Posts Tagged 2 Corinthians 5: 21

Conscience Bath

Hebrews 9: 14

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The writer of Hebrews makes the comparison between the Old Testament sacrifice of the blood of animals to the New Covenant established in the blood of Jesus. The blood of animals was able to purify people so that they were presented clean. How much more the blood of Christ? However, let us take note. This verse really isn’t so much about being washed and, thus, presented holy and clean as it is about sin consciousness. There is a big difference.

Would you feel more clean, more justified if I sprinkled you with the blood of a sacrificed animal? That is the issue here. The blood of Christ is pristine enough to sear our consciousness of sin, that is, if we allow it. There is power in the blood of Christ but there is more power in your authority as the decision maker. As I have written before, you are either an old sinner or you are saved by grace. To say that you are an old sinner saved by grace makes a good sound byte but the reality is that you are either one or the other. We understand what people are attempting to convey with that statement, and it is meant to be a statement of humility. However, the greatest statement of all is, “I am clean.” Now that is a faith statement and it takes throwing yourself completely into the blood and sacrifice of Christ to make it.

The point of this verse and this theme is that since Christ cleansed you from all unrighteousness and washed away your sin (past, present and future) with his blood, then you ought to have a clean conscience as well. If we maintain a guilty conscience, or awareness of our sin, then that is a confession that Jesus’ blood was not sufficient. A continuing reminder of our former sin, then, tends to give way to dead works. What are dead works? Those are the things we do, even subconsciously, to earn salvation.

We know we are unworthy of salvation. Therefore, we subconsciously do the things which we think will earn us favor with God. We try to do the “right things.” At one level these behaviors and the motivation for them appear, if not holy, at least rightful. In truth, though, they are repugnant, a stench in the nostrils of God. Why? The reason is because the entire paradigm is based on an egocentric religion. It does not flow from faith and thanksgiving to the Almighty. It does not depend on the blood of Christ. This salvation depends solely on our worthiness. This righteousness comes through our own strength. We must earn the favor of God through behaviors.

The true faith lies in surrender. It requires much greater faith in God and in the sacrifice He and Jesus made to say, “I was unworthy but now I am clean.” God says you are His righteousness now. (2 Corinthians 5: 21). There is nothing you can do to add to your standing with Him and the blood of Christ, when it is fully and freely accepted, cleanses, purges the consciousness of sin and stain. Our very conscience will be wiped clean from dead works. In that clean conscience is living worship and service to the king.

If you can’t say, “I stand clean before the Lord,” then meditate on this scripture and 2 Corinthians 5: 21. You have been made clean by Jesus’ blood. You will never be more clean than you are at this moment nor will sin stain your conscience if you accept what Christ did. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, no longer an old sinner but fully and completely saved and washed by grace. Glory to God and our precious Lord Jesus!

Concerning Righteousness

John 16: 10

I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

In John 16: 7 – 11, Jesus revealed that He would send the Holy Spirit and He made known some of the tasks the Spirit would perform in the earth. Besides convicting the world concerning sin and judgment, he also convicts our hearts about righteousness.

The segment of Jesus’ statement about righteousness, is just as involved as that concerning sin which we looked at yesterday. This Greek word translated as “convict” in the New American Standard is more complex than one might initially suspect. While we hear that the Holy Spirit came to pass sentence on us or imprison, punish or berate us in the context of sin, righteousness and judgment, that is not the understanding a Greek reader would have taken away from this passage. The word “elegcho” certainly contains elements of that translation but in this verse, I think some of the other words in its definition are more apropos; words such as convince and to prove. It means, also, to bring to light. Therefore, read this verse in this way, “And He, when He comes, will convince the world concerning righteousness.”

The Holy Spirit is proving and convincing us regarding righteousness because Jesus has gone to the Father. Jesus’ departure ushered in an entire new way of being, much less a new way of thinking. Jesus’ words undoubtedly perplexed his followers who thought they knew about sin and righteousness. It really took until the Apostle Paul’s writings for it to become clear. He wrote, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” (2 Corinthians 5: 21). Those words never cease to amaze. God took Jesus’ righteousness and made an even trade with us for our sin. In so doing, Jesus became all sin and we became the righteousness of God. What a deal!

The Holy Spirit is now in the earth trying to convince you of your righteousness. He offers proofs of the righteousness of God so that we may believe. That is what Jesus was expressing in this statement. You see, the Holy Spirit was sent into the earth for our benefit. He didn’t come into the earth to condemn us. We had already very successfully done that for ourselves. He came to prove to you the goodness of God and the love with which the Father has already saved and blessed you. Through no effort on our part, through no miracle of human ingenuity or wisdom, we have become righteousness so that when God looks upon us, He sees His own righteousness in Christ upon us. That is crazy cool! What a miracle!

Breastplate

Breastplate

Ephesians 6: 14b

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

What do you picture when you hear “breastplate?” Do you see Roman armor or perhaps medieval knight armor? A good visual image helps understand the importance of this piece of armor.

