THREE STEPS TOWARD RIGHTEOUSNESS
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
There are three forms of Divinely produced righteousness. The first is the familiar imputed righteousness. The second is the not so familiar joint venture of the adamic nature and the Spirit of God. The third is hardly known. It is the righteous nature of the Lord Jesus Christ formed in every part of our personality, plus the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us forever, plus the making alive of our physical body and the clothing of it with the robe from Heaven. This third form is the fullness of God and of righteousness.
The third form of righteousness is the purpose for the first two and is the mark toward which we are to be pressing.
Table of Contents
Obeying the Word of Christ
The Fullness of God
Christ is formed in us
The Father and the Son dwell in the new creation
The physical body is raised and clothed with the robe from Heaven
THREE STEPS TOWARD RIGHTEOUSNESS
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (II Corinthians 5:17,28—NIV)
There are three forms of Divinely produced righteousness. The first is the familiar imputed righteousness. The second is the not so familiar joint venture of the adamic nature and the Spirit of God. The third is hardly known. It is the righteous nature of the Lord Jesus Christ formed in every part of our personality, plus the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us forever, plus the making alive of our mortal body and the clothing of it with the robe from Heaven. This third form is the fullness of God and of righteousness. The third form of righteousness is the purpose for the first two and is the mark toward which we are to be pressing.
Imputed or ascribed righteousness is well known to Christian believers. However, in our day ascribed righteousness has been distorted from that taught by the Apostle Paul.
Paul’s main argument concerning imputed righteousness is found in Chapters Three through Five of the Book of Romans. A careful examination of the text will reveal that Paul was seeking to convince the Jews they could turn away from the Law of Moses and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and still be accounted righteous by the Lord. Paul was not stating they could turn away from righteous behavior and put their trust in Christ.
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (Romans 3:20—NIV)
Can you see from the above verse, characteristic of several in the early chapters of Romans, that Paul is speaking about the Law of Moses, not about doing good, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God?
When Paul contrasted faith and works he was contrasting faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the works of the Law of Moses, not faith in Christ and works of righteousness. We are to trust Christ for righteousness instead of obtaining righteousness through the many statutes of the Law of Moses. Paul is not arguing that we should trust Christ instead of doing good, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.
While we cannot reject the salvation that is in Christ and save ourselves by doing good, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ always results in our doing good, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. When it does not, we do not have true faith in Christ.
Right here is the mammoth error of our day. We are viewing the grace of God in Jesus Christ as a new way of relating to God, meaning that no matter how we behave we are without condemnation in the sight of God. The hastiest perusal of the New Testament reveals that the grace of God in Jesus Christ is intended to produce people who do good, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. But we are using God’s grace and imputed righteousness as a means of evading the eternal moral law of God. It is a horrific error in understanding and practice!
So that the faithful Jew might be able to leave the Law of Moses and look to the Lord Jesus instead of the Torah, Paul advised him that he would be without condemnation. Believing in Christ is just as though he had kept the Law perfectly.
But Paul inserted a proviso. It is that freedom from condemnation is conditional. It depends on our walking in the Holy Spirit and not according to the desires of our flesh and mind.
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4—NIV)
Imputed righteousness is preached today as an unconditional forgiveness. It is not. It is a continuing forgiveness, a continuing imputation of righteousness as long as we continue to live according to the Spirit. When we do not pray and read our Bible each day, are not careful to fellowship with fervent believers as possible, do not present our body a living sacrifice, do not deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus, the righteous requirements of the Law of Moses are not met in us. We are living in the flesh. We cannot scripturally claim to be without condemnation.
This is a tremendous error of our time and it has destroyed the moral and spiritual strength of the Christian churches. Justification has become bloated and poisonous to the point of eliminating the equally necessary grace of sanctification. Everything is by belief. It is schizophrenic. It is split off from reality. It really is Gnosticism, not the Christian salvation at all.
The first of the three Divinely ordained kinds of righteousness is imputed righteousness. It is a “welcome home” for the righteous Jew who has despaired of meeting all the requirements of the Law of Moses, and for the Gentile who realizes he has done many things not in keeping with his conscience.
