Righteousness: His, Yours? (or Ours?)

“All of us are dirty with sin.
All the right things we have done are like filthy pieces of cloth.
All of us are like dead leaves,
and our sins, like the wind, have carried us away. “ 

Isaiah 64:6, NCV

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I have this reoccurring nightmare. I jump out of a plane.  I deploy my parachute, and it opens.  But it is completely full of holes!  Yikes!  I wake up before I splat. And then I think in a spiritual sense— what a relief it is to have a holiness that is given, or imputed.  If somehow you could turn off the spigot of the holiness he gives, and then run on your own merits; how far would you go?

Among good Christian people, there is an occupational hazard of sorts, and that is to “advance” in our thinking to that place where we are doing fine on our own.  We very much appreciated Jesus’ help– but now, at this moment, I must figure it out by myself.  This line of thinking, is called “self-righteousness.”

“Many have passed the rocks of gross sins – who have suffered shipwreck upon the sands of self-righteousness.” 

William Secker:’The Consistent Christian,’ 1660

We begin to travel in our sense of ourselves, away from a desperate, clinging to a trust in his mercy that is moving to a place of a confident, strutting awareness of having put ourselves back together again.  This is the ‘evil ones’ work– to steer you into self-righteousness.  Once you get there, he can just release you and let you ‘stew in your own juices,’ while he rules over your soul.

Becoming self-righteous should scare us to death.  It will damn our souls just as quick as adultery, or murder.  It is evil, and it sedates us to the place where it can work, unhindered and unchallenged.  I’ve read that some predators inject first an anesthetic to soothe their prey. This enables them to take their time, as they slaughter them.

I have had several bouts with self-righteousness.  (And I bet I’ll have several more.)  It is sin that will give you a wonderful back massage, just before it reaches for the knife that will cut your throat.  Somehow, we are lulled into this and my! I’m such a good person (even after such a dark and evil start.)

“Self-righteousness is the largest idol of the human heart – the idol which man loves most and God hates most. Dearly beloved, you will always be going back to this idol. You are always trying to be something in yourself, to gain God’s favour by thinking little of your sin, or by looking to your repentance, tears, prayers ; or by looking to your religious exercises, your frames, etc; or by looking to your graces, the Spirit’s work in your heart.”  

–Robert Murray McCheyne

 Jesus was, and is, and will be all my “righteousness.” 

We must cling to these hand-holds of grace.  The waves are substantial, and we most certainly would be swept out to sea.  But we grab and hold on to him.  And he holds on to us!  The fantasy of having enough of my own created righteousness to please God is simply a crock.  Jesus was, and is, and will be all my “righteousness.”  I have nothing– nothing else.

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Someday Soon, We Will Wear White [Heaven]

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by Robert Murray McCheyne

As long as you live in your mortal body, you will be faulty in yourself. It is a soul-ruining error to believe anything else. Oh, if ye would be wise, be often looking beneath the robe of the Redeemer’s righteousness to see your own deformity. It will make you keep faster hold of his robe, and keep you washing in the fountain.

Now, when Christ brings you before the throne of God, he will clothe you with his own fine linen, and present you faultless. O it is sweet to me to think how soon you shall be the righteousness of God in him. What a glorious righteousness that can stand the light, of God’s face! Sometimes a garment appears white in dim light: when you bring it into the sunshine you see the spots. O prize, then the Divine righteousness, which is your covering.

My heart sometimes sickens when I think upon the defects of believers; when I think of one Christian being fond of company, another vain, another given to evil speaking. O aim to be holy Christians, bright, shining Christians. The heaven is more adorned by the large bright constellations than by many insignificant stars; so God may be more glorified by fine bright Christian than by many indifferent ones. Aim at being that one.

We shall be faultless. He that begun will perform it. We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. When you lay down this body, you may say, Farewell lust for ever, farewell my hateful pride, farewell hateful selfishness, farewell strife and envying, farewell being ashamed of Christ. O this makes death sweet indeed. Let’s long to depart and to be with Christ.

 

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For more from this preacher, you may want to start with these links:

http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/bmcheyne3.html

http://dowboy.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/robert-murray-mccheyne/

Putting it Under a Microscope

Within our walks, as we attempt to follow Jesus, we need to be seriously evaluating our hearts–and the issues that affect them. If we make a short list, but the make-up would probably be justification, sanctification, glorification and deliverance.

Of this list, perhaps ‘justification’ takes the biggest hit.  Being declared ‘right with God‘ is targeted especially as the most significant .  But justification is quite potent, it will stand when all the other issues will stumble.  Justification is the starting point, and then it carries us quite a bit further. It stands when everything else crumbles.

We come to this place, it almost seems bizarre and garish as it comes to us.  But our simple faith in Jesus Christ has made us righteous.  But it seems, if we start to extrapolate it out, we start  thinking of realities and probabilities. These often confuse and darken our way, when they not really meant to.

“What if?” “But what might happen?” “Isn’t this a bit bizarre?” “Can’t I really make this ‘Christianity’ work?”  And yet at times, we won’t take a solid position, but we operate out of a miasma of thoughts that flit through our hearts.

In the courtroom of heaven, where God sits as a judge, we are given fair hearing. But simply put we aren’t so much as made righteous, but we are declared righteous.  The Greek word in the original is centered on this exclusive sense of “declaration.”

You have been declared righteous!  It is definitely not a feeling, or a sense of being just or righteous– because this changes 24x a day.  It seems I feel that I can never truly accumulate enough to save me.  And since I am always moving, I can never really figure it out.  And this makes me afraid. I become very disturbed. 

We are meant to walk out a sincere justification.  The enemy scrambles it before we can grasp it.  Satan‘s presence must be nullified in this.  There is something radical and decisive here.  And it is here he puts his crack troops.  This is a definite attempt to destroy your witness.

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