PART 5: RIGHTEOUSNESS & GRACE
PART 5: RIGHTEOUSNESS IS A GIFT OF GRACE (We highly recommend that you request the PDF copy of this teaching as it comes with pictures and charts and in a better format. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. These teachings may be freely used and distributed. There is no cost).
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INDEX INTRODUCTION AND TESTIMONY
PART 5. LESSON 1. WHAT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS? 1. GETTING RIGHT WITH GOD 1.2 TWO PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS 2. THE SCRIPTURES ARE ABOUT GRACE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH CHRIST 2.1 THE FLOW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS RIGHT THROUGHOUT THE SCRIPTURES 2.1.1 WHAT DID THE RISEN JESUS REVEAL TO PAUL? 2.1.2 WHAT DID JESUS SAY WHILE HERE ON EARTH? 2.1.3 WHAT DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT SAY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT? 2.2 THE LETTERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT 2.3 THE KEY ISSUE IN THE GOSPELS 3. RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE KEY TO THE GOSPEL OF GRACE 3.1 SPIRITUAL MATURITY 3.2 WHAT IS TRUE, GOD DEPENDANT, RIGHTEOUSNESS? 3.3 JUSTIFICATION 3.4 WE CAN REST IN THE WORK OF THE CROSS 4. SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS 4.1 WHEN GOOD WORKS GO BAD 4.2 SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS BREEDS ANGER AND JUDGMENTALISM! 4.3 JESUS EXPOSED THE SIN OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS 4.4 SCRIPTURAL EXERCISE. 4.5 REPENT OF THE SIN OF SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS 5. THE BOOK OF ROMANS: THE LETTER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS 5.1 A SCRIPTURAL EXCERCISE 6. THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS 6.1 GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS AND RESURRECTION POWER 6.2 GOD’S KINGDOM 6.3 THE KINGDOM AND RIGHTEOUSNESS - THE MISSING KEY 6.4 JESUS AND THE VICTORY OF THE CROSS 6.5 SATANS SCHEME IS TO UNDERMINE OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS 6.6 RIGHTEOUSNESS IS OUR WEAPON
PART 5. LESSON 2. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF ABRAHAM 7. WE ARE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM 7.1 ABRAHAM WAS RIGHTEOUS BECAUSE HE BELIEVED GOD 7.2 ABRAHAM IS OUR SPIRITUAL FATHER 7.3 ABRAHAM WAS RIGHT WITH GOD 7.4 ABRAHAM MET THE KING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, JESUS 7.5 ABRAHAM’S ENCOUNTER WAS WITH JESUS 7.6 ABRAHAM HAD INTIMATE COMMUNION WITH HIS SAVIOUR 7.7 WE ARE RIGHTEOUS LIKE ABRAHAM 7.8 ISRAELS ERROR OF SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS 8. JOB AND THE SUFFERING OF THE SELF RIGHTEOUS 9. GROUP EXERSISE 10. EMAIL AND SOCIAL MEDIA LEARNERS ___________________________________________________________________________
INTRODUCTION AND TESTIMONY Grace is like the highway the prophet Isaiah describes ( Isa.35:8-10)(Isa.40:3-4) where the road has been made straight, the valleys have been raised up and the mountains made low by the hand of the Lord. Living in the grace of Jesus is a blessed higher-way of God's favour. For many years I had heard about grace, I had even taught on grace but I was not living in God's grace. I wanted to but I just couldn't seem to get there, I could not accept the promises of grace for myself, I couldn't believe I was worthy enough or had done enough for God to deserve to live in grace, which for m seemed to be a cop out. If I was honest my Christian walk felt I was pushing an old car along an badly maintained secondary road while in the distance I could see a highway with others zooming along. I wanted to get onto that highway of grace but didn't know how to. One day after crying out to the Lord in prayer over a period of time I heard the Holy Spirit clearly say to me "The entry ramp onto the highway of grace is righteousness. Garry you are self righteous and you don't understand the righteousness of the Lord." Well that was quite a shock to me. Through prayer and Bible reading I started to seek a revelation from the Holy Spirit as to what righteousness actually was. I soon found the need to repent of my old understanding. I came to see that righteousness what not something I did or earned but that it was a gift from my loving Abba Father imputed to me by Jesus, my Lord and Saviour. Suddenly I found myself on the highway of grace and understanding that my righteousness in Christ is the key to receiving grace and living in Jesus' grace and blessings. Without the righteousness of Christ there is no grace! The two are in a sense an expression of each other and one of the same thing. As Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, said: “Discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own.”
PART 6. LESSON 1. WHAT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS?
1. GETTING RIGHT WITH GOD Since mankind's expulsion from the garden of Eden, the key issue is how do we get into and remain in a right relationship with God? So many of people can't receive God's love and blessings because they don't feel, or believe they are worthy. They feel "unright" with God and unqualified to have a intimate relationship with their Abba Father. Understanding our righteousness in Christ is a key to appropriating and living in the blessings and love that Abba has given us through Jesus. The issue of righteousness is crucial to every single person. It determines our today and our future! Without being right with God (righteous), on God's terms, we cannot receive immortality, nor God's grace, blessing and enabling. The purpose of this part of the course is to firmly establish us in an understanding of true, God dependent, righteousness, which comes by the grace of Jesus Christ alone.
