THE PATH TO RIGHTEOUSNESS (EXCERPT OF PERFECTING HOLINESS)
Excerpted from Perfecting Holiness,
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Let me say at the outset that the following path to righteousness will not operate if the believer has not counted himself or herself dead with Christ; has not denied himself and turned away from the world; is not patiently carrying his cross behind the Lord; and is not living as a fervent Christian: reading his Bible and praying each day; gathering on a regular basis with other fervent disciples (if possible); and seeking to serve Christ at all times and in every manner.
To attempt to dabble in spiritual deliverance when the individual is not living as a true Christian, is to invite delusion and destruction. There are numerous church members in America who suppose they are going to hear “well done, good and faithful servant.” Instead they will find themselves, when they die, in the spirit world with other lukewarm church-attenders. They will have to await the Day of Resurrection to find out what their destiny will be. They shall not be raised and enter eternal life when the Lord appears.
The following steps toward righteousness are a summary of the above three parts of our essay:
⊳ First: the disciple must read the Bible each day, taking note of what Christ and His Apostles have commanded.
⊳ Second: when a passage, such as the following is encountered, the disciple must look up to the Lord to see if his or her behavior is in accordance with the New Testament commandments.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5—NIV)
The believer looks at the list, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, and examines himself to see if he is behaving righteously in these terms.
⊳ Third: let us say that he finds that he is behaving righteously except for greed. In spite of all his determination he discovers that he still is acting in a greedy manner. Now he must look to Christ:
- Confess the greed as sin.
- Denounce greed as being an unclean attitude that does not belong in the Kingdom of God.
- Utterly renounce the spirit of greed, declaring that he wants no more to do with this compulsion.
- Draw near to Christ with thanksgiving for forgiveness and deliverance.
- Pray and resist the spirit of greed in the future.
The purpose of these five steps is to remove the uncleanness of greed from the believer’s inner nature, and to ensure that Christ is continuing to be formed in his inner nature.
Now the disciple will discover that because his inner nature has been sanctified in the area of greed he will being to act in a generous, hospitable manner. He has taken a step forward on the path to righteousness because of the increased holiness of his inward nature.
When we choose to become a slave of God, of righteousness, we are guided into holiness in our inward nature. The result of such righteousness and holiness is eternal life.
But where do grace and the blood of Christ enter this work of redemption?
It is the grace of God in Jesus Christ that forgives us initially and then gives us the authority to turn away from the Law of Moses and to start on the path of righteousness.
The blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross makes our initial forgiveness possible and maintains our righteousness in the sight of God while we are pressing forward into holiness and righteous behavior.
The enormous, destructive, deadly error in today’s Christian teaching is that Divine grace and the blood of Christ are an alternative to moral transformation. All we need do is confess Christ and then we are in full fellowship with God for eternity. No change in our inward nature (from uncleanness to holiness) or outward behavior (from sin to righteousness) is necessary.
Could anyone possibly invent a doctrine more destructive of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God!
The following list is illustrative of the exchanges that must be made if we are to be holy in the inward nature:
A lying spirit must be replaced with the truthfulness of Jesus Christ.
A gossiping, slandering spirit must be replaced with speech that builds up the believer. Christ formed in us will accomplish this.
The spirit of fear or timidity must be replaced with the courage of Christ.
Physical lust must be replaced with the natural affection of Christ.
Rage and murder must be replaced with the compassion of Christ.
The jealous spirit must be replaced with the contentment of Christ.
All forms of witchcraft, fortune telling, tea leaves, astrology, seeking to bring something to pass by saying or imagining it or believing it into existence, must be replaced with prayer and the faith of Christ. This includes the current “faith,” “prosperity,” and “imagining” practices. This includes astrology-type personal prophecies. Believers become addicted to these in place of finding God’s will by presenting their bodies a living sacrifice. There is, however, a proper place for personal prophecies, but only under the supervision of godly elders.
Arrogance and pride must be replaced with the humility of Christ.
Flirtation, self-worship, must be replaced with the purity of Christ.
Narcissism must be replaced with Christ’s concern for others.
Covetousness must be replaced with the contentment of Christ.
Personal ambition and seeking preeminence must be replaced with the concern Christ has for other people.
Seeking to control another person must be replaced with a willingness to allow God to manage that individual. This does not, of course, refer to our duty as parents to guide young children. Even then our guidance must not be an arbitrary, unthinking control of the child but strong, reasonable and kind direction.
The spirit of rebellion against God and other authority must be replaced with the submission of Christ.
The spirit of exhibitionism, showing off, must be replaced with humility.
The partying, entertainment spirit must be replaced with the joy of the Lord.
Self-pity must be replaced with the worship of God and confidence in Him.
Excessive pessimism, optimism, and enthusiasm must be replaced with the confidence of Christ.
Antipathies and affinities must be replaced with Christ’s equitable assessment of individuals.
Unforgiveness must be replaced with the mercy of Christ.
A spirit of complaining must be replaced with the thankfulness and faith of Christ.
The spirit of hatred must be replaced with the mercy, forgiveness, and Christ’s love.
A mean spirit must be replaced with the kindness of Christ.
