Abrahamís faith stands as ancient documentation of the fact that the means of being accepted as a righteous person by God is and always has been faith. Becoming a righteous person has never been a matter of human achievement. A full acceptance of Godís authority is essential to relationship with God. Rendering full obedience to God as one yields to divine authority is essential to relationship with God. Sacrifice and service are essential expressions of humble submission to God the Father and Christ the Lord. Yet, as essential as accepting Godís authority, rendering obedience, and submitting through sacrifice and service are, none of them will make a person righteous before God without the proper faith.
One must yield to Godís authority because he believes. He must obey because he believes. He must sacrifice and serve because he believes. It is possible for one to accept authority, to obey, and to render sacrifice and service and have very little faith. It is possible to do all of that and have a faith that God does not recognize as being the faith which makes one righteous. Such is not only possible, but it is a common practice of many Christians. These Christians are convinced that they can achieve righteousness by appropriate human actions. They are convinced that why they act is insignificant as long as what they do is what God wants. Thus being righteous is simply a matter of doing the right things. How much one believes and what type of faith he has is insignificant.
Often such Christians do not want the righteousness which is through faith. They have no desire to understand it, regardless of how Biblical and accurate it might be. In fear, they resist understanding it. There is a specific reason which causes them to fear and resist this Bible truth. Through shallow teachings, poor study, and inaccurate concepts, they long have been convinced that the single important key to salvation and being righteous is obedience. As long as one does what God says to do, he is saved and righteous.
That conclusion is both harsh and comforting. It is harsh because no person is able to render perfect obedience. Consequently, his inability to live in perfect obedience condemns him to an existence of continual guilt feelings and of unending uncertainty about his spiritual security. It is comforting because he can live his life trusting no one but himself. Trusting God with his salvation makes him extremely nervous. He simply does not have enough faith in God to trust God with the serious business of saving his soul. He is more comfortable trusting his human achievements than he is in trusting the promise of God. Thus he has the comfort of trusting the ďcertaintyĒ of his own actions rather than the ďuncertaintyĒ of Godís promises. Unfortunately, he does not know that this false sense of comfort based upon faith in his own achievements is actually the primary source of all his spiritual anxieties and fears.
How tragic it is for any Christian to live in ignorance or fear of the faith which makes one righteous! Almost a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, David knew and wrote of the person whose iniquities were forgiven and to whom God would not impute sin (Ps. 32:1-2). David knew that there could be a relationship with God in which God would forgive sin instead of reckoning sin. Almost 700 years before the birth of Jesus, Jeremiah wrote of the coming of a new covenant which would make possible a new relationship with God (Jer. 31: 31ff). The new covenant would be unlike the covenant given to Israel when they left Egypt (the law of Moses). Prominent among the features of this new covenant would be the fact that God would be merciful to iniquities and would have no remembrance of sins.
Christians who do not learn of and understand the faith of righteousness are seeking to live for the ideal Savior with a law-of-Moses attitude and perspective. They have accepted a Savior who stands as the perfect solution to all the inadequacies and imperfections of the Mosaical law (carefully study Hebrews 8:1-10:18), but they are trying to live for Him with the same attitudes and perspectives produced by the inadequacies and imperfections of the Mosaical law. They are trying to live as a new creature in Jesus Christ with the mind and understanding of Old Testament Judaism.
Jesus became Savior to destroy lives of guiltiness. He has made it unnecessary to live oneís life in a continual sense of guiltiness. Jesus as Savior seeks to destroy all consciousness of past sins. His salvation makes it unnecessary to live in anxiety of past sins, and yesterdayís sins are past sins when one repents. Jesus as Savior has made it needless for one to live his life in fear of ignorant sin. When one lives in right relationship with God through Christ, ignorant sins are forgiven. Jesus can make these things possible because He is the source of perfect forgiveness. He produced the perfect solution to sin.
Jesus does not condone sin. He has not made sin acceptable or unimportant. He does not ignore sin. Jesus has made possible the relationship with God of which David spoke. It is possible for anyone to establish a relationship with God in which God forgives and God refuses to reckon sin to the personís life.
That marvelous relationship is available to the person who does four things. (1) He trusts Godís promises. What God promises is believed. The promise is believed with such conviction that the person makes choices, fashions decisions, and determines the course of his life on the basis of what God has promised. (2) He walks in the light. He rejects and refuses to live the lifestyle of an ungodly person. (3) He maintains fellowship with Godís people. He is a functioning, participating, active part of the Lordís people, the church. (4) When he realizes that he has sinned, he confesses his sin.
