This is coaching session #7
Without knowing what God has done with sin through Jesus, it is very hard to see our righteousness in Christ, and our inheritance from him. This aspect, like others, flows from the last one. This aspect is not preached a lot in most of the mainstream church.
Think about this: if focus is sin, and confession of sin, how do you weave the subject of righteousness into that in any type of practical sense? The fact is that sin and righteousness don’t mix. If we live in All the Light We Do Not See, we don’t have revelation of how God has dealt with sin, so righteousness is nothing more than theology to us.
The purpose of the gospel is to transform our minds and straighten out our thinking, so we think the thoughts of God (Rom 12:2, Isa 55:8-9). It is to give us correct belief as a foundation.
Behavior vs. Belief
When we are sin conscious, our focus is on behavior, not belief. We’re constantly behavior focused, judging ourselves and others. We criticize, condemn, accuse, or excuse, forgive and exhort, all based on performance.
Here our focus is GOOD (and of course bad), but not GOD. We assess everything from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, viewing everything as ‘good or bad.’ Thus, Christianity becomes another form of behavior modification. This is the way of man. It’s founded on human wisdom.
If we are gospel conscious, then our focus is on belief, not behavior. This is the way of God.
The new dispensation of God’s gospel grace is meant to get us to live at higher ground and see things the way he does. Here’s a truism I use showing God thinking: Good behavior will never produce correct belief, but correct belief will eventually produce good behavior.
Proverbs 23:7 says it this way: “As a man thinks (believes) in his heart, so is he.” We can fool some of the people part of the time by our behavior. But here is the main truth: we cannot consistently act, on the outside, different from how we believe, on the inside.
The fact is that what we focus on in our minds and hearts if the way we live with our hands, feet and mouths. We’re inside-out creations. If we focus on good things inside of us (good gospel things), then what comes out of us is usually good. If we focus on bad things inside of us, then bad comes out of us. Jesus says, “A good tree brings forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth bad fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matt 7:17-18). Thus Paul says the GOSPEL brings forth good fruit from us (Col 1:5-6).
Old Testament Righteousness v. the New
In the Old Testament, righteousness was only by keeping ALL of Gods law – every single thing (Deut 6:25). This produced blessing. Not keeping God’s law produced curses. But we have a BETTER New Covenant.
Here, the righteousness of God is given to us as a gift (Rom 5:17). The problem is if we’re sin-conscious, we cannot receive this gift. Sin focus will keep us looking at it from across the room, maybe telling us it’s only ours if we get to heaven. But this verse says if we RECEIVE God’s grace and righteousness, then we reign with Christ here and now.
Self Righteousness Controls Most Folks
Paul makes a distinction between our own self righteousness vs. the righteousness of God that is a gift to us. The first is earned, the second is a gift. We really need to understand the difference, because human inclination is to gravitate toward SELF – this is the work of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge.
I nick-named it “The Tree of Self.” It’s the temptation that led Eve into wanting to be like God (Gen 3:5). This is the epitome of SELF, and of worshiping ourselves the creature, more than the Creator (Rom 1:25).
I’ve found that Paul has two connective statements about these two types of righteousness, one in Romans and one in Philippians. If you put them together, they tell the story of righteousness.
First, look at God’s righteousness (Rom 10:2)
“They being ignorant of GOD’S righteousness, and trying to establish their OWN righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.”
The fact is this: if we live in SELF, we cannot also live in GOD. Self is sin, and if we are sin focused, we cannot be righteousness focused. They cannot be joint tenants in the same body. We must choose one.
We must choose to SUBMIT ourselves to God’s gift of righteousness, as this passage says, or our whole lives will be consumed with achieving self righteousness – or as we lawyers would say, our right standing with God. If it is by the flesh, it cannot be by the Spirit.
And self righteousness is by means of the flesh. But this passage tells us if our focus is our own righteousness, then we are IGNORANT of God’s gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17, II Cor 5:21). Again, we must make a choice: God or self.
Second, look at self righteousness (Phil 3:9)
Here Paul says he wants to be found in Christ (he’s choosing God, not self). Then he says, “Not having my own (SELF) righteousness, which is by the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is OF GOD, by faith.” The righteousness of God is a Kingdom gift, and as we’ve seen, we have ALL God’s gifts he has in his Kingdom. Self righteousness, or the righteousness of man, must come by other means. This is one reason God did away with the law.
Anytime we live in SELF, we are living by law, rules, regulations, principles, precepts, formulas, or some other external means of measurement that is observable. God’s Kingdom is internal, lived from the inside out. The Parable of the Sower says it depends on what we allow to have planted inside us.
What You Sow Is What You Reap
Paul explains this best in Galatians 6:7-8: “Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he who sows to his FLESH (by the law) shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the SPIRIT, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” If we let God sow all his good gospel stuff into us, then that comes out of us. “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit.” But if we sow other non-gospel theology and beliefs into us, we are living in self and flesh. “A bad tree can’t produce good fruit.”
It is empowering when Paul says the GOSPEL is what produces good fruit from us (Col 1:5-6). What you sow is what you reap! Thus he says the gospel is what fulfills God’s word in us (Col 1:23-25).
Remember: living by the Old Covenant (the law) puts a veil over our hearts and minds so we can’t understand truth (II Cor 3:15-17).
This is why so many Christians struggle with the issues of sin, righteousness, judgment, forgiveness, condemnation, guilt, fear, and everything else. The great strategy of Satan is to blind our minds to gospel truth, and take us captive at his will.
Jesus said, “Repent and believe the gospel.” These were the very first words out of his mouth, and the most important thing on his mind and heart. If it was the most important thing to our Lord, should it be the most important thing to us too?
Here’s Paul Assessment of Things. “Gentiles, who did not follow after righteousness, have attained it, even the righteousness that is of faith. But Israel, what followed after the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness, because they sought it by works, not by faith” (Rom 9:30-32).
We Must Live In Gospel Revelation
Paul calls the gospel a ‘mystery.’ This is because it can only be seen and revealed, when you sell out to it. If it’s merely one theology on your list of many, you will never see the see the gospel in all its glory. That’s why we repent of ALL other beliefs and believe the gospel.
It was the first command of Jesus – what I call the LOST command of Jesus. Satan has done does great work when it comes to hiding the gospel from us, and keeping us captives from believing it.
But when we do come into the glory of the gospel, then we see that ALL of the inheritance of Jesus is also our inheritance. We are joint, equal heirs with him in all things (Rom 8:17). “As Jesus is, so are WE in this world” (I John 4:17). As we’ll see in session #10, God has put us on an equal plain with himself. This defies belief more than anything else.