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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Righteousness of God, #2
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— Not by works, so no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9—NIV)
When I first became a Christian I was presented with the above two verses. I was informed that these contained the basic idea of salvation.
But my instructors did not add the next verse, Ephesians 2:10. Ephesians 2:8,9 apart from the next verse leaves an entirely incorrect view of the Christian salvation.
The next verse:
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10—NIV)
Now, the above verse can lead us to a biblical understanding of how we actually possess God's righteousness, how it is that we can be called "The Lord our righteousness."
First of all, we are God's workmanship. We have been created in Christ Jesus to do good works. We have not been created to go to Heaven to lay on a couch in our mansion. We have been created to do good works.
We have been created to do good works. I am repeating this idea because it is almost never mentioned in Christian circles.
Where do these good works come from? They come from God in Christ. God is dwelling in Christ who is dwelling in us. Their righteousness becomes our righteousness when we have been crucified and they are living in us. We have been predestined to be in the moral image of Jesus Christ, our older Brother. As He is, so are we in this world. We are to reveal His Life in us. This is salvation and the new covenant.
But then a mysterious thought is added: "which God prepared in advance for us to do."
We have been created to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. What do you think this means?
Jesus advised us to let our light shine that people might see our good works and because of them glorify God.
What good works? The Lord Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil.
In other words, we who claim to be part of Jesus Christ ought always to behave ourselves as He behaves Himself.
Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (I John 2:6—NIV)
Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (I John 3:3—NIV)
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. (I John 3:7—NIV)
We can behave ourselves as Jesus behaves Himself only as we are dead to our sinful nature and it is Christ who is living His Life in us. Isn't this true?
We understand, therefore, that seeking God's Kingdom and His righteousness is not primarily a matter of having God attribute right standing to us because of our belief in Jesus Christ but of revealing in ourselves God's righteous Character and His Kingdom.
There is an awesome gulf between these two concepts. If we hold only to the idea of Christ's righteousness being attributed to us, and continue in our ungodly behavior, then there is no Kingdom of God, no doing of God's will in the earth. It is this misunderstanding that has created the poor testimony of the churches during past years.
To be continued.