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?

 

The Last Day-Assurance

Jesus spoke of a day in which “the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matt. 16:27). Of that day, He says, “for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). This is the hope of all of God’s people—the second coming of Jesus Christ and a literal resurrection from the dead.

The first assurance we have of these promises is the resurrection of Jesus Himself. According to the gospel, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once” (1 Cor. 15:3-6). Jesus was literally raised from the dead. Faith in that fact is paramount to one’s salvation. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. … For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor. 15: 13, 16-17)

Since Jesus Christ has risen, He “has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). That is, among those who experience physical death, Jesus is the first to be eternally raised. Just as He was raised, those who belong to Him shall also be raised at the time appointed by the Father.

Secondly, we know that Jesus Christ is coming in judgment upon all ungodliness because God has already judged the world once in the flood. “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:5-7).

That judgment was literal. And now, not just the world, but the heavens and the earth are “reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” This coming fire is as literal as the water of the flood.

For those who believe and obey, Jesus is coming with eternal life. For those who will not obey, He is coming with eternal condemnation. Therefore, God “now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).