Monday: The Need of Righteousness

John 16:8 said that the Holy Spirit will convict the world, not just of sin but also of righteousness. In other words, the world, which does not know what sin really is, does not know what true righteousness is, either.

Robe of Righteousness

Image © Phl McKay

Unconverted people imagine that external morality will suffice. They desire not the righteousness of God but their own righteousness. They desire a righteousness that comes from their outward acts, such as obedience to the law of God. But our acts of obedience to the law can never justify us before God.

In Isaiah 64:6 the prophet describes all self-made righteous acts of the people of his day as “filthy rags.” Even our best religiously motivated self-perceived righteousness is in fact the opposite: unrighteousness.

But the righteousness of Jesus is sufficient for us. It meets all the claims of the law of God. It counts with God the Father. And we can claim it for ourselves through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Read Romans 5:10 and Hebrews 4:15-16. How is our righteousness related to Christ’s living ministry in the presence of the Father in heaven?

The righteousness which is demanded by the law is fulfilled by Jesus’ perfect life. He died in our behalf. Though rejected by those who put Him to death here on earth, He was welcomed by the Father in heaven. By means of the resurrection, God the Father placed the stamp of His approval upon Jesus’ life and redemptive work. Now Jesus lives to intercede for us (Heb. 4:15-16), and He applies the merits of His death in our behalf because we do not have the righteousness needed for salvation.

Thus we can live because He lives in us. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20, NKJV). When Jesus lives in us, we walk by the Spirit (Rom. 8:4) and receive new spiritual life through the power of the Spirit (compare with Gal. 3:2-5; Gal. 5:16, Gal. 5:18).

The Father’s exaltation of Jesus in heaven is revealed in Christ’s powerful presence among us through the Spirit. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, His disciples live in growing conformity to Christ.

Have you experienced the reality of just how filthy your own attempts at righteousness really are? What does this teach you about your need of Christ’s righteousness instead?


Monday: The Need of Righteousness — 12 Comments

  1. Jesus' death on the cross and His promise of the Holy Spirit give us hope and lead us to righteousness if we have faith in Him and walk with the spirit. Considering what the Holy Spirit does for us as individuals, we know for sure that living a life without His guidance is a total mess and direct way of giving our lives to Satan to perform his filthy works in us. Indeed we should be guided by the HS who is the teacher, comforter and glorifies Jesus leading to righteousness.

  2. Though rejected by those who put Him to death here on earth, He was welcomed by the Father in heaven.
    That statement is a source of encouragement to me because I see many people giving up because of how people have 'treated them'. Not saying that we shouldn't live in love but when all is said and done, our status with the Father is what will count much more than our status with man.

  3. Salvation does not come from us. It is a gift. It is a Grace. Life itself is a gift. And we are not able to add a single minute to it, can we? (But we can choose to wish for eternity!). The mistery is on what we choose and why. God gave us life and we chose death. God gave us His Son, so we could choose life again.

  4. Righteous means we have a character that is in harmony with the character of God.
    There are two main aspects: imputed and imparted
    Firstly in the book of life Jesus' character is put to our credit,
    Secondly through the power of the Holy Spirit our hearts are being changed to be like Jesus'.

  5. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may you also do good, that are accustomed to do evil?"

    In this world of sin, few understand the sinfulness of sin or what true righteousness consists of. The world promotes “ungodliness and worldly lust” in all places, including positions of state, church, business and family. Many do what is right in their own eyes. Only the “pure in heart” can “see” God and His holy standard of righteousness. Since there are none who are righteous, we need help to become pure in heart, which is promised by God through Christ who is made unto us “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption”.

    We are saved by grace through faith, and by the work of Jesus before God in the heavenly sanctuary, those who come by faith will receive this grace that brings not only forgiveness to the repentant soul, but power to live “soberly, righteously and Godly in this present world”, though the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” in all who become "meek and lowly of heart".

    This is the fulfillment of Jesus promise that He would “go and prepare a place” for every believing soul.

    • Robert, you write, "few understand the sinfulness of sin or what true righteousness consists of." So what is the remedy for that situation? Do you and I, as believers have a part to play? If so, what is our part?

      • Inge, a couple bible passages come to mind that sums it up rather well in the words of Solomon: Pr 2:1-5, and Eccl 12:13,14. We simply need a knowledge of God that will enable us to see clearly, and accurately define both sin and righteousness. The Holy Spirit brings us this word, and does not speak without being in perfect agreement with it. For those without this Word, the Holy Spirit will guide them to it.

        However, as many have done, if we regard iniquity in our heart, our understanding will be limited and we will turn the law into something else, while we violate it's principles.