The breastplate protects all the vital organs except the brain. Obviously, it is a crucial piece of armor. We are encouraged by Paul’s writings to stand firm against the enemy. You won’t fear the stones thrown by the enemy because your breastplate protects your heart and the rest of your sensitive organs. So, what is our breastplate fashioned from and how do we don it?

The breastplate is righteousness, so what is righteousness? The simple answer is that it is right standing with God. Vine’s adds “right relationship” with God. The harder question becomes, how do we attain this right standing or righteousness with God.? It may be easier to begin by discussing the wrong way to pursue righteousness. Romans 9: 30 – 32 reads, “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.” Many of us have confused righteousness with holiness. We are to be holy for God is holy (1 Peter 1: 16) but holiness is not synonymous with righteousness. The Jews, Paul tells us, tried to acquire righteousness through good works. That is not the way. Jesus is the way (John 14: 6). We can never be righteous in or by our own works. The Gentiles attained to righteousness because of their faith, because, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5: 21). They put their faith in Jesus and he became their righteousness.

The key to putting on this breastplate of righteousness is contained in that verse. It is in the last two words. Jesus is righteousness but if you want to put on his righteousness then you must be “in him.” This is so critical. As I said, it is the key. One can be a Christian but never make their abode with and in Christ. We must put him on and live in him. It is difficult to explain but you may perceive the difference. Abiding in him means that your life is inextricably interwoven with Christ. He is all wrapped up in your life and you in his. When you are in Christ, when you make that decision to live in him, then his righteousness becomes yours automatically. This is not a work of the flesh either. By faith we receive the righteousness of God. We receive, rather than labor. My holiness is putrid but Jesus’ righteousness is glorious, shining armor.

So, this means that your right standing with God, which is something Jesus bought for you, protects and guards your heart. Your part is to receive it with grace and thanksgiving. Acknowledge your righteousness in Christ Jesus in your own mind. Speak it with your mouth. When you are challenged, stop and see yourself putting on the righteousness of God like a Roman breastplate. Wear righteousness proudly because not only is it the breastplate of your armor but in fact you have actually become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Wear Jesus, therefore, proudly and when you feel like a sinner, or when the devil accuses you, renew your mind with this truth. Stand firmly, therefore, unable to be persuaded that you are lowly and sin-stained. Stand proudly with your chest up displaying the righteousness of Jesus. Where we have failed, he has all the more overcome and his victory outshines our ineptitude and failures.

Shine up your breastplate. Put it on by acknowledging Jesus’ purchase of righteousness for you. Get you and your failure off your mind and delightedly present Jesus. Don’t try to earn righteousness, just put it on.

Fertile Desert

Isaiah 32: 16 -18

The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.

Glory! Hallelujah! Does this strike you as good news? Or, perhaps, great news! I can even sweeten this by telling you when this is to happen. This is for you today.

The problem with many Old Testament verses is that people stumble over the timing. That is understandable. I will tell you that most of them are fulfilled in Jesus if you ever have doubt. The great thing about today’s verse is that Isaiah actually told us when this would become a reality. In verse 15 he disclosed that this change in the environment, this change in the world would come when “the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high.” Yahoo!

Jesus promised us another. In fact, he said it was better for us that he leave earth so that he could send the helper (John 16: 7). He told his disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they received that which was promised, or in other words, the Holy Spirit (Acts 1: 4 – 5). Then, on the day of Pentecost, the promise was fulfilled and the Holy Spirit was poured out from on high. You and I are not living in the time of which Isaiah spoke. This prophecy is for our time. We should take great joy in this good news.

Isaiah saw that because of the coming of the Holy Spirit we could live in peace and righteousness. This concept is very in keeping with other New Testament text. Paul wrote that we have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5: 21) and did you know that Jesus is the Prince of Peace? Additionally, when he left earth, he left us his peace (John 14: 27). Increasingly, we are seeing all of the pieces fitting together. It shouldn’t be any surprise, though, because all of this was part of God’s master plan. He knew when He whispered in Isaiah’s ear that this day would come and that what He told Isaiah would be fulfilled in our sight.

There is a key to unlocking all of this though. The key is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that he is the “Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you” (John 14: 17). It is the “in you” piece that is so revolutionary. The disciples knew of the Holy Spirit but Jesus was telling them that when he went away and sent the outpouring of the Spirit, then the Spirit would come to not only live with us but in us. This continuing presence of the Holy Spirit is a game changer. The sad truth, though, is that it is only a game changer for those who recognize the truth and embrace it. He was sent as our helper so we have to let him do his job.

In him is this peace, confidence, righteous enjoyment and all of the other great and wonderful things that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have worked to bring us. Their plan installs each of them in our lives as partners. Isaiah saw the desert turned into a fertile field. That desert is our lives and hearts. They have been renewed in Christ and we have a joyous and victorious reality to live.

God is . . . joyful in righteousness

1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 5

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness.

