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Tag Archives: Righteous

Our Position of Authority as Believers (Kenneth Copeland)

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When you made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, Colossians 1:13 says you were delivered from the power of darkness. The word power is literally translated “authority.” You have been delivered from the power, or authority, of darkness and placed into God’s kingdom. Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore…” (Matthew 28:18-19). That power was given to you as part of your inheritance in Christ Jesus. You have entered into this position of authority because you are in Him. 

The Word says that righteousness has come upon all men (Romans 5:18). You may ask, “Then why don’t all become righteous?” Because in order to receive it, you have to act on righteousness from the point of authority.
           
Nov. 2, 1962, I used my authority as a human being and made a choice. I made the decision to receive Jesus as Lord of my life. At that moment, the righteousness that had been upon me came inside me. I was made the righteousness of God in Christ. II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
 
Jesus Secured Our Power and Authority
           
Jesus succeeded in securing all power by going to the cross, dying a horrible death, suffering the penalty for sin and defeating Satan in the pit of hell. He came to earth as a man for one reason: to recapture the authority Satan had stolen through Adam’s disobedience in the Garden. Jesus was called the last Adam (I Corinthians 15:45). After securing that power and authority, He freely gave it over into the hands of those who would believe on Him—you and me.
           
It is not enough for us to simply accept Jesus’ work at Calvary. We are held responsible for much more. Jesus’ words in Mark 16 were not intended for the early Church alone. His words are just as vital and real today as when they were first spoken.
           
Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection from the dead. His words to them form the basic foundation for the work of the New Testament Church. It was at that time He delegated the authority to carry out that work. Beginning in verse 15, Jesus said: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:15-18).
 
We Have Authority to Preach the Gospel
           
“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Every born-again believer has the authority and responsibility to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in this earth. If you can’t go, you can send someone in your place.
           
“And these signs shall follow them that believe….” Notice who is to do all these things: them that believe. The signs will follow the believers who act in faith and boldly speak in Jesus’ Name. They shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall lay hands on the sick. Believers are the ones with the power and authority to do these things.
           
Verse 20 says, “They went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” God will confirm His Word, but first it has to be spoken forth. That is where you and I come in. God does not preach; He has given us the authority to do the preaching. God will not lay hands on the sick. He will bring the healing, but you and I as believers must lay hands on the sick by faith, believing God will perform His Word.
 
We Have Authority to Stand Against Satan
           
One of the most vital areas of the believer’s authority is his power to successfully stand against Satan. Ephesians 4:27 says, “Neither give place to the devil.” In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul describes the armor that we as believers are to wear in combat against Satan. He explains each piece of that armor. It is the armor of God. But not once does he say that God will put the armor on you or that God will fight the devil for you. You is the understood subject of these verses. He says, “[You] be strong in the Lord…. [You] put on the whole armour of God, that [you] may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. [You] take the whole armour of God, that [you] may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, [you] stand.” God has given you the power and the authority to stand against Satan and his destructive works. He has provided the armor, but it is your responsibility as a believer to put on that armor and stand against the devil. James 4:7 says, “[You] resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The armor and the weapons are at your disposal. God is there with you to back His Word; but all that is worthless unless you take your position of authority and assume the responsibility to use what He has provided. You have the power and the authority to take the Word of God, the Name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit and run Satan out of your affairs. Don’t pray and ask God to fight Satan for you. You are the one in authority. Take your responsibility and speak directly to Satan yourself and stand your ground firmly. He will flee!
 
We Are Seated With Him in High Authority
           
In Ephesians 1, Paul prayed a prayer for the body of believers in Ephesus. One part of that prayer was that they know “the exceeding greatness of his power to [those] who believe” (Ephesians 1:19). That exceeding great power is the same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies. Ephesians 1:21 tells us that Jesus is seated “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named.”
           
The work God did in Jesus was supreme. He raised Jesus from the dead and set Him far above all other authority—not only in this world, but also in the heavenly world. Then verses 22-23 say that God has put all things under His feet and made Him head over the Church which is His body. Where are the feet? They are in the body. As believers, we are part of His body and we are seated with Him in that highly exalted place of authority. Praise God! Look at Ephesians 2: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (verses 1, 5-6).
           
We are seated together with Him. Where? Far above all principality and power and might and dominion. As a believer, you have accepted the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary. Therefore, you are part of His body and are seated with Him in that heavenly place, equipped with the same power, the same authority that He has.
           
The great power that God worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead is the same creative power of God that worked in you to make you alive when you were dead in your trespasses and sins. The moment you made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, that same power was exercised on your dead, unregenerate spirit, causing it to be reborn in the likeness of God Himself. Any man who is in Christ Jesus is a new creation: old things have passed away, all things are new, and all things are of God (II Corinthians 5:17-18).
 
We Have the Power of God’s Word to Exercise Our Authority
 
And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? (Mark 4:35-40).
 
