Righteousness! Chapter Eight
The great Apostle Paul made a very strong statement in Rom. 10:1-4 about Israel and it applies to the Church today when he said,
"Brethren, my heartís desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of Godís righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes."
It is vital that our knowledge concerning the Word is correct, or we will respond as we have so many times before. We will simply think we know about it, but what we know will† not be life-giving. In the past our knowledge of the Word has not been life-giving because it has not been correct.
In this passage of scripture, Paul tells us what has happened to us concerning righteousness in Christ when he said,
"They have been ignorant about God's righteousness and have gone about trying to establish their own righteousness and have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God!"
Paul makes a distinction between the righteousness of God and the righteousness established by men. What then is the difference between the righteousness of God and the righteousness of men? Let's first take a look at what we have been taught by men that we must do to be righteous before God.
I can remember back when I was just a child in Sunday school I was taught that we must be perfect even as He, meaning Jesus, was perfect, BUT that is not possible until He returns and then we will be changed and become perfect even as He is perfect. As for now, we must do our best to be like Jesus and hope that when we die He will give us a home in heaven. As a result of this teaching, many Christians have doubts about their salvation when they are on their death beds.
I never really bought into this reasoning because Jesus would never tell us to do something that was not possible for us to do. He said in Matt. 5:48,
" Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
The Church has been just like Israel and have gone about establishing their own idea about what makes us righteous in man's sight. We began to make laws out of the teachings of Jesus and try to follow them and when we failed to live up to these laws, it brought about guilt and condemnation. We begin to keep score and focused on what we considered sin. We felt guilty before God because our minds would remind us of all those things that we did which were not according to the rules we establish that would make us righteous before God. As a result, we majored in the things of sin and became sin conscious and begin to see ourselves as unworthy to expect anything from God, other than just His providential care. Whatever that is! Oh, we could explain to you what we can expect from God and it wasn't much.
Listening to people preach about sin will not cause you to walk in righteousness. You are going to continue to make mistakes and wrong choices because this body of flesh is weak and sooner or later you are going to wonder why you continue coming to church if you cannot meet the standards of the man-made righteousness imposed upon you. We reason that we are tired of being hypocrites. Pretending to be righteous and knowing that we are not and putting on a false face to deceive our Christian friends. This creates conflict within us and we end up fighting within ourselves. Many have come to the conclusion that they have tried their best to live up to the standards that their preachers have set up for them and just can not do it, so they leave the Church.
I came to that point in 1973 when I went before God and told Him that if this is all there is to living this Christian life, then I was giving up and was going to live my life doing what pleased me because, I had tried with all my heart to do what Jesus taught us to do and found out that I just couldn't live up to the standards that He had set. I told Him that I wanted to know that He was real and that I could have a personal relationship with Him. What I didn't realize was that I was exactly where God wanted me to be. At the end of my rope! As I look back at that time in my life, I realize that God was leading me to that point so I would learn to depend upon Him and it was soon after that He baptized me in His Holy Spirit and the Bible came alive to me. I suddenly could understand things that I had wondered about for years and He began to open doors for me and bring teachers of the truth into my life and I had a love for Him that cannot be expressed in words.
The words of Jesus were fulfilled in me when He said in Matt. 7:7-8,
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened."
In our attempt to set up rules and regulations with scripture to back us up we came up with Do's and Don'ts for the Christian and it sounded so good, but there was no life in it. Jesus said in John 10:10,
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
It is sad that too many Christians spend their lives thinking they have to qualify to be righteous in God' sight. If you establish your own standard of righteousness, you will have to live by it and do so perfectly. Because you judge yourself by your standards, you are also going to judge everyone else that way. If you are righteous because of what you do, then in effect, God owes you righteousness as compensation for your good works. God's righteousness would no longer be a gift because you would have worked to achieve it. This is not God's plan for righteousness.
Paul said in Rom. 4:4-5,
"Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
Listen, we do righteous things because we are righteous, not because we are unrighteous and have to earn it. We do not pray to become righteous, however, righteous people pray! We do not go to church because we want to be righteous, we go to church because we are righteous! We don't tithe to become righteous or to maintain our righteousness, we tithe because we are righteousness.
Listen, I am righteous because God's righteousness was given to me when I believed Him and was a free gift that God gave to me. The gift that He gave to me was His righteousness. Jesus told me in Matt. 6:33,
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Nowhere in the word of God are we told to seek our own rightness!! The Kingdom of God is within us and so is His righteousness!! Jesus said in Lk. 17:21,
"The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
I have to believe I am the righteousness of God by faith even when I mess up. Even when I sin and miss the mark, I am still the righteousness of God in Christ by faith. Righteousness is a gift of God which He never takes back!!! You cannot loose your righteousness!! Paul said in Rom. 12:29,
"For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."
The word used here in the original Greek is ametamelētos am-et-am-el'-ay-tos and means irrevocable, cannot be reversed! In other words when God gives us something He never takes it back. It's ours! We cannot loose our righteous standing before God! This is so hard for the carnal mind to accept because we have been programmed to trust in our own ability to walk perfectly before God which is something we cannot do! If we could have, Jesus would never had to come here and give His life for us!!!
We are righteous today because He is righteous and not because of something we have done. It is a free gift of God because of His great love for us!†