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The Daily Word of Righteousness
Iron, Fire, and Stern Obedience
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, Because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. (Romans 14:17,18—NIV)
Iron righteousness, fiery holiness, stern obedience to the Father—these are the three aspects of character required of all who would be part of the royal priesthood. As we long for these attributes of character they become a passion in us. We seek a strong, iron righteousness of behavior. We embrace ever more intense fires of holiness. We delight to do God's will, His law having been engraved in our heart.
Righteousness concerns our relationship with people.
Holiness concerns our relationship with God.
Stern obedience also concerns our relationship with God and is the central issue of the new creation that Christ is making us, the central issue of salvation. As long as we are disobeying God we are not "saved" in any but the most superficial sense of the word.
I want to talk first about righteousness, not imputed righteousness but righteous behavior. It is obvious from the above verse that the righteousness of the Kingdom of God is the behavior with which we serve Christ, unless we wish to believe the only righteousness, peace, and joy we have is that which is imputed to us.
The term righteousness is found 306 times in the King James edition. Righteousness is a major topic of both testaments.
The righteousness that is credited to the account of the believer is the righteousness of Christ. The effect of the imputation is that we are as righteous as though we had kept the Law of Moses blamelessly. We possess the righteousness of the Law of Moses provided we "do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." This proviso is often omitted in today's preaching.
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)
However, the majority of New Testament passages dealing with righteousness are directed toward righteous behavior, not righteousness credited to our account because of faith in Christ. The omission of this fact in Evangelical preaching has absolutely ruined the testimony of godly behavior that God desires of His churches.
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, To slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. (Titus 3:1,2—NIV)
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10—NIV)
To be continued.