Jesus spoke the words, “Let us pass over unto the other side,” and there was enough power and authority in those words to accomplish the job. One thing I want you to notice is that Jesus did not take command of the ship to see that His words were carried out. He walked to the back of the boat and went to sleep. Jesus delegated the authority to His disciples and they accepted it. But when the storm came, they were filled with fear that the boat would sink. Jesus had to carry out the responsibility of authority, which He had delegated to them, by rebuking the wind and the sea.
           
Do you see the parallel here? You are the captain of your ship. You have control over your own life—your spirit, your soul and your body. Jesus has delegated power, or authority, over Satan to you as a believer. You are to give him no place in your life. You are born of the Spirit of God. You are filled with the Spirit of God. You have been given the Word of God. Those three elements are enough for you to carry out your spiritual authority here in the earth. You don’t need any more power. You have all the power necessary. You simply have to exercise your authority. Jesus has already done everything necessary to secure the authority and power over sin, sickness, demons and fear. You have to employ the faith action to receive that authority and join forces with Him in this earth. You are the one to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
 
We Have Authority to Act as New Creations
           
Hebrews 2:14 says, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” Jesus partook of flesh and blood, so that you could partake of spirit and life. For you to partake of that spirit and life, you must take the responsibility of standing in the place of authority as the new creation in Christ Jesus that you are. You are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God (I Peter 1:23). It was the Word of Almighty God that was injected into your spirit man to bring about the new birth in your life. When the Church was first beginning, Acts 12:24 described it as the Word growing and multiplying. The Word is in you, but you are the one who must be willing to allow it to work in you.
           
Ephesians 4:21-24 says, “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
           
You are the one in authority. It is your responsibility to put off the old man—the unregenerate man that you were before you accepted Jesus. The Holy Spirit does the actual work in you, but you must make the decision to allow Him to do it. God has never forced His will on any person. You put off the old man. You use the Word of God to renew your mind. You put on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness.
 
We Can Minister and Walk From a Point of Authority
           
God’s power is in His Word. He is “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). You need to learn to minister and walk from a point of authority. In His earthly ministry, Jesus said such things as “Be thou made whole.” “Take up your bed and walk.” Then Peter said to a lame man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). He too ministered and spoke from a point of authority.
           
It’s time for you as a believer to begin to act that way. You have obtained an inheritance, and in that inheritance you have been given all authority. The God of the universe lives inside you! He lives and walks in you. Become God-inside-minded and you will begin to walk in this point of authority.
           
Keep right on building yourself up in your inheritance. You live in a world that is full of evil influences. Satan would like you to forget the reality of being born again and never realize your place of authority in Christ Jesus, because if you do, that power you walk in makes you absolutely dangerous to him. He has no defense against you when you walk in the power of God’s Word.           

When you see in the Word that you are in Christ Jesus, that you are in Him, then confess it with all your heart. Then you will be strong, standing in a point of authority and operating in your inheritance in Him. As you do this, the power of God will always be available to work in your behalf. Praise God!

Run Through Romans (ch. 5.12)

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 12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5.12 introduces a new topic for Paul. 

Paul’s topic from Romans 1.18- Romans 5.11 has been consistent: how God has completely dealt with the fact that man has sinned.  You and I have done unrighteous things, and we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  However, God has dealt with the problem of your sins by placing them on Jesus.  Jesus bore your sins and now you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  The correct theological term for this is “justification”. 

Justification is the process where God declares an unrighteous person righteous by virtue of the fact that Jesus died for their sins.  You cannot be justified by any action or any religious ritual, but only by believing in Jesus Christ.  This is called justification by faith.

Romans 5.12 introduces another section of this book, which continues to the end of Romans 8.  The topic of Romans 5.12-Romans 8 is not justification as much as sanctification.  What this word means and how it applies to a Christian shall be explained as we work through the next few chapters.

By now I want you to realize that in addition to the problem of your sins, you have a second problem.  A far worse problem: the problem of sin.

Sins and sin.   It is a subtle difference but one that is so important for you to live in victory.  In the previous 5 chapters Paul has expertly explained that Jesus has paid the price for your sins.  Now he is going to show you how to deal with sin.

So what is the difference between sins and sin.  A good analogy, and I am greatful to Watchman Nee for this analogy, is to imagine a factory making a product.  The product is the same as sins, but the factory is sin.  Even if you went all throughout the country destroying the product, you wouldn’t ever be able to complete your task as the factory would still be making the product.

Even, in the same way, you have committed sins.  The work of Jesus has completely dealt with your sins, by placing them all on Jesus.  Jesus paid the price for your sins.  Every single action that was selfish, unrighteous, destructive, disobedience to God, dishonouring to God, disrespectful to other humans: Jesus paid the price.    And we are declared righteous because Jesus paid the price, not because of anything we have done or could ever do.

But the fact is this: inside your heart, before you became a Christian, was nothing short of a sin-factory.  All the sins you ever committed came from somewhere: and they came from your heart.  You acted selfish because you were selfish.  You lied because you were a liar. 

