The Righteousness of the Believer
Rock of Offence Commentary
"...AND BE FOUND IN HIM, NOT HAVING MINE OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, WHICH IS OF THE LAW, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith..."(Philippians 3:9 KJV -- Emphasis Mine)
Some Important Opening Comments
The following commentary is written to address a serious violation of Biblical context, which has existed since the first century. Abusing and/or ignoring the context of the Bible continue to fuel some of the most successful assaults against Biblical truth because the average Christian finds it difficult, if not impossible to discern. Due to its importance, we repeat this warning in many of our commentaries and will say it again here.
The Holy Scriptures (God’s Word) always has two components. The first component is the Scripture verse itself. The second component is the original context where God placed it. The context of a Scripture is something that defines the way God wants it to be used. If anyone lifts a Scripture from its original Divine context and reinserts it into a context of their own design, what originally was God’s Word subtly becomes a man-made false doctrine that continues to “sound like” God’s Word. Using Scripture out of context is one of the basic building blocks for all expressions of aberrant forms of Christianity, abusive church governments and false religious cults (2 Peter 2:1-3, Gal. 5:4-8, Gal. 1:6-8, Rom. 16:17-18, Matt. 23:13-15, Col. 2:8).
At Rock of Offence, we interpret the Bible literally, unless a specific section of Scripture tells us that it is to be viewed figuratively (allegorically). When the Bible teaches something in a certain context, WE BELIEVE IT MEANS EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS WHEN INTERPRETED WITHIN THAT CONTEXT.
For additional information on this important topic click HERE.
Dangerous Confusion Exists
About New Covenant Righteousness
Few problems are more damaging to the spiritual life of the Christian believer than misunderstanding our righteousness before God. It’s not my desire to be mean-spirited, but a lot of teaching on this subject in the Church borderlines on being just plain criminal, while offered with the best of intentions.
Why is the subject of righteousness important? The faith of the Christian is directly affected by how they view their personal righteous standing before God. For example, if we believe we’re lacking in righteousness, caused by some sin or moral weaknesses in our life, it becomes nearly impossible to approach God with any kind of confidence, which is a primary component of strong faith. Under these conditions, when calamity and adversity strikes, we may not be able to withstand the assault; since the Bible tells us that the believer lives, stands and walks by faith (Romans 11:20, Romans 1:17, 2 Corinthians 5:7). If we have any doubts about our righteousness, answers to prayer and needed physical healing may become unattainable, since strong faith (empowered by our confidence before God) is a primary requirement for these benefits. If you’re a student of end time prophecy and correctly obey the Biblical admonition to “watch for Christ’s return” (Hebrews 9:28), you will always wonder if your righteousness (or worthiness) is enough to keep Christ from “leaving you behind” when He comes. Doubts about whether your righteousness (or worthiness) is enough for God to accept you remain a source of unspeakable torment and bondage for millions of Christian believers today. Unfortunately, certain churches and their leaders skillfully use the torment (and the fear it creates) as a tool to control their congregations -- an effective practice that’s been around for thousands of years (Galatians 2:4-5). Others wrongly use these fear-based teachings as a way to motivate and prod congregations to “live a holy life” -- once again, practiced with the best of intentions.
The source of this torment comes from a flawed theology (existing in countless numbers of variants) that, unfortunately, remains very popular and common in the modern Christian Church. A majority of Christians (estimated to be more than 8 out of 10) are taught that this doctrine is the truth of God’s Word. I used to be involved in the group that held this popular mindset and experienced the torment -- so I have first-hand knowledge about the power and scope of this influence. Many denominations, movements and evangelistic ministries are governed by it. This theology generally teaches that the Bible is “one book” that carries “one message”. It can mislead the reader (through the abuse of Biblical context) to assume that when he or she sees the word “righteousness” in the Old Testament Scriptures -- that the same word is governed by the same principles in the New Testament. This is a disastrous, yet common assumption that continues to lead many Christians astray in their faith. God called the apostle Paul to write nearly half of the New Testament Scriptures. In His epistles to the Church, Paul warned his disciple, Timothy, that God’s Word (the Bible) IS A DIVIDED BOOK -- and if your goal is to teach God’s truth as His workman, you must RIGHTLY (OR CORRECTLY) DIVIDE IT (2 Timothy 2:15). So, what exactly does that mean?
