There was a comment on the last post that I want to respond to with this post. If you haven’t read “Robe of Righteousness” you might want to take a look so this post makes sense in context. Still I think this will stand alone. So here we go!
Righteousness. I have written a few posts on how we are right with God through faith. The comment from the last post was “we will know their righteousness based on their fruit.” In context and with understanding, that is a correct statement. When people live from a right relationship with God then they will yield (bear) His fruit through them. I don’t know if that is what this reader meant. I expect the intended meaning was more of a “if they behave correctly and don’t sin then we can call them righteous.” That isn’t what it means. So I want to talk about righteousness again since it is probably the most misunderstood concept in the Bible.
We have made the word righteous or righteousness into a churchy word that is implicitly or explicitly used wrongly. The word (or concept) means to have a right relationship. It is that simple. If a husband and wife are so angry with each other that they don’t talk to each other they are in an unrighteous relationship. If a child tells his Dad he hates him and refuses to listen to him then the child is in an unrighteous relationship with his Dad. If the father is so angry with the child that he kicks him out of the house and gives him up for social services then the Dad is in an unrighteous relationship with the son. If you think your boss is a jerk and stupid and incompetent so you disregard everything he says and refuse to do anything he asks then you are in an unrighteous relationship with your boss. Are you getting the picture?
Notice I didn’t say if the son isn’t doing his homework and staying out past curfew then he is unrighteous. This son IS making bad choices and likely setting himself up for all kinds of hardship but he isn’t unrighteous. If he respects and loves his Dad and believes his Dad has all the right answers then the son will likely listen to the Dad when he points out the errors in his thinking. The Dad will tell him that not doing homework will likely result in a bad grade and staying out past curfew will make him tired and put him into situations that might get him into trouble. The son is righteous with the father. He is producing the fruit of righteousness (a right relationship) when he makes choices based on his right relationship with his Dad. He loves and trusts his Dad. That is a right relationship and therefore righteousness.
Now, hopefully you are getting it. Remember our righteousness with God is based on faith. When I have faith in a good and loving God then I know that I know He intends a right relationship towards me (and always has). Jesus on the cross is the proof of His righteousness towards me. My faith has me step out of the bushes and into a right relationship with Him. I can do this because Jesus on the cross removes any excuse the enemy wants to use to convince me that I am not in a right relationship with my Abba. That is why I can proudly wear my Robe of Righteousness. I can say absolutely that I am in a right relationship with God and He is in a right relationship with me. For those doubters I say look at Jesus on the cross. For the enemy that tries to bring up all my mistakes and bad choices as proof that God is mad at me, I say look at Jesus on the cross. So with that context let’s look at a few verses.
Phil 1:9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (ESV)
Approve what is excellent. I used to think that was a better ability to discern good from evil but the tree poisoned us with that thinking. Instead I see the excellence as the goodness of God. Can I see His goodness in all that He does? Of course I am pure and blameless because of Jesus. Can I believe it? When I know God is good and Jesus paid it all then I can be filled with the fruit that…can you see it…comes through Jesus. It isn’t anything I make. It comes from Him. I just get to bear it and give it out. Come on…that is awesome!
“But what about discipline brother?”
Heb 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines (training and instruction) us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline (training and instruction) seems painful (brings sorrow) rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (ESV)
Yes, bring it on. Under pressure I want to be absolutely sure that God is good and He is with me. I want to be absolutely sure that the devil loses and we win. I want to be absolutely sure that I am right with God. I want to wear that Robe proudly. I don’t want to depend on me. I want to depend on Him.
James 23:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (ESV)
His wisdom brings fruit. He does it not me. Want to see where wisdom comes from?
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (ESV)
Ok, how about this one?
1 John 3:28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (ESV)
See it is the same as the Philippians passage? If I know that God can be trusted to be right towards me then I can trust Him and not shrink away from His awesomeness. The lie is God is bad and mad. The truth is God is good and right. How do I practice righteousness? I live like I am right with God. I wear my Robe proudly. I do what people do in a right relationship. I am always with Him because He is always with me.
How about this one?
1 John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous (ESV)
Same concept. When I practice living right with God then you know I am right with God as He is right with me. Come on. Are you starting to see it? Put the thought of behavior out of your mind and give yourself permission to see how good God really is. Could He be “wrong” with you? How could He be? Jesus proves otherwise.
This is my favorite on this subject:
1 John 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. (ESV)
If you don’t live life knowing you are in a right relationship with God because He said so and Jesus proves it then you are listening to the devil. The devil says you need to work harder and perform better and never ever please God because He is perfect and you suck. The devil wins in that deception. God says you are righteous with me, period. Jesus paid any price. Jesus is crushing the head of the devil.
This last verse says it all for me regarding who God is:
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)
This is God’s nature towards us. He is a God who justifies the ungodly. That is our Abba. No other god or religion can say that. Jesus is God’s expression of that nature, His LOGOS. I hope now the meaning of righteousness is clear. I say put on the Robe of Righteousness Again! You are going to make mistakes. You are human. You are going to make bad decisions. You are going to be influenced by the world around you. In all that you are right with God and He is right with you. Your fruit will be Him in you. Your fruit will be you bringing the revelation of His goodness to others. Over time your decisions will be more like His. Your behavior will be an expression of Jesus. Your “sin” was dealt with so you are free from its grip. Put on the Robe and see what happens. I bet you will be very surprised.
P.S. I am praying that the fruit that God produces through me looks like raising the dead! That would be some pretty awesome fruit of righteousness.