1.2 TWO PATHS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS Isa 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags (actual meaning is menstrual cloths). There are basically two paths open to anyone seeking righteousness. One of them is true and one of them is false! One of them God loves and one of them God hates. 1) God dependent righteousness: Righteousness through grace and faith in Jesus, given as a free gift from a loving and forgiving God. 2) Self righteousness: Righteousness through self-effort, good works and the keeping of religious laws. (This is what Isaiah was referring to in the above scripture). Christianity is founded on the first form of righteousness while all other religions rely on the second. Therefore we will be looking at both of these in more detail so that we can repent of the second and receive a deeper revelation of the first.
2. THE SCRIPTURES ARE ABOUT GRACE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH CHRIST 2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. Heb 5:13 (KJV) For every one that uses milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. As stated in previous parts, it is important that we have a Biblical foundation and Holy Spirit revelation for what we believe. To do this we must use the Scriptures in a correct way. The Scriptures should always bring life and blessing to a believer that leads to a deeper understanding of what it means to be truly righteousness through Christ. The Bible warns us that when scriptures are used incorrectly they can manipulate, control, condemn, bring fear and death. (2Co.3:6-9). The Scriptures are powerful, Jesus used scripture to counter the attacks of Satan and the Pharisees. The word of God recorded in the scriptures is a mighty spiritual weapon, one which we should all be skilful in using. Satan recognized this truth and used the scriptures in his attack against Jesus (Mat.4:1-10). Both Satan and Jesus' enemies, the Pharisees, use scripture for their own purposes and agendas, and they still do today! Therefore it is essential that we understand how to correctly use the scriptures and recognize when they are being misused by false teachers and prophets. The purpose of scriptural teaching should always be to bring us to maturity in Christ (Eph.4:11-14). The Scriptures teach that Christian maturity is about understanding and righteousness (Heb.5:13). The Scriptures reinforce true, God dependent, righteousness. As New Covenant believers we should reject any use of scriptures that undermines our identity as righteous and beloved children of God. When used correctly, scripture will always point to Jesus and God's gift of grace or alternately, expose self righteousness. Grace and true righteousness can come only through faith in Jesus Christ and therefore the centrality of Christ throughout the scriptures has to be recognized and sought out at all times. Grace and righteousness are all about Jesus. He is our ultimate goal!
2.1 THE FLOW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS RIGHT THROUGHOUT THE SCRIPTURES From the time of mankind's fall, recounted in Genesis 3, God’s starts to reveal His plan to restore mankind's right standing with Him (righteousness). God's call to true righteousness, through His Saviour/ Messiah, is the key theme of all Scripture. Before we look at righteousness in more detail here is a brief thread showing the Scriptural emphasis on righteousness:-
2.1.1 WHAT DID THE RISEN JESUS REVEAL TO PAUL? Rom 1:17 In the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last. Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking (rules and regulations), but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Rom 3:20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law (of Moses); rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Rom 10:3 Israel did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness (by religious law keeping). Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
2.1.2 WHAT DID JESUS SAY WHILE HERE ON EARTH? Mat 5:6 blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Mat 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Mat 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
2.1.3 WHAT DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT SAY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT? Gen 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Psa 7:17 I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness. Isa.51:1 "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. Isa 61:3 They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendour. Isa 61:10 God has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness. Jer. 23:6 Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, "The Lord our Righteousness".
2.2 THE LETTERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT Many erroneously believe that the Christian life must be first and foremost be founded on the four gospels. The reasoning being that these were the actual teachings of Jesus himself – thus red letter Bibles. This reasoning denies the validity of the Word later revealed by the same Spirit of Christ to the Apostles. This over emphasis on the gospels at the expense of the epistles (letters) can lead to confusion and an under valuing of the later letters written by the Apostles under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In fact these New Testament letters are a continuation of the gospels. They add to the progressive revelation of the full gospel of Jesus Christ, his kingdom, his righteousness and his grace. They are the very means by which the gospel teachings should be interpreted and clarified. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that he received his teachings by direct revelation (Gal.1:12) from the risen, glorified, Jesus. Teachings found in letters such as Romans and Galatians, clarify and reveal foundational Christian truths some of which are only hinted at in the gospels e.g. the righteousness of Christ, justification by faith, grace, sonship, Christ in us, Abba, etc. It would be extremely difficult to derive these key foundational Christian doctrines from the gospels. In fact if one was only to study the gospels one could well end up concluding that salvation may primarily be by good works and law keeping! An over emphasis on the four gospels can lead to legalism. It is the epistles that clarify the gospels and bring the full revelation of grace and freedom that is ours in Christ. It is therefore important that we distinquish between the purpose of the gospels and the purpose of the epistles and read the gospels in the context of Jesus later teaching given through the letters of the Apostles (the Epistles).
2.3 THE KEY ISSUE IN THE GOSPELS There are obviously many truths and themes in the gospels. E.g. Jesus, the way, truth and life, the revelation of God as a Father, the need to be born again, the coming of the Holy Spirit. etc. However, there are two key and primary interrelated themes have often been understated and sidelined by gospel teachers. They are; 1) What is true righteousness. 2) The (spiritual) Kingdom of God. When reading the gospels these important two intertwined themes need to be emphasized if we are to correctly interpret and apply the gospel’s teachings today. Throughout the gospels Jesus sought to rectify Israel’s (Mt.15:24) misconceptions concerning these key spiritual truths and started pointing to a new way and new understanding of righteousness and the kingdom which he could only be fully revealed at a later time. It is the issue of "What is true and Godly righteousness?" that this part of the course will address.
3. RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE KEY TO THE GOSPEL OF GRACE 3.1 SPIRITUAL MATURITY Heb 5:12-13 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. In the Scriptures God defines spiritual immaturity as not understanding righteousness. That's a big surprise to most people. Surprisingly many Bible teachers battle to actually give a sound New Covenant definition of righteousness, by far the majority of teachers define righteousness as the right things we do rather than the right standing we have been given by being "in Christ" (Ro.3:21-22). This is because so many of us have mixed law and grace and still have an works mentality and an Old Testament based theology. The concept of being spiritually mature is important for the kingdom of God and for discipleship as only adults can reproduce i.e. make disciples for the kingdom. Thus we have even more reason to look at this subject carefully. We all want to be mature in Christ.
3.2 WHAT IS TRUE, GOD DEPENDANT, RIGHTEOUSNESS?
This is the work and purpose of the cross, to impute righteousness to the children of God. Without true, God dependant, righteousness there is no salvation, there can be no relationship with Abba, Father. True righteousness is : i. Jesus' righteousness. ii. Dependant on God. iii. A gift from God. iv. Imputed to us by Jesus. v. Our right standing with God that comes by grace. vi. A right and loving relationship with God through Christ. vii. The condition of man that is acceptable to God. viii. A state approved by God. ix. An inner spiritual state of holiness. x. Justification through the cross - sinless in God’s eyes. xi. A state where our sins are no longer recorded or remembered. xii. Freedom from God's condemnation and judgement. Many think that righteousness is based on what we do, but actually the New Testament Scriptures reveal that true righteousness is dependent on God and based on faith in his goodness expressed in Jesus Christ. It is this faith and true righteousness that then leads to right doing and living. It is not right doing, or works, that produces righteousness. Righteousness is a root not a fruit. Righteousness practiced by Jews and all other religions is an external self righteousness based on good works and the keeping of religious laws. This form of righteousness never made Israel or anyone else right with God (Ro.3:10). It always falls short of true Godly righteousness (Mt.5:20). Religious self righteousness is in fact totally foreign and opposed to true, God dependant, righteousness. The gospels reveal that Israel and her leaders had become proud, boastful and self-righteous; dependent on self-effort and a legalistic religious system for their righteousness, instead of depending on God. Jesus came to change all that and show the way back to true righteousness which Abraham had foresaw and received by faith (Gen.15:6) but which the Jews had rejected. Martin Luther has this to say, "At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith. Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open." Watchman Nee said, "The Bible does not say that we have put on the righteous garment of Christ. It only says that we have put on Christ." Galatians 3:27 says that we have put on Christ. Today we have not put on the righteousness of Christ, but Christ Himself. The righteousness of Christ is something that is in Christ Himself, and it is history. Today Christians come to God through putting on Christ. Christ Himself has become our righteousness, and we can come to God at any time because Christ lives forever."
3.3 JUSTIFICATION Act 13:38 "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses. God has declared us totally righteous, all sin debt totally was paid by Jesus death. The amazing thing is that Scripture teaches that Jesus was raised from the dead because of our justification (Ro.4:25) by God. It is emphasising that if any sin debt was outstanding then Jesus could not have been raised as justice would not have been complete - it is finished, justification for all sin is complete, we are not guilty nor condemned any longer. A righteous person is one that is justified. i.e. just as if they had, and never will have, sinned. Justice has be served upon us and we have been found not guilty. The words righteousness and justification are often interchanged as they are very similar in meaning. The connection is that through Jesus' grace we have been redeemed and justified and this makes us righteous. We are now in right standing with God because it is just as if we never sinned. Jesus paid the price for our sin, he redeemed us from the sentence of death and died in our place. Justice has been served and we are justified. The Greek work justify is dikaioō which Thayer defines as to render righteous or such he ought to be, to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered; to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be. Strong defines justified as to render (that is, show or regard as) just or innocent, free, be righteous. Here are some other scriptures on justification. Isa 53:11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Rom 4:5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. Rom 4:25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 1Co 6:11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
3.4 WE CAN REST IN THE WORK OF THE CROSS (Rom 4:5) However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. Godly living and good works come out of the inner condition of the heart (Mt.15:18). This right heart condition is founded on a revelation of grace (Rom.4:16) and that we are the righteousness of Christ (2Co.2:21). It’s not because of what we do but because of who we are; a part of Christ. Jesus is in us, we are dead, he is alive (Gal 2:20). Our sins are no longer taken into account (Rom 4:8). Our righteousness is Jesus' righteousness. Our life is now Jesus life. We have glorious freedom from condemnation (Rom 8:1-16). The cross has done all we need to make us right with God. It is from this position that agape love, Godly good works and right living is manifest in our lives. The cross has imputed the righteousness of Christ to us and we can now rest from our own "good" works and striving to make ourselves right with God. This is how the great Evangelical preacher David Martyn Lloyd -Jones put it "The man who has faith is the man who is no longer looking at himself and no longer looking to himself. He no longer looks at anything he once was. He does not look at what he is now. He does not even look at what he hopes to be as the result of his own efforts. He looks entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work, and rests on that alone. He has ceased to say, "Ah yes, I used to commit terrible sins but I have done this and that." He stops saying that. If he goes on saying that, he has not got faith. Faith speaks in an entirely different manner and makes a man say, "Yes I have sinned grievously, I have lived a life of sin, yet I know that I am a child of God because I am not resting on any righteousness of my own; my righteousness is in Jesus Christ and God has put that to my account.” (Gal. 2:20)(MSG) Christ's life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
4. SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS Rom 10:3 Since the Jews did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Some times reading the gospels without reference to the grace teaching of the epistles (letters of the Apostles) we can be led to think that righteousness is by works. Therefore it is important that we correctly understand the gospels, the context of Jesus’ gospel teachings and what his purpose was. Jesus preached to Jews. All His disciples and the large majority of His listeners were Jews. They were living under the religious laws of Moses. They were waiting for the Messiah to re-establish Israel’s kingdom. (Mt.15:24) Jesus boldly proclaimed “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel!” His first concern was dealing with God’s chosen people who had been chosen to take the good news of God to the world. However the Jews had totally missed God’s message and Spirit. (Gen 15:6). Through Abraham Israel had been given the message of a good and loving God. Abraham was the father of the Jewish nation and all those who live by faith. Abraham also had a revelation of true Righteousness that came through faith. But Israel rejected Righteousness by faith and instead sought a religious self-righteousness based on their goodness and self-effort. Thus the law was given to expose their sinful self-righteousness. (Jer. 23:11) (Rom. 11:26) They in fact had become Godless. Israel became proud and boastful. They did not want an intimate relationship with a loving God. They chose by their actions and hardness of heart to seek righteousness through law keeping. They rejected the faith of Abraham. God gave Israel the law and His conditional blessing based on them keeping every single one of the 613 laws. Read Deut 28 and you will see the impossibility and horror of this. They honestly thought they were good enough to do it! It was into this context that Jesus came. This very issue He addressed through the gospels. He came to reveal to Israel that the righteousness they thought they had attained through the law. They actually fell completely short of God’s holy standard…..what a shock this was to them! The Jews knew that the gentiles were Godless and unrighteous but never suspected they were! (Rom.3:9) Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
4.1 WHEN GOOD WORKS GO BAD Mat 19:17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments." The issue for most religious people is that they think they can do enough good works to qualify themselves for eternal life and blessing. They honestly think they can keep all God's commandments all the time, as the Law demands (Deut.28:15). Most religious people simply don't realise that their good works are just as sinful as their bad works. Wow, now there's a shocker for you! Let me explain... Firstly, just to clarify from the start; God loves it when we do the good works He prepared for us to bless others (Eph2:10). But God hates good works when we use them to try to get right with him or to get something from him (Eph2:9). Why? Because it denies that his grace is sufficient for you. Those who do good works to get right with God are self righteousness and are just as sinful as those who do evil. Doing good and avoiding bad to be righteous with God, is sin. Both things are rooted in pride, self effort, unbelief and a denial that we need to be saved. Both reject God's gift of grace and true righteousness through Jesus. Our good works rooted in self-righteousness need to be repented of. The Pharisees were a perfect example of those who were trying to use good works to be righteous. Pharisee were the only people Jesus ever condemned. Jesus called the Pharisees "sons of the devil" (Joh8:44), because they followed Satan's lie of righteousness through good works. Job was a man who also trusted in his good works (Job32:) and look where that got him. Sadly and painfully Job learnt the hard way. Abraham on the other hand was a man who simply believe God (Gen15:6) and received God's free gift of Righteousness. Abraham took the easy path and was blessed in everything he did. We will be looking at the contrasting lives of Abraham and Job in the coming teachings.
4.2 SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS BREEDS ANGER AND JUDGMENTALISM! Act 7:53 you who have received the law that was put into effect through angels but have not obeyed it." When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. Watch out, when peoples self righteousness is expose, they can get really angry and judgmental. They can even become murderous like Cain (who is a type of self righteous person). The self righteous Pharisees wanted to kill, Jesus, Paul and anyone else preaching the righteousness of Christ apart from the Law of Moses. The anger comes because they find that all their self effort of Law keeping has been in vain and their pride in self, is exposed. Angry people are often legalistic and judgmental. Moses, who represents the Law ended up angry and bitter because Israel couldn't make the grade and couldn't obey God. Ironically within the first few minutes of meeting God Moses did the same thing he judged Israel for, he totally doubted everything God said or commanded him to do (Ex.3&4). The Law produces angry, judgmental and self righteous people who oppose grace. The other fruits of self righteousness are; control, in ability to delegate, anxiety, perfectionism, lack of trust etc.