Many popular forms of theology, which all claim to represent the truth of God’s Word, exist in the worldwide Christian Church and treat the Scriptures as having one “unified” message. Yet, the Bible itself warns us that this popular view is dangerously flawed. In addition to the apostle Paul’s warning to Timothy, we are also confronted with the obvious major divisions of the Bible that smacks us in the face every time we open the book. The Bible contains two major divisions (also referred to as “covenants”). The Old Testament (or Old Covenant) represents God’s spiritual program for the nation of Israel. Another name for this program is Judaism, which is the religion of the Israelites. JUDAISM IS NOT NEW COVENANT CHRISTIANITY. The New Testament, around the middle of the book of Acts, begins to transition into Christ’s New Covenant and is explained in more detail in Paul’s epistles. The New Covenant represents God’s spiritual program for the Church, which is currently under its authority and not the authority of the Old Covenant. Why are these things important? THE NEW COVENANT OF CHRIST CHANGED THE PREVIOUS RULES and can never be merged (or unified) with the old system. Christ’s New Covenant changed the way eternal life is received. It changed the principles and rules that govern how God’s forgiveness is now obtained. Christ’s New Covenant changed the way God deals with our sin. AND, IT CHANGED THE WAY RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD IS RECEIVED AND EXPERIENCED.
"And He (Jesus) said to them, 'This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many'." (Mark 14:24 -- Important: Also read Matthew 26:28, Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25, 2 Corinthians 3:6, Hebrews 8:13)
"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as HE (JESUS CHRIST) IS ALSO MEDIATOR OF A BETTER COVENANT, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED ON BETTER PROMISES. For if that first covenant (The Old Covenant) had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second." (Hebrews 8:6)
"....FOR THESE ARE THE TWO COVENANTS: the one from Mount Sinai WHICH GIVES BIRTH TO BONDAGE, which is Hagar -- for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children -- but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: "Rejoice, O barren, You who do not bear! Break forth and shout, You who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children Than she who has a husband." NOW WE, BRETHREN, AS ISAAC WAS, ARE CHILDREN OF PROMISE. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREEWOMAN." So then, brethren, WE ARE NOT THE CHILDREN OF THE BONDWOMAN BUT OF THE FREE." (Galatians 4:24-31)
"IN THAT HE SAYS, “A NEW COVENANT,” HE HAS MADE THE FIRST OBSOLETE. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13)
"And for this reason HE (JESUS CHRIST) IS THE MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant (old covenant), THAT THOSE WHO ARE CALLED MAY RECEIVE THE PROMISE OF THE ETERNAL INHERITANCE." (Hebrews 9:15)
"Therefore, brethren, HAVING BOLDNESS TO ENTER THE HOLIEST BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS, BY A NEW AND LIVING WAY WHICH HE (JESUS) CONSECRATED FOR US, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:19-23)
You can read more information about these changes in the article entitled:
“The Spiritual Revolution of Christ” found here:
When you read the Bible, it is crucial to understand that TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS ARE FOUND WITHIN ITS PAGES: A conditional Old Covenant type of righteousness (or worthiness) based on a person’s religious performance (Keeping Old Testament Law) -- AND an unconditional and unmerited type of righteousness, freely bestowed by Christ upon His believing people as a prepaid blood-bought benefit (gift), which resulted from His crucifixion that initiated the New Covenant. Christ’s New Covenant WAS NOT IN FORCE BEFORE HIS CRUCIFIXION AND THE ARRIVAL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST 50 DAYS LATER. Each type of righteousness is referenced to the unique spiritual program it represents. RULES OF CONTEXT FORBID THE PRACTICE OF MIXING THESE COVENANT PROGRAMS TOGETHER INTO ONE “UNIFIED” THEOLOGY. Today, when a Christian believer is fooled into trying to relate with their Heavenly Father using the conditional righteousness of Israel’s Old Covenant program -- and ignores the radical changes brought about by the New Covenant of Christ, they unknowingly become subject to many unexpected (and undesirable) negative consequences. Since research reveals that more than 8 out of 10 professing Christians and their leaders operate in this spiritually illegal “grey zone”, we can better understand why so many good-sounding excuses are offered as to why God’s promised blessings many times don’t occur as expected -- and why bad things happen instead. The Christian Church is full of these kinds of good-sounding excuses offered by seminary-trained leaders and the people that follow them. Yet, the real problem everyone ignores like the plague is the various forms of flawed theology, empowered by abusing or ignoring the context of Scripture, which professing Christians are convinced is a true representation of God’s Word -- but isn’t. This is not some fringe disagreement over doctrine restricted to a small group. This is a mainstream irreconcilable effort easily found in the world-wide Christian Church and will not be resolved until Christ returns to set things straight. For that reason, the only thing truth-seeking Christians can do today is educate themselves and attempt to warn others about the dangers.
