Got Righteousness? Don’t be caught dead without it! HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS IS YOURS, if you’ll claim it!

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His Righteousness Is Yours!

Rev 09-23-16

Do you remember the mid-1960’s pop music singing duo, “The Righteous Brothers”?   They were the foremost pioneers of what was termed, half a century back, as “Blue-eyed Soul” music.  “The Righteous Brothers”  truly is a great tag for a show business act!

But … do you think “The Righteous Brothers” were righteous?  You knew that they weren’t brothers, didn’t you?  But were they righteous?  Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield   may have been “righteous” vocalists, but were they righteous in their characters?  Let’s take a peek at a man who was righteous.

 

By inspiration, the Apostle Paul says in Romans 4:3 “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness!  That is to say: Abraham took God at His word; he purposed in his heart – demonstrated a willingness – to obey without hesitation.  Therefore, God declared Abraham a righteous man.

 

But Paul  says in Romans 3:10-12  “As it is written, there is none  righteous, not one” – No, sadly, not even “The Righteous Brothers!”

Romans 3:23, 24  “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

And Romans 7:18, Paul confesses: “I know that in me dwelleth no good thing.”

Then, Isaiah 64:6 says, “… we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness  is as filthy rags.”

 

So, exactly what is righteousness?  Is it right-doing?  Is it the performance of good works?  The dictionary says it’s the state of being morally right, or justifiable.  Then, what about Abraham, who never actually carried out God’s command, and yet    he was deemed “righteous”?  How does that work?

 

Listen to this:  Proverbs 11:4  “Wealth will be worthless in The Day of the Lord,  but righteousness  will deliver from death.”  In The Living Bible  this passage reads: Your riches won’t help you on Judgment Day; only righteousness counts then.”  TLB   So how can this work out well for me?

 

According to God’s Word, we possess no righteousness whatsoever of our own.  And yet, listen to Ephesians 2:10:  “We are created in Christ unto good works … that we should walk in them.” This is God’s plan, His purpose for us!

 

So the question now becomes: How might “The Righteous Brothers”… or how might we … obtain righteousness?”  Where can righteousness be found?

 

Let’s go to a Wedding Feast – Matthew 22, Jesus is telling the story - 

 

          The Kingdom of Heaven is like this: There was a king who prepared a feast for his son’s wedding; but when he sent his servants to summon the guests he had invited, they would not come.  He sent others again, telling them to say to the guests, “See now!  I have prepared this feast for you.  I have had my bullocks and fatted beasts slaughtered; everything is ready; come to the wedding at once.”

          But they took no notice.  One went off to his farm, another to his business, and the others seized the servants, attacked them brutally and killed them.

          The king was furious … (to verse 8) … Then he said to his servants, “The wedding feast is ready, but the guests I invited did not deserve the honor.  (KJV: were not worthy)  Go out to the main thoroughfares, and invite to the wedding everyone you can find.”

          The servants went out into the streets and collected all they could find, good and bad alike, so the hall was packed with guests.

(It really gets good, now!)  But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?” And the man was speechless. Then the king said to his servants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”  

 

Have you ever heard of anyone getting tossed out of a wedding reception for being dressed improperly?  That sounds a bit harsh, but here’s some interesting background information, so that this parable will make a lot more sense:

 

Remember, this was a royal wedding, for the King’s son, and according to the custom of the time, along with the invitation to a royal wedding, the wedding garment was provided, at no cost, for each invited guest. There could be no legitimate excuse for a guest to be dressed inappropriately, because his host had supplied the garment, totally free of charge, and thus the King rightfully expected his guest to wear the robe provided for his son’s affair.  Scripture tells us that the guest “had nothing to say.”  What could he say?  He was speechless!

 

Be mindful too, that this parable illustrates, in symbols and representations, The Final Judgment.  The King is God the Father, preparing for the wedding banquet of His Son, Jesus – This is the Marriage Feast of the Lamb!  Jesus is the Bridegroom. And who is His bride? It’s His church – the Redeemed of the Lord – that’s us; it’s you and me – it’s those who abide in Christ, in His Body.

 

Now, in Biblical prophecy, clothes or vestments, represent character.  Let’s take a look at some examples of   clothing    representing one’s character:

 

We’ve already seen “all our righteousness is like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)

 

Look at this:  In Job 29:14, “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me.”

And there’s the prophet Zechariah’s vision, chapter 3: “Then He showed me Joshua, the high priest, standing before the Angel of the Lord . . . verse 3: Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments . . . verse 4: Then He  (the Angel) spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to Joshua, He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”  verse 5: So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the (clean) clothes on him.”  NKJV

 

So, what is the source of true righteousness?  Where does it come from?

 

Isaiah 61:10  “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;  my soul shall be joyful in my God;  for HE has clothed me in the garments of salvation;  HE has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Righteousness is the gift of God.

