Saturday, January 22, 2005

How Long Since Anybody's Told You That You Are Righteous?

Working definition of righteous: "innocent, faultless, guiltless" (Strong).

Question: If I gave you my Bible...I mean actually gave it to you to keep, whose Bible would it be? Yours, right? I mean it's my Bible, but now it's your Bible. Right? It may have "Terry Rayburn" printed in gold on the front, it may be filled with my lines and notes, it may even have pieces of paper, momentos, and church bulletins stuffed in it. It obviously has all the marks of my Bible. But now it's your Bible. Right?

O.K. That's what God has done for you, with His righteousness, if you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. It was His righteousness, not ours. Ours was "as filthy rags", the Bible says. But then, through the mysterious work on the cross, Jesus took our sins upon Himself (the Bible says He became sin for us...creepy!).

But He didn't stop there. He killed us too, that is, the old us. Our old man was crucified with Him. (Look, I know this is mysterious, even weird sounding. Hang with me a minute). We then were made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

And He didn't stop there. He became sin for us so that He could justly give us His righteousness as our own (the Bible says so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him...yikes!). And so here we stand --- or sit, in my case --- righteous before God. That is what "justification" or "justified" means: "declared righteous by God".

We are righteous. Do you see that?

"Yes, you say, but only in God's eyes."

Well, think a minute. Who's eyes count? Are you really prepared to say, "I know that the Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega, the Almighty Jehovah says I'm righteous....but I've got a different view."?!!

To deny the above is not humility, it's unbelief. And it is bondage which traps us in a self-centered man-consciousness. There are many benefits of understanding our amazing total righteousness before God, but maybe the most important is this:

When we understand that we are righteous before God, we are set free to live with a Christ-focus instead of a sin-focus. With a Jesus-centered focus, instead of a self-centered focus. And you know what the real irony of that is? That Jesus-centered focus will lead us to live out our righteousness and actually sin less, as the precious Holy Spirit leads us and transforms us into His likeness.

"But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness." (Romans 4:5)

"Therefore having been justified [declared righteous] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1)

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