It seems that one Sunday morning the pastor had all the kids come to the front of the church so he could tell them a story.
After the little darlings were all seated around him he says, “Now kids, before we get into our story I want you to guess what I’m talking about. This creature is small, brown and furry. What do you think it is?”
All the kids stare at him.
“This small, brown, furry creature eats nuts and climbs in trees. What is it?”
No response. The pastor gets a bit frustrated as the kids look puzzled.
“This creature has a big bushy tail.” No response.
Finally he says, “Doesn’t anyone know what it is?”
A little boy of seven holds his hand up hesitantly. “Yes, Johnny.”
“Well, I know the answer is Jesus,” he says, “but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me.”
In Sunday School the answer is always, “Jesus,” isn’t it? For fear of seeming to mouth a plastic cliché, in life the answer really is Jesus.
I listened to a song called “Take Me In” by Kutless. One of the lines grabbed my attention: “I hunger and thirst for your righteousness, but it’s only found in one place.”
A question flashed in my spirit, “How do I hunger and thirst after righteousness? Righteousness is one of those theological words that we say, “Yes! Amen!” to, but afterwards go on with our life. We hold a vague idea of its’ meaning.
Even more, the Lord promised that the one who hungers and thirsts after righteousness will be filled. With what? What does that mean in my life this Monday morning at 9:58 am?
From the text in Matthew 6:33, plus the definitions of righteousness, both Old and New Testament, I’d say that righteousness is being right with God, then living from that frame of reference. He is righteous. He makes us right so we can live “right.”
We live like He is. “As He is so are we in this world.”
Jesus makes a distinction between His righteousness and that of the Pharisees. Theirs was a self-righteousness.
That’s wonderful but how can I say that I’m “right” eous? I’ve done good things but there are some that I’m ashamed of and I sure don’t want God to call me to account for them on Judgement Day.
How can I say that I’m righteous?
Hey, little squirrel, the answer is “Jesus.”
He is God’s righteous One and He communicates that righteousness to those who come to Him in repentance and faith.
“My little children (believers, dear ones), I am writing you these things so that you will not sin and violate God’s law. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate [who will intercede for us] with the Father: Jesus Christ the righteous [the upright, the just One, who conforms to the Father’s will in every way—purpose, thought, and action].” 1 John 2:1, Amplified
Here’s the way it works:
1. The Righteous One pays for our unrighteousness on the Cross.
2. Righteousness is IMPUTED (Gen. 15:6 ; Rom. 4 ) when we come to Him by
faith. Rom 4:3 “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
“Counted unto him” is logizomai in Greek
1) to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over
1a) to take into account, to make an account of
1a1) metaphorically to pass to one’s account, to impute
It’s as if we had a tremendous debt and God put enough in our bank account to pay it (and everything we need for an abundant life in Him in addition to that)
There are those who suppose that being good or obeying rules makes them right with God; those people have never seen the horror of their sins.
Worse we criticize those who aren’t as “good” as we are. All our righteousness is like a pile of nasty rags. (Isa. 55) Not pretty.
But, when we repent of our sins He credits righteousness to our account by His grace and mercy.
3. God makes us righteous. (2 Cor. 5:17)
We’re credited with righteousness (who put all that money in my account?), but we also receive righteousness as a gift. We become righteous.
2 Corinthians 5:21
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
I cringe a bit when I hear Christians emphasize what sinners we all are. I know we still battle with sin and we’re not 100% successful. I know this battle continues all through life.
But, now in Christ, we fight from a place of victory. Before we were sinners striving to be good and failing.
But the recreated man lives from a place of victory. We are righteous—not because we never fail but because we have been made righteous.
The old man sins because that’s who he is. He can’t do otherwise. When the new man sins it’s against his nature. That’s no longer who he is.
That’s why sin is so simple for the world. That’s who they are. But, for those of us who are in Christ, if we sin, we suffer inside. That’s no longer who we are.
4. We are “in Christ.” He is righteous, so are we because we’re in Him.
1 Corinthians 1:30
“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—
5. Now That Righteousness has been imputed to us and we are made righteous we live out that righteousness from what God has made us to be.
“And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Here’s what that looks like:
“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” 1 tim. 6:11
So, if anyone asks, the answer is, “JESUS!”
“Affirm what you know is true. You can either live life based on past experiences, current feelings—or transcendent truth. This is why it is important to immerse yourself in the scriptures, to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). As one of my mentors often says, “Most people doubt their beliefs and believe their doubts. Do just the opposite.” Ask: What do I know to be true?” Michael Hyatt