The Law of Moses ordains that the man who would find life must keep all the statutes of the Law. But Divine grace turns our gaze from the Law upward to where Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God. The Holy Spirit becomes not only our Comforter but our Law. We follow Him and obey Him at all times. He enables us to serve the Lord as we should, and as we obey the Spirit the blood of Jesus Christ keeps us without condemnation in the sight of God.
Obeying the Word of Christ.
The second form of Divinely enabled righteousness is that of keeping the commandments of Christ and His Apostles; in other words, doing what the Bible teaches.
One would think that after two thousand years of Church history we would not have to be told that in order to please God we have to do what the Bible says. But Christian doctrine has so distorted the Apostle Paul’s teaching of grace that the commandments of Christ are viewed as not an essential part of our salvation.
The truth is that we cannot possibly attain the third form of righteousness, which is the fullness of God in our personality such that we do right by nature, unless we are willing, in our adamic nature, to read the Scriptures and do what they say.
It is maintained in our day that no one can keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. This is to ascribe foolishness and cruelty to our Father in Heaven who has told us (we claim) to do things we cannot possibly perform, keeping us at a distance from Himself.
It is maintained in our day that the purpose of the commandments is to make us see our need of a Savior. The idea is that we cannot do what God has commanded and so we have to accept Christ in order to go to Heaven. Once we accept Christ we are in a “state of grace,” meaning we are walking in disobedience but God sees us through Christ. This may be one of the main doctrines of Christianity but it is totally unscriptural, totally destructive of God’s intention under the new covenant.
Let us look at one of the commandments of Christ:
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16—NIV)
Look at the verse above. Is this just a nice thought or is it a commandment? Is it necessary that we do it or not? Will we be “saved” anyway even though we do not do it? What is your answer?
“But we cannot do it in our strength!” I understand this. My question is, are we supposed to do good works in the sight of people or not? Is this a commandment we are to observe or did God issue it so we would confess our need of a Savior and trust in God to forgive us continually because we cannot possibly do good works and glorify our Father in Heaven?
Which is it? It is not both, it is one or the other.
Did Jesus say we are to keep His commandments or did He say we could not keep them and must come to Him for continual forgiveness? Which is it?
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15—NIV)
Can you see from the above verse, and it is not the only one of its kind, that we do not love the Lord unless we obey His commandments?
Can you see that Christian teaching needs to be reformed just as the Catholic sale of indulgences had to be reformed a few centuries ago? We are teaching error. It is not true that we are not to keep the commandments of Christ.
What did the Apostles command (actually it was Christ in the Apostles)?
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, (I Thessalonians 4:11—NIV)
Are we supposed to do this, to lead a quiet life and mind our own business, or must God forgive us continually because it is absolutely impossible for us to work with our hands? Will we go to Heaven anyway even though we have not led a quiet life, have not minded our own business, and have not worked with our hands?
Are we to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles or are we not? Our common sense tells us we certainly do have to obey what Jesus and His Apostles commanded. But Christian doctrine states that these are works and we are not saved by works but by grace, meaning God continually forgives us because we are not doing what the Bible teaches.
What a mess we are in today! The question is, how many are willing to turn from their apathy and begin to read the Bible and do what it says?
But has God made a provision for us so we can keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, as well as obey the injunctions of the Old Testament that are not part of the dietary statutes and other regulations of the covenantal Law of Moses?
Absolutely. God’s provision is as follows:
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16—NIV)
God has given us much grace under the new covenant so that we can keep His commandments. This is why He has given us grace—so we can keep His commandments! The idea that every Christian, Jew and Gentile alike, can enter the Holy of Holies and make his request known to Him who sits between the cherubim is a grace that staggers the mind of those familiar with the rigors of the Day of Atonement.
As we study the Bible we become aware of areas of personality and behavior in which we are falling short. Or sometimes we are convicted by the Word as it is being preached. Or our conscience may bother us.
The modern tendency of Christians when they are made aware of their sins is to fall back on imputation, believing God has forgiven us and we soon are to be “raptured’ to Heaven. This is not true. If we do not repent and turn to the Lord we are facing the fires of Divine judgment.
