The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"The Gift of Righteousness"
Part 1 - Being and Bearing
Suffering Job asked perhaps the question of all questions: "How should a man be just with God?" (Job 9:2). No more important issue faces every human soul. The Apostle Paul provides the definitive answer, the blessed answer of grace:
"If by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17).
Note the nature of righteousness. Paul proclaims it a gift, a gift received and maintained by the Giver. By definition, a gift "freely given" cannot be earned in either its inception or its ongoing possession (Romans 8:32). Thus, from the moment of our new birth, God accounts us as right, or righteous, based solely on the Person and work of the Lord Jesus.
"But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us… righteousness" (I Corinthians 1:30).
Such grace speaks to our person and being in Christ, and also the judicial nature of our freely bestowed pardon provided through the atoning death of our Savior. A different matter concerns "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:11). We may or may not bear the attitudes, actions, words, and love for God and people that reflect our justification. The New Testament epistles reference many genuinely born again believers who had wandered far off the reservation of faith and faithfulness (see I Corinthians; Galatians; Hebrews, et.al). We can be righteous, but because we still live in flesh yet to be glorified, we can bear fruits of carnality and worldliness. The Apostle Paul plainly referenced this dichotomy: "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). Written to believers, Paul's admonition would be utterly nonsensical if it were not possible for righteous Christians to act unrighteously. In a similar vein, the Apostle also commanded, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25).
Find the most wayward believer on the planet. The truth we consider applies. Our brother is righteous. His relationship to Christ the righteous ensures such grace. This makes his failure to walk accordingly all the more egregious. Indeed, it would be one thing if our failing brother were not a "new creature" in Christ, inhabited by the motivating and empowering Holy Spirit (II Corinthians 5:17). He is indwelt by the living God, however, and thus has no excuse for not bearing righteous fruit. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48).
An earthly prince who betrays the crown by unworthy actions will be severely reprimanded by the King. "You are my son. You are the prince. You have royal blood running through your chosen veins. You are the heir to the throne. Now arise and walk worthily of who and what you are!" Our Heavenly King would say the same to us. We are His children. We are spiritually united with His Son, the Prince. The royal Spirit courses through our hearts. We are joint-heirs with Christ. "Now arise and walk worthily of who and what you are!" This our King would declare to the most faithful and the most failing among us. We are righteous in our being, righteous in Christ both now and forevermore, based on the freest gift ever given (purchased by the highest cost ever remitted). Let us then bear the fruits, "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ."
"Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing."
Next: God's righteousness.
Weekly Memory Verse
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." (Psalm 116:15)