This is contrary to much of modern thinking about psychology and behaviour.  Many people today will determine your behaviour by your actions: if you lie, then that makes you a liar.  That is not true: you are a liar, that is why you lie.   There are clinics and self-help programmes all over the place that are dealing with behaviour and managing behaviour.   But people do these programmes and after a few months are doing the same things again and again.   The product has been destroyed, but the factory is still there.

The beauty of the gospel message is that Jesus doesn’t just deal with the product: he destroys the factory.  He doesn’t just forgive all your sins, He gives you a new heart.  So many Christians are told that Jesus forgives, but are then left to struggle to live right and live a life of victory and joy.  Paul outlines the full gospel in Romans, and in the next few days and weeks we are going to learn how not just to know that you are righteous, but how to live a righteous life in the world.

 12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world

Like he does with the problem of sins, Paul starts in Romans 5.12 by introducing the problem.  The problem is this: by one man (Adam – who was a real person made by God in His image just as the Bible says), sin has been brought into the world.  Adam sinned. 

and death by sin

Death is brought into the world by sin.  Sin always leads to death.  If there is no sin, there is no death.  You are going to die because you sinned.  If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will be going to hell.  That is the reality of the situation.  Sin leads to death and hell, and without Jesus paying the complete price, you would die and enter hell.  But because Jesus dealt with your sin, you can enter heaven and enjoy heaven on earth.

and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Adam sinned.  Adam, like every human, was made up of three elements: spirit, soul and body.  When Adam sinned against God, immediately his spirit died.  Adam could no longer communicate freely with God without fear, without shame.  From that moment, gradually his soul started to die.  He has his first argument with his wife, one of his son’s murdered another, his thinking and his emotions became darker.  Eventually at the end of this death process, his body died.

That happens now to every son of Adam.  Adam’s entire nature changed due to sin.  It happened to you and it happened to me.  We were born on the planet spiritually dead.  We do not care for God, we do not seek God.  Over time our soul – our emotions and our thinking and our decision making power – dies.  We lose the ability to think, we lose the ability to empathize.  We start getting pleased and having positive emotions at negative and sinful situations.  Eventually our body will die, and our sin-filled dead spirit and soul will descend into hell for eternity.The fact is that you were by nature a child of wrath.  By believing in Christ, you have been made righteous, and you can now enter heaven.  All your sins have been forgiven.

The only escape from this is to be born again.  Being born again means that your dead spirit is reborn and is now a living spirit.  Now you can hear the voice of the Lord, your conscience is restored.  Your living spirit will start to influence your soul, and your thinking will become clearer.  And when your body dies, you will ascend to heaven and enjoy heaven.  At an appointed day, your body will be re-created as a sinless and incorruptible body, and you will enjoy a new heaven and a new earth, in the presence of the Lord, forever.

 

But you don’t have to continue living the same way when you become a Christian.  Becoming a Christian isn’t just God wiping the slate clean so you can get into heaven when you die: it is God throwing the slate away and giving you a brand new life: a resurrection life, the life of Christ.  How this works and how you can enjoy this life is the theme of Romans 5.12-Romans 8.  And in the next few days and weeks, we will unpack this for you.

I hope it excites you as much as it does me,

Blessings,

Ben

Run Through Romans (4:1-8)

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So far Romans 1 has shown us that immoral people are unrighteous, and that God must punish all unrighteousness.  These people have no excuse because they have a conscience and can see creation.

Romans 2 has shown us that moral people are unrighteous as well – they do not keep the laws they have been given.

Romans 3 starts by emphasizing that by works and actions there is no one righteous.  When we finally realize that even our most righteous work is worth nothing to the Lord due to our impure motives, the sins we have committed and our inability to change, then Paul lets us know that there is another way to be righteous: by placing our faith in the work of the Lord Jesus.

This is the great truth of the Protestant Reformation: salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone.

Ephesians 2.8-9 say it like this:

8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

You are saved and made righteous only because Jesus Christ bore all your sin and iniquity on the cross.  2 Cor. 5.21 says:

21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus, who never sinned – never did anything to make himself unrighteous, became unrighteous on the cross.  He literally became sin on the cross with your sin.  All of the sin you have ever committed and ever will commit was laid on the Lord Jesus.  All of the righteousness He committed was laid on you.

He became sin with your sin so that you can be righteous with His righteousness.  This is the central truth of Romans and the central truth of the entire New Testament.  Yet there are still so many Christians trying to work for their salvation, to earn God’s merit, to strive hard enough that they can be healed, be assure of heaven, be this that and the other.

But the gospel message is this: you will never be good enough for God.  But that is ok – He is good.  And in His goodness sent a man to die on the cross and take the punishment for all of your sin.  If you put your faith in Him, that completes the exchange and you will be made the righteousness of God.

Do you realize this: believing in Jesus makes you the righteousness of God.  You are as right with God as Jesus is.  You can stand before God without fear, without inferiority, without shame.  Not because of anything you have done – not that you can boast (Eph. 2.9), but because of what Jesus has done.

