Sunday, February 23, 2020

Growing in Understanding of Righteousness: 2008 and Today

In 2008, I started learning about the gift of righteousness.

I credit Joyce Meyer with helping me to understand my standing in Christ in this regard.

I learned that I am the righteousness of God in Christ when I read 2 Corinthians 5:21. It was really something!

I then learned that all of these blessings come our way because of this wonderful gift of righteousness.

But from there, I did not understand fully what it means to be justified.

I was still stuck in my feelings. I used to believe that God's presence would come or go in my life depending on what I was thinking, what I was feeling. I took Isaiah 26:3 in a very strange direction, to the point that it was debilitating for my mind:

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26:3)

I literally thought that I had to be thinking about God, or He would not keep me in perfect peace. The mental anguish was just too much for me. Sometimes, I look back on those times and have to wonder how I lived through those difficult times.

But I did make it ... barely.

I felt that God's presence, blessings, favor would come or go in my life. Everything depended on me. Worrying had been such a natural status of life. It would be many years before I learned to realize, to recognize, to become aware that God is always with me. It's never been about feelings. It's never been about thinking. It's all about believing!

At the time, ten years ago, I believed that my righteousness, my righteous standing would come and go. I was still struggling with the seemingly mixed messages in the New Testament.

For example, Matthew shares in his Gospel account:

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)

So, I am supposed to seek His kingdom and His righteousness ...

But wait! Luke records:

"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)

God wants to give me His kingdom? OK, I like this, but why is their a seeming conflict in God's word on these matters?

And of course:

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

This confusion provided a perverse opportunity for the Enemy to lead me astray in all too many ways. I was supposed to seek His righteousness, but I was made the righoteusness of God in Christ, What gives? What is going on here?

And I did not understand what righteousness meant.

This confusion and conflict created such contention within me.

Today, though, I understand. 

First, righteousness means that all my sins have been put away -- past, present, and future. It means that I will never bee punished, condemned, or harmed for any wrongdoing, action, or thought. This revelation would have been too much for me back then. I was so worried about doing the wrong thing, or going the right way. I didn't know how to rest, how to trust God's direction and leading in my life.

These nagging thoughs would never leave me: "Are you sure that you are doing the right thing?" "What if you make a mistake?" What if this is not God's will?"

These pressings questions really bothered me, because I was constantly bottled up with this false, limited understanding about how great, how moving, how active, how available God is to me. I also didn't know my heritage, my standing, my new identity in Christ Jesus.

Today, all of that has changed.

I understand that righteousness is a gift, and a gift which I keep receiving:

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)

Something else that often held me back was that I would fail, sin, do something wrong. But here's the thing -- my righteous standing before God has nothing to do with what I do!

This verse took on even greater significance for me:

"But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Romans 4:5)

The righteousness that God has made me, has nothing--absolutely NOTHING--to do with me. It's all about Jesus. It's all about what He has done. I received His life, having received His death at the Cross in my place for me.

Jesus is actively releasing favor, grace, life, love to me, too! This part was missing for me, too! I never understood how actively He is in love with me. We cannot understand the richness of His love for us, however, if we do not understand the fullness of His righteousness accorded to us.

When I first wrote this post, I had written the title "Growing in Righteousness."

However, we do not grow in righteousness. Our standing is perfect in Christ, for we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. For this reason, John wrote in his First Epistle:

"Herein is love perfected among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)

These revelations came at me fast and furious as I was watching more of Pastor Joseph Prince, and taking in so much of his revelations from God's Word. Those were exciting times!

Here I am ten years later, and it's really wonderful how far God has taken me. I never realized how loving, active, real He is in my life. For the longest time, this sense of demand, dread, even fear about the next and the days to come were so strong, to prevalent in my life, in my mind. "What about tomorrow? What will happen tomorrow?" Those nagging thoughts, I now realize, were mere temptations, nothing more. I would feel condemned about those thoughts, feeling that I had to do something about them, prove them wrong, dispel them in some fashion.

I have since then learned to ignore those frustrations and fears, and they have all fallen away. I have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I do not have to change what I am thinking or feeling for God to be real, alive, and available to me. My identity before Him has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Him!

This is how I have grown in understanding the grace of God, the gift of righteousness, and the person of Jesus in my life. It's amazing how so many of us in the body of Christ will still live our lives as though everything is up to us.

No! Everything becomes a gift, and our loving Father simply asks us to receive from Him!

I had spent so much time trying to hold onto God, to make sure that He was ever-present in my life. Yet He is my life! How could He not be present?! It took me a long time to understand all of this, to understand the eternal, wonderful privileges and joys I receive because of His righteousness.


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