THE ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. 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.
Among the trees of Eden was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Notice it was not the tree of good and evil, but the knowledge of good and evil.
God Himself has the knowledge of good and evil, as Satan said: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)
It is my belief that when Christ created the angelic creatures in the beginning, they were not given an understanding of the way of righteousness, that is, of the knowledge of good and evil. Perhaps that is why Satan emphasized that God knows good and evil, the implication being that only God knows good and evil. I suspect that angels and people had no authoritative code of righteous behavior prior to the writing of the Ten Commandments.
It is our conscience that distinguishes good from evil, although our conscience is largely unformed before Christ matures in us. I believe that angels do not have a conscience. They may have a sense of duty and loyalty to God (at least some of them do), but they do not have the ability to judge moral issues.
Perhaps this is why there are two armies that do the will of God. There is the army of warrior angels; and then there is the army of saints who make moral judgments and give their decisions to the warrior angels to carry out the sentences that have been handed down.
Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (I Corinthians 6:3)
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)
If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. (John 20:23)
The problem with Adam and Eve was not that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a bad tree and caused them to sin. As is true of the Tree of Life, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is Christ Himself. He is the Truth, and that Truth includes the knowledge of what is good and what is evil.
The problem with Adam and Eve was that by eating of the tree, they became aware that they were living in a shameful state by being naked. In actuality, although it indeed is a shame to be naked, God had created them in that condition. And so legally they were in a shameful state. But actually they were not guilty of unrighteousness because they did not know they were living in a shameful state.
If they first had eaten of the Tree of Life, they could have grown in Christ until they would have understood they were in a shameful state, and God would have shown them what to do about it. In other words, God desired that they continue as they were until they were ready to have moral understanding, and then God would have shown them what to do about their nakedness.
You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:17-19)
The “white clothes” we are to wear come first from Christ, and then from the way of righteousness in which we are to walk.
It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. (II Peter 2:21)
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)
Notice that the “fine linen, bright and clean” is not the clothing of imputed righteousness. It is “the righteous acts of the saints.” Also, linen was used in the construction of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and was worn by those who ministered before the Lord.
There is no question in my mind that the current teaching of imputed righteousness is the greatest misunderstanding ever to enter Christian thinking. Believers are being counseled not to worry about acting righteously, because by attempting to practice righteousness (to walk in the way of righteousness) is as “filthy rags” (an expression from the book of Isaiah taken out of context). Please let me explain:
You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins. (Isaiah 64:5-7)
To gain an understanding of what the Spirit of God meant by “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags,” one should read all of chapter 64 of Isaiah. It is not referring to Christians who are endeavoring to please God by their conduct, who are confessing their sins and turning away from them. It is speaking to the people of Israel at a certain period in their history who were practicing sin, and apparently substituting ceremonial aspects of the Law of Moses to cover their sins. God was not accepting their sacrifices because they were not seeking Him!
This reminds us today of the “Christians” who walk in their sinful nature, and then say they are righteous because they “believe in Christ.” In this instance, it is the profession of believing in Christ that is the “filthy rags.”
I have come to the conclusion that the members of all religions are bound with the sinful compulsions of the flesh, and take refuge in their religious practices. This is as true of Christianity as it is of any other religion.
There are people in the world, some members of a religion and others who are not, who have honest and good hearts. They are truthful and faithful to their commitments. They are people of integrity. God respects their character.
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34,35)
Now, if Christ comes to one such person of integrity, and the person rejects Christ, then he cannot enter the Kingdom of God no matter how fine an individual he or she is. My guess is that there are many such instances, because people of integrity often have strong wills.
The horrible error of current Christian teaching is that God does not care how we behave because we are “saved” (whatever that means) by a sovereign act of God when we “accept Christ.” Any professor of sociology would predict that such teaching would result in moral chaos — and so it has.
We have substituted belief about Christ in place of obeying His commands and those of His Apostles. We are not taught to look to Christ for His help in overcoming our sins and self-will. Thus we are attempting to clothe ourselves in rags. And these rags are spotted with sin.