If you are a Christian, you are righteous.  You do not have to go to hell when you die and you do not have to endure hell on earth.  You can go to heaven when you die and you can enjoy heaven on earth.  If you are not a Christian all you have to do to become righteous is believe – Romans 10.9-11 says:

9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

All you have to do is believe that Jesus rose from the dead and say out loud that Jesus is Lord.  Then you are saved and you are righteous.  Then you shall never be ashamed.  You might feel ashamed – but that is because you are trying to approach God on the basis of your actions and your actions are not enough to be righteous.  If you approach God on the basis of Jesus’ actions, you will not feel ashamed because you never have to be ashamed because the work of Jesus is complete.

Let’s look at the first few verses of Romans 4.  Here Paul is writing to the Jewish people, but the principles apply just as much to people from any religion.  You can only be righteous by faith, not by what you do or don’t do.  Stop thinking about what you have done and what you have not done – and start thinking about God’s grace and what He has done.

1What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

Paul here brings the Jewish people back to Abraham.  He is making the clear point that Abraham lived before God as a righteous man, but that contrary to what some people might have thought, Abraham was not considered righteous because of his actions.  He was righteous because He believed God.

2For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

3For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Paul is saying that Abraham was not good enough to be righteous by his actions.  You must realize that even the most moral people are not good enough to be righteous by their actions.  They have to believe God and that He makes people righteous by faith.

4Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

If you are still working and doing good works to make God impressed with you, then you are saying God owes you something.  That you deserve every blessing you have.

This is nonsense – it is pure pride.  Yet so many Christians talk and act like this.  Even word of faith people act like this.  It is not true.  You cannot work for any blessing.  Every blessing you have – righteousness, peace, joy, health, wealth – came because Jesus Christ took the curse on the cross, bore your sin on the cross, and made the blessing freely available.  All you have to do is believe and receive.

God makes the ungodly righteous by faith.  Say it out loud.  Write it on a piece of paper, learn it, meditate on it.  Get it into your heart – you are righteous because of Jesus Christ, not any good works you have done.  When you look at your works and feel righteous, you are not righteous because of your works, you cannot boast.  You are righteous because of Jesus.

When you feel unrighteous because of your works, you are not unrighteous.  You are righteous because of Jesus.  Your righteousness never changes because what Jesus did never changes.  You can always approach God by fiath in His grace.

6Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Even King David sinned, as any student of the Old Testament is aware.  David did not say that you were blessed because you never sinned.  He said you were blessed because the Lord will not impute sin.  Impute is an accounting term which means not put into the account.

Because Jesus took all of your sin, then every sin you commit if you put your faith in Jesus is not put into your account.  No matter what you have done wrong, no matter what you ever will do wrong, no matter what sins you have committed, no matter what you have done.  It doesn’t matter because it will not be put against your account.

It was put against Jesus’ account.  He was punished for you.  He died your death because of your sin so you could live His life.

Many Christians do not accept this powerful Scripture because they think it is too good to be true, but it is true.  If you are a Christian, then no sin you have ever committed and no sin you ever commit will EVER be laid at your account.  You will never have to be stand before God on the basis of your sin, because Jesus Christ has completely dealt with the sin issue.

You can stand before God right now as if you have never sinned, with no sense of fear, no shame.

That indeed is a place of blessing and there is nothing you can do to earn it, you cannot boast about it.  God has given it to you freely.  That is what grace is: you have been given what you do not deserve: complete forgiveness of sins.

You are the righteousness of God in Christ.

A few months ago I was talking with a Muslim man.  He has committed a number of sins that are disturbing his conscience.  He feels guilty – and he should he is guilty.  He has broken the commandments of God and is unrighteous.

He told me that he prays, that he fasts, that he goes to mosque, but feels no relief.  I told him he wouldn’t, that makes sense to me.  That surprised him because he felt that religious rituals and prayer would assuage his guilt.

I told him it couldn’t deal with his guilt.  I said if he was in a court of law he couldn’t claim innocence of the crimes he had committed because he has prayed or done other rituals.  Rituals cannot make you innocent.  I understood his anguish as I showed him that there is none righteous not one.

It is important to show people the futility of having any faith in their ability to do right and be righteous, because they are then open to the good news that there is another way to be righteous.

I then said that what he needed was someone to live a perfect life and then offer up that perfect live as a sacrifice for him, then – and only then – could God count him as righteous.  Only then could he have peace with God.

He said that no one would ever do that for him, so I told him all about what Jesus did.

He did not became a Christian that night – the peer pressure of his family being part of the issue – but he knows the gospel now.  And one day he will receive the love and mercy of Jesus and put His faith in the work of Jesus.

But, although this was a Muslim man, there are many in the churches that are not Christians or are Christians but because they do not know why they are righteous, are condemned, lacking peace, feeling defeated and unloved because they know that according to their actions they are unrighteous.

Listen – according to your actions you are.  But you are blessed – every sin you have ever committed or ever will commit is not being put against your account.  You can approach God as if you have never sinned.  You can stand before God as a righteous man.

You can pray and have your prayers answered.  You can lay hands on the sick and have them healed.  You can do the works Jesus did.  You can be a force of life on the world.

Bless God forever!