Impatience must be replaced with the patience of Christ.
Harshness must be replaced with the gentleness of Christ.
Treachery must be replaced with the faithfulness of Christ. The name of Christ is “Faithful and True.” This same faithfulness and truth is to be an integral part of our own personality.
A spirit of gambling must be replaced with Christ’s trust in God for resources and directions.
Recklessness must be replaced with Christ’s willingness to wait and listen to His Father.
Boasting and bragging must be replaced with Christ’s modesty.
Stubbornness must be replaced with Christ’s teachableness.
Filthy speech must be replaced with Christ’s purity of speech.
Avarice must be replaced with Christ’s trust in God.
Whatever we are clinging to must be replaced with Christ’s practice of giving everything to the Father.
Homosexual behavior and other sexual perversions must be replaced with the self-control and natural affection of Jesus Christ.
Romantic thoughts must be replaced with Christ’s practice of praying and seeking the ways of Heaven. Romantic thought s are a substitute for genuine love.
A man-hating, woman-hating spirit must be replaced with the normal affection of Christ.
A spirit of cruelty must be replaced with the kindness of Christ.
A spirit of silliness, joking, foolishness must be replaced with the sobriety of Christ.
A violent disposition must be replaced with the gentleness and peaceableness of Christ.
Stealing and dishonesty must be replaced with the honesty of Christ.
Selfishness must be replaced with the goodness and generosity of Christ.
Brawling must be replaced with the peacemaking of Christ.
Malice and spite are unclean spirits. Malice is very present in the spirit of the world. We are to refuse to let it touch us. It is one of the main characteristics of Satan. It is not found in the Lord Jesus Christ. It must be replaced with the kindness and goodwill of Christ.
An unmerciful spirit must be replaced with the love, forgiveness, and the mercy of Christ.
Greed is an unclean spirit. It must be replaced with the contentment of Christ.
Sudden, repeated, or prolonged anger is an unclean spirit. Christ is slow to anger, is not frequently angry, and is quick to forgive. We also are to be slow to anger, to seldom be angry, and ready to forgive. It must be replaced with the peaceable Nature of Christ.
Taunting and mocking are unclean spirits. These should be replaced in us with the gentleness and thoughtfulness of Christ, although there are times in the Bible when God mocks His enemies.
Unbelief and doubt are unclean spirits. When Christ is formed in us we will have the power to believe whatever God says.
Judging, criticizing and accusing ordinarily are unclean spirits. When Christ is working in us our judgment will not be based on what we see and hear but on what the Lord reveals to us.
The spirit of revenge is unclean. Vengeance belongs to God alone. Christ will help us overcome the spirit of revenge with compassion and mercy.
The spirit of blasphemy, showing contempt toward God, is unclean. The Lord Jesus Christ always worships and obeys the Father, and will express in us His reverence toward God.
A supplanting, defrauding spirit is unclean. Jesus will help us avoid defrauding people of what rightfully is theirs. We must replace this spirit with the uprightness of Christ.
All forms of self-abuse, masochism, and suicide are unclean. The Lord Jesus never punishes Himself and will enable us to take a proper attitude toward our own body.
Gluttony is an unclean spirit. Christ will give us a normal appetite if we ask Him, so we can overcome the American tendency to eat more than we need.
Laziness, sluggishness, and carelessness are unclean spirits. They result in severe punishment. The Lord Jesus will share His diligence with us.
Quarreling, arguing, debate, contention are unclean spirits. They are not found in Christ. The Lord Jesus will make us a peacemaker if we ask Him to. Demons love to reason and debate. Divine truth is found only in the Life which Christ is.
Bombast, pompousness, pretentiousness, are unclean spirits. God is not bombastic or pretentious in His words or deeds. Jesus will help us to be simple and plain when we speak, having in us the humility of Christ.
Perfectionism is an unclean spirit. This spirit is crippling to some people. It is well that we do the best we can, and then leave the imperfect areas to the Lord. Christ will help us do this.
The spirit of sarcasm is unclean. Jesus will help us avoid all traces of this. Jesus speaks in a kindly, constructive manner, and the kindliness of Christ will replace our sarcasm.
An insolent, insulting, disrespectful spirit is unclean. The Lord Jesus never behaves this way and His Life in us will keep us from unkind and disrespectful.
A scornful spirit is unclean. The Life of Christ in us is filled with hope and faith.
A double-minded, unstable, indecisive spirit is unclean, and sometimes the product of passivity or even of a spirit of perfectionism. It can be destructive. The Lord Jesus helps us to be single-minded and decisive in our behavior.
Deceit is an unclean spirit. It is not holy. The Lord Jesus will replace our deceit with His sincerity and honesty in all we do and say.
Hypocrisy, pretending to be something we are not, is unclean. The Life of Christ in us will cause us to be straightforward and honest when dealing with people.
The spirit of vandalism, of destruction with no constructive purpose in mind, is unclean. Christ will give us the authority and power to tear down the forces of wickedness, and then to restore in righteousness what has been destroyed. If we have the unclean spirit of vandalism in us it must be replaced with the uprightness, truth, and honorable Nature of Christ.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22)
(“The Path to Righteousness”, 4051-1)