My friend, Jonathan, is sharing some wonderful thoughts on living a righteous life with us today. It is obvious he love God's word. He is a man who invites the Spirit to speak deeply to him and when Jonathan hears from God, he seeks to obey. Please don't read his word just for information. Let them challenge you. Think deeply about your own pursuit of living a holy life to the glory of God. How is the scripture you are memorizing transforming you more into the image of Christ?
Jonathan, you had some "awesome" pics to choose from on Facebook. I think I was merciful in choosing this Hello Kitty photo. This one highlights your style and your smile, two of your terrific outward qualities.
There are few things that get me more pumped than to tell people how God enabled me to live righteously. Why? Because it's so simple, yet the results are so profound.
Trying to live a righteous life can be one of the most tiring and frustrating aspects of following Jesus. For most of my life I struggled with living righteously; but now, thanks to the grace of God it's not hard. So, what is the secret? I think the best way to see how it happened in my life is for me to share my journey.
I've had the deck stacked in my favor. Born to parents who are both believers, I received Christ as my savior when I was about five years old and I've been going to church ever since I was born. I went to Christian school for 8 years and seminary for 5. See the secret? You just need a lot of Christian education... actually no.
One would think a person surrounded by so much Christian stuff would have figured out how to live righteously; but honestly, even while in seminary sin would get me defeated and I'd feel like a failure.
Everything started to change when a friend shared a teaching series based on
Philippians 3:9 (ESV)
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith
This was totally new to me. It isn't as if I had never read or heard the verse before, but no one had ever pounded into my spirit that we have “righteousness from God that depends on faith.” He went on and on and on about how we don't work for righteousness, but that it comes to us by faith. So, what is faith?
Hebrews 11:1 (ISV)
1 Now faith is the assurance of things we hope for, the certainty of things we cannot see.
Faith is my confidence in the things I hope for with certainty in the things I cannot see. So, putting these two things together I have to believe that righteousness comes by my belief in God's truth even in the midst of not seeing it in my life. When I don't see myself living righteously I must believe that I will be living Christ's righteousness.
Let's take it a step further. Even in the midst of my sinning, I must believe that I have the righteousness of Christ. It's not that I had it or that I will have it, but that I have it in that very moment.
What else does the Bible say? What else should we believe?
Matthew 5:6 (ESV)
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Jesus said that if we long for righteousness we shall get it. Boom! Done! This is a wonderful promise! And still God has more for us.
1 Corinthians 1:30 (ISV)
30 It is because of him that you are in union with Christ Jesus, who for us has become wisdom from God, as well as our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Jesus IS our righteousness and we know that his righteousness has no darkness in it. So, even in the midst of our sinning Christ is our righteousness. It's not just His, it is ours. Your righteousness is perfect.
This is so wonderful, but wait, there is even more!
2 Peter 1:3–4 (ESV)
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Do you notice what this passage says? It says God HAS granted (Past tense) ALL (nothing missing) things that pertain to life and godliness. This comes through the knowledge of Jesus, which comes through Scripture (John 5:39). Additionally, He HAS granted to us “his precious and very great promises.” And we HAVE “escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
If this passage doesn't get you extremely pumped to know Jesus more and more, and to find God's promises in Scripture then you should probably read the verse several hundred times - at least.
These verses alone would be wonderful enough, but let me tell you about how God did even more amazing work in my spirit. He took me through a familiar passage into unfamiliar territory.
Philippians 2:12–13 (ESV)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
I had gone to church many years and my mind stopped at verse 12 and I thought I had to work so hard to mature, but one day He opened my mind to verse 13.
I saw truth I had not seen before. God is working in me. And if there is one person I can trust to do a perfect job it is God.
There has been no more influential verse in my life over the last several years.
Jesus is the “founder and perfecter of our faith.” If God is working, then I don't have to stress out about the challenge that stands before me when I face temptation. I might mess up, but God is still working. Why do I stress out about messing up when I know God is working on me?
Since God is working on you, you will surely have His holy will and you will surely do His righteous works. He wants to take pleasure in you. He loves you. That is why He never gives up on you.
In the midst of messing up, remember that you have the righteousness of Christ and God is working to make it manifest in your life. Remember that your righteousness comes from believing this truth even when you don't see it.
As my journey in righteousness continued God taught me how I should think about my forgiven sins. Part of feeling defeated about my sin was that I remembered I failed – that I had sinned.
One day God reminded me of verses I had heard many times
Isaiah 43:25 (ESV)
25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
Ephesians 5:1 (ESV)
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
Since I am called to imitate God, and He remembers my sin no more for his sake, then I should remember my sins no more. Of course, this had always been hard on my own, but when I realized that this was God's will I asked Him to change me. It's pretty awesome when you know you messed up, but by God's grace the remembrance of past sin is fuzzy.
This revelation along with Philippians 2:13 have radically changed my life. If I sin, I ask for forgiveness. I don't remember it and move forward. For freedom Christ as set us free! (Galatians 5:1) We are free from our past!
Lately, I've been meditating on
Psalm 1:2–3 (ESV)
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
I have seen this verse be true. As I have dwelt upon God's truth, He has grown me. He has brought forth fruit of righteousness. It didn't happen immediately. The tree brings forth its fruit in its season.
Your fruit of righteousness will come in its season. God is patient with us and He wants us to tell stories of supernatural changes that happened instantaneously as well as the supernatural changes that took years to manifest. Each fruit has it's own delightful taste. Rest in Him. He will do it.
The process took time, but it was simple. I sought truth in Scripture. I asked Him to conform me to it. I dwelt not on my efforts or failures, but on His ability and victory. I left it up to Him and saw change happen to me.
And so I leave you with this
1 Thessalonians 5:23–24 (ESV)
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Please post your verses. Also, pray for Jonathan as he seeks to live a life of freedom that is pleasing to Jesus! Pray also for yourself that you will be obedient to God's call to be holy as He is holy. Ask Him to deepen your understanding of living the righteous live that He is working in you for His good pleasure!