How tragic it is for a baptized believer to not know and understand that the perfect Savior has fashioned the perfect solution for human sinfulness! How tragic it is for any Christian not to understand that the perfect forgiveness of Jesus makes it possible for any Christian to live a life free from guilt! How tragic it is for any child of God not to know that he can live his life in the joy of loving God rather than in the constant fear of going to hell!
A Transforming Concept
Nothing will transform a Christianís personal life and daily existence as will the knowledge and understanding of the faith of righteousness. That knowledge will change his attitude, his perspective of God, his perspective of Jesus, his perspective of self, and his perspective of life. He will be free to live with the sense of joy and happiness seen in the lives of the Christians in Acts and proclaimed in the epistles. Godly living ceases to be an impossible burden and becomes a privilege gladly accepted. Hope replaces fear. God becomes the perfect Friend instead of the vengeful Punisher. Jesus is appreciated for being the perfect Savior that He is. Gratitude and appreciation for what Jesus has done in providing salvation and for what Jesus continues to do in keeping one cleansed before God is a daily source of rejoicing. Life becomes the fulfilling existence clearly depicted in the New Testament. One begins to experience the abundant life which Jesus promised.
This transformation in personal existence is real. It occurs for specific reasons. (1) It occurs because Jesusí solution for sins is genuine. It works! His forgiveness is perfect! It was divinely designed to destroy both sin and guilt! (2) It occurs because the Christian stops seeing himself as a sinner. If a Christian feels like he is an unforgiven sinner, if he believes he is still condemned for his sinfulness, and if he sees himself as a spiritual failure, then he will live and act like an unforgiven sinner who is a spiritual failure. A personís life and actions are powerfully influenced by what he believes himself to be. (3) It occurs because a person has begun to see himself as the new creature which God has brought into being through the blood of Jesus. He understands a basic truth: he is not a Christian because of his worthiness; he is a Christian because of the grace of God. (4) It occurs because he starts trusting Godís promises and stops trusting himself.
The effect of this transformation will be greater obedience given without struggle, more determined opposition to sin in his life, and increased service to God because of deeper love for God. By personal choice and desire, Jesus becomes the person he most wants to be like. He becomes a conscious imitator of Jesus.
The Inseparable Line
These blessings are real! A life free from the nagging burden of guilt is available! Life free from the fear of hell is possible! The ability to feel clean and pure before God exists! Any Christian can live in the joy of hope knowing that he is righteous before God instead of in the anxiety of failure fearing that he is lost!
These blessings are not the result of superhuman, near perfect obedience. They are not the result of living the majority of the days of oneís life without making any mistakes. They are not the result of rendering such incredible service to God that one is confident that he is good enough to be saved.
These blessings are available only through possessing the faith which makes one righteous before God. The key to possessing that faith is developing full, confident trust in Godís promises. Manís faith and Godís promises are inseparably linked. The faith of righteousness trusts promises in the face of personal doubts. It trusts promises when all circumstances scream that God cannot keep His promises. Even when one errs, he still trusts the promises. The faith of righteousness allows Godís promises to serve as the basis of decision making and to be the determining factor in the way one lives and directs the course of his life.
Now that you understand the faith of righteousness, now that you know its power, its promise of full life, and its blessings, cultivate that faith in your life as a baptized believer in Jesus Christ. Be neither content nor satisfied with anything less!
Chapter Thirteen Questions
Explain this statement: becoming a righteous person has never been a matter of human achievement.
Why do some Christians not want the righteousness which is through faith?
How is the conclusion that being saved and righteous is only a matter of obedience both harsh and comforting? Why is the comfort a false comfort?
Explain this statement: Christians who do not learn of and understand the faith of righteousness seek to live for the ideal Savior with a law-of- Moses attitude and perspective.
What has Jesus made unnecessary for the Christian?
How is a relationship with God in which God will not reckon sin produced?
In what ways will living by the faith of righteousness transform a Christianís life?
For what reasons does that transformation occur?
What will be the effect of that transformation upon the person?
Why must manís faith and Godís promises be inseparably linked?
Have the class discuss the most important lessons they have learned from this study.
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