†Righteousness! Chapter Twelve
One of the greatest challenges to walking in the righteousness of God is breaking free from your sin consciousness. In the past religion has taught us that we are just sinners saved by grace, however this is not the truth. Paul said in 2 Cor. 5:17-21, (NIV)
"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 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 menís sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christís ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us."
Just stop and mediate on this scripture. If you have bought into the idea that we are just sinners saved by the grace of God, consider what Paul is saying here. He said that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old way of life is gone, and we now live a new life. If you are in Christ and still just a sinner saved by grace, then there is sin in Christ. However, that is impossible!
The life of a sinner that you once lived is dead, gone!! You may have once been a sinner but that life that you once lived is dead, gone!! You now have a new life! One that is free from sin and is the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! I know that this is hard for your carnal mind to accept because in the past we have majored in sin consciousness. This is why Paul told the Church at Rome this in Rom. 12:2,
"Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Your thinking that you had before you were born again has to be forsaken and you must come and learn from God His ways and His thoughts.
In most churches and when most Christians pray they make the following statement in everyone of their prayers: "Father forgive us our sins and our unforgiven sins!" They pray this despite the promise of God as recorded in Heb. 8:10-12,
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
Allow me to challenge you to find me a scripture in the New Testament after Jesus went to the cross, that tells us to ask our Father to forgive us of our sins!!!! You may want to go the model prayer and say to me that Jesus said that we should pray that God forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." However, this was said before He paid the price for our sins! In that prayer Jesus also said, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done!" His Kingdom came on the Day of Pentecost!
The point I am making to you is that we have majored in sin consciousness and do not see ourselves as righteousness in God's eyes! The reason for this is because we have been taught self-righteousness. We have been taught to try to by like Jesus in everyway that we can. What Paul is trying to get through to you is that when you were born again, you died first and then even as Jesus was raised from the dead, you were born again with a completely new life which is a life of righteousness in Christ Jesus.
This life in Christ Jesus does not depend on your ability to live righteous before God because that was impossible to do before Jesus paid the price for our sins. All of our self-righteousness fell far short of the righteousness of God. We have been given the righteousness of God because of our faith in what He has said to us.†
For those of you who need to clearly understand the rationality of something before you can believe it, here is what Paul said concerning the free gift of righteousness from God. Rom. 5:17-19,
"For if by one manís offence death reigned by one (Adam); much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one (Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one (Jesus) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one manís disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
Because we are a new creation in Christ Jesus when we are born again, it is the most natural thing for the life of God to flow through us. Jesus said in John 7:37-39,
"If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Even though we hear these things, we read them, and quote them, the reality of these truths must penetrate our hearts before they can begin to affect our lives. Something must change in our consciousness in order for these truths to come to pass. It is one thing to know the truth but an entirely different thing to live by it. Truth is much like learning to play the piano; to become efficient at it, you must practice believing it. This is where our faith comes to life. We can believe something all our lives but it will do us no good until we begin to walk in it.
Do you believe that you are righteous or is fear and guilt in your heart? I would dare say that a lot of Christians would answer that question by saying, "Well, most of the time I believe that I am right with God but there are times when I wonder because of some of the things I do!" The reason for this is because you are believing that you are righteous based on your being able to live by the principles that Jesus gave us. When† you fail to live up to one of them, you judge yourself as guilty.
The truth is that we are righteous because He is righteous. Righteousness has been given to us as a free gift that is irrevocable. That means that God will not take back His free gift to us because we fail at some point to live up to His commandments! Paul said in 1 Cor. 1:30-31,
"It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from Godóthat is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ďLet him who boasts boast in the Lord.Ē
Jesus was made the wisdom of God for us because of His obedience to His Father and He was made our righteousness and because we are in Him we are righteous.
Just knowing this will not cause much to happen in our lives. It is when we become convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are righteous. When this happens we will walk with confidence and anticipation of the grace of God opening up doors for us.†
It is one thing to say, "I believe in what God has said!", and something else to have faith in what He has said is true of us! Jesus told us in Matt. 5:48,
"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect!"†
How many of you have been taught to believe that! You may say, "Well, I believe that but......" There are no buts to what Jesus said! You either accept at face value what He said or you doubt what He has said is true concerning you! This is why we must allow the Word of God, Jesus, to change our way of thinking! Jesus told us in John 14:6,
"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Jesus said, "I am the truth!" He never told us to do something or that we can do something that was not the truth! This is why we must allow our thinking or what we think about the Truth to be change to what Jesus said was the Truth!
The great Apostle Paul was given by the inspiration of God the Gospel to take to the Gentiles. Paul had perhaps a much deeper understanding of the Gospel than any of the other Apostles. Even Peter said in 2 Peter 3:15-17,
"Even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him has written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction!"
I can remember, as a child, hearing many preachers say that the book of Romans and Hebrews were difficult to understand. This is so true, if we depend upon our wisdom to understand things that are spiritually written in spiritual words that can only be understood by the Spirit! Paul said this in 1 Cor. 2:12-14,
"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which manís wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
I am spending a lot of time on the subject of Righteousness because Paul had a lot of things to say about it. If we continue to major in sin consciousness, we will never be able to accept the deeper things of God and will never be able to achieve maturity as a son of God. We will remain a child in the Kingdom of God.
I also remember when I was a child, hearing the statement, "God said it and that settles it and I believe it!"† That is all well and good, but do you act upon what He has said? If Jesus told us to be perfect, then it is possible for us to be perfect in God's sight. Maybe not in what we consider perfect because we depend upon our ability to be perfect and not on the ability of Jesus to be perfect!† We are perfect because He is perfect and our life is lived in Him!
In the same way, we are righteous because He is righteous! We have been given the right to stand before God without condemnation because we stand before Him in the righteousness of Jesus! We are righteous because He said we are righteous and no matter what you carnal mind tells you, this is true!
As a result of this righteousness, we can have a personal relationship with our Father and come to know Him as love perfected. Then the world will have a demonstration of the Lord in their midst and be able to see that city that is set on a high hill!