-1)]
"What is righteousness? Just being kind, just being noble, just being self-sacrificing; just being willing to be the hands for the blind, the feet for the lame - these are constructive experiences." [Cayce 5753-2]
"You only fail if you quit trying. The trying is oft counted for righteousness." [Cayce)) (3292-1)]
"It is the "try" that is the more often counted as righteousness, and not the success or failure. Failure to anyone should be as a stepping-stone and not as a millstone." [Cayce 931-1]
Thus it becomes a personal condition to be reckoned with by the individual.
To be in an at-onement - in purpose, in will, in desire - with the ideal is to the individual a righteous state. Then to be conscious of deviating from that ideal, whether consciously or unconsciously, is a sin to the entity." [Cayce (262-125)]
The following is Lesson I in RIGHTEOUSNESS VERSUS SIN, compiled by Hugh Lynn Cayce, Gladys Davis, and Esther Wynne at the ASSOCIATION FOR RESEARCH AND ENLIGHTENMENT, INC., Virginia Beach, Virginia [Cayce (262-129)]
RIGHTEOUSNESS VERSUS SIN
RIGHTEOUSNESS versus SIN
In the lives of many individuals, there is quite a controversy as to what constitutes righteousness and what constitutes sin. When we were able to consider this matter as it relates to the individual, considering first the Ideal and that which constitutes a deviation from this Ideal and second what Ideals are in relation to spiritual and mental standards, then we will have a better understanding.
There is no other way to look upon good and evil if we would be as fair to others as we desire them to be be with us. Yet few people have learned to be so tolerant. Shall we continue to use our own measuring rod or be more universal in recognizing that mankind is in a state of development? Truth is a growth, and God understands the efforts of His children and accepts them whether they meet the approval or disapproval of the world.
WHAT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS? WHAT IS SIN?
In the commonly accepted term righteousness is referred to as light and sin as darkness. Those who walk in the light are those who are righteous, those who are in opposition to God, (Good), are in sin or error.
Who is to judge? What is righteousness to some is sin to others and visa versa. For example, in the days of slavery in these United States many saintly people regarded their slaves as their wards, as a sacred responsibility thrust upon them by God and felt that it was their solemn duty to keep, feed, and clothe them, to supply those things of which they had been deprived as barbarians in their jungle home. To others, it was the worst of all crimes to keep mankind in bondage. So heinous was the sin in their sight that the masters of the slaves merited death and humiliation. The same views were held by some of the early Christians in the days of the Inquisition. It was a sin that merited death, even torture, not to worship as was prescribed by their particular church. Others believed that they were accountable only to God and it was to them sin to conform to doctrines and laws that were man made. Then who is to judge what is righteousness, and what is sin? Rather, should not each of us study to show HIMSELF approved unto God, a workman that needs not be ashamed?
The Master called to the attention of the disciples, that unless their righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the Pharisees they would all likewise sin. He called the efforts of the Pharisees righteousness, although it was expressed in long payers and calling God's attention to their own self righteousness. Then obviously the Master recognized degrees of righteousness for He referred to theirs as a type. How were the disciples to discern between the righteousness of the Pharisees and that represented by the Master? He had been a living example of selflessness as He lived with His disciples. They had been with Him and had seen that He practiced what He taught. If with such light they were still selfish and self centered, for them it was sin. What about our righteousness with the light that is ours?
Jesus never condemned an attempt of anyone to express that which was his concept of god. He never condemns anyone's concept of worship, even though self gets into it. "A bruised reed shall He not break and the smoking flax He shall not quench."
THERE IS A WAY
Do we as seekers, as children of God, have first hand knowledge, or do we accept only what others have told us? Know in whom you believe, know He is able to keep that you have committed unto Him against that day. This is most important, for God is God to all, but HE is God, the Father, only to those who know Him. When we really know Him we are God-like. Do we know Him, or is it self righteousness that speaks? Do we condemn? Did Christ? He is the pattern. He is the Way. Do we know the Way? Are we following the Way?
