"Just and Righteous"
Being and Bearing Righteousness
The fact of Christ's justifying work in born again believers makes possible the bearing of corresponding spiritual fruit. Being in Christ, however, does not inevitably lead to the consistent fruit bearing we would expect in those indwelt by the Spirit of the righteous Lord Jesus.
The Apostle Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians vividly illustrates the truth that potential does not always lead to fruition. As the letter begins, Paul unequivocally affirms the Corinthians' faith and salvation. As it continues, however, the Apostle just as unequivocally indicts the Corinthians for failure to live in accordance with the Spirit and truth of the Lord Jesus.
"I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ, that in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (I Corinthians 1:4-9).
"Ye are yet carnal… and walk as men" (I Corinthians 3:3).
Paul's introductory affirmation of the Corinthians might cause us to think that the Apostle's audience flourished as a fruitful bough of the Tree of righteousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Corinthian church was so steeped in carnal division, distraction, and deception that after the passage above, we becomes witnesses to a spiritual train wreck. The very ones who were "in everything enriched by Him" were enraged by each other. Those who were said to "come behind in no gift" so lacked spiritual maturity that they came far behind in reflecting the character of the Giver. Believers who would be "confirmed to the end" were nevertheless a consternation to Paul and to their Lord. The Corinthians tolerated unnecessary division, perverse immorality, open greed, legalism, licentiousness, Scriptural ignorance, and the distortion of the Lord's supper into a debauched feasting rather than loving and grateful remembrance of Christ's death (I Corinthians 1:10-15). Their righteous being in Christ did not lead to their bearing of righteous fruit.
In order to overcome such tragic failure to bear the fruits of justification in Christ, Paul both challenges and teaches the Corinthians. He plainly rebukes his brethren for their carnality, and then illuminates them regarding the Christ who provides the righteousness of our being, and then works in us to empower the corresponding bearing of godly fruits.
"Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (I Corinthians 1:30).
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13).
Bearing the fruits of righteousness requires growing knowledge of the Lord Jesus who is our righteousness. We must become increasingly aware of His involved presence whereby He empowers just and righteous living. Truth supplies the light and nutrients whereby we become healthy branches that bear the fruit of the Spirit. As the Lord Jesus declared, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Free to do what? Free to bear the fruits of righteousness even as we live in grace-provided righteousness of being in Christ. Indeed, the more we know "the Root of the righteous", the more our branches will be "filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Proverbs 12:12; Philippians 1:11). Little wonder that Solomon commanded, "With all thy getting, get understanding!" (Proverbs 4:7). Or even more, that the Apostle Peter called us to…
"Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
(II Peter 3:18).
Next - More on fruit bearing
Weekly Memory Verse
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.