I can’t resist quoting the famous American author, Mark Twain, who warned:
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."
Twain wasn’t exactly a godly saint in his time, but he certainly had a gift for expressing an important truth in the fewest number of words. Most of us should probably spend some time thinking about his statement because it gives us a glimpse into the irreconcilable differences that fuel the hostile battle for truth occurring in the Church today.
In addition to the information found in this commentary, here are some other related articles:
“Our Position In Christ” found here:
“Contending For The Faith” found here:
“Has The Rapture Become Your Worst Nightmare?” found here:
“The Life-Changing Power of New Covenant Repentance” found here:
“How Legalistic Religion Perverts God's Gift of Eternal Life” found here:
The subject of righteousness is one of the most controversial in the church today. It represents one of the "core" truths of the Gospel and is one of the most life-changing truths in the Bible. One of the things we like to point out is that religion and the truths of Christianity are actually opposed to one another. Religion commonly uses sin, guilt and fear to create a form of spiritual bondage. New Covenant righteousness eliminates this bondage and lifts the believer to a highly valued place in God's kingdom. The crucifixion of Jesus was an exraordinary event. Religion, through the abuse of Scriptural context, commonly suggests that Jesus left us under sin's power. Yet, the Bible teaches something entirely different. God's plan is to set His people free. Does it glorify Jesus to suggest that He saved us, then left us to live under sin's domination? Or, does it glorify Jesus more to say that He liberated us from sin's domination and lifted us up to where He is? When New Covenant righteousness is taught the critics protest that either Jesus' glory and divinity is being diminished, or that the believer is being elevated to a place that is considered "forbidden" or presumptuous. Let's see what the Scriptures say as we begin to look at one of the most powerful and controversial truths of the New Testament.
What is Godly Righteousness?
Righteousness is commonly defined as a condition where we possess "right standing" before God. In other words, it's a spiritual condition where we can stand in God's presence, being fully accepted by Him. Yet, there is a problem. God is holy. This means that anything or anyone that is soiled or defiled by sin or anything else that violates His holy nature can never stand or be accepted in His presence. God's holiness presents a unique and seemingly unsolvable problem for anyone seeking a relationship with Him. The Bible warns that all (everyone in the human race) has sinned (Romans 3:23). Therefore, the kind of righteousness that requires us to be pure and sinless can never be achieved by our imperfect efforts and performance. When it comes to standing in the presence of God's holiness, there is no such thing as "righteous enough". The righteousness that stands in this place must be perfect, blameless and pure. No matter how hard we try and how deeply devoted we become, we can never reach the condition of being pure and sinless enough to satisfy God's holy requirements on our own. Yet, many professing Christians attempt (in vain) to live this way, wrongly assuming that God will notice their good intentions and sincere devotion and just "give them a pass" on anything they miss. From God's perspective, to meet the perfect conditions that satisfy His holiness you have to be "sin-free" from birth. Any sin, regardless of how small, disqualifies you -- and the Bible warns that ALL OF US WILL FAIL IN THIS ATTEMPT and "fall short" of the requirements to stand and be accepted in God's holy presence. Those who choose the path of trying to "achieve their way" into this holy place fail to understand that forgiveness (or God just "giving them a pass" on sin) under this popular system of religious faith is not available to them. FORGIVENESS IS AVAILABLE ANOTHER WAY -- BUT IT'S NOT AVAILABLE UNDER THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM THEY HAVE CHOSEN. God's forgiveness is available only under the "faith based" system of Christ's New Covenant Grace. All attempts to achieve righteousness with God through sinless living is doomed to fail, regardless of the sincerity of the individual. It is an exercise in futility. Yet, attempting to live sinlessly is a good and necessary practice FOR OTHER REASONS.
