For whatever reason, we all go through a low time…some experience it a lot more than others. But if you were to ask yourself right this second, “Am I righteous?”, what might your answer be? No? You don’t feel righteous?
Well, the Bible has some good news for you; God knows what you are going through. Never let the devil put this on the back burner of your mind; you are a son/daughter of the Most High God…called to rule the universe! ...joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
Titus 2:11 says the grace of God has appeared to all men.
How did grace “appear”? …lets discover/rediscover the “grace” of God and who grace is. Lets drop back and start with this…from the mouth of Jesus himself:
Matthew 5:20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
First I would ask…do you know what the kingdom of heaven is? (also referred to as the kingdom of God…both are the same thing. See Matt 19:23-24) You believe it to be some utopia way over there? Well, it’s a utopia alright…
Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
So let’s back up further into Romans Chapter 3… and remember, Chapters 1-3 of Romans are describing how helpless we are…how doomed we are; and as we move thru the scriptures here, look at the declaration of Romans 3:10
“There is none righteous, no, not one;”
So, God says unless your righteousness exceeds the scribes and Pharisees you are out of luck…that you’re in serious serious trouble! Because there is not one person righteous! Not a single one!
Can you see it? Without Jesus, Paul says, we all have a big problem!
Look back at Matthew 5:20…do you think Jesus was trying to encourage us to be really good Christians? …even though every single person on earth has fallen short of the glory and the absolute perfection of God! No He wasn’t. Because no matter how hard one might try, there is still not one righteous? Yep…we have a problem.
Do you fall in with the great multitude of believers who believe this is God’s solution…try really really hard to be good…do your best. Even churches, whole denominations for that matter, encourage people to try really hard to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. What arrogance!!! If we can become righteous by the works of the law…then Jesus died for naught. There was no point to His death and resurrection was there?
No…Matthew 5:20 and Romans 3:10 are the very reasons Jesus died on the cross for us.
So what of those believers who try really hard? And work for righteousness so God will love, accept and approve of them after they are saved? What does this say to the blood of Jesus? “Ok…I'm saved by the grace of God…thanks Lord! But I got it from here.”
See, “trying” to be more righteous than the Pharisees is a form of self-inflicted insult to the sacrifice Jesus made for you.
So what is the righteousness which is greater than the Pharisees? And how do we get it? It’s God’s righteousness! And He gives it to us for free!
Romans 3:19-23 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
And here is the good part… But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah), even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. Righteousness is a gift!!
Romans 5:17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
Listen, there are only two kinds of righteousness…yours and God’s! Your imperfect righteousness and His perfect righteousness! And which one gets you into heaven? Ha! Yet, why is there a relentless undertaking to work for our own righteousness? Do you think for a minute you can be more righteous than the Pharisees? Well, if so…you have an even bigger problem…you are deaf and blind too.
Righteousness is a gift we receive; not a reward we achieve! And when we get it we also get an abundance of grace to reign in life! Look up the word “reign” in the dictionary! Yet so many believe, and behave altogether like, God gives us the gift of righteousness…and then expects us to pay Him for it!?! Hey, a gift is free! But make no mistake…it was not cheap. It cost God His Son. Do you understand? God has taken away your need for efforts - which produce imperfect righteousness; and replaced it with His righteousness! As a gift no less! So that He can have a relationship with us. Pretty clear the only way we enter heaven is to receive and rely upon His righteousness. And we can never hear too much about the grace of God, can we? We need to continually realize we have an abundance of grace!
Romans 10:1-3 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
This is pretty clear as well…there are workers who have a zeal for God. They are sincere in what they believe, no doubt, but their lives are in turmoil because their zeal is not according to knowledge…they are ignorant of God’s righteousness.
Paul says he wants to be found in Jesus…Philippians 3:9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
Accepting our righteousness comes as a gift from God, along with an abundance of grace, now sets our zeal apart from our efforts…
Thank God for the gift of His righteousness. We don’t have, and will not be, some form of righteousness; which is mostly righteous. No, we have the very perfect righteousness of God. When we receive Jesus, we get this gift! And we actually become His righteousness… forever! He cannot and will not take it back!
Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
God made us righteous and we share the same righteousness because of Jesus’s obedience to the cross! We are as righteous as God! And far greater than the righteousness of the Pharisees!
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (applies even when you mess up!!)
If you were wearing white clothes, from top to bottom, white shoes and white gloves and you passed by a mechanic working on car...or plumber laying pipe in a ditch! Would you help them if they ask you to help? Would you get into a greasy tool box to get a tool? Or jump into the ditch to help with the pipe? NO! The more you understand that, the more shocking and resentful you become with sin. And the real kicker…NOTHING can ever dirty your whites!