The correct procedure is to go to the Lord in prayer, to confess our sin, to turn away from it by the Lord’s help, to denounce and renounce it vigorously, to accept the Lord’s forgiveness, and then to draw near to God and resist the devil.
Some deliverances from the compulsion to sin occur immediately. Others may take years, but meanwhile the Lord gives us the strength to overcome moment by moment.
It never is God’s will that a Christian walk in known sin.
The Lord is speaking to us today in America that the Christian people must begin to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. If we do not humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways, our nation is going to be punished severely.
We have had incorrect teaching concerning grace. We must immediately turn away from it and begin to seek God’s will for our life.
While we are striving against sin, when practicing the second form of righteousness, Christ in us does not do all the work for us. It is taught today that He does, but He does not. Keeping the numerous commandments of Christ and His Apostles is a joint venture of the adamic man and the Holy Spirit.
The adamic man cries, “I must decrease but He must increase.” Then the adamic man places himself on the cross with Christ. As he is made aware of the areas of his personality that are not obedient to the Scriptures, he goes to God for help. He desires grace and mercy so he can remain free from condemnation and also have the ability to reject his sinful nature and embrace the righteous ways of the Lord.
This is why a person cannot be a victorious Christian if he does not have a faithful personality. If the Seed, the Word of God, does not fall into an honest and good adamic heart, no lasting fruit of righteousness can be brought forth. This is not to say there is not wickedness in every heart. There is. Neither is it to state the true Christian will never stumble. He may stumble. But if he stumbles he gets up and continues onward, faithfully following Christ.
The great need of the hour, at least in America, is for the Christian people to read the Bible, find out what it says, and then pray to God in Jesus’ name for the wisdom and strength to keep the Lord’s Word. It is only then that we have a chance of passing to the third kind of righteousness—that which comes from within us as the Divine Nature fills our personality.
The Fullness of God
A mark, a goal, has been placed before us. It is to acquire the fullness of God in our personality. When this takes place we will think, speak, and act in a godly manner, a manner acceptable to God our Father.
No progress can be made toward this third form of righteousness until we first have received imputed righteousness and then have lived according to the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. The first two forms of righteousness are steps toward the third form. If the third form is not attained, then the program of Divine righteousness has been aborted. The first two forms have failed in their mission.
The third form of righteousness, the fullness of God in Christ, can be seen in three areas:
- Christ is formed in us.
- The Father and the Son dwell in the new creation.
- The physical body is raised and clothed with the robe from Heaven.
Christ is formed in us.
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19—NIV)
It is clear from the text of Galatians that the people being addressed were both saved and baptized with the Holy Spirit.
But Christ had not been formed in them. Or if He had, He had been diminished in some manner.
To be saved is to receive the authority through the blood of the cross to press through to the fullness of God.
To be baptized with the Holy Spirit is to receive the Presence of the Holy Spirit so we have the wisdom and power to press through to the fullness of God.
But now we have come to a third dimension of salvation—the forming of Christ in us.
When we are speaking of having Christ formed in us we are not referring to the coming of Christ from Heaven to dwell in us. That is another matter. Rather we are pointing toward the integration of the Substance and Virtue of Christ, His Divine Nature, into our personality in such a manner that old things pass away and our personality becomes new in Christ.
The adamic nature must die. The Christ Nature must be formed in us. Death, and life. Death, and life. Death, and life. Order on order, rule on rule. A little here, a little there so we will go, fall backward, and be injured, snared, and captured. This is the rest of God and the Holy Spirit operates the procedure.
What comes forth in our personality is a new creation. The new creation is not us. The new creation is not Christ. It is a new person formed from us and Christ.
We have lost our individuality, our ability to be separate from God. But our unique identity has been enhanced.
How does such a new creation come into existence? Through the travail of the ministries and gifts of the Body of Christ. They labor that we might come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man, to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Christ is built up in us by that which every member of the Body supplies. The Body builds itself up in love.
The new man is built up as we keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, as the Spirit helps us. When we do not keep the Word of Christ, He is not formed in us. It is as simple and straightforward as that. This is why so many Christians remain spiritual infants. And they want to be caught up into the Presence of Christ in a “rapture” in their present state? Let us hope better things than this for our brothers and sisters.