Sin and righteousness are two opposite spiritual conditions. Under Christ's New Covenant, you don't move back and forth from one to the other as your conduct changes, which was the case under the previous Old Covenant system before the crucifixion. Contrary to popular teaching, Christ's New Covenant righteousness is not based on our conduct -- it is based entirely on Christ's perfectly holy life, which is now imputed (freely bestowed) to all true Christian believers. Many churches teach their members that righteousness is the result of the good works they perform or the "Godly life" they live. This "Old Covenant" mindset causes uncertainty when approaching God to make any kind of prayer request. "Good works" can never produce righteousness because it lacks the ability to transfer the perfection God requires. You can do some good works one day and commit a series of small sins the next. Add to this all the "sins of omission" that you fail to see and it quickly becomes obvious that you can never have confidence in your righteousness before God if it is based on your conduct or spiritual performance. Christ's New Covenant righteousness can never be founded on something as unstable and uncertain as your performance and lifestyle. Why? Jesus wants His believers to be secure and confident in their relationship with Him. That kind of confidence can only be realized if it is based on His perfect life, which is the only life that meets all the requirements to stand in God's holy presence. Unfortunately, some believe that "sinless perfection" is attainable through their efforts. This is a popular theology that teaches "spiritual maturity" is obtained by achieving some "mystical sphere of existence" where you never sin. Unfortunately, people who choose these good-looking religious lifestyles have noble intentions, but are on a deadly spiritual path. They look Christian, they talk Christian and they appear to live godly lives. They demonstrate a intense desire to please God --and they may even talk alot about Jesus and His salvation. Yet, they are the unfortunate victims of religion that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7: 21-23 who will be eventually rejected. They will be rejected not because they had evil intentions or lacked a strong desire to please God. They are rejected because they chose to relate with God through a religious methodology called "self-righteousness" -- a deadly spiritual counterfeit. By choosing this path, they unknowingly reject God's righteousness found in the New Covenant of Christ and substitute a system of "self-acquired" righteousness in its place. The Christian Church is filled with these kind of well-meaning people who sincerely love God. Think about that. The apostle Paul warned the Church against this dangerous belief and suggested that it was one of the main sins committed by Israel that kept them locked out of Christ's salvation.
"Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, AND SEEKING TO ESTABLISH THEIR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:1-4)
"What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, HATH NOT ATTAINED TO THE LAW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. WHEREFORE? BECAUSE THEY SOUGHT IT NOT BY FAITH, BUT AS IT WERE BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone AND ROCK OF OFFENCE: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." (Romans 9:30-33)
Many fail to understand that eternal life, righteousness and remission of sins are based on a spiritual "rule of law" that follows specific (but simple) guidelines. Good intentions carry no more authority in God's courtroom than in our earthly legal system. Only the rule of law counts in the final verdict -- and God would be unjust if He made rulings based on our intentions and feelings. God is a "just" judge and He bases his decisions on His Word -- His legal authority. If you approach God according to His Word, He will accept you every time. If you approach Him on your own rules and nobel deeds, regardless of how good and religious they are, He will be forced (as with any just judge) by the law to rule against you (reject you). Yet, that doesn't stop many well-meaning religious people from setting up their own rules (or adopting their church's rules), expecting God to abide by them. Guess what?--He doesn't! Millions of professing Christians practice this kind of lifestyle -- and it's a tragedy waiting to happen.
