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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Blowing of Trumpets, #7
It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalms 133:3—NIV)
The blessing of the Lord is eternal life. Eternal life is the result of righteous, holy, and obedient conduct. The grace of our Lord Jesus leads us in paths of righteousness so we may inherit eternal life. The person who walks in righteousness "shall receive . . . righteousness from the God of his salvation."
If he walks in righteousness, not lifting up his soul to vanity nor swearing deceitfully, why is it that he then receives righteousness? If he practices righteous conduct, why is it necessary for righteousness to be given to him?
The answer is, righteousness is not conformity to a set of religious principles. Righteousness is what God accepts and approves.
In the ultimate sense, all righteousness is imputed. One cannot present himself as righteous before the Lord on the basis of his own uprightness of character because God retains the authority and power to determine who is righteous and who is not.
For example, Abraham attempted to sell his wife, and Rahab the harlot told an outright lie (Joshua 2:5). Neither of these are acts of righteousness. Yet both Abraham and Rahab are listed among the heroes of faith of Hebrews, Chapter Eleven.
It is not our conformity to a code of behavior that establishes us in righteousness (except as judged by our own religion). It is God, and God alone, who imputes the only true righteousness.
Therefore in order for an individual to be truly righteous, God must regard him as being righteous. Even though he has clean hands and a pure heart he must receive righteousness from the God of his salvation.
The problem has arisen because theologians have reasoned that if God alone imputes righteousness it is not critically important how people behave. Such thinking is a warping of Divine truth.
God commands us from Genesis to Revelation to practice righteousness, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. If we do this in the fear of God and by His help, God will impute (ascribe) righteousness to us.
Under the new covenant we must accept by faith the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus.
The Jews appear to be at fault here in that they are not continuing the blood sacrifices commanded by the Law. They have abandoned the necessary animal sacrifices and yet will not receive the blood atonement made by Jesus. How can God ascribe righteousness to them when they are obeying neither Moses nor Jesus?
As we have said, God has commanded us to accept by faith the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus. When we do this, God imputes righteousness to us because we have obeyed Him and because of the Virtue of the atoning blood.
Men have reasoned from this that we now are righteous because of the atonement made by the Lord Jesus and therefore have no need to obey the moral principles written in the New Testament.
This is false! God has ascribed righteousness to us because we have obeyed Him in receiving the blood atonement by faith. We also must obey Him in everything else He has commanded through the Apostles of the Lamb.
The Christian believers have obeyed God by receiving the atonement by faith. But they have not obeyed God, in many instances, in laying down their life, taking up their cross, and following Jesus. They have not obeyed God in presenting their body a living sacrifice to God. They have obeyed God in one aspect of the new covenant but not in another. Therefore righteousness is not ascribed to them.
To be continued.