God’s Righteousness

anonymous religious hasidim jews during pray near western wall
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I was told once that Christians can be divided into three groups:  Modern-day Pharisees, Christian Eeyores, and lastly, the Grace Community.  And I was told that I was the modern-day Pharisee type.  A lot of you were as well.  You know, the really annoying, judgmental, legalistic type?

 

But, c’mon, unless you used to be an Ultra-Orthodox Jew, you were nothing like a Pharisee. Neither was I.

 

The Pharisees were hard-core religious zealots who devoted every minute of their lives to being righteous; they were sincere and serious. Their zeal was based on the Laws that God spoke to Moses.

 

“For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” Romans 10:2

 

Not according to knowledge?

 

The apostle Paul goes on to explain in Romans 10 that their religious practices were “their own” attempts at righteousness, and had nothing to do with God’s.

 

Yes, God gave the Law to Moses, but He did not give it so that it would lead us to Him.  To a life of faith, of reality.  The Law was given to increase the knowledge of sin and to lead us to despair and to the feet of the Lord God. (Romans 5:20)

 

So, if you desire righteousness and holiness, your efforts at being ‘good’ will not succeed. The Bible is so clear.  Again and again we are told that, to be righteous in God’s eyes, you must have FAITH.  Before Jesus came, one had faith in God and the words He spoke to one’s heart.  After Jesus came, one puts their faith in the death, burial, and resurrection.  It is THAT that spells out the good news, the gospel; it is that that saves a soul from hell.

 

Paul calls the gospel “the word of faith.”  The gospel is “the word of faith” because it has to do with assenting to what God reveals to your heart, it is about saying yes, having faith, and telling God, “yes, I believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.”

 

The Christian life is a life of faith.  “From faith to faith,” as it is written.  We are saved through faith by grace, and then we grow to know Jesus through faith by grace.

 

Faith is the noun form of the verb “to believe.”  Faith is about trusting God.  It’s about        believing Him. You trust Him for salvation and you continue to trust Him every day afterwards.

 

. . . yet with most of us, there was a slight detour into “works.”  For me, it was a 15 year detour.  Although we were not as serious and sincere as the Pharisees, we church addicts were still nonetheless trying to establish our own righteousness based on “law.”  Our lives were guided by rules and principles and standards (not by the Lord.)

 

But God brought me back to Himself.  He asked me to quit church, to give up my religious idols. To surrender my pride to Him. He asked me to stop TRYING to be righteous.

 

It’s great news because anyone can do this; the gospel applies to anyone and everyone!    God’s idea of righteousness is attainable.

 

We don’t have to be modern-day Pharisees to be righteous in God’s eyes.  I’m still blown away by that!  So, thanks for listening. 🙂

 

“Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4

The Righteous Man Shall Live by Faith

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For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (Romans 1:17, NASB)

I’ve been texting with a friend, a sister in the Lord, about what it means to live by faith.  We are both learning what it means to trust in God and to wrestle with Him; we are learning how to live by faith through the hard times of life, through the difficulties, the pain, the struggles, and the circumstances that tempt us to trust in the world or to trust in religion.  Through all of this, through the storms of life, we are learning to remain steadfast and to trust in the Lord, to depend on Him for our strength. . .when we are obviously so weak.

I have been walking down this new path of freedom for 12 years, and my friend has been walking it for just a few, yet we are both learning the same thing . . . because the learning never ends.  And in 20 or 40 years, I will still be learning to trust in the Lord – because He is infinite and I am depraved.  While I remain on this cursed earth, I will grow to trust Him more and more as I experience the difficulties of life .

My friend and I began this texting discussion after both listening to a radio program by Aaron Budjen on “Living by Faith.”  In his message, Aaron talks about Romans 1:17 and the quote from Habakkuk that says that the righteous man will live by faith.

“Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” (Habbakkuk 2:4)

Although I was saved 28 years ago, I spent 14 or 15 years not trusting in the Lord, even though I was born again and had a relationship with Him.  I spent those years trusting in religion and trusting in my church.  I was trusting in the acceptance of other people, in the attempt to earn their acceptance through working so hard doing ministry work.

I looked to and trusted in religion which is really just an aspect of the knowledge of good and evil. (The Lord God said not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but we did, so the tree is a part of this world that we live in, it’s a part of this fallen world.)  Although I was not necessarily doing evil, I actually was, because Jesus said there is only One who is good.  He alone, God, is the only One who is good.  Other than Him, there is none good.

So even though we try to live according to the knowledge of what is good, it ends up being a life of evil, because our motives are wrong.  Our “good deeds” are often attempts to earn the acceptance of others, to earn the acceptance of God.  We try to remain in a relationship with God by doing good works, repenting of our sin, asking God to forgive us, and then being firmly devoted to living a life of obedience . . . but all of that is a life of vanity and emptiness.

Being set free from such a life by discovering that I am a forgiven person, started me down a path that will never end.  As long as I am in the flesh, I will always be discovering and anticipating and growing. Learning every day what it means to live by faith.

 

 

June 13, 2019  2:14 PM