4.3 JESUS EXPOSED THE SIN OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS Mt.5:28 I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart....If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. Jesus taught and acted with the specific purpose of challenging the legalistic unbelieving hearts of the Jews, including his own Jewish disciples. Many disciples followed Jesus as a Rabbi and some as Israel’s Messiah. They claimed to believe His message but in fact many disciples totally misunderstood. Many eventually turn away from Him. (John 6:66) From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. Including Peter in Matt. 26:34. Jesus confronted head on the issue of the Jewish Kingdom and the legalistic, self righteousness taught by the Jewish religious leaders. He condemned this system and its leaders outright. We find Jesus condemning the religious Pharisees in the strongest possible terms (Mat.23:1-33). But he showed mercy and grace to those struggling with moral sin (Jn.8:11). He did not go about exposing the hypocrisy of legalism as we would expect. He in fact used law to destroy the law for those in Christ. To those practicing and preaching law and righteousness through works Jesus preached a form of hyper-law (Mat 5:28) - pluck your eye out, cut your arm off if it causes you to sin, even being angry with someone is murder. Yes, this may seem like simple hyperbole but to the Pharisees who regularly stoned people to death for their sins this was something very real. Jesus did this to expose the shortcomings of their law keeping and the righteousness they thought it had earned them. In his earthly ministry Jesus often preached law and conditional salvation. There are numerous examples of in the gospels of Jesus laying down conditions for the Jews to receive salvation (Matt.5:20, 6:14, 7:21, 10:33, 18:35, 19:21, 25:46. etc.) this was Jesus attempt to drive the Jews and their Law preaching teachers to a place where they would eventually understand that they just could not do it by themselves - they needed God's grace. Jesus was revealing that it was the Jew’s pride and self righteousness that was a problem and this sin was the key issue for God. For example Jesus preached (Mat 5:48) " Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect". See what I mean, who can do such a thing? Likewise in the story of the Rich Ruler (Mark 10:17-27) the self righteous rich man missed the point while the disciples understood to a degree - but not fully. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
4.4 SCRIPTURAL EXERCISE. Read the story of the Rich Ruler and reflect on what it is teaching about self righteousness and grace. ___________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
4.5 REPENT OF THE SIN OF SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS (Mt.4:17) Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is near. Repentance and Righteousness are two keys to the Kingdom! Jesus’ gospel teachings were primarily a call to the Jews and his own Jewish disciples, and then ultimately to all mankind to repent. The teachings of the gospels are not just a call to Sinners, it’s a call to the Jews and by extension to all religious people to repent from a self-centred, self righteousness, legalism, and a worldly kingdom view. It is a call to turn back to a complete dependence on, and belief in God. The repentance Jesus was looking for was not repentance from moral sin as he knew that the foundational sin of unbelief in God's goodness and grace was the root of all moral sin. God hates all sin but there is a primary, foundational sin in which all moral sin is rooted. This root sin of pride is the sin of mankind’s independent, self righteousness and unbelief in a good and loving God. At its core all moral sin is a manifestation of man's unbelief and pride! Unbelief and self-righteousness is the sin that the Holy Spirit has come to expose. (John 16:8) When the Holy Spirit comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me. The Pharisees and the average Jew of Jesus’ time generally lead morally up right lives because of the strict imposition in society of the laws of Moses. But this was exactly the problem, they had become self righteous, moralistic and judgmental of others. They trusted in their own goodness and in their own efforts of law keeping instead of in God. This is a position that is most offensive to God. This is the great sin of mankind, superbly manifest in the Jewish religious society of Jesus’ day, the Pharisees. Today Islam probably most typifies this attitude, thus the importance of us understanding these issues if we are to penetrate Islam and reap the harvest among Muslims and other legalistic, religious, peoples. Jesus understood and proclaimed that it was the inner heart condition that God was concerned with. His focus was not the apparent external keeping of the law or morality.
5. THE BOOK OF ROMANS: THE LETTER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS Paul’s letter addressed to the early believers living in Rome is probably the most important book in the Bible. It sums up the very essence of the whole Bible message, the good news, which is God’s love and acceptance of us as His children in Christ. We are beloved children of grace who are forgiven, blessed, righteous and victorious. It is good to meditate on the key scriptures that reveal Jesus’ righteousness, the finished work of the cross and what it means for all who would believe. Here are some of the key scriptures on righteousness from the letter to church in Romans. Rom 1:16-17 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Rom 2:4 Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? Rom 3:20-24 No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Rom 4:6-8 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Rom 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Rom 5:15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Rom 5:17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Rom 6:1-2 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Rom 6:14-15 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Rom 7:7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” Rom 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Rom 8:14-17 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ… Rom 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 9:30-32 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. Rom 10:3-4 Since Israel did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Rom 13:8-10 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law. Rom 14:17-18 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
5.1 A SCRIPTURAL EXCERCISE Reading through the above scriptures summarize some of the key points in your own words. ___________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
6. THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS Rom. 5:17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. The reign and rule of the kingdom of Jesus Christ comes about by grace founded on Christ's gift of righteousness. We are called to reign with Christ. To reign, is to have authority and control over ones events and circumstances. Kings reign over their kingdoms. All things are submitted to them. Jesus is our king and we are His representatives here on earth. When we understand that we are perfectly righteous with God it gives us confidence and authority. When we are firmly established in righteousness we cannot be overcome by the enemy. We are called to reign over our lives through the righteousness of Christ.
