The question of the ages, of the universe, and of the world, is that of righteousness.
When we approach what I like to call the million dollar question, why do born again believers not behave according to their new-creation nature, we have come to the very bedrock of the Christian faith, and also the most pressing issue of the universe, period.
The issue is righteousness.
Jesus said that He was the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6). He is our righteousness, He is our truth. And, while the entire world stands condemned already (John 3:18), it must be understood that it is righteousness, and righteousness alone (including perfect justice or its lack), that is still at the “center of the universe”.
Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!
The world is condemned for their lack of righteousness. Believers are commanded to walk in it, through the Holy Ghost. And, God, and He alone, is the judge.
The issue facing the church is not a social activism, saving the planet, or even directly helping the poor, although we must do that. The concern of the church is becoming what we already are, Christ’s righteousness.
The change that takes place when a person believes is internal, in the heart, producing the righteousness of Christ in our hearts. This is immediate, instant, and complete, requiring nothing. Yet, in the heart of the true believer who loves Jesus, it is always walked out. If you love Him, you will keep His commandments (John 14:15).
The central issue, according to Jesus, is Holiness.
God is Holy. To act like God, we must think like Him. Unless we love the things He loves, and hate the things He hates, we have not yet learned to walk in Him (Matthew 5:19).
The world stands condemned, and scheduled for a certain destruction because of it’s sin. Jesus came to save men from that, as God’s “last effort”, His last offer of redemption (Hebrews 2:3). But, for the church, for those who would follow Him, the call is to perfect holiness out of reverence for God, out of a heart of love, and not of striving to keep a code.
When “Grace” messages get off, they usually do not simply say that all sin is acceptable. That is listed out right by Paul. Instead, they usually lose all sense of right and wrong completely. Yet, Jesus said that while He is our righteousness, the Law and it’s order is still God’s best, and His definition of right standing and living.
Many, of course, have attempted to keep the law in a form or a place that is not right. Attempting to keep the law by following it, they may shipwreck their faith, or not find the freedom of the glory of the saints of Christ.
Many, however, have thrown out all moral standards of right and wrong. They find themselves in a place with no one that can tell them they’re wrong, for they are not under the law, and yet whether they are stealing, adulterating, or murdering, even in their hearts, who can tell them any differently? ”There’s grace, brother.” Well, maybe you don’t take your license to the extreme, but some will. Maybe for you, just being yourself is an average nothing, but what about the individual to whom being them self is a pedophile or a rapist?
The only righteousness available to the New Covenant believer is the Holy Ghost. It is in seeking Him diligently, pursuing His Spirit constantly, and living by Him, keeping in step with Him, that we no longer gratify the desires of the sinful nature. It is in living after the law of the Spirit, and Him alone, that we fulfill all righteousness, we do the deeds of God, and live righteous. The one who lives most by the Spirit is the one who lives most perfectly within the Spirit of the Law, for the Spirit is He that has spoken through the prophets who wrote it.
Even the world knows that sin is a disgrace to a people. Yet, God has allowed the law to remain visible to us simply because of our possibility of deception. As the Law is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, when we see that we are grossly violating the heart that God demonstrated, live outside the clear outlines of scripture throughout the Old and the New Testament, we can be sure that, whether we think we are or not, we are not living by the Spirit.
Wisdom is proved right by all her actions, but at the end of it all, when it is said and done, if you live righteous through Christ Jesus, you will live. If you reject all righteousness, and all correction, and all reproof, and do not keep to His Words, His Ways, or His Love, chances are, though you may claim the name of Christ, you may be none of His.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.