Are we living that life that exceeded the life of the Pharisees, who gave their tithes, who attended to their officies in the temple, who met regularly to teach, guide and direct others. Yet what lacked they? Did they not teach the letter of the law and forget the Spirit? Are we too forgetting the Spirit?
Let us ask ourselves are we manifesting thought, word and action and that which we sincerely believe? Do we give credit to the Spirit where credit is due? Do we adhere to the spirit of brotherly love and sow the seeds of kindly feeling because we wish to or do it from a sense of duty? Are we long suffering because we just can't help it or are we willing that God through His Son, through the Master of masters show us the Way, His Way?
In seeking to help others we frequently come to an impasse. Advice, counsel and prayer seem ineffective. It is so easy, at such times to say, "I have done everything I can. There is just nothing else I can do."
It is true that we of ourselves can do very little. At such times are we thinking in terms of how much we can do for others? When the "I" speaks or acts the results will so frequently prove ineffectual and futile.
Through the power of the Spirit within we can do more, for before that power there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome.
In truth there can never be in our experience a time when we can say, "I have done all I can." This is in itself an admission that the Spirit is being forgotten. We are self- righteously standing in the place of the Pharisees; for that is just another way of saying, I am not like other men who have not tried.
The Master said, "Be ye therefore, perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Would we modify that? Would we say that such is only to be sought, to be tried for and is not attainable in this life under our present environments, hates and fears? Was He unreasonable? Did He not manifest the Spirit of the Father? Did He not bless those who dispitefully used Him and condemned Him?
"There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof is the way of death." It seems inconsistent to say that when we go a way that to us seems right that way leads to destruction. Have we ever stopped to reason whether we made our standard and measured our acts by our own sense of right and wrong without consideration of others, or did we use the Christ way as a standard and act in regard to others as we would have them act toward us? Does thinking only make our actions right?
According to God's standard it has never been right to kill yet men, in the name of religion, freedom and self preservation, have killed and to them it seemed right. The end justified the means, they reasoned.
History both sacred and profane is full of man's standards of righteousness, but in every case self was in the picture. Wars may have been fought in the name of religion or for freedom, but in every instance economics have played a part. We need no wars for the power of God to be manifested.
Will we be led by the Spirit of Truth or will self, the ego, our own material desires, so outweigh the purposes, the missions for which our souls are given opportunities in material expressions, that it may be said of us, except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the self-righteousness you shall all likewise sin.
GOD'S PURPOSES FOR US
The purpose of God in creating souls in the beginning was that they might be His companions. This the souls through self aggrandizement failed to manifest, so God in His mercy made man, that the souls in mankind in a material world might learn through experiences through physical awareness, "to be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breath and length and depth and height to be filled with the fullness of GOD." God has not changed in His purpose, but is the same yesterday, today and forever. "He is not willing that any soul should perish," but with every temptation has made a way of escape. His purpose is that all should come to a knowledge and understanding of Him through the One, the Perfect One, Jesus, the Christ, that man made perfect through suffering. "He learned obedience by the things He suffered."
This purpose of God to bear with man until he comes to an understanding has been manifested in the many messengers, teachers and prophets he has sent again and again into the earth to warm, comfort and guide his people. Some of them were Moses, Joshua, Jesus, many who have seemingly fought for lost causes, but their purposes, being one with God, have born fruit. God said in the beginning of man's experience in the earth, "Let there be light," though that light at times dimmed, has never gone out. Each messenger whom God has sent to warn people has rekindled a flame in the hearts of many of whom the world has had little knowledge.
Galileo, Socrates, Luther and Huss, each had their own message to give, each took with it his hemlock whether it were persecution or death. What was the reason for these persecutions of men with profound truth to give to the world? The people failed to place true values on new ideas. If they were not according to their standard of righteousness, then of course, it was sin. They made themselves both judge and executioner. Are we doing the same to-day?