 

Do you remember The Wedding Feast? The robe was supplied along with the invitation.  Who was it who provided the wedding garment?  It was the King, wasn’t it?  And in that parable, Who did he represent?  God, the Father.

 

God wants us to know to a certainty that He is the source of righteousness.

 

Psalm 71:16  “… O Lord, I will proclaim Your righteousness, the only righteousness there is.”   The Lord is the source of all righteousness!   He possesses all the righteousness there is!  Because He is righteousness.

 

 

HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS IS MINE – W. W. Prescott  (Excerpted from his Victory in Christ)

 

Jesus, the Son of God, Who became the Son of Man, bestows His righteousness upon me  as an absolutely free gift.  As I meditate upon this, I know not how to express, in a worthy manner, the thoughts that throng my mind.  Without flaw, without defect,  His righteousness is perfect.

 

Jesus is the only Man of Whom this can be said.  And He wove this beautiful robe of righteousness that He might clothe me with it.  This is the wedding garment that the King furnishes for every guest.  When thus clothed, I can go in “with Him to the marriage feast” (Matthew 25:10)

 

My own garments are defiled with sin, and my own righteousness is as filthy rags.  He provides for me the white raiment, that the shame of my nakedness may not appear.  At infinite cost to Himself, but “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1),  He imparts to me the riches of heaven, the most precious treasure in the universe, His own righteousness.  This He does by giving Himself to me.  He Himself becomes my righteousness.   His righteousness, His life, and Himself are inseparable.  This increases my joyful wonder.  He does not divest Himself of what He bestows upon me.  He Himself is the gift.  He asks me to give myself to Him in order that He may give Himself to me.

 

The righteousness of Jesus is not a theological creed, but a living experience.  It not only changes my standing with God, but it also determines my conduct.  The gift of His righteousness is not an entry on the credit side of my ledger account in the books of heaven to balance a troublesome account, a transaction entirely devoid of any personal touch with me.  It has to do with my in-most being.  It purifies the current of my life, and sweetens my thinking, my speaking, and my doing.  It makes me a new creature in Christ Jesus.

 

When a gift of such infinite value is offered to me, what am I to do?    Accept it, of course.  Yes, but how?  There are four simple steps:  1)  I must admit my lost and helpless condition, and my need of more than human help;  2)  I must fully submit my will to God’s will;  3)  I must commit my life entirely into God’s hands;  4)  I must permit Him to reveal His righteousness, not only to me, but also in me.   Admit, submit, commit, permit – these are the steps, and they must be taken anew every day.

 

The real experience of a Biblical faith covers the whole ground.  By that kind of believing which takes God at His word and acts accordingly, I enter into the full possession of “the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9).  How God does His part, I can not explain.  How I can do my part, I know, and so do you.  “Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts”  (Hebrews 4:7)

 

“My Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

 

1 John 1:9 NAS  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all un-righteousness”.  (“… to remove all our filthy rags”)  Could we say that un-righteousness is a “wardrobe malfunction”?

 

When we surrender to Christ, when we invite Him in, to cleanse us from all our un-righteousness;   when we ask Him to remove our filthy rags   –  to place around us the robe of His righteousness, so that He may begin to reproduce in us His character and His goodness – then our behavior, our conduct, our words and our deeds, will serve as evidence of this change that He has wrought in us.

 

Our actions, our speech, our behavior  are evidence of our character – and that’s  before as well as  after our wardrobe  exchange!  Now,  here’s the old  1,  2.   Are you ready?

 

It’s the shed blood and the death of Jesus on the Cross at Calvary that cancels our sin debt; that cleanses us of all our un-righteousness; that rescues us from condemnation in the Judgment;  that removes every trace of  our filthy rags

 

However,  it’s Jesus’ life of obedience, and it’s His fulfillment, in our flesh, of God’s purpose for us.  It’s His Robe  of His Righteousness  that qualifies us for heaven – that clothes us   and gains for us  entrance into His Kingdom.   In fact:

 

II Cor 5:21  “For He (God) hath made Him (Jesus), Who knew no sin, to be sin for us; that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him (that’s in Jesus).”

 

Jesus was, for a time (or was temporarily) made a little lower than the angels.  And during the time when He “wore” our fallen, sinful human flesh, while robed in our “filthy rags”, what was the source of Jesus’ righteousness?  While carrying all of our baggage and our infirmities, how is it that He was able to fulfill, without flaw, the Father’s purposes for you and me?  The answer is …

 

Remember when Jesus testified: “I can do nothing   but what my Father tells me to do”?  And He also said, “The words you hear me speak, my Father gives me to say”?  How could He fulfill His Father’s purposes?   The answer is …

 

He relied entirely on the power, on the strength, and on the guidance supplied by His Father above, thru the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, in every situation. 

