Righteous

“Appetite” can be described as a strong desire or craving. We understand what it is like to have an appetite for food, but what about an appetite for God’s righteousness?

Self-righteousness

Many people have a certain religious hunger within them, but Jesus reminds us that desire for the feeling of righteousness or even religious human traditions is not necessarily the same as hungering and thirsting for righteousness. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matt. 23:23). And again, “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9).

Concerning the zeal that some had for this self-made righteousness, the apostle Paul wrote, “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:2-3).

This is what happens when we set up our own standard of rules and behaviors in a vain attempt to be right without any real change; when we ignore the plain teachings of God’s word in favor of more abstract (read unscriptural) reasoning. We manifest this same character when we change the meaning of words and read into the Bible what we want it to say. When we declare ourselves to be right based on such standards, then we have established our own righteousness.

This is in essence what Jesus was referring to when He said in His sermon on the mount, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20).

Righteousness that is from God

Righteousness that is from God is what we have when we rely on Him to make us right. We recognize that without Him we are as souls lost in a baron and desolate land unable to sustain ourselves. While many seek to satisfy their longings by their own devices (worldliness and/or self-righteousness), we must rely on the Lord to satisfy our hungering and thursting.

Consider, if we already feel full or satisfied in ourselves, then when we come to God what is left that He can fill? “Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger” (Luke 6:25) If we empty ourselves and set our affections on Him, on His promises, and on the things that He says are good and right, then what craving is there that He cannot satisfy? “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).

When we truly long for the righteousness that is of God, we will recognize that the gospel is our answer. “for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes… For in it the righteousness of God is revealed” (Rom. 1:16-17). That is, the gospel reveals how God makes men righteous. How does it do that?

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:3-6).

To obey the gospel by being baptized is to believe in the power of God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. For one is “raised through faith the working of God” (Col. 2:12). Baptism is our appeal to God to make us righteous (1 Pet. 3:21). When we are raised with that faith, we are raised to “walk in newness of life.” That is the righteousness that comes from God.

Those who have joined Christ in the likeness of His burial and resurrection can call themselves Christians. To walk in this new life in Christ is to be transformed outwardly according to the inner change effected by God in Christ. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).

The question we wish to leave the reader with is this. Do you hunger and thirst for a righteousness that is from God? If you do, will you obey the gospel?

 

Our Spiritual Warfare

God speaks of the warfare in which all Christians are engaged. More than that, there are different kinds of battles mentioned. There are in fact two battles or  fronts that every Christians is fighting simultaneously.

First, in passages such as Ephesians 6:10 ff., Romans 7:4 and 1 Peter 2:11 we are made aware of the internal warfare in which we fight against temptation and the whiles of the devil. This is our struggle against sin in the flesh. Like soldiers, we must strive to understand the various pieces of our armor and learn how to use them effectively. God gives us all that we need to be armed and ready for Satan’s attacks, but if we neglect our training, we will be caught off guard.

In 2 Cor. 10, Paul reveals that there is also an external battle that we face. There were some in the church at Corinth who were haughty and exalting themselves above the doctrine of Christ. Therefore, Paul described himself and those with him as needing to come to Corinth with weapons that are “mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high things that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (vs. 4-5). This is our battle against error.

Such imagery should impress upon us the urgency of our purpose as God’s people. Some may try to ignore the battle. Doing so will not make it go away. We can either face the battle armed and prepared, or unarmed and defenseless. Which do you choose?

 

Walk In The Light

“Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” —Eph. 5:17

Paul reminds us that Christians “were once darkness, but now are light in the Lord” (vs. 8). For that reason, he exhorts us, “Walk as children of light…finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (vss. 8-11).

We are told in John 1:9 that Jesus is “that true light which gives light to every man coming into the world.”  He has delivered the truth and effected the only way for us to have access to the Father. By Jesus alone can we be made righteous. In so doing, we are able to receive and reflect (so to speak) the same light given to us by Him. How do we do that?

Eph. 5:17 is the answer. We walk in the light when we strive to learn and do all things according to God’s will (see Matt. 5:16). In as much as we were in darkness while we walked in rebellion to God, we can be in the light when we enter into Christ through the gospel and begin striving to do the will of God in all things. Let us therefore “no longer be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is”, that our light may shine.