A Return to Righteousness
Updated: May 13, 2019
I grew up in Sunday school like many of you, memorizing the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments and other scriptures like Psalm 23. But today we are living in a time where this is no longer the standard in our nation or in our homes, and I am sensing that I am to release a clarion call for a revival of righteousness and truth in this land.
AS YOU RETURN TO RIGHTEOUSNESS YOU RETURN TO INTIMACY WITH GOD
“Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.” Matt. 5:6
Our promise is that we are completely satisfied when we actively seek right standing with God.
Unfortunately words like righteousness, holiness or consecration have legalistic labels that strip the value from the truth they hold. You experience the nature and presence of God when you allow the truth of the righteousness and holiness to take root in your heart.I understand that I don’t make myself righteous by my works, but my life should reflect a righteous work that Jesus has and is doing in me. This should be an ongoing work of his grace and empowerment that should be reflected in my character and how I conduct my life on a daily basis. I don’t believe this is legalism at all, but a powerful way to experience the life and presence of God.
VIEWING RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH COVENANT
Last week, I shared that covenant involves agreement and unity with two people-it’s a partnership. But do we see covenant as sacrifice? Jesus is the true picture of the love of covenant as he laid down his life. This should be no different in our response to Him. Jesus kept his end of the partnership at the cross, what then is our response to such a great salvation?
“Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us-God will take revenge and repay.” Heb. 10: 29
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-3
I believe when you experience God you embrace his fire, purity and righteousness. If we are to experience this fire that we all desire, then we must also embrace his righteousness. Did you know that the catch phrase used as a greeting during the great revivals of old was-did you burn today? When was the last time you burned for God?
“Preach the word of God. Be prepared whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke and encourage with sound teaching, because the time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. Thy will reject the truth and chase after myths.” 2 Tim. 4
Embracing his fire means we also embrace his correction. I want everything not of him, burned out of my life, and as I embrace the the fire of God I embrace his holiness and his righteousness.
Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;
you shall have no other gods before me.You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.You shall not murder.You shall not commit adultery.You shall not steal.You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
No we are not under the law any longer but these commandments are a great reminder of the need for boundaries in our lives. That’s why we have laws in our land. I actually have really enjoyed reviewing these 10 commandments recently, mainly because I never want to forget I have a responsibility for my own fire and in my covenant with a Holy God.
Notice the language in many of the commands? It’s legal language. i.e. “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
Judges don’t just shape our rules, they shape our values. God is the most righteous judge we know and being intimate with him shapes us, thusly shaping what we value.
Yes we all know that God is Love and I am so thankful to know his great love and grace in my life, but I know first hand that if I don’t also remember that he is a Holy God who is The Righteous Judge, then I might abuse his love, treating it as common, and I never want to do that again. Remembering this for me is key because the fear of the Lord keeps me close to his heart where I am safe.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt. 5:17-20
His holiness and his righteousness go hand in hand in my life and I so want others to experience the closeness it produces. I hope this stirs a hunger in you for his righteousness, because embracing the nature of God in holiness is the same as embracing intimacy with God, and that is what Lifestyle Christianity truly looks like- Intimacy with God.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 8:23
Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11-but he did tell her to go and SIN NO MORE. All of us fall, and I sure have had my fair share of failures, but I learned to get back up and stay up. I stopped making excuses and made the necessary adjustments in my life by embracing the righteousness of God. I know it’s his kindness and goodness that led me to repent, and man I’m so thankful, but at some point our maturity should be evident in our walk with Jesus. My transformation process should be evident every year to those who know me, and if not then I need people in my life telling me so.
“for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” Prov. 24:16
Let me end by saying this- none of us earn our righteousness by merit of what we do- but we do have a responsibility in our covenant with God to lead lives worthy of our calling in Christ, remembering the death of our Lord Jesus Christ in our bodies, as we are one with Him. He deserves no less than our lives in return, as he purchased us with His own blood.
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:13-15