What is Righteousness? (part 2)

So how is it, then, that we can be 100% righteous in our POSITION, but must constantly strive towards righteousness in our CONDITION?  We understand that the Bible is our “How To” guide on EXACTLY what a righteous life looks like, but how can we be both ‘all’ and ‘nothing’ at the same time?

Let’s first understand the righteousness of our POSITION in Christ.  As you saw on the graph, when we open our hearts to the understanding of God’s love and accept Jesus Christ, we are saved. And IMMEDIATELY, our righteousness shoots up to 100% and remains there until we die.  This is because, when we truly believe in the Son of God and believe in the opportunity of salvation, we are FILLED with the Holy Spirit! We spoke about this before–we are emptied of ourselves and we are filled with the Spirit! We are saved and our souls are sealed and protected from that point on. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Wow…WOW. So when this occurs, when we make the conscious choice to believe, we are 100% righteous in God’s eyes. How? Because He no longer sees us. He sees His Son in us. And His Son, Jesus Christ, is completely righteous.  So, in God’s eyes, our souls are 100% righteous and we are instantaneously forgiven. Forgiven for everything…forgiven for our past, forgiven for our present, forgiven for our sins to come.  THAT is the power of Jesus Christ and what His life did for us.  It offers every single person on this earth LIMITLESS forgiveness and grace, if they simply believe.  It offers us a seat next to the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE for all of eternity.  All it takes is one simple choice on our parts–a simple recognition that our life is far greater than ourselves.  A simple recognition that we are nothing without Him. A simple recognition that His sacrifice was not in vain, but was for the protection and freedom of our souls. With that simple recognition, we are saved. We are made anew and our lives here on earth can’t help but forever be changed.

Now we understand that our POSITION in Christ is unshakable.  We are 100% righteous, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and we are saved. Every single one of us who chooses to believe. Why then, does the righteousness of our CONDITION seem so volatile and inconsistent?

The answer to that lies in a topic we discussed before–our flesh. We are human. Every single one of us. And, since we are human, we are stuck in a form that is sinful. On top of THAT, we live in a world that is a whirlpool of sin! So we are stuck in a body that loves to sin, living in a world that sin thrives. Crap. We are 0 for 2 right off the bat. (Which should make you even MORE grateful that His forgiveness is offered so unconditionally, because without Him and His grace, we would be screwed from the get-go.) It is literally impossible to live an entire life free of sin.  Jesus Christ was the only man who ever has and ever will be capable of that.  Should that deter us from trying? Absolutely not.  And if you are truly filled with the Holy Spirit, the thought of just throwing in the towel and saying “Oh well, I’m saved anyways. No point in trying to fight these urges to sin…” shouldn’t even cross your mind.  Because, as believers, we must recognize the importance of our role on this earth.

We must live our lives, every minute of every day, working to thin that sinful flesh and grow in our level of righteousness.  We must strive, constantly, to live more and more like Christ. Will we mess up? Yes. Will we be discouraged? Constantly. Will we be criticized and judged and put down? Every single day. Should we allow that to affect us? NO WAY! 🙂 You see, this line of righteousness is so inconsistent because we, as humans, are inconsistent. And we are surrounded by temptation, lust, desire, greed, sin, and everything earthly, impure, and temporary. And, unfortunately, we are surrounded by people who buy into all of that and can’t grasp the concept that it’s all empty.  But should we allow those people, who act in ignorance and unbelief, to affect us?…Or should we take the opportunity to share God’s love and grace and affect THEM? (I choose plan B!)

Lives can be changed and people can be saved if we, as believers, can be brave enough and bold enough in our faith to constantly strive towards righteousness in our condition and let God’s light shine on others. We, as humans, are the primary vessels for God’s light to other humans.  That is the importance of our level of righteousness in our condition.  If we can strive to live more like Christ, then Christ’s light will be able to reflect through us.  Through our actions, through our words, through our relationships, through everything.  And we won’t even always be aware of it! We can affect more people than we will ever know if we simply look in a mirror and work on ourselves.  If we simply open the Bible, understand the words, and work really hard to apply them.