Ben

Run Through Romans (3.22-31)

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So far Paul has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that every human being has the same basic problem: our actions have made us guilty before God. This guilt is called unrighteousness. It means that when we die, we shall be judged by God, found guilty and be sentenced to hell. It also means we shall endure hell on earth as we have life without a relationship with the living God.

It has not been the most positive experience reading and studying Romans up until this point.  This is why many Christians can quote Romans 5 and Romans 8 a great deal, but they simply do not understand the context.  The context is this: Paul shows beyond the shadow of a doubt that you cannot be righteous yourself either by a good life or by religious rituals.

So when Paul now introduces a new way of becoming righteous –  a new way of becoming accepted by God and declared not guilty; a way of going to heaven when you die and enjoying heaven on earth –  when Paul introduces this new way of being righteous we jump at it.

The only way we will jump at righteousness by faith is if someone takes the time to explain and prove to us that we cannot be righteous by works.

Ray Comfort explains this by using the analogy of an aeroplane.  If you give someone on a plane a parachute and make him wear it for the journey, he probably will not because it will be uncomfortable and make the journey more difficult.  If however you take the time to explain to the person that the plane is about to crash and is completely unreliable, he will put the parachute on and be glad to wear it.

If you convince someone to put their faith in Jesus Christ for righteousness, without first showing them that their righteousness by their works and rituals and self-opinion is utterly worthless then they will eventually backslide right out of a relationship with Christ.

Before you tell a person to accept Christ by faith for righteousness, for entrance into heaven, you first must show them that their righteousness is worthless as Paul has done in Romans 1-3.  Some people are already convinced – they know that nothing good dwells in them.  People like that you simply share the gospel with and encourage them to trust the Lord Jesus Christ.  Other people still think that God owes them a favour or that God will judge their deeds with a giant set of scales and they think that the scales are tipped in their favour.  These people need to hear the message of Romans 1-3.  But once they have realize that they are unrighteous and nothing they could ever do will make them righteous, they will ask just one question – though it might be expressed in different forms: how can I be righteous?  how can I be saved?  how can I know God?

21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

After Romans 1.18-3.20, Paul is convinced that people will have realized that they are unrighteousness, that they are guilty before God.  So now, he explains the good news: there is another way to be righteous.  A way that has nothing to do with obeying the law of Moses.  In fact, in v. 21 Paul claims that this way is actually found in the law and the prophets – the Old Testament – which it is if you read it carefully.  Perhaps after we have run through Romans, I will show where the gospel is found throughout the Old Testament.  It is an interesting study to say the least.

22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

This is the revelation that Paul has being building up to – the crescendo of all the evidence that we are unrighteous and cannot be righteous by works – the fact that we can have the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ.  If we place our faith in Jesus Christ, irrespective of our actions, our sins, our lifestyle, we become righteous.  We can stand before God as if we never sinned, as if we lived a perfect lifestly.  We can stand before God and be declared innocent.  We can go to heaven when we die and enjoy heaven on earth.  And it does not come by working for it, it comes by faith.

23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Nearly every Christian knows Romans 3.23 and knows that our sin, which everyone has committed, mean we fall short of the glory of God.  Very very few Christians know Romans 3.24 which says that we are justified (made righteous) freely by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

Our sin cut us off from the glory of God.  Jesus Christ has now made us righteous if we believe in him, and we are now plugged back into the glory of God.

25Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

This is some of the much powerful and beautiful truths in the Bible.  The word propitiation means: a sacrifice that deals with wrath.  Can you understand how powerful this is?  Jesus’ sacrifice has completely dealt with the wrath of God.  The wrath of God is the element of the justice of God that demands that every act of unrighteousness must be punished.  Jesus, on the cross, bore the entire wrath of God, the entire punishment for the unrighteousness of every single human being in the entire world.

If you believe in Jesus you are declared completely righteous – no matter whether you have been religious or not, no matter your background, your history or anything.

26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Remember that the word just means the same as the word righteous.  This verse paraphrased is saying: God is righteous and if you believe in Jesus, God will make you righteous too.

This is not a process.  This is an instant event the moment you place your faith in Jesus Christ you become totally righteous.  You become as innocent as God.  You become as right with God as Jesus was, as right with God as someone who has never sinned.  You will go to heaven when you die, and start to enjoy heaven on earth.

27Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

People who are self-righteous, the people Romans 2 was aimed at, boast.  They are people Jesus referred to who pray at night “I thank you I am not like…”.  But people who know the truth that they could do nothing to become righteous, but that they have received perfect righteousness by believing in Jesus don’t boast.

28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

This is Paul’s argument and something that every Christian needs to meditate on: you are not right with God because of any deed or action, but only by faith.  Many Christians still feel that God does not love them because they have acted a certain way – rubbish! You are righteous because of Jesus, not because of your actions.

Many Christians are striving to do this and do that to make God love them, hoping that God will receive them.  Waste of time – God loves you and receives you on the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus, and only on the sacrifice of Jesus.  You are righteous because of Jesus.  When you lay hands on the sick, don’t think “well, I have done this wrong this week, and lost my temper this week and done this and that, so God won’t come through” – that is nonsense.  Rather think, “I am right with God because of what Jesus has done, I can live in victory because of what Jesus has done, I can ask and receive because of Jesus.”

