Righteousness! Chapter 19…
The Apostle John made a very important statement in Rev. 1:4-6,
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever."
John said that Jesus has made us to be kings and priests unto God and His Father! Every king has a kingdom. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is within you! (Luke 17:21) Not only that, He has made you a priest. The job of a priest is to mediate between God and man. Paul said the same thing in 2 Cor. 5:18-19, (NIV)
"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."
How are we going to carry out this commitment that God has given to us. To do any job well, a person must have two things; full responsibility and full authority. As a priest you have the responsibility and as a king you have the authority.
What is this message of reconciliation? Paul said in Rom. 5:18-19,
"Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous."
Because of what Adam did, mankind was made a prisoner of sin. Paul said in Gal. 3:22-23, (NIV)
"For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe."But the Scripture declares that
This was all true until Jesus came on the scene and fulfilled all righteousness! He said in Matt. 3:15,
"Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."
Paul said of Jesus in Rom. 6:1-18, (NIV)
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness."
The point that I want to make here is that until Jesus came, the whole world was a prisoner of sin because of what Adam did. However, Jesus came and set the whole world free from the bondage of sin and the world is now free from the control of sin!
Paul said in 2 Cor. 5:17-21,
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
He also said in Gal. 5:1,
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Religion has entangled us with the yoke of bondage by placing us once again under Law! It is so easy for mankind to be entangled once again by Law because the carnal mind loves to be controlled by Law! The carnal mind doesn't know how to live by freedom because it can't. Paul said in Rom. 8:7,
"The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
Religion has taught us to live by Law and try to reform ourselves to live up to the Laws of Christ! The reason for this is because the carnal mind knows very little about walking by the Spirit. The carnal mind is afraid to walk by faith and wants to depend upon itself. This results in self-righteousness. As such, because of the weakness of the flesh, you can never be free from doubt as to your standing with the Lord! However, Jesus told us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!! (Matt. 6:33)
He also said in Matt. 11;28-30,
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Law will place a heavy burden on you because of the weakness of the flesh, you constantly break the Law and this brings fear to you. Paul said in Rom. 8:14-17,
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ"
Paul said in Gal. 5:1,
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
He said to the Galatians in Gal. 3:1-4, (NIV)
"You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
I want to make a very strong statement to you about your salvation. Your standing before God in righteousness is not because of something you can do or have done, but it is a gift from your father and something we can experience by the use of our faith, which in reality was also a gift to us by our Father! I didn't originate that fact! The Apostle Paul did as he was inspired by God to say this. In
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast."
What about righteousness? Is it a free gift from our Father? Paul said in Rom. 3:19-26,
" Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."
He also 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."
This is the good news of the Gospel! We can now rest in the Lord because we know that we have been made righteous because of what Jesus did and not because of anything we have to do. All we have to do is to believe in what Jesus has done for us and if we make a mistake it doesn't separate us from the Lord. All we are told to do after Jesus went to the cross is to acknowledge our mistakes.
When we believe in what Jesus did for us there is something that happens on the inside of us! Paul said again in 2 Cor. l5:17,
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
There is a new life on the inside of us. A life filled with love for one another and if we will allow this new life to flow through us to other people we will experience the life that Jesus came to give us! We no longer have to try to struggle with sin because all things have become new! There is that abundant life flowing through us!