We hear many sermons about God's wonderful gifts of peace and joy but find ourselves lacking for sound doctrine concerning God's righteousness. I am convinced the understanding of righteousness is vital for The Church of The Living God to walk in victory in these days of peril. And the lack of knowledge about righteousness leaves God's people weak in faith, suffering from condemnation and loss of hope. I trust you will lay aside all distractions and open your bible with me as we learn truths of righteousness by the grace of our God.
When Jesus took our place of judgment and punishment by dying for us on the cross, He redeemed our lives from what we deserved and from what was owed to us because of our sinful nature. So we are called The Church of the Redeemed. We have understanding of what that redemption gained for us by God 's mercy and grace, when Jesus took sin, poverty, sickness and premature death in our place.
We know too that in His redemption we have been given the honor of His presence indwelling us, bringing us peace that passes all human understanding in situations where no human peace is possible and that we have supernatural impartation of joy that does not leave us when we are grieving and when circumstances have taken our happiness. The joy that comes from God's presence is the very strength of our Christian walk. But what about the Kingdom power of righteousness?
As we are growing up our good behavior is the constant goal of parents, nannies and teachers. We are rewarded for good behavior and typically suffer for our bad behavior. We know that our being good typically gains the approval of our superiors. Good is rewarded, bad is punished. Perhaps the punishment for bad behavior includes losing out on something we were looking forward to or a pleasure is withheld from us.
As we are growing up in God's family, if we are not knowledgeable from God's Word and teaching, we find ourselves living with this same mentality or expectation. That our good behavior is rewarded and our bad behavior is punished. Although there are some truths in the extreme views on both sides of this thought, we need to understand exactly what the gift of God's love called 'righteousness' means to us.
It is written, "Seek you first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things shall be added unto you." So our study today concerns the seeking of His righteousness.
Most Christians today, including leadership, are focused on sin-consciousness or lower nature consciousness. Ever aware of our inabilities, our weaknesses and our faults. Daily attention is given to natural hindrances and the sensual (senses of what I feel, what I think, what I hear and what I see) nature. The pressure that comes from disappointment in our own behavior leads to condemnation and guilt. With condemnation and guilt we find ourselves weighed down with feelings of fear, failure and we lose hope of ever being any better. It seems that no matter how hard we try, we just don't succeed at being good!
With this sin consciousness comes weakness and we scramble to do things that might prove to those around us, to ourselves and to God, that we really are good. We cover up the truth of who we feel that we are and try to project to others this glimmering image of good. And if we indulge in this deception for too long then we ourselves become deluded and think we are above reproach.
On one side of the road concerning righteousness are those who are puffed up with pride and self exaltation. On the other side of the road are those who are so filled with shame and condemnation who consider themselves poor, wretched and no better than worms. But God wants us to have a healthy knowledge of who we are and more importantly, who He says we are.
For us to approach God in faith we must "believe that He is God and that He is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him" One of the consequences of sin-consciousness is that people rarely seek God with diligence. Adam and Eve, for example, immediately after their sin, hid themselves from God. Sin will always push us away from God's glory and allow us to perish if we don't know any better. "The wages of sin is death" and that death includes separation from God. But does God push us away and want nothing to do with us when we sin? Absolutely not.
When Adam hid, God came looking for him. God knew the magnitude of Adams sin. God already knew the awful consequences that mankind faced because of this one mans sin. Yet God did not stop loving Adam nor did He give up on him. God sought Adam out just as God continues to do for us today.
When we feel that we are not good enough for God's presence, our human tendency is to withdraw. And in that drawing away from God we immediately increase our sin because God tells us to come to Him, seek Him and call to Him. When we consider the wretchedness of our own nature, we moan in anguish as Paul the Apostle did when he said "oh wretched man that I am! Who can deliver me from this life of sin?" His answer is immediate. "Thanks be to God for Jesus the Christ Who has delivered me from my sinful nature!"
If we are told to live our lives by faith in God and are told that without faith it is impossible to please God, then most certainly, if we place our faith in our sin nature rather than in the power of the cross, we deny the cross and nullify its power to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Focus on our inabilities hinders us from living the life of faith that we have already obtained God's approval.