Isaiah 61:10 says the Lord has clothed us with the garments of salvation and covered us with the robe of righteousness…rejoice in the Lord and let your soul be joyful to God.
Is it possible to make God unrighteous? Then nothing can make you unrighteous! Can anything get Him dirty with sin? Then you either. Mark this down; there is nothing you can do to make yourself more righteous! …or less righteous!
So…is that a challenge for you to accept? Does that righteousness you have make you feel really uncomfortable? Well, as we live our day to day lives we need to know and be comfortable with it. We don’t want to sin…but we do stupid things. So thank God we have the robe of righteousness.
But if your brain is rejecting this crazy gift, go ahead and… Well, let’s say you can lose it…have you pondered how you might get it back? Uhhhh…it was a gift! Do you ask for another one? Can you ask for another one? (Where did the Holy Spirit go?) See how backward that sounds? You didn’t earn it in the first place. Remember?!? No, righteousness is a gift…! To be received … not a reward to be achieved or earned! You have the gift! It was free and it’s yours! Does having it make you want to get out there and sin?
Never cease recalling how righteous you are…especially when you mess up! The just shall live by faith! ”Thank you LORD…I am the righteousness of God in Christ…Thank you Father for your Son, and forgiving me of my sins, and the gift of righteousness.” Stay in the faith believer…”Sorry for that sin Lord…help me not to repeat it again! …and thank you for your abundance of grace.”
Hebrews 10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
We can only be made holy once and for all … sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ! Isn’t that good news to you? Can you believe it? Accept it and be grateful for it? If we are holy once and for all…sin cannot make us unholy!
Or do you think – “license to sin”??? That people can now go, do and live however they want? Uhhh...don’t be stupid…does this whole message of righteousness encourage you to go sin?
Look, sin wants to destroy us, destroy our calling and our purpose, deceive us and wreck our relationship with God…wreck everything God has done for us! Do you think God’s wisdom didn’t think about those who would run to think …”Sure you’re saved now and under His grace…so get out there and sin…make His gift work for you!?!” Why would you even think that way…? Self-righteousness that’s why…just can’t accept what God has done for you…you can do it better yourself.
Even more amazing is believing you can make yourself holy, more holy, sanctify yourself by keeping the law! When you mess up, you think you must grovel to God…to make your way back to the place, the level of holiness, you had worked for and failed!
Hey, your holiness never went anywhere! You have the gift! Yes, that sin was stupid but, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ”. So don’t let sin destroy your holiness, strip you of your gift of righteousness and your relationship with God. Does that make sense?
Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
Who’s offering? Yours? No…Jesus’s offering. For those who are coming into Christ, God has made you perfect forever…for all time. This is a fundamental foundation of salvation. Walk in confidence in His righteousness. When you don’t…when you don’t come boldly to the throne, it’s because of self-righteousness. Come boldly…not because of your righteousness, your works, your good or bad behavior; but His righteousness…His works and His gift.
This liberty is from the word of God…from the scriptures. The uncomfortableness you feel…? Don’t resist it…step out in faith and don’t resist the truth laid before you. The law was delivered but Grace and Truth came…
Jeremiah 23:6 calls Jesus the “Lord of our righteousness”. How can a vast majority believe that “grace” promotes sin? That peace you feel when you suddenly realize you have been delivered from the law…to now live unto God and bear fruit to Him…without any effort on our part? That peace…that joy you feel? That’s the Holy Spirit confirming this truth…and He does it for each of us. God’s grace, Grace apart from the law, operating with, coupled with, your amazing gift of righteousness, will so naturally produce the moral excellence your efforts can never achieve. Grace produces moral excellence which the law can only imagine.
Romans 7:7-8 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.
It’s the law which produces all manner of evil desire in us! How hard is that to understand? God gave the law to bring man to the end of himself; but satan has subtly led man to believe the law is used to make himself.
Imagine you are in a large room all by yourself. There are many doors in the room but one door has a sign…”Do not look behind this door”. Do you just automatically wonder? And want to know what’s behind the door? Sure you do! That’s what the law does! That’s how the law stirs up sin! The sign is not evil…nor has it done any sort of wrong! But like the law, it has stirred up desires in you…you want to know what’s behind the door. Yes there is sin in all of us…but apart from the law it is dead! You don’t give the many other doors, the doors without a sign, a second thought do you? But the door with the sign? …that’s what the law does. And it makes you forget that…
You are more righteous than the Pharisees…You are the righteousness of God in Christ.
BETHEL ASSEMBLY OF GOD
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"Sometimes human beings—individuals or communities—are confronted with something that they must reject outright or that, if they accept it, will demand the remaking of their worldview." (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope)
"Hope, for the Christian, is not wishful thinking or mere blind optimism. It is a mode of knowing, a mode within which new things are possible, options are not shut down, new creation can happen." (N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope)
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