6.1 GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS AND RESURRECTION POWER Php 3:9-10 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ--yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death... There is a link between our revelation, understanding and acceptance of the righteousness of Christ and moving in resurrection power. We are called to move in the power of the gospel (1Cor 2:4) and the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) that comes by the grace of Jesus Christ. Legalism and self righteousness leads to intellectualism and a quenching of the Holy Spirit. Accepting the complete, full work of the cross and the righteousness that comes there from is the grace leads to freedom and power of the Spirit.
6.2 GOD’S KINGDOM (Act 1:6) “Lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus teaching and preaching was (Mt.4:23) the good news about the kingdom. The Jews and even Jesus’ own disciples, thought that the Messiah/ Christ had come to establish a physical kingdom. They wanted to see Israel glorified among the nations of the earth. (Jn.12:13) The Jews thought the new “King of Israel” had come. They turned on Jesus very quickly when they discovered that this was not his plan! Even after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciple still did not understand Jesus’ teachings on His kingdom. (Acts 1:8) It’s significant that Jesus’ reply was to point them to the coming Holy Spirit, for the Kingdom is Spirit! They did not understand that the Kingdom of God is a spiritual (Lk.17:21) inner kingdom based on true righteousness. The Jews and even Jesus’ own disciples mistakenly sought a kingdom and a righteousness that was physical and external (Rom.9:31-10:5) rather than internal. Jesus proclaimed a direct link between the Kingdom of God (Mt.6:33, righteousness from God and blessings.
6.3 THE KINGDOM AND RIGHTEOUSNESS - THE MISSING KEY
Rom 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The link between The Kingdom and righteousness from God can be seen in these scriptures. The majority of present day teachings on the Kingdom of God say very little about righteousness. The Kingdom of God and righteousness are inextricably intertwined. Without a solid grounding in God's righteousness we cannot fully take hold of the truths of the Kingdom nor will we see the kingdom reign and rule of Jesus manifesting in an ongoing way in our lives. Therefore we need to look carefully at the issue of our righteousness and understand the difference between our own self generated righteousness and Christ dependant righteousness that pleases God and qualifies us to move in the power of the kingdom.
6.4 JESUS AND THE VICTORY OF THE CROSS Col. 2:13-15 He forgave us all our sins having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Rom. 10:4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. These are key scriptures in spiritual warfare. In the past the Law gave Satan legal spiritual rights to attack God's people. This was because the Law was based on self righteousness. Self righteousness is by our self effort, own works or legalistic, a fear based, sacrificial system. We see the weakness and the terrible result of self righteousness and self justification in the life of Job. ( Job 40:8). At that time, Job, which by the way means "hated" was the most righteous man on earth, but it was self righteousness based on his own efforts and doings. Job was motivated by fear and his righteousness was not based on faith. (we will look more at Job and Abraham in the end section). Satan will always test self righteousness, because it is always insufficient as it does not depend on God's goodness but on self effort. God allows Satan to test any righteousness that is not based on faith in His saviour (Job1:8). In contrast to Job, Abraham had a righteousness from God that was by faith and consequently he was always protected and blessed. The good news is that the Righteousness from God through faith in Christ cannot be overcome by Satan. Through the cross we are perfectly and permanently righteous through God's gift - Satan no longer has any right to attack us! On the cross Jesus cancelled the Law that gave Satan rights to afflict Believers. If we see these truths and believe them, then Satan and his allies fear, sickness and death, becomes totally powerless in our lives.
6.5 SATANS SCHEME IS TO UNDERMINE OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS 1Co. 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. We are to take our stand against Satan's schemes (Eph6:11),. His scheme from the beginning has always been to sow doubt about God's promises and our relationship with God (Gen. 3:1). He does this by speaking lies that sound true. Satan's scheme is to try to convince us that he has rights into our lives because our lives are not right in some way. He undermines our righteousness and tries to get us to believe that it is based on our actions instead of faith. He will always try to undermine our identity as God's Children who are blessed and right with God. He tries to convince us that we are sinners who are unworthy and deserve punishment.
6.6 RIGHTEOUSNESS IS OUR WEAPON 2Co. 6:7 In truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left. Our righteousness in Christ is our weapon against Satan. Our response to Satan when he attacks or accuses us is simply to point to Jesus Christ and that we are righteous through him alone. This totally disarms Satan. Satan can only afflict your life if you allow him to convince you that you are not righteous and therefore deserve to be punished or attacked. When under attack always point to your worthiness and righteousness in Christ - speak it out loud, use this truth as a weapon and see victory.
PART 5. LESSON 2. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF ABRAHAM
7. WE ARE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM 7.1 ABRAHAM WAS RIGHTEOUS BECAUSE HE BELIEVED GOD Gal 3:6-8 So also Abraham "believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you. The history and life of Abraham is of great significance to all believers. He was truly righteous and dependant on God. If we grasp the truths taught by Abraham’s life we will be blessed by coming into a deeper understanding of what God considers to be true righteousness and how this state comes about.
7.2 ABRAHAM IS OUR SPIRITUAL FATHER Gen 22:17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me." Abraham is a shadow and type representing the New Covenant believer. Abraham was the founding father of a great a spiritual nation i.e. all believers who are righteous and saved through faith (Gal.3:7). This includes both Jews and Gentiles who choose salvation by grace through faith. The New Covenant is clear that all those who are “Born Again” are spiritual children of Abraham. The key to his life is that Abraham’s great blessings, promises and righteousness were received only through trust in God (Rom.4:1-3). He was the first example of the man of faith who was properly righteous in God’s eyes. It is vitally important for us as believers to look carefully at Abraham; what he believed, what he did , how God responded to him and how he was blessed? This will help us to understand the way God relates, saves and blesses those who are righteous by faith.