The Two Types Of Righteousness
Starting in the Book of Genesis (and all through the Bible) God warns us about two types of righteousness. One is called "self-righteousness". It results from attempting to "achieve" God's acceptance through performance, good works, living a good life, sinless perfection, self-effort and through church affiliation. God rejects this type of righteousness because it is based on a person's performance (regardless of how good it is) rather than on blood. It subtly redirects our reliance on the blood of Christ as God's legal basis for the remission of sin and places it on man's ability. Self-righteousness is "humanistic" in nature. Humanism is an ideology that believes mankind can solve his own problems without God's help. Religion puts a "spiritual" edge on this worldly philosophy by making it look like something that originates with God. Jesus called it "the wide gate that leads to destruction -- and where many go in" (Matt. 7:13).
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, take, eat, this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, drink ye all of it, For this is my blood of the New Testament (or New Covenant), which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matt. 26:26-28 Also read Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25, 2 Corinthians 3:6, Hebrews 8:13)
"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood, AND WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD IS NO REMISSION." (Heb.9:22 KJV)
In Genesis chapter 4 we read about the two sons of Adam, Cain and Abel. Starting in verse 3 the Bible records that a time came when both brothers brought an offering to the Lord. The offering in those days was an expression of worship. Since he was a farmer, Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground. The Bible says that Abel brought his offering of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat. In other words, Abel brought a blood offering. However, God had respect for Abel's offering and did not respect the offering of Cain. The story of Cain and Abel tragically ends as Cain murders his brother. He was angry over his offering being rejected.
Some facts stand out in this example. First of all, Cain offered God a "bloodless" sacrifice. From a human point of view, nothing was wrong with Cain's sacrifice. Cain worked hard at tilling and farming the land. By bringing a sacrifice of hard work, it should have been pleasing to the Lord, but was rejected instead. On the other hand, Abel was a shepherd and presented to the Lord something that he didn't really labor much to produce. After all, humans can't give birth to sheep--only sheep give birth to sheep. The real sacrifice in Abel's offering is made by the sheep that gave its life and its blood. Yet, the Lord accepted Abel's offering. God's response flies in the face of human reason. But, to the one who understands the importance of blood in relating with God, it makes perfect sense. Abel related to God in his offering through the blood of the lamb and God considered him righteous for this act. Being acceptable through blood (or, through what's known as a blood covenant) is one of God's hidden (and commonly misunderstood) ways. However, religious people have always rejected this method and replaced it with one that seems more reasonable to them. Attempting to keep God's law and subjecting themselves to the discipline of a sinless life are among religion's favorite choices. Just as in the example of Cain, both these methods lead to God's ultimate rejection.
"I do not frustrate the grace of God, for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:21 KJV)
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Galatians 2:16 KJV)
God's accepted form of righteousness is based on faith in the blood of Jesus Christ -- also understood as the "blood covenant of Jesus Christ" (or, The New Covenant). God never considers a person righteous (sin is remitted) unless it is based on blood. This is one of the commonly ignored "ways of God". The human race can only fellowship (have a relationship) with God through blood -- any other way is the way of death. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel could fellowship with God through the blood of animal sacrifices that "atoned" or covered their sin. Under the New Covenant, believers can freely fellowship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ, "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Jesus' blood doesn't just cover sin -- it completely and eternally destroys sin's dominion--and God's memory of it.
Looking forward hundreds of years into the future, the prophet Isaiah (being quoted by the book of Hebrews) writes about this "New Covenant" that will cause God to "forget" and refuse to remember the sins of the believers under its authority.
"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God, Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb. 10:16-22 KJV)
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high..."(Heb. 1:1-3 KJV)
The Source of True Righteousness
True righteousness today only exists in one place. The righteousness that God possesses through His sinless perfection and holiness is the only righteousness that He ultimately accepts. God rejects all "forms" of righteousness that originates outside of Himself -- this includes all human self-righteousness.
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6 KJV)
In order for anyone to be truly righteous before God they MUST somehow possess God's righteousness. The "good news" of the New Covenant Gospel is that God has freely given His righteousness to everyone who places faith in Jesus Christ. All believers in Jesus Christ are righteous (not sinners) whether they know it or not. The journey from sin to righteousness is a one way trip. You aren't righteous one day and a sinner the next. God gives righteousness as a "free gift". It is "imputed" permanently to all believers in Christ.