"Fear not little flock, for it is the Fathers good pleasure to GIVE TO YOU … His righteousness." Righteousness is a gift of God's love. We do nothing to deserve it and cannot do anything worthy of receiving it. Our best human efforts to obtain righteousness are as filthy rags! Yet to talk to most Christians today, there is little confidence placed in the truth that our lives have already been made righteous, by the blood of the perfect Lamb, Who was sacrificed in our place.
Righteousness is a gift that is already ours. God calls us His righteousness. Righteousness does not mean we are holy, though we are called continually toward a holy life. But neither are we poor sinners. When we receive salvation, we must receive the fullness of the rights and privileges of the cross.
God tells us that we are to "come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and to receive grace to help." A sin conscious person cannot approach God's throne with boldness but rather will turn and hide from God. No wonder so few answers to prayer are received by God's people today, for they come in weakness and in hope more than in confident expectation, boldly releasing faith and receiving help by the grace and mercy of God.
If we are forever using our faith to TRY and receive but if we never receive, it is for this one reason. We do not truly trust God's Word. In Romans chapter four, which in my bible is titled 'The Faith of Abraham', Paul argues that it was not because of Abraham's good deeds that God accepted him because from God's point of view Abraham had no basis at all for pride. But the scriptures tell us that "Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous." It's an interesting observation that the Jews failed to please God because the law they lived under failed. The Gentiles failed God because they had no law. The only way we can possible have success is through the righteousness that comes from God, not from obeying or disobeying laws.
Pure, simple, childlike faith in God's word to us brings us into the full reality of His blessing. Believing who we are IN CHRIST (or by the action of Jesus Christ) rather than believing that we have remained the same as who we were before we accepted Him as our Savior, our Redeemer and our Lord. Understanding that we are already righteous requires faith. Faith in God, believing Him when His Word says that we are righteous. No matter what our thoughts on this subject, if we want to please God we must agree with what He says about us and refuse to hold onto our own opinions.
To acknowledge that we are righteous because of Jesus places us in spiritual authority to change our world. This grace of God does not give us a license to sin but rather, a source of strength to live soberly and to live righteously. It is a fact that people will only succeed to the degree that they are expected to succeed. Whatever limits we place on ourselves is the maximum degree of success that we will have in life. But when we release our expectations that we are bad and will continue to sin and that we may never truly be good enough for God to use, then we have sealed our fate to live as failures. We deny the power of the cross and the righteousness that was given to us by God, through Jesus.
Righteousness conscious people are unstoppable. There are no limits to what these people will expect God to do on their behalf. They have thrown off the hindrances of condemnation and guilt that once so easily tripped them on the path of faith. People that believe Gods Word and receive their righteousness because of their faith in God, not because of their efforts or work, please God.
Belief in God is so simple and yet profound. God declares you to be righteous! By faith. There is nothing that can hinder or prevent us from receiving anything from God when we refuse to consider our circumstances, refuse to consider our own weaknesses and refuse to consider our own works. God's promise to me and to my descendents is not based on my doing, but based totally on my BEING. If I believe that I am a child of God and I believe that Jesus has already taken all my sins and the penalty for all my sins to the cross, and I believe that I can stand before God pure, white and innocent, then I can see God's promises manifested in my life.
My relationship with God comes by faith in His love for me. My love for Him grows out of this knowledge of His love for me. And if my behavior is no longer an effort to please Him in order that I might obtain something from Him, but rather an automatic response to His great love, then sin no longer has any hold on me. I am no longer trying to merit His blessings but rather I now know that I am in a perfect position to receive what He desires and delights in giving to me.
Oh what bliss! What joy in this relationship with God! We come to Him as our Father, knowing that His love is so magnificent and so awesome that there is nothing we could ask Him that would be too difficult for Him to give. And in this place of expecting God's gifts of love, believing in His promises, my faith grows stronger and stronger and in this, I bring glory to God! I am absolutely convinced that God is well able to do anything He promises! And because of my faith, God declares me to be righteous!
May you take these words to heart and meditate on them, searching the scriptures to judge the truths herein, allowing the Holy Spirit to work truth in you, to the renewing of your mind. Find rest for your soul. Have a light and easy week as you accomplish great things for His Kingdom!
Offerings are joyfully accepted according to Galatians 6:6!