Blameless seems to be a recurring theme in my scripture study lately.
Today I read Philippians 2:14-15:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky
as well as Job 1:1
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
And last week I read Noah’s story in Genesis 6:9
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.
A search on BibleGateway.com shows that blameless occurs fifty-four times–eleven of those in Job, twelve in Psalms, and ten more in Proverbs. And the more I read the word, the more I think we put too much weight on it. God calls Job and Noah blameless and asks Abraham to lead a blameless life. King David and Job described themselves as blameless. And in one prayer of David, Israel’s greatest king gives us some insight:
Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
Finally, in Revelation, John saw blameless saints.
No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.
I find one thing in common with every description of blameless: it doesn’t mean sinless. As I mentioned, God described Noah as blameless. We immediately jump to the conclusion the man had no sin, but let’s put it in context: “blameless among the people of his day and he walked faithfully with God.” No one who knew Noah could blame him for anything. Compared to everyone else on the earth, Noah lived a good life–walking with God kept him on the high road. He probably kept commandments five through nine even though they hadn’t been given yet.
While we think of sinless and blameless as interchangeable, there’s a significant difference. Sinless refers to the way God sees us. In order to be sinless, we need to get those first four commandments right–no other gods, no idols, don’t use God’s name frivolously, and set aside a sabbath. A sinless person has a perfect heart. Sinless is impossible on our own. Fortunately, after we accept Jesus’ sacrifice as our own, we are covered by His blood, and God sees us as sinless.
Blameless, on the other hand, seems to be associated with the way humans see us. In Philippians, Paul tells us grumbling and arguing can nullify our blamelessness. Job was blameless because he feared God, and the saints who sang before the Almighty were considered blameless because they refrained from lying. My favorite description comes in Psalm 19–it seems the willful sins are the biggest problem.
We willfully sin when we blatantly disregard God’s word. We know what we should do or shouldn’t do, but refuse to change. Willful sins are those ones we know we’re doing when we do it, but we forge ahead with the lie or the thievery. When we continue to complain beyond our initial vent, we’ve fallen into the grumbling arena. When we’ve said our piece but feel the need to continue the bitter back and forth, arguing has sucked us in.
If you’re starting to feel horrible about yourself when it comes to that willful sinning, read the end of Romans 7. Paul faced the same challenge. While it doesn’t excuse my behavior, it sometimes gives me encouragement to get up and try again when I know I’m in good company.
So, let Jesus take care of making you sinless, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you live blameless.
Live such good lives among the pagans that,
though they accuse you of doing wrong,
they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:12
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