May 23, 2024


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Rev. Innocent Chukwudi Peace-Udochukwu
President of Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”
Isaiah 60:1

According to the Bible mankind’s greatest need is for righteousness, that is, to be in right-standing, or a right-relationship with a Holy God.

To many people the thought of righteousness is like the thought of moral perfection ‘ something that is unattainable.

They think that because it’s something that is unattainable it’s also threatening, because it is perceived to be something that is expected of us, yet something we can never accomplish.

The Bible teaches that ‘righteousness’ is a ‘gift’, and that this gift is ‘God’s abundant provision.’ It is something that he gives to us, not something that he requires of us.

It is required, yes. It is essential, yes. But it is not provided by us, it is given to us by God himself.

This gift of ‘righteousness’ is God’s declaration that we are legally acquitted ‘ declared ‘not guilty’ even though we are guilty.

This ‘not guilty’ declaration is given by God to those who believe.

Matthew 5:20
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

What kind of righteousness do we need to have in order to exceed that of the Pharisees? Especially since the Bible says in Romans 3:10 that there is no one righteous, not even one!

Do you think Jesus was saying you need to try really hard to be righteous and if you perform greater than the Pharisees then you will attain perfect righteousness and be able to go to heaven?

Absolutely not! The Bible is very clear that no one is righteous of themselves.

So, what kind of righteousness was Jesus saying we need to possess in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Nothing less than the perfect righteousness of God!

Anything less is an inferior righteousness that will keep us out of the Kingdom of God. God has made a way for all mankind to enter his Kingdom and walk in a relationship with him.

It’s called the gift of his righteousness that makes us perfect in righteousness and enables us to draw near to God!

Righteousness is a gift we receive not a reward we achieve.

“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”
Romans 3:19-22

There are only two kinds of righteousness. Only one of them is true righteousness.

There is self righteousness, which is man’s attempts to be righteous through works of the law, then there is God’s perfect righteousness which is a gift we receive by faith.

Our self righteousness is like filthy rags to God and can never make us truly righteous. Not even slightly.

It’s an absolute offense to the Cross to believe that we can earn God’s righteousness.

The only thing that can make us righteous is the gift of his righteousness and it is simply received through faith and never works.

“…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
Philippians 3:9

If you struggle, as many believers do, with whether you deserve to be blessed, favored, and victorious, you are asking the wrong question.

The Bible proclaims, “as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). Does Jesus deserve to be blessed, favored, healed and victorious?

Then so do you! This is what being in Christ Jesus means. It means that today, God assesses you and sees you based on the perfection of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ righteousness is your righteousness.

In fact, the Bible explains that because Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us, we are now the righteousness of God in Christ (see 2 Cor. 5:21).

Righteousness” is a legal term. It means to have right standing before God. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words defines righteousness as “that gracious gift of God to men whereby all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are brought into right relationship with God.”

In other words, your right standing before God is based upon Jesus’ right standing before God.

And do you know what happens when you receive this gift of righteousness?

The Bible declares that “those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ”
(Romans 5:17).

Hey, when you reign, your addictions don’t. When you reign, sicknesses don’t. When you reign, fear, depression, and every obstacle that is obstructing you from living your life to the fullest will be torn down and flushed out!

It is the will of God that all His children rise and shine in righteousness unto a greater height and in all areas of life showing forth His purpose and glory in order to attract others to the kingdom.

“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee”
Isaiah 60:2

It is possible to fall into sin, error, or failure. Whichever is the case God is willing to draw you out so that those positions will only be temporary and are not meant to be the end or the final state of your life.

The reason we must rise and shine in a hostile world is we belong to The Lord God Almighty who was, and is, and always shall be. We are not standing against a hostile world alone! He stands with us, and when we stand close to Him, we are surrounded by a power and authority no amount of pressure and persecution can touch.

It is not uncommon for people to have low self-esteem. People can draw their sense of value and worth from a number of different places.

We can draw our self-esteem from our own evaluation. That can go both ways. We can esteem ourselves as much better than we are (usually, by far!), or we can esteem ourselves too harshly.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? Some see a person superior to all others (we call these people narcissists). Others however dwell on flaws. They don’t look at the beautiful features of their frame, they see the blemishes, the little extra weight, the bags under the eyes, the frizzy hair and on and on it goes. Still others look at the person in the mirror and see failure, someone beyond recovery, or a person with nothing to offer the world.

The Bible would say to all who don’t like the person they see in the mirror: “Hey, you are fearfully and wonderfully made! You are a person Christ died for. You are a child of God, and you should not live beneath the privilege that is yours because of Christ.” I’ve said this many times and I will say it many more times: “The truest thing about you is what God says about you!” Nothing else matters. There is no authority higher. When the Lord speaks, the highest court of all has spoken. There are no more appeals. When He attributes value to you, no one can take that value away from you.

When we remember that we are His people, who have His righteousness and glory shining on us, His mercy cleansing us, and we have been filled with His splendor and are made beautiful forever, it changes our entire approach to life. It doesn’t matter what names others call us for they are temporary and not true. We must learn to believe the Lord and not trust even our own opinion about ourselves, much less, the opinion of others.

The one who shines as the possessor of God’s righteousness and image is not arrogant but humble. They are confident but not cocky. They can overcome the barbs of the world because they know who they are in Jesus Christ.

I don’t know what the future holds for the people of God, but we do know who holds the future. That is our comfort, our confidence, and the conviction that enables us to arise and shine for Christ in our decaying world.