In Part 1 of this series I talked about how righteousness isn’t a measuring stick of my performance but simply God’s approval. Religion has distorted this concept and used it against us. As a matter of fact God talks a lot about how we shouldn’t look for His approval elsewhere. Paul tells us that there is a righteousness from the law based on following the commandments. It is unattainable (on purpose):
Rom 9:31 The people of Israel tried to follow [pursue] a law to make themselves right with God [of righteousness]. But they did not succeed [reach/attain it] (EXB)
But we know that Jesus is the end of the law for righteousness.
Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (ESV)
Jesus IS our righteousness.
1Co 1: And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (ESVST)
God’s righteousness is actually apart from the law. You can’t find it in the law.
Rom 3:21 But now God’s way to make people right with him [ the righteousness of God] without [apart from] the law has been shown to us [revealed; made known], a way told to us [testified to; attested] by the law and the prophets. (EXB)
Rom 4:13 Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. (ESV)
All we need to do is trust that God is the one that justifies the ungodly. That is the kind of faith that says “God approves of me!”
Rom 4:5 But to one who, not working [by the Law], trusts (believes fully) in Him Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited to him as righteousness (the standing acceptable to God). (AMP)
So what about verses like these?
1 Jo 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (ESVST)
1 Jo 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil:whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (ESVST)
Everyone has seen a spotlight in a theater. If not in person you probably have seen it on TV. Sometimes the guy pointing the spotlight decides to be funny and move the spotlight off of the performer. Now that performer is in the dark. You can see him hurrying towards the spotlight to get back in the light. He steps in and the funny light guy moves it again. You get the idea.
Practicing righteousness is a lot like the guy on stage chasing the spotlight. The spotlight is God’s approval. It is His righteousness. It is available if we trust that He approves of us. The good news is God isn’t like the funny spotlight guy. His approval is steadfast. His approval is from Him and has nothing to do with my performance. I just step into it. On occasion I may forget and I have stepped out of the spotlight. It is time change my mind, turn around and step back into the spotlight. Check it out…I get to repent (change my mind) and obey (move to the light) and live in righteousness (stand in the spotlight). Don’t see it that way? Check out these verses:
Mat 3:15 But Jesus answered him, “ Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “ This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (ESVST)
I say Jesus was “pursuing righteousness” and for Him the heavens parted. That is a pretty huge spotlight. Then what did He find in the light? Just the Holy Spirit and God’s approval. I like that Heavenly spotlight image. Oh, and it is in the Bible.
Practicing righteousness is no more than trusting that God approves of you. We have Jesus as proof. We can see the excuse of sin and condemnation and unworthiness and shame and guilt and all that stuff from the enemy can’t keep us out of the light. Jesus died to take all that away. He just says “step into the light.” We get to believe what God has said. We get to know with certainty that God approves of us. It says so in the book. Our faith makes it possible to move into the spotlight. Just step into His spotlight of righteousness and listen to Him say “my beloved son/daughter, in whom I am well pleased.” That is awesome!
In the next post I’ll talk about why it is so important we get this. It changes everything. It positions us for the amazing.
Guess what? You can step into His spotlight of approval and declare “I’m Right!”