IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD VERSUS SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Rev. Innocent Chukwudi Peace-Udochukwu President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness”
The word righteous means “to be in right standing with God.
God’s righteousness and our righteousness are polar opposites. Apart from Christ our right standing with God is impossible. It was Isaiah who said that our righteous acts are like filthy rags ( Isaiah 64:6 ). He was talking about self righteousness (the things we do to try to make us right with God). Self righteousness looks great on the outside and people notice it. Like the Israelites our churches are filled with people who look holy but solely trust in themselves to be good enough for God. They are seeking him based upon their righteousness and what they can accomplish for God. However God does not grade on a curve, our righteousness in no way compares to His.
Among those who profess to be religious, self-righteousness very frequently comes in, because they have not truly received the religion of Jesus Christ; if they were true believers they would be humble and contrite, for self-righteousness and faith in Christ are diametrically opposed. He that is saved by grace finds no room for glorying in himself. What saith the apostle? “Where is boasting, then? It is excluded.” The word is, it is shut out, it has the door shut in its face. A sinner washed in Jesus’ blood and clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, glories only in the Lord. He has done once for all with that particular form of sin which glories in self; it is detestable in his sight. His cry is “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As men who wear spectacles of coloured glass find all things tinted with their own hue, so does a self-righteous heart impart a tint to actions, till the worse appears the better, and sin glitters like righteousness.
Moreover, self-righteous men, like foxes, have many tricks and schemes. They condemn in other people what they consider to be very excusable in themselves. They would cry out against others for a tenth part of the sin which they allow in themselves.
Self-righteousness also denies the wisdom of God’s plan, and is utterly opposed to it. God’s present plan of working in the world goes upon the theory that we are guilty; being guilty, he provides a Saviour for us, and sends us a gospel full of grace. His whole system is a gigantic blunder if we are or can be righteous in and of ourselves. The work of the Holy Spirit is needless if we can be of ourselves fit for heaven. The whole character of this gracious dispensation is a mistake if man is not guilty. The man who says “I am righteous,” virtually casts a slur upon a work which is meant to be the highest display of the divine love and wisdom. He is like the Greek to whom the cross of Christ was “foolishness.” I venture to say that self-righteousness in effect makes Christ himself to be a superfluity, and this, my brethren, is the unkindest cut of all. This is a stab at the heart of the great Father. Did Jesus come down from heaven and take our nature because we were sinners, and in that nature did he give himself a sacrifice that he might put away sin, and was all this a mistake? Calvary, art thou a blunder? Bleeding Saviour, wert thou an amiable enthusiast, putting away sin which did not exist, and filling a fountain for the removal of stains which are not to be found? Yet self-righteousness involves all this. If one sinner has a right to be self-righteous so has another; and then it comes to this, that God should deal with us all on quite another theory, and instead of his dear Son coming to the world to die for us as sinners, we might all go to heaven without an atonement or a Saviour.
The irony of self-righteousness is that it trust in itself, it’s feelings, it’s emotions, it’s desires, it’s logic, and it’s understanding. So it never sees the error in its own ways. Therefore the unrighteous will always accuse the righteous of being self-righteous while having no understanding of true righteousness because they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.
What is the remedy for all this? The remedy is just this. God saith, “Behold me;” that is to say, he bids thee cease from doting upon thine own fancied beauties and worshipping thine own foolish image. Look first to the holy God and tremble. Canst thou, of thyself, ever be like him, pure, spotless, glorious? Canst thou ever hope to deserve anything of him? Look to him and despair. Then comes the second, “Behold me.” See Christ Jesus on the cross dying, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. As thou seest him dying thy self-righteousness will die. Thou wilt say, “He would never have suffered thus for me unless I had sin to repent of. God would never have put him to this grief for me unless I had been sadly guilty. I should never have wanted such a Saviour if I had not been a great transgressor. In the heights and depths of dying love I read the heights and depths of my accursed sin; in the infinity of the atonement I read the boundless blackness of my guilt, and lie humble before God. At the same time in that perfect righteousness divine, which has put away sin, I see the hope of a sinner, and as a sinner I look to Christ for everything.”
Until one stops trusting in themselves they can not start trusting in God, and will call those few that do “self-righteous”, while the truth is quite the opposite. Learn to not lean on your own understanding, stop following your own heart which is deceitfully wicked above all, therefor is always wrong, start seeking the Lord in all things, and trust in Him more than self even when it doesn’t make sense.
Trust that His wisdom is greater than yours, Trust that His justice is greater than yours, Trust that His power is greater than yours, trust that His knowledge is greater than yours, trust that His love is greater than yours, and trust that His plan is greater than yours. Trust that what He says is right and not what your heart says is right, for this is the righteousness of God.
Dictionaries define righteousness as “behavior that is morally justifiable or right.” Such behavior is characterized by accepted standards of morality, justice, virtue, or uprightness. The Bible’s standard of human righteousness is God’s own perfection in every attribute, every attitude, every behavior, and every word. Thus, God’s laws, as given in the Bible, both describe His own character and constitute the plumb line by which He measures human righteousness.
The Greek New Testament word for “righteousness” primarily describes conduct in relation to others, especially with regards to the rights of others in business, in legal matters, and beginning with relationship to God. It is contrasted with wickedness, the conduct of the one who, out of gross self-centeredness, neither reveres God nor respects man. The Bible describes the righteous person as just or right, holding to God and trusting in Him (Psalm 33:18–22).
The bad news is that true and perfect righteousness is not possible for man to attain on his own; the standard is simply too high. The good news is that true righteousness is possible for mankind, but only through the cleansing of sin by Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We have no ability to achieve righteousness in and of ourselves. But Christians possess the righteousness of Christ, because “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is an amazing truth. On the cross, Jesus exchanged our sin for His perfect righteousness so that we can one day stand before God and He will see not our sin, but the holy righteousness of the Lord Jesus.
This means that we are made righteous in the sight of God; that is, that we are accepted as righteous and treated as righteous by God on account of what the Lord Jesus has done. He was made sin; we are made righteousness. On the cross, Jesus was treated as if He were a sinner, though He was perfectly holy and pure, and we are treated as if we were righteous, though we are defiled and depraved. On account of what the Lord Jesus has endured on our behalf, we are treated as if we had entirely fulfilled the Law of God and had never become exposed to its penalty. We have received this precious gift of righteousness from the God of all mercy and grace. To Him be the glory!
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