IT’S NOT OUR JOB TO IMPRESS GOD. He already views us as 100% righteous. He recognizes we will mess up. He recognizes we will sin.  He recognizes we can’t do it perfectly. But our seat in heaven is assured.  We don’t have to “prove” anything to Him. It is impossible to “gain favor” with God.  We are already saved and assured salvation when we accept His Son.  IT IS OUR JOB TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THAT UNBELIEVABLE SALVATION AND TO ALLOW HIM TO USE US FOR HIS WILL.  It IS our job to work to thin our flesh.  It IS our job to turn away from the darkness and strive towards the light.  To humble ourselves and recognize we are nothing without Him. It IS our job to set an example for others and to teach as much as we can.  To WALK THE WALK, not just TALK THE TALK.  To grow and to learn and to live for HIM!

The level of our righteousness in our CONDITION is largely determined by us.  And it is completely indicative of the depth of our faith and our commitment to God’s will.  We aren’t trying to impress God, we are trying to show Him to others.  We are His vessels. We are his tools. We are His children.  And it’s our job to take even the slightest bit of the burden Jesus Christ carried and GLORIFY HIM!

So let’s stop making excuses. Let’s strive to thin that flesh. Let’s strive to improve our condition.  Let’s strive to glorify Him and serve Him.  To thank Him for the undeserved, unbelievable grace that He offers us. Let’s strive to live righteous lives!

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What is Righteousness? (part 1)

If you look back at the “Position .v. Condition in Christ” posts, you may recall that the y-axis of the graph identified our measurement of our “righteousness”. The graph showed that when we are saved, our POSITION in Christ shoots up to 100% righteousness. It also showed that our CONDITION in Christ, or our journey as Christians, worked throughout our lives to climb higher on the “righteousness scale”, but it bumped and stumbled along the way. Understanding this visual helps us understand what righteousness really is.

So then, what is righteousness? How is it defined? What’s the simple definition? How can we be both 100% righteous, and still waiver and grow and stumble in our level all at the same time? How does righteousness define our walk as Christians?

In the simplest of terms, Jesus Christ was 100% righteous. He was completely Godly. He was literally the Son of God. He came to earth to set an example for exactly how humans should live in order to please God. He basically set the perfect example for us. He lived a completely righteous life. And his actions and teachings were all recorded in the Bible. Therefore, OUR level of righteousness is determined by how “Christ-like” we live our lives. How well we follow His example. As Matthew 4:4 clarifies, it is living by every word of God–living according to God’s perfect law. In other words, striving to live like Jesus Christ lived–living a life of faith, love, and obedience.

As I said in an earlier post, 1 and 2 Timothy are FANTASTIC resources for defining why we should strive for righteousness. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 says,

“But you, man of God, flee from all that is of the world and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith.”

2 Timothy 2:22 goes on to say…

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

And, finally, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 lays out exactly how we can work towards righteousness by saying,

“All scripture is god-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

WOW! Beautiful scripture. So what does all of this mean? In the most basic of terms, it means that, in order to live as righteous as we can, and allow Christ’s light to shine through us as bright as it can, we must strive to live like Christ lived. How do we know what all that entails? THE BIBLE! It’s like a “How To” guide! haha. And what is most beautiful about it is that it is the living, breathing word of God. So, every time we open its pages, the words can hold different meanings and interpretations for our personal journey. But that is why the Bible is so important. That is why studying, digging in the Word, and learning is so crucial. If we want to live as righteously as possible, as we should all strive to do, we have to engage ourselves in His Word for guidance and growth.

A wonderful spiritual mentor of mine once taught me a great lesson…picture a chair. You can look at it, touch it, walk around it, lean on it, see it from every angle, feel it, and so on. And, in doing this, you may have an idea of what that chair can do. BUT, you will NEVER fully understand the magnitude of that chair’s purpose until you sit in it. You will never be capable of understand the comfort and relief and support and use of that chair, until you USE it. Now apply that metaphor to the Bible. We can glance in it, pull little verses out of it here and there, carry it around, flip through it…but we will never understand the magnitude of the Bible until we USE it–until we study it, read it, APPLY it into our lives, learn from it, and truly BELIEVE it! And in doing that, we can strive for righteousness. We can truly learn how to live like Christ!

If righteousness is defined as how Christ-like we are living, we must learn how to actually live more Christ-like by studying His Word–studying how it’s done. We can grow SO MUCH in our condition