Then is our purpose one with the Father, or are we still seeking self gratification, self indulgence? If so, we will have it all to learn over again, for every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess. Then what must be our purpose if our efforts are to be counted to us for righteousness? In as much as God so loved the world, even so should we love one another. For love is fulfillment of the law. Love works no ill to our neighbors, but begets mercy, peace and gentleness. It is only through these that we may manifest God's purposes for us.
All righteousness is included in the attempt of individuals to make application of that which in the material is to them termed good. What is good appears in varied forms in man's consciousness. But good that is free from selfishness is from the all Good and never varies. It is always the same. It is only when self and self's interpretations come in that there is a manifestation of degrees of goodness. All mankind is not awakened, all do not know the God of love. God in His mercy, His longsuffering, His love counts every attempt of righteousness to the credit of His children. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." If spiritually asleep he thinks himself good and acts in accordance with his belief, then His God meets him where he is and according to his faith blesses him. To many Abrams offering of Isaac would appear foolish, yet, as stated, "It was counted unto him for righteousness." It then is a personal application of the awareness that is the consciousness of the seeker after God.
Are our purposes in accord with the purposes of the Father? Or are we still asleep spiritually? Joshua said: "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." Jesus said, "First cast out the beam that is in thine own eye."
We are now witnessing a horrible war, the most destructive in history. Prayers now are being offered. Are we praying for self, self's home, country, kin and allies? Are we praying that all may be brought to light and understanding?
Righteousness, the opposite of sin, is selfishness. Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful." Are we showing mercy? Are we seeking the good in our brother whether he be friend or foe? If not, what are our purposes?
It will bring understanding to us who have the courage to dare to do the right in the face of all oppositions. Unkindnesses, slights, slurs, broken promises become as naught in the praise of Him who gave His life that we might have life more abundantly.
If we would be at one with Him it must be through helping others who are disturbed in minds, bodies, and desires. If we would be at one with Him, it must be through bringing to others the knowledge of the Christ and how He through suffering fulfilled the purposes of the Father.
Then let us remember that righteousness and sin are to many the extremes of awareness in consciousness. Thus it becomes a personal condition to be reckoned with by each individual. Not that there are not laws, that there are not metes and bounds about either of the terms, still the way maybe righteousness to one, to another may be sin and what might be sin to one to another might not be considered at all a deviation from the righteous path.
Finally, what then is righteousness in the life of an individual? To be at-one in purpose, in will, in desire with his Ideal is to an individual a righteous state. Then to deviate from his Ideal, whether consciously or unconsciously is sin to that one.
Each soul is the combination or the composite of all that he has thought or done in consciousness in every sphere or phase of activity. Paul was sincere in his persecution of the church. He had the Mosaic law to seemingly sustain his acts. It took an awakening of the Spirit to cause him to judge his activity as an error. It is indeed better to be in error and be consciously active than to do nothing; for when we are called into service and there is sincerity toward the ideal, we will be shown, will be awakened, will be aware of God's purpose with us even as Paul was.
We should consider and meditate upon these things and apply them in our daily lives. We should be sincere, direct in our calling, as we choose to serve Him in a definite way.
Let us not be slothful, but up and doing now, today. He will count our try as righteousness.
In the beginning the perfect man was given all the attributes of the Father, and placed in an ideal environment for physical manifestation. Even with that we find him listening to those influences which were at variance with God. Of his own accord he became willfully disobedient. Then in the fullness of time in the temple (body?) we find the Man made perfect through suffering saying, "Know ye not I must be about my Father's business." The result is worth every effort. The trials and humiliations that we have should be only stepping stones that help us to realize that we are one with the Father, one with the Ideal, heirs and joint heirs with the Perfect One, who has showed the Way made plain. Righteousness is Right use of OPPORTUNITIES.