 

So, was He a robot?  A zombie?  An automaton?  No!   Didn’t Jesus have available to Him everything that is available to us?  So, do we have free moral agency – the power to choose?  Then, didn’t Jesus have free choice?  Of course He did!  He wasn’t a robot any more than I’m a … a brain surgeon!

 

Jesus made a choice to rely fully and completely, wholly and totally,  on His Father  for every thought,   every action,   every response,   every impulse – moment by moment.  Could we do that?  Can we?  Do you genuinely believe we can do the same?  Then why in the world aren’t we doing it?  Let’s do it!

 

I grew up in a boys’ home in the middle of Philadelphia.  There was a 10ft high stone wall around it, but we found the nooks and crannies and secret places to “hop the wall” and steal moments of freedom.  One night, my Brooklyn-born rock’n’roll buddy, Steve, and I hopped the wall and took the trolley out to the old Philadelphia Arena to see Bo Diddley.   Man, what a show!

 

Bo Diddley was fantastic!  He had a flaming-red, square guitar!  He had a fur-covered guitar!  And he filled that arena with his innovative, raw, earthy sounds and rhythms.  I remember in particular one routine that he did with his percussion partner that went something like this:

 

His partner calls out to him, “Say, man.  I can do what you’re doin’ ”.  And Bo Diddley responds, “Well, how come you ain’t doin’ it?”  His partner snickers and calls back  …  “I don’t have to – I got you doin’ it!”

 

But … this is different. Jesus wants us to do exactly as He has done: “We are created in Christ unto good works … that we should walk in them.” Eph  2:10

 

Jesus not only asks us to walk as He has walked, but He enables and empowers us to follow His example,  because He will abide in us  and will live thru us.

 

“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:  and the life which I now live in the flesh   I live by the faith of the Son of God,  Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”  Gal 2:20  KJV

 

So if you genuinely believe that we are able do the same as Jesus did,  then why in the world aren’t we doing it?  Why aren’t we relying on the power of His abiding Spirit  to guide our footsteps, to guard our speech, and prompt our every move – to work His will in us and give us “the Jesus walk”?

 

Listen to these words of Jesus: John 14:12 “He that believeth on Me,  the works that I do shall he do also; and  greater works than these shall he do, because I go to My Father,” and Jesus has sent us His Spirit, the Helper, the Comforter.

 

This is obviously a reference to the promise Jesus made just before His ascension,  that He would bestow upon His followers the power and the presence of His Holy Spirit.  It also refers to His beginning His mediatorial work in the Heavenly Sanctuary on our behalf.

 

Jesus, our Living Example, demonstrated in our flawed, carnal, human flesh, in Adam’s fallen humanity, the righteousness of God, which HE received from above,  just as we may do  thru the power of His abiding Spirit!

 

Jesus’ showed that  by relying on the same source of power and guidance on which He relied, that we too can live the life of Christ’s righteousness, can wear His righteous robe, and can thus become a “Righteous Brother” or sister!

 

Remember? “We are created in Christ unto good works, that we should walk in them.” And God will never ask us to do what He does not empower us to do!

 

So what is righteousness?  Righteousness goes far beyond what we do – it’s really Who He is, and it’s who we are in Him!  It’s having the purpose in our heart – possessing that willingness – to permit God to work His pleasure and to do His bidding   in and thru us – whatever that may be – even before we know what it is  that He might want us to do!  Remember Abraham’s righteousness?

 

And how do we acquire that righteousness?  It’s through faith in the finished workin the completed work –  of Christ, rather than thru struggling in our own weakness, so says Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  The life and the righteousness, and the victory of Jesus  are given to us  as we submit to Him.

 

We also acquire righteousness thru daily, regularly, feeding on God’s Word, as 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for . . . instruction in righteousness.”  As we study His Word,  He becomes our Counselor in righteousness!

Rev 7:9 – This is the Apostle John’s vision of the Redeemed of the ages:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes …

Rev 7:14 “These are the ones who … have  washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  They possess the character of Christ!

 

These are genuine and true  righteous brothers and sisters! Will you be there?

 

The Parable of the Wedding Feast is an illustration of the Final Judgment!  The invitation was open and free to ALL.  Every guest had been provided the proper attire;  so the inappropriately-dressed guest was without excuse.  He had condemned himself!  No wonder he was speechless.  He had nothing to say!

 

Likewise, the invitation to eternity is  free and open for everyone – and the robe of Christ’s righteousness is just as free as the invitation!  Will you respond to Him?  Will you allow Him to place upon you    the robe of His righteousness, which He provides at no cost?  Will you do that?  What could you possibly have to you say   if you don’t??  You, also,  will be speechless!

 

In Matt 6:33, The Lord counsels us to make Him first priority in our lives.  His advice to us is: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness … and all these things will be added unto you.”

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