What are we to do in promoting the righteousness that will exalt our nation? First, righteousness should be taught from one generation to the next. It should start with believers learning and living God’s word, then teaching their children to do the same. Each child must choose to accept the biblical values of the parents, then to walk in those values. When God established Israel as a nation under the leadership of Moses, the Lord commanded the parents to teach His word to the children (Deut. 6:6-7).
The blessing and prosperity of Israel depended upon their obedience to God’s word (Deut. 6:8-25). If they feared God and walked in His truth, then there was blessing (Deut. 28:1-14). If they turned away from God and lived in perpetual sin, then there was cursing (Deut. 28:15-68). The cursing of God upon the nation of Israel came in stages (decaying social life, destruction of crops, famine and military defeat), and eventuated in total destruction if they failed to humble themselves before the Lord.
Believers within a national entity have the power to influence their country and help perpetuate its blessing from God; and like those living in ancient Israel, righteousness must be taught and caught by each new generation. God gives freedom, but freedom must always be seen as an opportunity to do good for others (Jer. 15:11; Gal. 5:13). Each new generation must choose God and His will, for a nation is only one generation away from success or failure; from being righteous or sinful.
Second, in a democracy, where leadership is elected and not inherited, the Lord’s remnant must exert as much influence for righteousness as possible; certainly every believer ought to pray for those in authority (1 Tim. 2:1–8). National leaders and citizens commit sin when they deviate from God’s will. At the core of sin is a rebellious heart, a fallen nature, an internal defiance toward God in which a person sets his will against his Creator. Whether educated or uneducated, religious or irreligious, believer or unbeliever, every person has the capacity and propensity to sin.
Every nation has its unbelievers who continually produce sin; but only the believer has a spiritual nature (acquired at salvation) which enables him to walk with God in accordance with Scripture. The believer has a choice to follow God or the world, and God calls the believer to forsake sin and live righteously (Rom. 6:11-14; 13:12-14; Tit. 2:11-14). Third, we are chosen by God to be a light in the world, and to call people to God that they might be saved by grace through faith (Matt. 5:13-16).
The whole world lies in darkness, and the Christian is to preach the gospel to the lost, calling unbelievers “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). The world, as a whole, will never be reformed or made perfect because it consists of a majority of unbelievers who are guided by sinful values. Absolute perfection only comes when God destroys the current heavens and earth and creates a new heavens and earth (Rev. 21-22).
The Apostle Peter states, “according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13). Until that happens, God is calling out a special people to be set apart from the world, sanctified and holy. We live in the world, but we are not of the world. Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:19). We are in the world, but are called to strive for holiness rather than conformity (Rom. 12:1-2).