“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
Here the Apostle Paul summarized the heart of the gospel, that which he stated was ‘the message of reconciliation” (v.19). This explains how sinners such as us can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Two actions by God the Father upon Jesus, the Son of God resulted in the fulfillment of the promised destruction of sin in Genesis 3:15. Jesus the sinless Son of God, knew no sin was made to carry our sin on our behalf. God the Father, using the principle which is called imputation, treated Christ as if He were a sinner though He was not, and had Him die as a substitute to pay the penalty for the sins of those who believe in Him. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” v.19 “God by His own will and design used His Son, the only acceptable and perfect sacrifice, as the means to reconcile sinners to Himself.” “On the cross, Jesus did not become a sinner (as some suggest), but remained as holy as ever. He was treated as if He were guilty of all the sins ever committed by all who would ever believe, though He committed none.”*
* John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), 2 Co 5:21.
“…in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him. not having a righteousness of my own, legal righteousness but that (which is) through faith in Christ. the righteousness (which is) from God (and rests) on faith” – Philippians 3:9*
There is a purpose for us to also toss all our self-effort to please God on the refuse heap. This is a warning from the Apostle Paul for any who would think and expect that their own good deeds were in any way a righteousness that counts before God. Such “good works” will never be regarded as true righteousness. We’re to never expect God to accept us into His Kingdom based on how good we have been in life. Those that do will be disappointed. Some receiving this letter by Paul may have been offended by this. Paul says accomplishments which conformed to the Old Testament Law of Moses and the myriad of additional interpretations and traditions built up by the Jewish religious authorities since Moses. Yet it applies to any self-effort to please God and any effort by us to be righteous by following any set of laws. The only righteousness which is through faith in Christ has any value. By faith our hand extended to receive God’s free gift. Only righteousness that is imputed to the us sinners as God’s free gift is how we obtain this righteousness. Not earned, for a gift is never earned.
*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5:164.)
“Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” – 1 John 3:7-8 (NASB)
It’s Christmas Day on our calendar and our thoughts are turned to the Gift of Gifts, Jesus the Son of God. Remembering so many other names we can use; King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. We might think our selected verse is sort of unusual for this day. But, no. It is appropriate in many ways that we recall and think about the reason we have this day on our calendar and what we celebrate God becoming fully Man while remaining fully God. It is mind blowing. Let’s take time to contemplate this extraordinary situation.. If the Son of God came to help us stop sinning — to destroy the works of the devil — and if he also came to die so that, when we do sin, there is a propitiation, a removal of God’s wrath, then what does this imply for living our life? For the next three posts, thanks to notes from John Piper’s “Solid Joys”, we will look at three gifts which God in Christ has given us. They are, A Clear Purpose for Living, Hope That Our Failures Will Be Forgiven, and Christ Will Help Us.
21 “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.”
25 “And the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to my cleanness in his sight.” – 2 Samuel 22:21 & 25 (ESV)
Context is important. Referencing God’s strength and might by saying He is our rock and fortress appears frequently in the Psalms of David and others. But this song was written to remember the deliverance God gave him from all his enemies. It could be that David finished this song near the end of his reign. Once they were at war with the Philistines and not ordinary Philistines in this case. David’s army was up against the giants of Gath – the same tribe which Goliath came from. This occasion there were four giants and one in particular is identified in this way; “And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants.” (2 Samuel 21:20) With God’s might and provision, David’s nephew, Johnathan defeated this monster. David’s army prevailed. David was not claiming to be righteous or sinless in any absolute sense. Rather, David believed God, and was considered righteous by faith. He desired to please the Lord and obey His commands. Thus he was blameless when compared with his enemies.
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” – Philippians 1:9-11(NASB)
Paul wrote letters to the churches he helped start and in them he scribed some awesome promised packed prayers. This verse today is one and it is so full we can’t cover it all. But we focus in on the first requests in Paul’s prayer; ‘love may abound,’ ‘in real knowledge,’ and ‘all discernment. The word for ‘knowledge’ describes genuine, full or advanced knowledge. Our practical application of knowledge out of moral and spiritual perceptive is the exercise of discernment. This is our ability in love to distinguish between right and wrong. Paul prayed the Philippians’ love for other believers would abound still more and more and, run over as a cup or a river overflows. The Philippians were already known as a loving assembly of believers and the apostle prays that it would increase. The result would be advanced knowledge and spiritual sensitivity and discernment in their lives. Why does he pray this for the Philippians? So that they would be filled with the fruit of righteousness through Jesus Christ, to His glory and praise of God. Lest we forget, also that we would be able to stand blameless until the Day of Christ.
“To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” Luke 1:74-75 (NASB)
The singing at Christmas time reminds us of the great things God has given us through His Son Jesus. This is in line with the songs recorded in our Bible before Jesus was born as well as when He was born. We look today at a song which Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist sang when his son John was born. A few days ago we looked at a portion of Mary’s song, The Magnificat. Today we select a passage from the prophecy by sung by, Zechariah. This, of course was just six months before Jesus was born. Our verses for today remind us about what God was doing in sending His Son to earth. Jesus came to earth to serve God in holiness and righteousness. He came to help us live pleasing to God through all our days. Jesus came to be our Savior to make our lives different so that we will bring glory and honor to God the Father and Jesus our Savior, God the Son. If He is your Savior, my Friend, He will help you live today in a way that pleases God. That is a promise.
“Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him.” Isaiah 45:24 (ESV)
Today’s verse is an example of God giving to His prophet the very words that He wanted written down and delivered to His people. This is why it is correct to call the Bible the Word of God. We know that its teachings come from our creator. Sometimes God gave his prophets the words to say in various methods. One of those methods was to instruct the prophet to copy verbatim His words and deliver them as a message in God’s words. In this instance Isaiah received the Word of God directly from God. God predicted here what people would say about Him. If we are walking close to the Lord in our Christian life we can say what God predicted we would say. Yes, as we walk with the Lord we find that He is the source of our ability to live right. We find His righteousness keeps us in the straight way. It is how we find strengths that we need to do what we’ve been given to do. Walking close to the source of the promised strength, let’s commit to doing that today.