What do you think of when you hear the word unrighteousness? At some level we hear “wrongness” don’t we? Something is not right. One of the definitions of righteousness means essentially that we are in our right place with God. It has to do with where we are in relation to Him. We are righteous in Christ who has placed us in right standing with God. The other use of this word is the one we probably think of more often. It refers to our personal adherence to a code of behavior or laws. When we hear someone is unrighteous we tend to think of them as being wicked. That is going a bit far but certainly one who is wicked is not in their proper place with God and is not following the social mores or laws.

When I hear the word “righteous” I think of Jesus. I have hung my hat on 2 Corinthians 5: 21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Our standing with God is assured. It is not earned. Jesus gave it to us in His sacrifice and it would be repugnant to try to earn it. We are in our right position with God because Jesus bought it with his blood. Of course, our God will not rejoice in our being unrighteous or not in the spot Jesus bought for us. He is not satisfied with us not being in Jesus and standing in the grace Jesus wrought for us. If we do not accept who we are in Christ, the Father cannot rejoice. He can only grieve.

There was an exchange made at that altar of the cross. The sin of the world was laid on the lamb in exchange for the righteousness of God. All of my sin and yours was put on the altar so that we could arise in Christ Jesus in the glory and majesty of His victory and righteousness. Our only task is to intertwine ourselves in the love of Jesus. We put our wrongness on his rightness and his rightness wins every time. The Father is glorified and made joyful when we immerse ourselves in the light of Jesus. He rejoices when we rely upon 2 Corinthians 5: 21 and claim Jesus’ victory bigger than our failures. He is happy when we raise Jesus up above our self-aware shortcomings. We are right in Christ and that is the only way we can ever be righteous. Love rejoices when we abide in love.

Clean

John 15: 3

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

Jesus’ work is complete. Did you know that? Even before the cross he said the words he spoke made people clean. Do you find that amazing? What amazes me is that today, after the cross, people are still obsessed with their dirt. If we are Christians, we need only be obsessed with Jesus’ righteousness. It is he who cleanses us and nothing we have ever done or ever will do will make us worthy of the righteousness of God. None the less, the scriptures say that we are the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5: 21).

Look, we are all human and fall short of the glory of God but sin doesn’t make you a sinner unless your status is predicated on your prowess. Of course, none of us wants to sin, yet we do. That is why we needed a savior. He is the glory and the righteousness of God so we just bury ourselves in him. In him, we also are the glory and the righteousness of God. Apart from him, we are broken husks of humanity.

Jesus has made us clean, so lose the sin consciousness. Put on a saved and redeemed consciousness. To focus on our sin, on our short-comings is to be self-centered. We are supposed to be Christ-centered. In other words, our thoughts and perspectives are about him, what he has done and who we are in him. Who we are in ourselves is not important. We weren’t satisfied with that person which is why we gave lordship to Jesus. Who we are in Christ is everything.

The sacrifice is complete; the work done. Jesus has perfected us in him. He has cleansed us and made us whole. He is the glory and the lifter of our heads so that we can joyfully walk into the throne room of God, unashamed. My big brother paid the price when I couldn’t. That is everything.

In Hot Pursuit

Proverb 21: 21            NIV

He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.

Yesterday we saw from verses 17 and 18 of Proverb 21 that the pursuit of pleasure leads to poverty. Today we are fortunate to get to see the other side of the coin. If we wish to have abundant life, prosperity and honor then we must pursue righteousness.

Now, before we fall on our faces, let us review our thinking on righteousness. Many of us were trained in the notion that righteousness equates to good works. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, that kind of “righteousness” is repugnant to God. It is a rancid odor in His nostrils. Righteousness, in a word, is Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5: 21 reads, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This means that Jesus, who is and was the righteousness of God, traded his righteousness for our sin. He became our sin so that we could become the righteousness of God. Therefore, our pursuit of Jesus, is necessarily a pursuit of righteousness.

There is an interesting passage about this very topic from the Apostle Paul. “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone” (Romans 9: 30 – 32). The stumbling stone was Jesus. I find this passage amazing. The Israelites, the chosen ones, who pursued righteousness through their works failed while the Gentiles who by faith sought Jesus attained righteousness. Wow!

Shall we, though, take it one step further? The verse for today also says that those who pursue love find life, prosperity and honor. This one is really easy, isn’t it. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4: 8). Yeah, you don’t need a theology degree in order to knock this one out of the park. God is love. Therefore, if one pursues God, then that is a pursuit of love and thus the result is life, prosperity and honor. 1 Corinthians 14: 1 says “Pursue love . . ..” It really is that simple.

So, what is the conclusion of all this? Our happiness, prosperity, peace, joy, well-being, life, and honor are found in the pursuit of the Father and the Son, merely in the pursuit. It is not in the tracking down or even in the finding. Your Father and God does the revealing. Your only part is to pursue. “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him” (1 Chronicles 28: 9).

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