Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Convicted of Righteousness

"But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." (John 16:5-11)

A friend and I have been working together on an outline for Week 1 of a 6-week class we'll be teaching called "Who Are You - Identity Revealed." The overall gist of the class, as you can probably tell by the title, is our identity in Christ. The title of the first week is "What is the Gospel?" Our cornerstone verse for this week is Romans 1:17. Many of us have the verse preceding it memorized (Romans 1:16 - "I am not ashamed of the gospel..."), but what about this:

For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17)

The gospel is a revelation of a righteousness that man could never have come up with on his own - God's very own righteousness! Before coming to know Jesus Christ by faith, the very best we had to offer God was our own righteousness (self-righteousness). If, after Romans 1:17, you continue reading up to Romans 3:21, you will see the Apostle Paul making a very strong case against man's righteousness. It's really an in-depth account of all of man's unrighteousness. No one is excluded. Isaiah had been very clear with it as well: "But we are all like and unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6a).

So it's made very clear that all our righteousness amounts to is filthy rags to God. Look at the term "filthy rags" in the original language - it's really talking about the "rags" from a woman's monthly cycle. No need to go further in-depth there... ;)

What is so very "good" about the good news is that a righteousness is revealed that has absolutely nothing to do with our own attempts at it. Again, "filthy rags" is the very best we have to offer God. The gospel, the good news, is a revelation of righteousness that we could never, ever come up with on our own. It is righteousness that is given to us as a gift from God. It is His very own righteousness - which is the only thing He accepts as righteousness!

In the passage above (John 16:5-11), Jesus says the Helper (the Holy Spirit) will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. What is the reason He gives when talking about being convicted of sin? He says the world will be convicted of sin, "because they do no believe in Me." Are you among those who don't believe in Him? Then count yourself among those who are convicted of sin. But... are you among those who have now believed in Him? Then get your conscience into the place where it's meant to be, and allow yourself to understand that you are no longer among those who are convicted of sin. You've been there in the past, when you walked in unbelief. But now you've believed, and now you are among those who are convicted of righteousness!!!

In our class, we'll be talking a lot about what the Bible says about us as believers. Here's just a portion of some of what we'll be sharing:

You are a new creation. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (II Corinthians 5:17)

You've been made the righteousness of God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (II Corinthians 5:21)

You have been given righteousness. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified [made righteous] in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (I Corinthians 6:11)

You don't have your own righteousness, but His. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death... (Philippians 3:8-10)

You are righteous apart from your works. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit... (Titus 3:4-5)

There really is too much to get into right now, in regards to who we are in Christ, and in regards to the righteousness in which we stand - God's righteousness. The whole point here is that we are righteous. Fully and completely. It's not because of anything we've done or not done. It's a gift of God. Instead of walking around in guilt because of things you may have done, let the Holy Spirit convict your conscience of righteousness!

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