The problem to a great extent is incorrect doctrine. We need to start teaching the doctrines of Christ and His Apostles in place of the current Christian myths.
The Father and the Son dwell in the new creation.
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23—NIV)
When Christ has been formed in us, that is, the Substance and Virtue of Christ have permeated our personality such that the old has gone and the new has entered, the Father and the Son will come to us and make Their eternal home with us.
Notice carefully in the above verse that the coming of the Father and the Son into us in this manner is based on our obeying the teachings of Christ. “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” If we do not obey the teachings of Christ, then the program that leads to Divine righteousness is aborted.
The Father loves us when we obey the teachings of Christ and His Apostles.
Our initial salvation made Christ real to us.
The baptism with the Holy Spirit made the Spirit of God real to us.
Obeying the teachings of Jesus Christ makes the Father real to us.
Up to this point we Christians have accepted the ancient Athanasian Creed as an explanation of the Trinity, the Godhead. This was the clearest understanding we had and it has served us to the present hour. However, the Athanasian Creed was not the product of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation but of human reasoning.
Now, as we are moving past the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost and are entering the feast of Tabernacles, the Father and the Son are becoming more real to us, as Jesus prophesied in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.
“In that day,” in the day when the Lord alone is exalted in our personality, in that day, the Day of the Lord, we will know that we are in the Father and the Son. Our Father will become much more real to us than He is now. We will know the Lord Jesus as our elder Brother and together with Him will sing praises to our Father.
No one knows the Father except the Son and the person to whom the Son will reveal the Father. Jesus came to bring us to the Father. Our Lord is the Firstborn from the dead, although having existed from eternity. We also are part of the new creation and have become the brothers of Christ. The Lord and we have the same Father.
Pentecost is the rain from Heaven. Tabernacles is the forming of the Throne of God in the human personality so that the Spirit comes as from a well within us. In that day God will be our Strength, our Joy, our Peace, our Song. He will not just give us these things as we have need, He Himself will become all this and more to us.
No longer will we be playing volleyball with God. “I do this and God does that.” Now we are on the same side of the net with God.
This is the fullness of God.
Christ has been formed in us. The Father and the Son have come and made Their eternal mansion in the new man that has been formed in us. Only one aspect of the fullness of God remains to be experienced.
The physical body will be raised and clothed with the robe from Heaven.
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11—NIV)
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, Because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (II Corinthians 5:2,3—NIV)
If we are faithfully following Jesus Christ, obeying His Spirit, putting to death the deeds of our body, then, when the Lord returns, our body will pass from death to life. If we have died but were living in Christ at the time of our decease, if we truly died “in Christ,” then we will return with the Lord. Our flesh and bones will be raised from the dead at that time so we, along with the living saints, are standing on the earth once again.
Our robe, or house from Heaven will clothe our resurrected (or changed) flesh and bones. The house from Heaven, the robe of righteousness, is formed as we have been crucified with Christ and then have been raised to walk with Him in newness of life, just as was true of the Apostle Paul.
The making alive of our physical body and the clothing of our body with the heavenly robe is the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of the royal priesthood.
Christ has been formed in us. God and Christ have made Their eternal home in us. Our physical body has been made alive by the Spirit of God. Our physical body has been clothed with a robe fashioned in Heaven from our behavior on the earth, from our response to the Spirit of God as the Spirit has enabled us to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.
Now we have attained the fullness of righteousness. God Himself has become our righteousness, not merely in an imputed sense but in the actual sense of God being formed in us and dwelling in us.
First imputed righteousness. Then righteous behavior produced as a joint effort of our adamic nature cooperating with the Holy Spirit of God.
Finally Christ formed in us, the Father and the Son living in the new creation that has been formed in us, and the whole clothed with flesh and bones which themselves have been clothed with a spiritual body created before the Throne of God in Heaven, a spiritual body produced from our faithful, diligent discipleship.
This is the Kingdom of God. This is why he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than any of the prophets.
This is the mark, the heavenly calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Now we are able to serve God in His Kingdom throughout eternity.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Philippians 3:8,9—NIV)
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. (Isaiah 12:2-4—NIV)
(“Three Steps Toward Righteousness”, 3053-1)