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (for until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the FREE GIFT. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and THE GIFT by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is THE GIFT: for the judgement was by one to condemnation, but the FREE GIFT is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's (Adam) offence death reigned by one; 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 judgement came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one (Jesus Christ) the FREE GIFT came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's (Adam) disobedience many were made sinners, SO BY THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE (JESUS CHRIST) SHALL MANY BE MADE RIGHTEOUS." (Romans 5:12-19 KJV)
"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." (Isaiah 54: 17 KJV)
"For he hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor. 5:21 KJV)
What gives God the ability to bestow His very own righteousness on believers free of charge? This is an exciting question to answer and reveals a core truth of the Gospel message.
In my opening statement I gave a general definition of righteousness as a spiritual condition that results from a sinlessly perfect life. I also made the point that all of the human race has sinned, which disqualifies all of us from being "sinlessly perfect" through our own efforts. Only one man lived sinless on this planet...His name is Jesus, God's Son.
"For we have not an high priest (Jesus Christ) which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet WITHOUT SIN." (Hebrews 4:15 KJV)
In Galatians 2:20, the apostle Paul makes an extraordinary statement about our true identity...
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (KJV)
In Romans 7:1-3, the apostle Paul tells us about the nature of God's law. Paul tells us that God's law only has dominion over us as long as we live. When we die, we are free from the constraints of the law. In Romans 7:4, Paul makes a startling statement:
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ...".
Most of us understand that Jesus died for our sins. However, the specifics of how sin was dealt with continue to be distorted by religion. When Jesus suffered and died on the cross, he was bearing the death sentence that was meant for you and me. In 1 Cor. 15:45 the apostle Paul refers to Jesus as "the last Adam". Jesus is qualified to be the "last" Adam (notice that he is not called the 2nd Adam or the next Adam) because He was the only sinless man born of a woman since the first Adam's rebellion in the garden. The first Adam was created sinless but sinned against God and sold out the entire human race to sin. The last Adam, Jesus, restores the human race to a "righteous" status with God (Romans 5:19). Jesus is called "the last Adam" because he totally destroys (crucifies) the old "Adamic" human race through the cross and replaces it with a new race of people who are called "new creatures in Christ" (2 Cor. 5:17). Only the power of a sinless life could accomplish this task -- and Jesus was the only qualified man to do so. As a result, God reckoned the entire human race "crucified with Christ". This means that God allowed His Son, sinless and righteous, to be executed in our place and to bear the death sentence for our sin, while imputing the legal results of the execution to our account as if we had died on the cross instead of Jesus. In God's mind, we died on the cross with Jesus and, as Galatians 2:20 says, "...it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me". This death (our death in Christ) satisfied the requirement of the law that demanded our execution for sin and, at the same time terminated the law's dominion (and sin's power) over us. Since we have died there is only one person who is alive in us -- that person is Christ. This means that our sin has been permanently done away with (remitted) and we now possess all the attributes of Christ's life, INCLUDING HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS because everything His life represented belongs to us!. We are dead as far as God is concerned and He recognizes only the life of His Son now living in us. If we can grasp this truth then we can understand what God's Word says in Hebrews 4:16 -- and we can now have a new attitude when we approach our Father in heaven...
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (KJV)
There is no way we can approach God's throne with "boldness" UNLESS WE KNOW THAT WE'RE RIGHTEOUS. God's free gift of righteousness allows us to KNOW.
In a roundabout way, we have described one of the core characteristics of the new covenant. A blood covenant is the joining of two separate individuals into one person. All liabilities and resources are shared in such a covenant. This constitutes an "exchange" where everything (the entire life) that one covenant partner has becomes the possession of the other. At the end of the making of a covenant a death has taken place. Each covenant participant has died to his independence, possessions and personal identity. Each participant embraces the reality that they now live for someone else and not just for themselves. Through the cross and the new covenant, Jesus became all that we were in order to make us all that He is. This is a "divine" exchange.
"For he hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor. 5:21 KJV)
Paul plainly tells us that Jesus was made sin (what we were) that we might be made what He is--the righteousness of God in Him.
