I Am The Righteousness of God In Christ Jesus
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17 - 21
Sunday 24th August 2014
This group of messages in response to the Maximise Life 2014 messages on grace, starting with the first one ‘His Grace is Sufficient’ has evolved into a series. Last week, we examined the message ‘I Am Blessed of the Lord’ from Ephesians 1:3 and concluded that we’ve been blessed by God with every spiritual blessing. These blessings include being adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven by God. We also have access to Him, an inheritance from God, and the Holy Spirit resides within us. These promises have already been given to us, and our response should be to receive them and begin to walk in the realisation of this truth.
Today’s message, ‘I am the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus’ is a message that could be easily dismissed and considered irrelevant, but as I share this message with you, I pray that your inner ears will be receptive to God’s words concerning you. Many of us live sin consciously, as opposed to living in the blessings of God’s righteousness; hence we tend to overlook who we truly are in Christ. Consequently, as a result of not walking in the realities of the truth, that we are the righteousness of God, it becomes difficult to live a successful and victorious life. This is how it works; if you are not living in the fullness of this reality, of your righteousness in Christ, you will find it difficult to approach God. Instead, you will be dealing with condemnation, guilt and other distractions from the enemy.
A sin conscious life is driven by what the bible describes as ‘works’, such as ‘how much time can I spend praying?’, ‘How many times can I fast in a year?’ and other spiritual exercises in order to get God’s attention. God however does not respond to our works, but simply to our faith. Hebrews 11:6 puts it this way, ‘And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him’. Our lives reflect this faith, when we live righteousness conscious lives, and receive all that God has already done for us.
In this new season of grace and as a righteousness conscious people, our focus must be on God’s grace rather than on the law or works. Without this full awareness, we cannot approach His presence, where we are promised His fullness of joy.
Understanding your righteousness in God helps you to live victoriously, courageously and to exercise your authority in Christ. Besides, you can fully enjoy the time you spend in God’s presence. From our foundation scripture in 1 Corinthians 5:21, we can appreciate the great exchange that took place on the cross, when Jesus died in our place, becoming sin in our place: ‘ For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness]' – (Amplified). It is obvious, that our righteousness was initiated by God and not from any human idea. In other words, this is as a result of what God has done.
The conclusiveness of the great exchange by God has already taken place, once and for all. This is explained by the writer of the Hebrews as outlined in Hebrews 7:21-27. Here is verse 27 in the Amplified version: ‘He has no day by day necessity, as [do each of these other] high priests, to offer sacrifice first of all for his own [personal] sins and then for those of the people, because He [met all the requirements] once for all when He brought Himself [as a sacrifice] which He offered up’. Hebrews 9:16-17 (Message version) puts it this way; ‘Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.' Hebrews 27-28 (Message version) explains further: ‘Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever.’ See also Romans 3:21-22.
We can define righteousness as being in right standing with God. It further means to be justified, equitable, to be acquitted; the act of God declaring men as free from sin; and acceptable to him. We could further define righteousness as the nature of God, and this is the definition I would like to explore more today. Since we’ve been given the very nature of God, by Jesus Christ, we can now relate with Him. In Ephesians 2:2-4, we read about the nature that controls those under the influence of the devil, but once we become Christians, that nature is replaced by God’s very essence. A good example of nature is the ‘miracle’ of seeing newborns sucking milk, without being taught.
As a Christian, having the nature of Christ does not automatically exempt us from struggling with sin, and here is the reason why: On receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour, our spirit received redemption from God, and became ‘born again’. Our minds and body still remain unrefined and unyielding to God. Apostle Paul’s solution for this is explained in Romans 12:2 (Amplified) which reads: ‘Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. In order to live out the inherent renewed Spirit of God in you, a transformation of your mind needs to take place and this will subsequently begin to control your body and your life.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he touched on their non-spiritual nature, referring to them as immature believers. However, notice that he did not describe them as unrighteous. 'I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]; but even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it], for you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under the control of ordinary impulses]. For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and wrangling and factions among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men?' (1 Corinthians 3:2-3 Amplified). From this scripture, we can submit that it is possible to be a Christian, and still remain unspiritual. Hence, to enjoy the full life that you have in Christ, having been made righteous already (by being born again), you need to renew your mind, with the study of the word and living out Christ’s righteous life, already in you.
As the righteous believer, there are so many of Christ’s blessings that are available to us, which the enemy will rather prefer that we know nothing about. Here are a few benefits listed below, as outlined by these scriptures:
• Proverbs 10:24: The fear of the wicked will come upon him, and the desire of the righteous will be granted.
• Proverbs 11:28: He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage.
• Psalm 5:12: For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favour as with a shield. (NIV)
• Isaiah 3:10: "Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.
• Psalm 34:17: The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.
• Psalm 37:25: I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.
• Psalm 37:29: The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell in it forever.
• Psalm 37:39: But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble.
• Proverbs 13:21: Misfortune pursues the sinner, but prosperity is the reward of the righteous. (NIV)
• Proverbs 24:16: For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. (NIV)
• 1 Peter 3:12: For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
• Proverbs 28:8: The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.
• Isaiah 32:16-17: Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
In rounding up, I pray that we will all live in the righteous consciousness of what Christ has already done, walk in it and live by faith in accessing all that has already been provided for us, and shun sin completely (Amen). We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and this consciousness should guide us we live for Him daily.
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