The Righteousness of Faith

blackboard_righteous

WHY RIGHTEOUSNESS?

Righteousness has almost become a taboo word. It’s been said to me so many times that “our righteousness is like filthy rags, brother…” or “there is none righteous, no not one.”

But, what about ~ “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness? The other verse above about none being righteous is from Romans 3 and Paul was quoting directly from the Old Testament. This passage was specifically addressing fools.

How are we going to claim to be wise men who build their houses on the Rock if we identify with fools? What about the 10 virgins…which group do we want to be in? Paul exhorted “the faithful in Christ in Ephesus” to “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,”

That’s very good advice for us to live by today!

One of my favorite passages is Proverbs 2 which declares “whoever seeks wisdom and insight more than any material things of this world will find it and grow in fear of the Lord, knowledge of God and understand righteousness, justice, equity and every complete thing!” (paraphrased for sake of brevity)

The entire book of Proverbs is about much more than wisdom. Consider the purpose of the book according to 1:2,3 ~ “To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;

Did you notice that it is the exact same order in Prov.2 as in Prov.1:2,3? Interestingly much of the first half of Proverbs focuses on wisdom versus foolishness and the last half on righteousness versus wickedness. I believe there is significance to this because wisdom precedes righteousness and the two are directly linked together throughout the O.T. and N.T.

James contradicts the wisdom of the world, natural (soulish) wisdom and even demonic wisdom with God’s wisdom ~ “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:17,18)

Maybe it’s wise to recognize that we have been given some wisdom but, none of us understands all of the wisdom of God and we should regularly seek more!

JESUS: THE TRUTH, RIGHTEOUSNESS AND A KINGDOM ~

Jesus commended his disciples (whom we truly are if we continue in his wordthat we would then know the truth and be set free! It’s not automatic for every born-again believer; completely knowing the truth and being completely set free is a growing process that requires patient diligence and relationship with the Lord.

Part of the truth is righteousness because Jesus also encouraged us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Jesus emphasized seeking the Kingdom of God and righteousness more than anything else because they are better than anything else. I used to consider the promise that if I actually did seek the K.O.G.  and his righteousness that would get me all of the other things…That is part of the promise but, the reality is that those things truly are lesser.

Also we need to really appreciate with our entire beings that God did not give us instructions that we cannot carry out (in his power).

RIGHTEOUSNESS REVEALED~

Righteousness is important. We are told to seek it so that we find it and the Good News of Jesus declares it!

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Notice that the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. It’s like steps of faith that continue to climb upward in righteousness.

Romans 4:5 describes the initial righteousness of faith, which is how we are “born-again” ~ “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness”

For years I had understood that as being declared righteous to be “born-again” because I was washed in the blood of Jesus but, after sinning more times than I know; considered myself unrighteous. But, that’s not living as a righteous that “lives by faith.”

I started asking the Lord for insight unto his righteousness and especially about Gal.5:5 ~ “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.5For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.

I couldn’t understand how Paul associated himself with the foolish Galatians (see Gal.3:1) Whom he said had started according to the Spirit in righteousness and were now striving in the flesh according to the works of the law! (Gal.3-5)

Honestly, that was exactly what I was doing. Thank the Lord that He is still redeeming!

Paul spoke of a “gift of righteousness” that he mentioned in Romans 5:17~ “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

I believe that Paul was referencing the same thing here. In the very next chapter; Paul contrasts having been servants of sin to having become servants of righteousness 3 times in a few verses! This must be a very important point.

We walk by faith when we receive the free gift of righteousness. We were born into righteousness (in our spirit) and we cannot lose that righteousness. How else can we serve righteousness unless we are at our core righteous?

This is the Good News of the Gospel! Not just that we were freely declared righteous because of the blood of Jesus but, that He has given us His righteousness!

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor.5:21)

The context of that verse is that Paul is imploring the brethren in Christ (2 Cor.1:8) to be reconciled to God! He just got done telling them that we no longer no anyone according to the flesh (so he is addressing who they are in the spirit) and declaring~ “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. 18But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor.5:17,18)

We need to understand who we now are in Christ! In the Spirit; we are completely new. This is the new man that was created in righteousness, holiness and truth!(Eph.4:24) 

We don’t become this man; “we put him on” by renewing our mind! That’s what Ephesians 4 is saying. That’s Paul’s emphasis over and over in his letters and Romans 8:8-11 sums it up this way ~

Those who are in the flesh can’t please God.9But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his. 10 If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

No one can please God in the flesh. It’s a good thing that we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit (if the Spirit of God dwells in us). If the Spirit of Christ dwells in us our spirit is alive because of righteousness!

Is it possible to be born-again and not realize that your spirit is forever alive because it is forever righteous?

YES! I didn’t realize this until about half a year ago and it has completely changed my life! It’s like being “born-again” again or baptized in the Spirit all over again…I have received the free gift of righteousness by faith and nothing in the universe can every separate my spirit from God and his love!

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; for they shall be satisfied.”

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