7.3 ABRAHAM WAS RIGHT WITH GOD Rom.4:3-9 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” …. the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. The Righteousness that is acceptable to God and has nothing to do with our good or bad works, our sinlessness or sinfulness. It is based solely on our trust and belief in God’s goodness and plan of salvation (which is Jesus). Abraham understood this truth, he was tight with God and he was blessed in every way. Abraham trusted God and God revealed himself to Abraham. Abraham was given the revelation that salvation is through the gift of Righteousness that comes only through Grace by the faith of Jesus. Abraham did not trust in his own righteousness, good works or sinlessness as he understood they could never make him perfect enough for God. Abraham trusted solely in God’s goodness and God’s free gift of the Saviour’s Righteousness that was imputed to him purely by faith. So how did this revelation come about? What was it that caused Abraham to be so radically different. There was a foundational event in Abraham’s life that lead him into truth, completely changed him and through him, changed history.
7.4 ABRAHAM MET THE KING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, JESUS Gen. 14:17-23 Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. Abraham did not just hear about God but encountered him face to face. Abraham met with a King called Melchizedek…. well so what, you may ask! Although not a lot is said about this encounter it is one of the most significant events in the Old Testament. Many seemingly small and insignificant events recorded in scriptures prove to be amazingly significant spiritually. This brief but amazing encounter was the foundation of Abraham’s faith and righteousness. In Genesis there is no historical explanation of who this King Melchizedek was, where he came from or where he actually ruled. However we know that the Old Testament always has shadows or types of Christ (Joh.5:39). The Old Testament is actually all about Jesus (Luk.24:27) and God’s plan of salvation through him – if we are prepared to look carefully with spiritual eyes we can see this. As the saying goes, “The Old Testament is Christ concealed, the New Testament is Christ revealed”. We can see these truths about Jesus in Abraham’s encounter with a King who was unknown and only mentioned once in the Old Testament. Through this encounter the gospel of salvation by Grace, was revealed to Abraham. The book of Hebrews sheds light on this most important encounter.
7.5 ABRAHAM’S ENCOUNTER WAS WITH JESUS Heb.7:1-3 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever. Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! This Melchizedek was not just a type of Jesus but he was Jesus himself. This may be hard for us to get our heads around, but this Priest/ Messiah King was Jesus in everything but name. This event is the clearest and boldest revelation of the physical Christ found anywhere in the Old Testament. This physical King, Melchizedek, had no beginning or end (Heb.7:3) - only Jesus exists in this way, no other. Only Jesus can be called “The King of Righteousness” and “The King of Peace”, no other can take this role or title. This Melchizedek was a Priest of the most High God, he was not an earthly priest, he was the heavenly priest, Jesus, described in the Book of Hebrews. This was an pre-incarnation appearance of Jesus, the High Priest of the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb.12:22). Jesus, who is not constrained by time, miraculously appeared to Abraham and shared the gospel with him. For Abraham, his personal encounter with his saviour was a “today, now event”. Abraham had a personal salvation encounter with Christ, even though Christ never revealed His name. Abraham’s faith was in God’s goodness and love that was still to be fully revealed in a future event; The cross of Jesus. Similarly, our faith is in God’s goodness and love that has been revealed in a past event, The same cross of Jesus! We look backwards to the cross of Jesus and have faith. Abraham looked forward to the cross and had faith.
7.6 ABRAHAM HAD INTIMATE COMMUNION WITH HIS SAVIOUR Gen.14:17-23 Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. Or in plain language: The King of Righteousness and Peace shared bread and wine with Abraham. So how did Jesus reveal the plan of salvation to Abraham? It was through communion! (Luk.22:17-20). Although Jesus did not reveal His name to Abraham, He did reveal God’s plan of salvation. The gospel was announced to Abraham before the cross Gal.3:8. Communion is an extremely important and spiritually significant act, an act which most of us under estimate (1Co.11:23-29). Jesus as Melchizedek, revealed God’s salvation plan to Abraham by having communion with Abraham right there on the road. He took bread and wine and shared it with Abraham - “This is My Body and this is My Blood. The New Covenant will come. Have faith Abraham!” Abraham was given spiritual revelation of salvation as he ate the bread and wine…. his spiritual eyes were opened. Jesus also showed Abraham the fruit of pure Grace by blessing him. Because of the grace shown and the gospel revealed to him, Abraham freely submitted to this King (Jesus). In those days a king would demand a tenth from his subjects as a sign of their submission. Jesus demanded nothing from Abraham but Abraham willingly and submitted to the King. That’s why Abraham was saved, because he had saw God face to face, heard the good news and this resulted in believing faith. By the way, the Emmaus Road experience of some of the disciples was similar to Abraham’s, Jesus revealed Himself to them in the breaking of the bread. (Luk.24:30). When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
7.7 WE ARE RIGHTEOUS LIKE ABRAHAM Gal 4:22-31 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise. These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem tat is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: "Be glad, barren woman, you who never bore a child; shout for joy and cry aloud, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband." Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son." Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. We are righteous! The importance of Abraham’s life to us who believe, is that we are righteous the same way he was. The righteousness of a believer is by faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Interestingly Abraham was married to Sarah who Gal 4:24 say represents freedom and the New Covenant of grace. Their son came through a promise of God and he was called Isaac which means laughter. Very symbolic, freedom, righteousness, grace and laughter all go together in God's family - represented by Abraham's family.