Jesus Lifted Us Up
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-6 KJV)
Christians don't always consider the tremendous power of the "gift of righteousness" that we possess. Religious philosophy that continues to dominate large segments of the Christian Church has robbed us of this great blessing. Because the righteousness we possess actually belongs to God (It's His righteousness not ours) -- we now enjoy fellowship with God as "equals". This truth enrages many religious people when anyone dares to preach it. The sacrifice of Jesus and the blood He shed didn't leave us down in the gutter in sin. His blood did away with our sin (through His death as The Lamb of God), lifted us up and granted us righteous "equality" with God. Possessing a righteousness that is equal is not less than -- and it's not greater than. You can't be living "in Christ" and be less than who Christ is! The person who is less than Christ was crucified and is dead through the cross. You can't possess God's righteousness and be less righteous (or more righteous) than God is. If you're "in Christ" (and all true Christians hold this position) you have to possess equality -- because the righteousness of Jesus Christ is equal to God's. But, religion tirelessly works to label this way of thinking as "heresy" in order to keep believers in a place of spiritual inferiority where they can be manipulated and controlled. The last thing religion wants is for you to awaken and discover who you really are "in Christ". Once that happens you can never be put under religious bondage again. Readers will have to consider these tremendous blessings and make up their own mind.
Are We "Robbing God" Of Something?
For many Christians, the teaching about righteous "equality" is hard to receive. Yet, it is the "core" principle of Christ's New Covenant that makes any fellowship with God possible. Because of the nature of New Covenant righteousness, fellowship with God can only occur on a foundation of equality. He does not fellowship with anyone who approaches Him with a righteousness less than His own. And, NO ONE possesses a righteousness greater than His. Those two facts greatly limit the choices. Righteous equality is the only way a mere human can "boldly" approach God's presence to obtain help as we are commanded in Hebrews 4:16. If you don't approach God with His righteousness--but approach Him with yours -- you don't get heard. It doesn't matter how beautiful the prayer is prayed or how sincere the intentions are. This is the primary reason for most unanswered prayer. Many religious-minded Christians approach God "hunkered down" wondering if some sin in their past will cause God to reject their request -- or worse, wondering if a "sinner" like themselves can dare expect an answer from a Holy God. It's not necessarily the request God is rejecting -- it's the righteousness of the requestor He's looking at. Religion calls this sin consciousness attitude "humility". Yet, God rejects it as unbelief and disobedience to His Word. It is approaching God with a sinner's unrighteousness instead of God's own perfect righteousness. A SINNER'S UNRIGHTEOUSNESS IS ALWAYS REJECTED BY THE HOLY PRESENCE OF GOD.
Many will demand more Scriptural proof--so here's another one. Please notice the first sentence below (verse 5) in Philippians 2. This is not being put forth as a suggestion. The Apostle Paul is presenting it as a directive or Scriptural command to the church at Philippi and for all believers everywhere.
"LET THIS MIND BE IN YOU WHICH WAS ALSO IN CHRIST JESUS: Who, being in the form of God, THOUGHT IT NOT ROBBERY TO BE EQUAL WITH GOD: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." (Phillippians 2:5-7 KJV)
Important Note--Beware: Some popular modern translations change the wording of this verse! The KJV and the NKJV has the correct wording. If Phil. 2: 5-7 does not read as quoted above in your Bible (actually, some versions say something entirely different and contrary), it's because the newer English versions decided to use some of the less reliable ancient manuscripts in their translations. Personally, I find this practice very disturbing.
The tendency of man's natural mind (and the Scriptural distortions found in religion) is to believe that we are somehow "robbing God" if we believe that we possess some sort of "equality" with Him through the cross of Christ. Some go further, and in their fury and rage label it heresy. The apostle Paul commanded believers to embrace the fact that it is NOT somehow "robbing God" of His glory. It is God's righteousness that makes us equal and it was His idea to give us this "gift of righteousness" through faith in Christ. If God didn't want us to enjoy this kind of equality He wouldn't have given us His righteousness as a free gift as outlined in Romans 5:12-19 and 2 Corinthians 5:21. Our Father wants free and unhindered fellowship with His people -- and this was His way of accomplishing that goal. Our Father not only removed our sin, but also wanted to remove any feelings of guilt and inferiority when we approach Him. This Scriptural directive forces us to make a decision: Do we believe the misinformation of religion or do we believe God's Word. For some who are reading this information for the first time -- this will be a critical junction in your walk with Jesus. It will make the difference between walking in God's blessings or living in religion's lies for the remainder of your life. If you're confused, spend the time necessary to embrace this important truth. It may take some time, study, prayer and reflection.
