Righteousness! Chapter Two
In order to be righteous under the Law you had to do all that it instructed you to do! If we could have kept the Law we would have been able to boast before God because of our self righteousness. At least in our sight! However, in this study we are concerned with being righteous in His sight. If we could have kept the Law we would have not needed Jesus to die for us because we would have been righteous without Him. However, none of us could have fulfilled the Law because we could not successfully keep it. Because of what Adam did in disobeying God, all of his seed, of which we were, came under the bondage of sin.
I want to give you something to think about this week and next week I will explain it to you. If God is all knowing, why did He create us with this body of flesh that is so weak and so susceptible to disobedience? And what did John mean in Rev. 13:8 when he talked about the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world?
"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
Did God know before he formed man from the dust of the earth that Jesus would have to come and die for us? If so, then Why? Think on these things and I will tell you why next week.
In the fullness of time, Jesus came as the second Adam to fulfill the Law and deliver all mankind out from under the bondage of sin. The righteousness that man sought to obtain through obeying the Law only brought about the knowledge of what sin was all about. For without the Law, man knew nothing about sin but when the Law came to man, sin sprang to life because man now knew what it was to disobey what the Law instructed him to do. (Rom. 7:7-23)
In Gal. 3:19-22 Paul said, (NIV)
"What, then, was the
purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to
whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels
by a mediator. A
mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.
Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that
could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the Law. But
the Scripture declares that 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. Before
this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith
should be revealed.
So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
When the Law was given, it had many promises as well as many curses. In order to make my point today I must list the blessings and curses that came with the Law. In Lev. 26:1-13 God said,
" Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God. “‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD. “‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.
“I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove savage beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country. You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you. “I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.
You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor (reject) you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high."
This was God's guarantee that He would bless them if they would be careful to obey all that He commanded them. If, however, they failed to obey Him and went about doing their own thing this would happen to them. Lev. 26:14-46, (NIV)
"But if you will not
listen to me and carry out all these commands,
and if you reject my decrees and abhor (reject) my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you. “‘If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over.
I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of the land yield their fruit. “‘If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve. I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted.
If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over. And I will bring the sword upon you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands. When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied. “‘If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over.
You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.
I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you.
I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings. I will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. Then the land will enjoy its Sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths.
All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the Sabbaths you lived in it. As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them.
They will stumble over one another as though fleeing from the sword, even though no one is pursuing them. So you will not be able to stand before your enemies. You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their fathers’ sins they will waste away. But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers—their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God.
But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD. These are the decrees, the laws and the regulations that the LORD established on Mount Sinai between himself and the Israelites through Moses."
If only the Israelites would have honored God's decrees and taught their children to do the same, they would have had a chance to live under God's abundant provisions and would have been blessed above all the nations on the earth. During Joshua's reign they did this but as time passed and younger generations came to rule they gradually forgot to obey God's Laws. Those of us who have lived in the USA for the past 70 years can see the same thing happening to our country which has been blessed above all the nations who have ever been on this earth because of a prophecy that Jacob gave to the two sons of Joseph. However, we have sowed to the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind.
Jesus made a very profound statement in Matt. 5:17-18,
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
In order to fully understand what Jesus accomplished during His brief stay here on earth, you must understand that He came here as the second Adam, the second man on this earth to be begotten directly by God. God was Adam's Father and God is Jesus' Father!
Because of this, Jesus represented all of mankind just as Adam did. Paul said in Gal. 3:19-20,
"The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one."
The Law was put into effect by a mediator who was Moses! Moses was a mediator between God and man. Adam and Jesus were one with God because He was their Father. As a result of this they represented all of mankind. Therefore, when Adam disobeyed God, it subjected all of his seed to come under the control of sin. However, when Jesus came as the second Adam representing all of mankind and fulfilled the Law by living a sinless life and offered Himself up on our behalf and took upon Himself the sins of all mankind and fully paid the price for those sins, it set all of mankind free from the bondage of sin and Jesus took the Law that we couldn't successfully obey and did away with it nailing it to the cross because He fulfilled the Law by being obedient to it.
