You Are Righteous In Christ
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Philippians 3:2-9
Sunday 4th September 2016
We continue the on-going series ‘The Sufficiency of Grace’ today with a message titled ‘You Are Righteous In Christ.
Firstly, let’s read a foundation scripture from Philippians 3:2-9. ‘Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. ‘For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith’.
Our foundation scripture highlights the basis of our righteousness (or right standing) with God. Firstly, we are righteous as a result of our faith in Christ, not on the basis of keeping or observing the law. The word ‘righteousness’ can be defined as ‘being in right standing with God through Christ’ – it is the foundation of our intimate fellowship with God. Romans 5:1 reads: ‘Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)’ (AMPC). Secondly, our righteousness in Christ is our new identity in Him. Thirdly, our righteous position in Christ, gives us confidence before God. Fourthly, our righteousness in Christ gives us access to God’s grace. Romans 5:2 reads: ‘Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favour) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God’ (AMPC). And lastly, our righteous position in God, gives us assurance of victory. 1 Corinthians 15:57 put it this way: ‘But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (NIV). Also see 2 Corinthians 2:14-15.
Philippians 3:2-9 reveals five truths to us as believers:
(1) Our salvation is not by our works or self-effort, it is by faith: Since our salvation is not as a result of efforts, our right standing (or righteousness) is unsustainable by our efforts also. Our self-efforts cannot justify us. Our justification is based on the priceless finished work of Christ on the cross.
(2) True Circumcision (the basis for pleasing God) is not based on self-effort: True circumcision is initiated in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 3:7-9 reads: ‘The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would make the Gentiles right in his sight because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith’ (NLT).
(3) Our Confidence before God is not due to our efforts: Here is Philippians 3:3. It reads: ‘For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort’ (NLT).
(4) Our righteousness is not due to our obedience to the law, it is by faith in what Christ has done: Philippians 3:9 reads: ‘I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ’ (NLT).
(5) Our efforts and performance are worthless in comparison to what Christ has done: In our foundation scripture, in which St. Paul listed his credentials, he concluded by writing that his credentials are worthless in comparison to what Jesus has already done. He had to do this, because he realised that as long as he held on to his achievements, he could not enjoy the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice for him. This is still true till today – every attempt to make ourselves righteous before God is simply worthless, without accepting Christ’s offer.
To illustrate this further, let’s read one of the parables of Jesus in Luke 18:9-14, which reads: ‘Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (NLT).
As I begin to round up, let’s take a close look at the position of privilege we now occupy by virtue of being declared righteous. Romans 3:21-28 in the Good News Translation reads: ‘But now God's way of putting people right with himself has been revealed. It has nothing to do with law, even though the Law of Moses and the prophets gave their witness to it. God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ, because there is no difference at all: everyone has sinned and is far away from God's saving presence. But by the free gift of God's grace all are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets them free. God offered him, so that by his blood he should become the means by which people's sins are forgiven through their faith in him. God did this in order to demonstrate that he is righteous. In the past he was patient and overlooked people's sins; but in the present time he deals with their sins, in order to demonstrate his righteousness. In this way God shows that he himself is righteous and that he puts right everyone who believes in Jesus. What, then, can we boast about? Nothing! And what is the reason for this? Is it that we obey the Law? No, but that we believe. For we conclude that a person is put right with God only through faith, and not by doing what the Law commands’.
Justification is the judicial act of God. In justifying us, God sits a judge - not as a Father, Saviour, Healer, Redeemer or King. It is in this position of a Judge that he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and regards them as righteous in Christ. In addition to the pardon of sin, each Christian is regarded as being in full compliance with the demands of the law. In other words, all the claims and expectations of the law are satisfied in respect to the justified person.
Genesis 26:1-5 reveals the beginning of the story of Isaac’s sojourn in Gerar after an instruction from God to stay in that land despite the raging famine in that season. Genesis 26:4-5 reads: “And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” As at that time, the law had not been given to the Israelites. Question: How did Abraham keep the law then? Here is the answer in Genesis 15:6 ‘And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness’. Also see Romans 4:22.
So when Abraham believed God, he was deemed to have obeyed God, kept his charge, his commandments, statues and laws. When we believe God, we also enjoy this privilege.
Deuteronomy 28:1-15 lists the blessings that we enjoy when we obey God. Here are some verses. “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God: “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country”. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.
So we are the righteousness of God because of what Christ has done for us. Our faith in the finished work of Christ, gives us the privilege of enjoying the blessings that obedience to God affords us (Amen).
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