        In a word, our part is "honesty" isn't it? When we rebel against the truth, the Holy Spirit is eventually silenced.

        • Is it wise to trust our "honesty," seeing "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked"? (Jer 17:9)

          I think it comes down to the beginning statement of this lesson - that the Holy Spirit will convict us of sin and righteousness. And for that to happen, we need to allow Him time to do so. Rather than fleeing into activity - whether religious or secular - we need to spend time with Christ to allow Him to convict us. While our original conviction of sin may not have been a matter of conscious choice, I believe that, as we grow in grace, it is up to us to choose to spend time to really see Christ, because when we do, our own sinfulness will become quite clear. And that will move us to depend more completely on Him.

          • Honesty is to acknowledge the truth of the Holy Spirit's convictions. John 16:8 uses the word for "convince", meaning we will know it's true. If honest with ourselves based on the clear evidence, we will not mislead ourselves will we? It is based on the Holy Spirit's conviction, not the erring nature of the corrupt heart. I never said or meant our safety was in ourselves.

            In a word, it is faith vs unbelief. One acknowledges truth brought to us, the other opts for the lie due to personal preference. The latter is based on our own feelings, and will always lead to denial of truth and thus is dishonest with self.

          • I believe that when Jesus speaks to the Laodicean church in Rev 3:18, He addresses this very topic - our blindness to our needy condition. And the remedy He prescribes is to "anoint your eyes with eye salve that you may see." In combination with this lesson's text, we have generally recognized the "eye salve" to be the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that allows us to see "honestly."

            In other words, Jesus said that we first of all need the Holy Spirit. And I was addressing that need. We need to spend time with Jesus, time to allow the Holy Spirit to sensitize our spiritual eye sight. Without that, no amount of "honesty" will do us any good because we will not even see our need.

            It shouldn't be necessary to point out that when we are not close to Jesus - whether or not we profess to be His followers - we will not likely recognize our need of the Holy Spirit. The only way to remedy this condition is to spend more time with Jesus - time in meditation and prayer, time in listening to Him in reading His Word, time in working with Him in our sphere of influence, time in meeting with others of like faith, whenever possible.

            In one recent Sabbath School class, I asked what does it take to be closer to Holy Spirit?

            The one-word answer, "Time," by one of the young men in the class covered it, I believe.

  6. Quite a lot of exquisite truths has been uncovered this quarter regarding the person and operation of the Holy Spirit, but I don't believe good food benefits anyone until it's eaten.

    This quote from the above lesson stirred my interest, "Thus we can live because He lives IN us. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives IN me.""(Gal 2:20) Scripture is replete with this concept of God dwelling INSIDE humans, as in Jn 14:10,17,23 and 1 Pt 1:10-11. This is further reinforced and personalized by Scripture's revelation that humans were created to be the dwellings of the Almighty (Jn 2:21; 2 Cor 6:16; 1 Cor 6:19-20; 3:16-17). What are the practical implications of this teaching?

    1) Where does God actually reside?

    I live in my entire house, but I spend more time in some areas more than others. How much time I spend in each particular area is all driven by my personal reasons and choices as the property owner. Scripture has much to say about different parts of the body, and a lot of it isn't very complimentary. Solomon wrote of the hands (Prov 6:17); Isaiah of the head and feet (Isaiah 1:5; 59:7); Paul of the genitals (Rm 1:26-27); James of the tongue (Jam 3:8). Even though James wrote as he did about the tongue, despite the unique dangers posed by each specific part, no part is an independent offender. All fall under the dictate of the ONE place Scripture reveals to be the designated dwelling of Divinity (Eph 3:17; Gal 4:6). Unfortunately, there is a body part called the heart that is NOT responsible for directing the other parts. However, even in this day of scientific enlightenment, it is deceptively thought and spoken of as the seat of human emotion and decision making over the true place of the brain/mind (Eze 36:26; Heb 8:10; Eph 4:22-23)!

    2) Am I a squatter?

    If a land owner builds a house and another, without permission, moves in and occupies the property--that occupant is illegitimate, a squatter--subject to lawful eviction (Ps 24:1; Eph 2:2-3; Jn 12:31; Lk 4:18).

    3) How does this "exorcism/eviction" take place?

    Humanity's release from satan's domination requires the united collaboration of the Father (Col 1:12-13), Son (Heb 3:6; Gal 3:13-14) and Holy Spirit (Ps 143:9-10; 1 Jn 5:7). Are there really individuals who would continue to cling to our battered "spirit" (Ps 143:3-4) instead of accepting God's Helper (Neh 9:20; Eze 36:27; Jn 14:26; Rm 8:11,26)?

    Will we deny Him space in His own place?


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