As a result of His obedience, righteousness was imputed to Him and because He was the representative of all of mankind, righteousness is now available to all who will accept it by faith. We no longer have to depend on our righteousness. Jesus said in Matt. 6:33,
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
We do not have to depend upon our ability to keep Law today but by faith we can trust in the righteousness of Jesus. The promises that came by obeying the Law were but a shadow of the promises that come by faith in what Jesus has done. The Gospel that Paul taught the Gentiles bypassed the Law and went all the way back to Abraham who had the gospel preached to him. Paul said in Gal. 3:6-9,
"Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Paul also said in 2 Cor. 3:6-11, (NIV)
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remains is glorious." Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!"
Peter said in 2 Peter 1:3-4, (NIV)
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."
Paul said in 2 Cor. 1:18-22, (NIV)
"But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."
No matter how many promises God has made, they are Yes in Christ! Paul said in Eph. 1:3,
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
Did you know that God can not give you any more spiritual blessings than He gave you in Jesus Christ? Why not! Because He gave them all to you in Jesus Christ! Under the Law, man had to be obedient in order to receive the blessings God promised! However, today, those who by faith receive the righteousness of Christ by faith have access to all the blessings of our Father!
What is the greatest commandment according to Jesus. He said in Matt. 22:27-30,
"Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
When was the last time you told the Lord that you love Him? And when was the last time you told some friend of yours that you love them? Is this something that you are comfortable doing? A long time ago I was encouraged by the Lord to sing a little chorus called, "I Love You With The Love of The Lord" just before we would stop our worship service to either have communion or take up the offering!" And I would have everyone go around and greet each other and tell them they loved them.
Why is this so important to tell the Lord that you love Him and to tell others that you love them? John made a very profound statement in John 1:11-13,
"He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
Also Jesus said in Mark 11:24,
"What things so ever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them."
And Paul said in Rom. 10:8-10,
"The word is nigh thee, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
What these three scriptures have in common is the word 'believe'. John said that the ones who believed on His Name, He gave the power to become the sons of God. The word, 'name' and 'power' both mean authority. In other words, to those who believed that Jesus had the authority of God and was the Son of God or the Messiah, Jesus gave them the authority to become sons of God. What was this authority that Jesus gave to those who believed? It was the authority to prophesy!! To prophesy is to speak forth the word of God. Paul told us in 1 Cor. 14:1, that we should desire to prophesy!
Paul said that it is with your heart that you believe and are made righteous in God's sight and it is with your mouth that you confess what you believe and are saved. The authority that Jesus gave to us when we believed was the authority to speak with power! Are you aware that the world was formed by the power of the spoken word of God. Have you ever wondered why in the book of Geneses it continually says, "And God said, and God said....let there be and there was!"
As a result of this, it is so important for us to guard what comes out of our mouth. James addresses this in Ja. 3:9-12, (NIV)
"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Also Jesus said in Luke 6:45,
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."
I have found that most Christians really don't have a proper understanding of the Love of God. Love is not an attribute of God! Love is a description of God. Love is who He is! Paul said in Eph. 3:14-19,
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God."
The point I am making is that if the greatest commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all your heart then we should prophesy this out of our mouths by telling the Lord how much we love Him. When we do this our ears hear what we are saying and our subconscious mind records it. So it becomes very natural for us to say, "Father, I love you!" Not only that, but the same is true as we learn to tell our relatives and friends that we love them. We should be able to tell others that we love them without being shy about it.
It should be very easy for us to tell one another that we love each other. It should be the most natural thing in the world. However, so many times we get caught up in the ways of the world that we fail to express the love of God to one another. Paul said in 1 Cor. 16:20,
"Greet ye one another with an holy kiss!"
Well, in our culture we don't do that but there are still culture's that do that. When I was in Rome, the Italians kiss one another on both sides of the check. Men and women alike. It's very common for them to do this.
Since Jesus said in John 13:34-35,
"A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another."
Think upon these things this week and I will share with you next week the answer to the following questions:
If God is all knowing, why did He create us with this body of flesh that is so weak and susceptible to disobedience? And what did John mean in Rev. 13:8 when he talked about the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world?
"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
Did God know before he formed man from the dust of the earth that Jesus would have to come and die for us? If so, then Why? What was God's purpose in setting things up this way?