The devil and your own flesh will accuse you and pressure you.  To be a good Christian, to get your prayers answered you have to live right, you have to do this and that, and not do that and this.  It is all a lie.  The truth of the gospel is that you are loved and accepted by God and declared and made righteous, totally innocent before God, because of Jesus.  There is nothing you can do that will make God love you and accept you less; there is nothing you can do that will make God love you and accept you more.

It has nothing to do with your actions: you are righteous right now if you believe in Jesus.  His shed blood has made propitiation and satisfied God’s wrath.  You cannot and will not be punished in any way for any sin you have committed or will commit.  You are righteous.

29Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

30Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

This process of being justified – made and declared right and innocent – is available to the Jew and to the Gentiles.  Whether you have been religious and a goody-two-shoes all your life, or whether you have been the most selfish scumbag who ever lived, you need and have access to the grace of God through Jesus Christ that makes you righteous before God.

31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Does this mean the law is now useless?  No – it means the law is in its right place.  It is not there to show you how to live right, it is there to show you that you cannot live right.  It is there to condemn you and show you that you are unrighteous no matter how religious you are.  It is there to shut your mouth and shut up all your bragging about how wonderful you are and to make you realize that you, just like me, just like every human on the planet, need a new way of being righteous.  The way of faith.

Tomorrow we will follow Paul’s argument as he convinces us from one of the most famous characters in the Old Testament that your actions have nothing to do with your right standing with God.  You are righteous due to the work of Jesus Christ.  You are completely righteous the moment you believe in Jesus and that cannot be added to or taken away from by what you do.

If you realize this truth, the truth will make you free.  Free from striving, free from fear, free from condemnation, free from feeling yucky, dirty and defeated.  Free to walk in truth and love.  Free to pray and know your prayer will be answered.  Free to lay hands on the sick and see them recover.  Free to be as bold as a lion.  Free to enjoy your relationship with God.  The price has been paid, the wrath has been satisfied.  You are declared innocent.

You will be in heaven when you die and enjoy heaven on earth.  Not because of anything you have done or ever will do.  But because of what Jesus has done on the cross 2000 years ago.

Praise His name forevermore!

Spurgeon on Righteousness by Grace through faith

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And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1, KJV)

Spiritual life is not the result of working; how can the dead work for life? Must they not be quickened [i.e. regenerated] first, and then will they not rather work from life than for life? (emphasis mine) Life is a gift, and its bestowal upon any man must be the act of God. The Gospel preaches life by Jesus Christ.

Sinner, see where you must look! You are wholly dependent upon the quickening Voice of Him Who is the Resurrection and the Life. “This,” says one,” is very discouraging to us.” It is intended so to be. It is kindness to discourage men when they are acting upon wrong principles.

As long as you think that your salvation can be effected by your own efforts, or merits, or anything else that can arise out of yourself, you are on the wrong track, and it is our duty to discourage you. Remember that God’s declaration is that “whosoever believeth in Jesus hath everlasting life.” If, therefore, you are enabled to come and cast yourselves upon the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, you have immediately that eternal life which all your prayers, tears, repentance, church-goings, chapel-goings, and sacraments could never bring to you.

Jesus can give it you freely at this moment, but you cannot work it in yourself. You may imitate it and deceive yourself; you may garnish the corpse and make it seem as though it were alive, and you can galvanize it into spasmodic motion, but life is a divine fire, and you cannot still the flame or kindle it for yourself; it belongs to God alone to make it alive, and therefore I charge you, look alone to God in Christ Jesus.
(At the Master’s Feet, January 22)

Run Through Romans (chapter 3:1-21)

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In Romans 1, Paul tells us two rather alarming truths: firstly, that all the nations of the world are involved in a spiral of increasing unrighteousness.  Secondly, that the justice of God means that God must punish all unrighteousness.

In Romans 2, Paul destroys any hope that religion or religious ritual might protect us from the wrath of God.  Everyone has done unrighteous deeds therefore everyone is unrighteous, therefore everyone must be judged by God as guilty and sentenced accordingly.

In Romans 3, Paul now shows that both Jew (religious people) and Gentile (unreligious people) are unrighteous.  He further nails down anyone who might be trying to say “I am not that bad” by looking at every single person on the earth and pointing out: “Yes, you are that bad.”

But also in Romans 3, Paul lets us see the light at the end of the tunnel.  He lets us see that although no human being can stand before God innocent and be acquited because of their perfect lifestyle, maybe there is an alternative route to being righteous.  Let’s run through the text:

1What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?

 2Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. #

Because Paul in Romans 2 is so scathing of the ineffectiveness of religion, and in particular the Jewish religion, that he feels he must say that there is benefit in being religious.  There is a benefit in being part of the Jewish nation, and the benefit is this: the Jewish people were trusted with the oracles (the words) of God.  The Jewish people were trusted to receive the Word of God and preserve it.   Here Paul is talking about the Old Testament, more specifically the law of God.  The Jewish people were told the whole law of God – all 613 commandments. 