7.8 ISRAELS ERROR OF SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS Rom. 9:31-33 Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. Even though Abraham was the physical father of all Jews the Jews forgot the faith covenant between Abraham and God and chose firstly to turn to the god's of Egypt and then to self righteousness through the Law. One of the errors revealed throughout the Old Testament is that many of God’s people thought that being good and avoiding sin would make them right with God. They believed that right standing with God could come about through their own righteousness and works. This self righteousness was based on the fallen notion that God accepts people based on our good and bad deeds – called dead works (KJV.Heb 6:1). But God hates self righteousness because the spirit behind it is one of pride and independence from God. Israel fell into this trap and suffered (and still suffers) the terrible consequences of living by their own righteousness and the Law. Israel is a lesson for us to turn away from self righteousness, dead works and law keeping.
8. JOB AND THE SUFFERING OF THE SELF RIGHTEOUS Job. 32:2 These three men stopped answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. But Elihu son of Barakel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became very angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. In contrast to Abraham who was righteous by faith, the Scriptures tell of another good man who lived in the time before the Law of Moses had been given, probably in the land of Arabia (today's seat of Islam). However unlike Abraham this man relied on his own righteousness. This man was called Job. His name means hated! Ever wonder why? We all know Job was a upright and perfect man (Job.1:1) who suffered greatly because God invited Satan to test him (Job.1:8). Why would God do that? It's scary and not good news when interpreted in the traditional way! Most people secretly fear something like Job happening to them at some time. However if we start to look at Job in a correct way and ask what he represents we will see that that the story of Job is actually good news for those who trust in God for their righteousness. The revelation from the book of Job is not that God afflicts, or that God gives and takes away, willy nilly, but that God hates self righteousness and, as in Job’s case, always allows it to be tested by Satan, the Accuser. Job was the most righteous man on the earth in his day but his righteousness was not based on faith but works. Job, in a sense, is the exact opposite of Abraham. Unlike Abraham, Job had heard about God but never saw Him (Job 42:5), Job’s relationship with God was distant, fear based (Job1:9)(3:25) and works driven (Job7:1). Job was highly sin conscious and had even set up his own religious sacrificial system to appease God (Job 1:5) who he believed was out to punish him for his sins (Job 10:13). He lived in the fear of God while Abraham live by faith in God. Sadly, a close study of Job reveals that he suffered because ultimately he trusted in his own righteousness, he could not see his lack of true righteousness and the need for a saviour. Like so many people, he muddled up goodness with righteousness (Job.12:12:4). Job had a defence against God's afflictions (13:18-23) based on his good works and goodness (29:7-17) which he thought had produced righteousness that was acceptable to God (27:6). He boasted of his good works and listed them out in his defence (31:1-33). This show his complete lack of revelation of how to be saved, and yet this is exactly what so many people do, even today. Although Job had a vision that he could be saved (19:25) he , unlike Abraham, had not met God, nor Jesus, and did not understand that salvation is by faith. Eventually it was a young man Elihu who spoke by the Spirit (33:4) and pointed out to Job that the issue was that he was justifying himself instead of relying on God (32:2-2). The Lord himself rebukes Job for this sin of self justification, self righteousness (40:8) and pride in his own goodness. In the end, thank God, Job concedes that he was deceived and misguided (42:3) and he repented. When Job repented and put his trust in God, he was restored and blessed. The blessed later part of Job life represents that of a New Covenant believer, the early part represents that of a unsaved, self righteous men who trust in their own religion of good works instead of in God. The threefold lesson of Job is firstly, that as New Covenant believers under grace we are righteous in Christ and therefore God will never test and afflict us like Job. Secondly, trusting in one's own righteousness and good works is deadly to both us and those around us. Thirdly, we are sons of Abraham not sons of Job. Despite most Christians identifying with Job more that Abraham, the simple truth is that we are not Job nor are we like him, so we don't need to live in the fear that what happened to Job will happen to us - unless of course you are self righteous and unrepentant. That's the whole purpose of God gift of righteousness - to free us and bless us. 1Co 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Now that we have established that we are the righteousness of Christ and therefore in grace we can always point to Jesus both our holiness and righteousness. We can live in the confidence that we are worthy to be blessed and to receive all the empowering of the Holy Spirit to minister in Jesus name. We are Abba's beloved children. We will look at this in the next part.
9. GROUP EXERSISE Discuss the difference between self righteousness and true righteousness. List some of the characteristics of each. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Group exercise and questions 1. What is God dependant righteousness? 2. What is self righteousness? 3. What is justification? 4. List five characteristics of self righteousness. 5. Discuss the link between grace and righteousness. 6. What is spiritual maturity? 7. Discuss good works in the context of righteousness. 8. What are the issues within us that true righteousness overcomes? 9. How did Job defend himself? 10. How did Abraham become righteous? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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