If we do not keep washing our robes in the blood of the Lamb by confessing and turning away from our sins when they are pointed out to us, our robe soon becomes dirty. If we continue like this and do not repent, in the Day of Resurrection, we shall be clothed with corruption. We have sown corruption and we shall reap corruption in our resurrection body.
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (II Corinthians 5:23)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
I believe the two passages above are related. If we have washed our spiritual robes and they are sparkling white, then in the Day of Resurrection, we shall be clothed upon with the white robe from Heaven. If we have not confessed and turned away from our sins, then in the Day of Resurrection, we will not be clothed in white raiment, but with our own corruption.
If Adam and Eve had waited for God to cover their nakedness, they would be living to the present hour, clothed in the splendor of Christ. But God knew in advance that they would listen to the serpent, and He is using their experience as an allegory from which we can profit to the present hour.
Let’s think about how this works with us. Most of us begin spiritually naked, that is, we without realizing it are continually behaving in a manner opposite to the image of God. Then, when Christ is presented to us, and we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, He clothes us with His own robe of righteousness — by righteousness I mean strict obedience to the Father at all times.
Now we are beginning our journey, wearing the white robe of Christ’s righteousness. At some point, the Holy Spirit will indicate that we are going against the commands of Christ and His Apostles. Then we are to confess to God precisely what we are doing, and ask His help in turning away from the sinful practice. Our robe is sparkling-white once more, and so we continue until we again are convicted of sin.
If, however, we ignore the signals that we are disobeying Christ, our robe remains spotted. This uncleanness remains until we confess and renounce the sin we are practicing. If we do not repent, we will be guilty of willful sin and are in danger of being counted an enemy of God.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
To say we can continue in the works of the flesh without cleaning our robe in the blood of the Lamb, and go to Heaven by grace, is the folly of the present era. Can you see from this how far from the Gospel we have drifted? Instead of telling people how they can keep themselves clean in Christ, we have substituted the filthy rags of whatever Christian denominational teaching or that of any other religion we are practicing.
It is one matter to be religious. It is quite another matter to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus so our thoughts are His thoughts, our words are His words, and our actions are what He is doing.
We sorely are in need of a reformation of Christian thinking.
If we keep in mind that God is righteous, and that He has fellowship with people who walk in the way of righteousness when they understand what it is they are to do, we will be just fine, both now and after we die.
The knowledge of what is good and what is evil is the mark of a mature Christian.
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14)
It is my firm conviction that if all the Christian people in the United States would turn away from the folly of the lawless grace and escape-by-rapture teachings that are presented so widely in our country, and begin to confess their sins and turn away from them with the help of Jesus, our country would be spared the Divine judgment that is on the horizon.
But if we do not, the worldly people will continue with their abortion-on-demand, their sexual lusts and perversions, their worship of money, sports, and entertainment. God will not put up with this. And the worldly people will not change until they see integrity in those who name the name of Christ. The Lord Jesus told us to let our light shine, so when the people of the world see our good works, they will glorify God.
It is recorded that in one city, the manager of the motel where Christian people were staying during a convention said their stock of X-rated movies was depleted. This kind of a testimony from people who profess Christ will not persuade the people of the world that they are doing anything wrong.
The people of the world will continue in their spiritual nakedness while the Christians, for the most part, continue in their spiritual nakedness along with their leaders. God will decide when enough is enough. That will be the end of America as the leader of the world. England and the remainder of the formerly Christian nations also will be punished severely.
Since I am not certain the preachers in America will change from their teaching of lawless grace and escape-by-rapture, I am urging everyone who will listen to me to press as close to the Lord Jesus as you can get, so during the coming days of trouble in America, as well as in the rest of the nations of the earth, you will know exactly what to do and when to do it so you and your loved ones will be spared the anguish of the future.
(“The Robe of Righteousness”, 3210-1, proofed 20211022)