Nick Jones

God, Life, Religion

Category: Righteousness

How Do I Become Righteous?

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” –Matthew 5:20

That is a strong statement for Jesus to make. What Jesus is informing His hearers here on the mountain is that in order to obtain salvation, in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, one must be more righteous than the most righteous people. The scribes and Pharisees counted themselves righteous because they were sons of Abraham and because they followed what the law required. According to them they were righteous because they obeyed the law. They made themselves righteous.

The Bible is clear that in order to obtain salvation one must be righteous, one must be free from sin. Jesus says in Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We must be righteous in order to be saved. Which then leads to the question, how do I become righteous?

Many will say that if we keep the ten commandments, obey the Bible, do good works, all those things will make us righteous. Sounds good right? “Righteousness is right living” is what I’ve heard before. And many Christians focus on being good and following what the Bible says. The unfortunate thing is that when we do that we become legalists because we are trying to become righteous in our own power.

What does that look like to God? Isaiah has some words about that, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” All our righteous deeds are a like a filthy garment in the eyes of God. We can’t make ourselves look more righteous in God’s eyes. When we try in our own power to be good, we are trying in our own power to save ourselves, to make ourselves righteous. And when we try to make ourselves righteous in our own power we are putting on filthy rags.

Jesus asks us to put on His righteousness. In Revelation 3 Jesus tells the church of Laodicea who is lukewarm and believes themselves to be rich and fully clothed that they are instead naked. And that the only way to solve that problem is to “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you m ay become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourselves and that the sham of your nakedness will not be revealed.”

We Christians today think we have it together. We think because we obey the commandments, help people out, believe the right things that God has to save us. The problem is that we are relying on our own righteousness. Christ says, “Buy from Me My white garment of righteousness. Put it on.”

Even though it’s free, it will cost you everything you have, everything you are. Because to buy from Christ means to give Him all. When we buy His righteousness we trade ourselves, we give up ourselves. And when Christ clothes us with His white garment, we are instantly righteous. Now we always have the choice to take the garment off (and frequently do), but when we submit to Christ, He puts it back on us and we are righteous again.

We get righteousness by submitting to Christ, moment by moment, day by day. We get righteousness by taking Christ’s righteousness as our own, infiltrating our lives, and running our lives. Definitely easier said than done.

For the previous post in this series on the definition of righteousness Click Here.
For the next post in this series that deals with what righteousness is not, Click Here.

Chose the Good Part

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“But only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:42

Here’s the context. Jesus had just finished sharing the parable of the Good Samaritan. He had asked the lawyer that famous question, “Who was the neighbor?” To which the lawyer couldn’t even muster the ability to say “The Samaritan.” In the next verse we find Jesus traveling to a different town and two women befriend Him and are neighborly to Him.

Mary and Martha invite Jesus to their home and Martha begins the preparations as most good hostesses do. While Martha is busy buzzing around, Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to what Jesus was saying. Martha was upset as most of us would be if our sibling was not helping out and demanded that Jesus tell Mary to help her. Jesus’ reply? The above text.

When reading this passage I noticed a connection between this verse and Psalm 27:4.

“One thing I have asked form the LORD, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.”

The one good part that Mary had chosen was to sit at the feet of Jesus and meditate upon His words, to accept His leading, and to be fully engaged with Him. Mary chose the good part. How many times in life when we spend time with God do we choose the good part?

So often I come to my time with God quickly and with other things on my mind. Instead of choosing the good part, I choose the bad part. I choose hurriedness, I choose scattered brain, I choose to focus on me. Reading this helped me realize that the good part is slowing down and choosing Christ.

I realized that by slowing down, ingesting the words of Christ I choose the good part. I realized that instead of choosing worldly pleasures and my own righteousness, by choosing the good part I choose Christ’s righteousness. When Christ was talking to the church of Laodicea in Revelation, He encouraged them to buy from Him white garments and gold.

So often I come to my devotional time thinking I have it all together, thinking that I know what I need to know.  But when I slow down and understand the good part, I realize that I don’t have it all together, and I need to not just meditate on His words in the morning, but all through the day. Once I have it, it can’t be taken from me, but I can step away from it. Just as it is with His righteousness. When I buy the white garment of His righteousness I have it and it can’t be taken from me. Only I can choose to take the garment off.

This excites me as I hope it does you. Jesus is waiting every day for us to spend time with Him. Why not choose the good part today?

What is Righteousness?

I mentioned that one of the things that I have been studying as of late is righteousness by faith. But it might be a good idea to start out by defining righteousness by faith or justification by faith.

The problem that we humans have with justification by faith or righteousness by faith is that is defined as this:
“It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.”

The first part doesn’t appeal to many people. How many of us really want to lay our glory in the dust? Most of us if we’re honest with ourselves would like to be famous. We want our fifteen minutes of fame. We try to find or create different ways in which to do that. And society is bowing to our desire. Look at how easy it is to become famous today, all you have to do is get a viral video and bam!

“It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.”

–Ellen White

Yet justification by faith is the work of God laying the glory of man and woman in the dust. God can’t work with a person full of pride thinking they can do everything on their own. The reason He can’t is because that person won’t let Him work.

Here’s the thing, God only works with people fully submitted to Him. He won’t force anyone to anything they don’t want to. And when we submit to Him we are admitting that we can’t do anything to save ourselves.

The Bible teaches that we must be righteous in order to be saved. Jesus says in Matthew 5:20, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

If we even think that we can be more righteous than the Pharisees of old we’re mistaking ourselves. It doesn’t matter if we believe the truth, if we’re doing it for our own glory, we’re lost. Righteousness by faith means we submit to Christ, admitting that we can’t save ourselves and that we can’t be righteous in and of ourself. Then and only then does Christ give us His righteousness.

As Jeremiah said, “And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.'” It is Christ’s righteousness, not ours.

The next post in this series will deal with how we become righteous. (Click Here)

Trust Your Heart?

“Trust your heart.” Have you ever received that advice? Princess Diana before she passed away was quoted as saying, “Only do what your heart tells you.” I know I’ve received that advice before. When a big decision needs to be made, especially in some Disney movie, the advice is, “Trust your heart. Your heart will know what to do. Your heart will never lead you astray. Listen to your heart.” But can we really trust our heart?

The problem with trusting our hearts is that our hearts can lie to us. Our hearts will tell us that everything is ok when its not. Our hearts tell us what we want to hear, not necessarily what we need to hear. Our hearts are liars. When we listen to our hearts we lead with our emotions. And many times when we make decisions based on emotion we can get into a lot of trouble.

Most importantly, our heart can tell us that we are righteous when we aren’t. Our heart can tell us that because we are going to church, paying our tithe, and follow the ten commandments that we are becoming more and more righteous in the eyes of God. The only problem is that the Bible tell us that our righteousness is as filthy rags. Our righteousness is nothing in the eyes of God. Check it out:

For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.

–Isaiah 64:6

You see, God tells us not to trust our heart. He says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” The heart is more deceitful than anything in life. Everything else is less deceitful than the heart. Our heart has the potential of great evil more than anything else in our lives. Jesus, talking with His disciples in the Gospel of Mark says this, “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

The heart produces these things! When we allow our hear to lead, when we trust our heart, we end up in a bad way. Yet there is hope. Christ says in Revelation 3 to “buy from [Him]…white garments so that [we] may clothe [ourselves].” The heart tells us we don’t need Christ’s righteousness. But Jesus says that unless we are clothed in His righteousness we will only be wearing filthy rags.

I want to buy the white garment that Jesus is selling. I want to let Him lead my life and change this deceitful heart. Don’t you?

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