None of the other nations knew about God’s laws, although we know from Romans 1 that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for being unrighteous due to the conscience and creation.  However, the Jews were trusted with all of God’s law.  Psalm 19 tells us that the law of the Lord is perfect.  The Jews were given something perfect: a perfect standard of how to live a perfect live. 

 3For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

Now Paul is saying that just because people did not receive or accept the law, and because the Jewish people many times rejected the law, that doesn’t actually matter.  God had faith in them, God gave them the law, God’s law is still the perfect standard.

This lie seems to have permeated our society.  That if we reject God’s law and decide it is not real or not for today or whatever, that we think that the law doesn’t apply.  But crimes against the law of God are statutory crimes – whether you know the law or not, it still exists.  You would have a better chance of assuming that gravity is not for today or not real and jumping off the top of Canary Wharf and flying around London than assuming that God’s laws are not for today or not real and expecting to survive the judgment day of the Lord.

Sean McDowell used an excellent illustration of this in a sermon I heard recently.  He said that society treats God’s law and God’s revelation like ice cream flavours – you have your favourite flavour and I have mine, and it doesn’t really matter.  However, he says that God’s law and God’s revelation are more like a medical prescription.  You cannot just choose which medicine you like – you have to take the medicine prescribed or you will not recover.  God’s law is real and relevant – just because the laws of the nation have changed does not mean God’s law has changed.

 4God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Or more simply put: if you disagree with God about the standard to be righteous, then you are wrong and God is right.  Here Paul quotes Psalm 51.4, which in the NLT reads: “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” You have to realize that one day you will stand before God and he will declare you righteous or unrighteous.  If you try and stand based on your good deeds, you will be found unrighteous because you have sinned.  You have done the things listed in Romans 1.  You have broken the Ten Commandments: you have told lies, you have stolen things which are not yours, you have used the Lord’s name as a swear word. 

Now if you say that these standards for whatever reason do not apply to you, then God is telling the truth and you are lying.  God will win the court case and you will be sentenced to hell.

 5But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)

This is a powerful argument Paul is making.  Many people have shyed away from hell, and mocked hellfire preachers.  Now Jesus said more about hell than anyone else in the Scripture, so are people who are not talking about hell being Christ-like?  No.  However, I will qualify this: Jesus spoke about hell to his disciples, not when preaching the gospel.  When he preached the gospel, Jesus Christ healed the sick and preached about the kingdom of God.  He preached the gospel, which means good news.  At this stage in our study of Romans, we have not actually gone through what the gospel is fully, though we have spent time on it while looking at Romans 1.16-17.  All that needs to be said is that you don’t evangelise by telling people: you are going to hell.

Why? Because telling people that they are going to hell makes no sense to them.  They don’t know the law of God mostly.  They don’t know that they are unrighteous.  Telling someone who is not aware they are guilty that they are going to receive a sentencing is nonsensical and they will not listen. 

If however, you explain to someone the way Paul has done through Romans 1-3 that they are unrighteous because they have broken the perfect law of God and that religious acts and good deeds cannot make them innocent, then they are likely to listen to you.  Their own conscience will start to remind them of the times they have done things that they did not want to do, and the Holy Spirit will be hovering over them and convincing them of sin, and then they are open to the gospel.

What Paul is essentially saying in this verse is that because we are unrighteous, because we are guilty – then for God to judge us on judgment day shows that God is righteous, that God is innocent.  If a judge just let criminals off, that judge would be as guilty as the criminals.  Those people who expect mercy from God simply because He is good are mistaken: God is not going to show you mercy and the reason why He will not show you mercy is because He is good.  His goodness means that He must punish all unrighteousness.

 6God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?

 7For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

The more we reject God’s judgment and act unrighteousness, the more truthful God will be when He judges us for being unrighteous.

 8And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

Paul is saying here: if our sin makes God act in a good way, the answer is not to sin as much as you can.  When we reach Romans 6, we will deal with this fully.

 9What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;

In Romans 1, Paul shows us the Gentiles are all unrighteous.  In Romans 2, Paul shows us the Jews are all unrighteous.  Just in case you have missed the point, Paul is about to show that everyone is unrighteous:

 10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

 12They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

 13Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

 14Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

 15Their feet are swift to shed blood:

 16Destruction and misery are in their ways:

 17And the way of peace have they not known:

 18There is no fear of God before their eyes.

The above description applies to every human being on the earth.  It applies to you and it applies to me.  Verse 10 sums up Romans 3 – there is none righteous, no, not one.  This is the key message of this chapter: if you think you are righteous, if you think on judgment day you will be found innocent before God, you are completely wrong.  I will not go through vv. 11-18, but if you have any shred of self-righteousness – if you believe you could be worthy before God on the basis of your goodness – I suggest you read it, meditate on it and study it until you know that there is nothing in you that could please or impress God.