More Good News--God Has Made Us His Sons!
In addition to remitting our sin, declaring us righteous and allowing us to enjoy a relationship of equality, our Father did even more for us.
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:1-2 KJV)
Some Christians fail to realize that one of the purposes of Jesus' sacrifice was to duplicate Himself. Jesus will always hold the supreme position of being God's only "firstborn" Son. Some believe that Jesus is God's only Son -- and the Bible warns us that this position is not correct. Before the cross, Jesus was the only Son of God. After the cross, the resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit....it is now possible for God to have "many" sons. God's sons are now "born" to Him through the preaching of the Gospel. Jesus, as the firstborn Son, is referred to as "the captain of salvation" for the many sons who follow. Embracing the fact that we are "sons of God" does not take away Jesus' supreme position as God's "firstborn". Jesus will always be supreme because of his sacrifice and the special position that the "firstborn" holds in God's family.
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." (Hebrews 2:9-10 KJV)
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29 KJV)
"But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." (Galatians 4:4-7 KJV)
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 KJV)
When discussing the subject of being a son of God, I found a very interesting statement that directly ties it into God's righteousness. Below, is the story of how Jesus performed a miracle of healing, but He did it on the Sabbath, which upset the religious leadership. If you need an example of how dangerously misguided religion can get read this whole account. Jesus performed a miracle of healing and the religious leaders try to kill him because he broke the Sabbath! Yet, the one who created the Sabbath in the first place was standing there looking at them. When you learn what to look for, this kind of foolishness can be seen everywhere religion exists.
"The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, BUT SAID ALSO THAT GOD WAS HIS FATHER, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD." (John 5:15-18 KJV)
The Jews understood that if Jesus called God his Father that he was making himself EQUAL with God. Here we have the subject of equality being addressed from a different perspective. If you are a Christian -- God is your Father and you are his son or daughter. God is as much your Father as He is Jesus' Father -- and according to the Scriptures this relationship places you in a similar position of equality. Remember that the Jews (motivated by religion) tried to kill Jesus for saying that God was His Father. People motivated by religion may not try to kill you today for fear of a prison sentence. However, they will do the next best thing. They will stone you with slanderous "words" and acccusations of heresy. The methods may be less violent, but the internal religious hostility will be the same.
In Bible times, the scribes and Pharisees were the greatest examples of human self-righteousness that existed -- probably in all of history. From early childhood, they were educated in God's law and how to avoid breaking it. They trained all their life to be the spiritual leaders of Israel. They were not a bunch of "religious bafoons", as they are sometimes portrayed. They were highly dedicated and educated men who desired above all else to be pleasing to God. All people who engage in self-righteousness share the same motivation in their devotion to God. The intention is good and noble, yet the method is spiritually destructive. The Pharisees viewed themselves as the "keeper and defender of God's truth". They took their job seriously. They created a whole set of religious laws that were viewed as a "fence" around God's law. If you kept the Pharisee's law you were safe from violating God's law, or so it was thought. No one could exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. They were the most religiously dedicated people that lived. With this understanding, Jesus made a shocking statement to his disciples.
"For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:20 KJV)
At this point we have a choice to make. Either live in frustration attempting to exceed the righteousness of these religious men -- or look to the righteousness of someone who is greater than the scribes and Pharisees. God's righteousness is greater and His righteousness is given to New Covenant believers as a free gift according to the clear teaching of the New Testament. The choice is clear but we have to humble ourselves and allow God to strip away the yoke of religious misinformation and receive His righteousness and His rest. Jesus told us to take His yoke because....His yoke is easy and his burden is light! (Matt. 11:29-30 KJV)