 19Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Now Paul is telling us something very important.  The whole purpose of holding your life up to the law of God and showing you that you are unrighteous, that you do not fear God, that you do not live right, that you will be judged on the day of judgment is for one reason only: so that you will have your mouth stopped and be guilty before God.

The law was not given to you because God knew that if He only gave you enough strict instructions you would be able to obey them all and please Him.  The law was given to you because God knew that you can not obey it and that the law would shut your mouth and show you that you are guilty before God.

Before the law of God was revealed through Moses, people did not shut their mouth and did not think they were guilty before God.  Cain was protected by God after he murdered Abel, and Cain’s descendent felt that meant he could murder who he liked.  And in today’s society, generally a lawless society, people do not shut their mouths – they say things that are so inappropriate, so disrespectful to God.  They do not know they are guilty.

This is such a key point.  Many Christians still feel that they impress God with their actions.  No – the law was not given so you could impress God by keeping it.   The law was given so that you know that you could never impress God by keeping it.  You could never do all the things in it.  You could never even keep the Ten Commandments.

 20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Can you see Paul’s point?  By doing good things no flesh – not you, not me, not Mother Theresa, not anyone shall be justified.  The word justified simply means “made righteous” or “declared innocent”.  Can you see the purpose of the law – it is not for you to obey and for God to give you brownie points for obeying it so well.  It is to show you beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are not innocent before God at all.  You are guilty.  You are unrighteous.  You are damned to hell by God’s goodness and justice and righteousness because you are unrighteous.

 21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Romans 1-3 is a serious message, and it needs to be understood.  You are not righteous because of your actions.  You are not righteous because of your religious rituals.  You are certainly not righteous because of your attempts to obey God’s law.  You are unrighteous because of your actions.  Your religious rituals cannot change the fact that your actions have made you unrighteous and guilty.  Your attempts to follow God’s law cannot undo your unrighteous actions and besides you fail to follow the law again and again.  The purpose of the law was not to show you a way to be good, but to show you that you are not good.

When you truly understand that, and only when you understand that, are you ready for the good news of the New Testament.  And this is the good news of the New Testament in one sentence: But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested.  Paul spends three chapters stripping every human being – religious or not, Jew or Gentile – of any form of self-righteousness.  Self-righteousness is your attempt to stand before God and presumptiously declare yourself good enough for God based on your actions.  If you can read Romans 1-3 and still feel you can stand before God and declare yourself good enough for God based on your actions, you must be spiritually blind and have a very hard heart.

But once you realize that there is nothing you can do to make yourself good enough for God and that you are unrighteous and deserve hell on earth and hell when you die, Paul then decides you are ready for the good news: there is another way to be right with God that has nothing at all to do with the law of God.  In fact, it has nothing to do with anything you can do or have ever done or ever will do. 

And tomorrow, we will examine what this way is.

As always any questions or comments are more than welcome.

Every blessing,

Ben

What is Righteousness?

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As we Run through Romans in the next few weeks, one of the key questions that we will be examining in detail is: how can someone be righteous before God?

However, this question immediately brings a question: what is righteousness?

The Greek word generally translated righteousness is dikaiosynē (pronounced die-kai-o-soon-ey) and Strong’s dictionary tells us it means:

“the condition of being acceptable to God”

This is a brilliant definition of righteousness: if you are righteous, then you are in a condition acceptable to God. You could say it like this: if you are righteous then God accepts you. God only accepts righteous people. He rejects unrighteous people. Righteous people enjoy heaven on earth and go to heaven when they die. Unrighteous people endure hell on earth and go to hell when they die.

The word righteous is a religious cliche in many churches. A cliche is simply a word or phrase that people use without thinking, that does not make an impact on someone’s thinking or emotions. Sometimes it is good to use synonyms for cliches to help us appreciate their meaning.

The word righteous means right with God. It means you are totally accepted by God. It means you are treated by God as if you have never sinned, as if you are totally innocent. It means you can stand in the presence of God without fear or without shame, it means you can stand in the presence of Jesus without any sense of inferiority or lack. It means you can stand in the presence of the devil and every demon without any fear, without any sense of defeat or despair. It means God accepts you.

A righteous person prays and it happens (James 5), a righteous person is as bold as a lion (Proverbs 28.1), the righteous are blessed by God (Psalm 5.12), the Lord looks on the righteous and He listens to their prayers (Psalm 34.15), righteous people are glad (Psalm 64.10), the righteous flourish (Psalm 72.7), his work leads to life and fruitfulness (Proverbs 10.16), the righteous shall never be removed (Proverbs 10.30), the righteous are delivered out of trouble (Proverbs 11.18), in the house of the righteous is much treasure (Proverbs 15.6).

The righteous enjoy heaven on earth and when they leave the earth will go to heaven. The unrighteous endure hell on earth and when they leave the earth will go to hell.

Now you realize how important righteousness is – unless you are righteous you will not enjoy heaven on earth or ever enter heaven – now you will hopefully want to pay careful attention as we run through Romans and answer the most important question that can be asked: how can a person be made righteous? The answer is not what religion claims it is.

Blessings,
Ben

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