Right in Him
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? ...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Mat. 6:25, 33-34).
There’s something about this “seeking first His righteousness” that has caught my attention. In God’s mind and heart there is this thing called “His righteousness”; something that is required by God and also provided wholly by God. A “rightness” of God that is completely what He is longing for. It somehow has to do with His Holy Standard and His expectations. To be righteous, a person must, by a means or a way, completely and perfectly fulfill and satisfy God’s Holy Standard and Law. Under the Old Covenant, to live a righteous life was to live a life that obeyed the Law of Moses. To obey God was to keep His commands and decrees and make sacrifices for the sins and offenses committed. But as He knew would be the case, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Rom. 3:10). No matter how much effort, desire, sincerity or good deeds a person may have offered, still, the flesh and state of sinful man reeks of self and unrighteous living. It is impossible to keep the law and be righteous in God’s sight through the law. “...no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin” (Rom. 3:20). God knew that would be the case.
So out of His kindness, His love and His desire for us to know Him, He made a far greater provision for us and Way for us to be declared righteous, in His sight. “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Rom. 3:21). God has been searching for the upright in heart for a long time; looking for someone who would love Him devotedly from the heart; someone He could share His thoughts and heart with over time, in an intimate and special way. But it will never come through trying to fulfill the law; self-imposed or otherwise. The only way it will come in our lives is by a righteousness that is found in God through the Life of Jesus. He is our righteousness that is OF God and that is also FROM God. He set the requirements, expectations and desires; and He also provided the ONLY way in which His desires can be met. The righteousness that He requires—the rightness; the right standing a man or woman has before God is through Jesus and His atoning work, only.
Here it is again:
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood” (Rom. 3:20-25).
This is FROM GOD. He decided a long time ago that His Son would be the Way of Righteousness. Our way of righteousness. Our ONLY way of righteousness. The only way we can be acceptable to the Father. This is very Good News! Why? One reason is because we don’t have to walk around trying to “be somebody” or “do” things perfectly or worry about if we’re okay or not. Is Jesus okay? That’s all that matters! If we live as ones “hidden in Christ,” we’ll know we’re not half a person; a partial Christian that is waiting to be “better” someday (whenever that is). This rightness and freedom from God that is found in Jesus alone comes by a faith in Him that is steady, unwavering and that deepens and deepens and deepens. In some ways, it seems like a mystery; yet our faith becomes very real as time after time, during the things and feelings and attitudes and actions of our days, we quietly turn our hearts in simple trust towards God’s heart and His face; we look at Him with our eyes and hearts and say in our spirits, “You are right Jesus. You are the Father’s everything and I’m hiding myself in You. You are the only safe One who is perfectly clean and holy and right with God. Therefore, I’m staying by You. I’m purposefully hiding myself in the shelter of Your Life. There is no other place to be.” That kind of response, (which is very active—it doesn’t just happen, mystically) will keep us soft in God’s hands and growing from “faith to faith” and protected from the wiles of satan and the darts of accusations and unbelief.
From the moment we first see Him, and as we continually turn to Him and behold Him, we’ll deepen and grow in our Faith in Him. I’m only just barely learning these lessons myself, but God has testified time and time again that He is faithful, perfectly to His word. He cannot lie and our job is to, by faith, hold God to His Word. All that He has said about His Son being our righteousness and our Hope and our Way and Provision to Himself, we must receive with a real, full heart, looking God square in the eyes, again and again with gladness and sincerity and reality. Thanking Him, praising Him, calling on His name. Letting Him be our All in All. Allowing the Truth of God to penetrate our hearts on a continual basis. God’s promise is that to “those who RECEIVE God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness [they will] reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).
We can’t let any other thing fill our voids (real or imagined). Especially not the thoughts that our minds give us that would somehow justify ourselves in some way before God. Those thoughts that puff ourselves up or that prop ourselves up or make ourselves feel better according to a good deed we did yesterday, or some (so-called) important conversation we had, or relationships we have or some measure of “revelation” we’ve had about something or other. Even our faith, God wants us so clearly to understand that it comes only from Him and that even that is purely a gift from His heart to ours. That only because of His grace and love for us and His desire to free us and have us Live in His Son—really live; only because of His character towards us, did He or does He continually provide even this thing called faith. Even that, He wants us to take no pride in. Apart from Him we can do or have nothing.
It must be very settled in our hearts that we are justified in no way from anything that is from us. We are, rather, justified completely by Jesus and the sacrifice on our behalf that He made on the cross. An excruciatingly painful and costly death. Only by that bloodshed are we made clean, and by that blood has God provided a very sobering yet beautiful way to Himself. The humiliating and humble way of suffering through the cross has become our Way. What a privilege, that we are recipients of that Work. Only by His grace and provision can we walk our lives in Him and by His side. Glory to God through all ages and forevermore that we have this Hope and this high calling in the Son of Righteousness. “...This is my Son, whom I love; In HIM I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” (Mat. 3:17; Mk. 9:70). God is trying to get our attention to show us that there has finally come Someone who is acceptable in His sight. Someone who has perfectly met God’s Holy Standard and Law and requirements. We don’t have to fret and worry ever again. The righteousness that has been revealed and that has come from heaven and that is found in Jesus is all we need. We don’t have to add anything to it. That means we don’t have to carry a big pack of weight around on our backs “feeling” less than adequate; “feeling” out of touch; never quite cutting it. In fact, it is sin when we walk around with that kind of attitude. Rather, it is our job to hide ourselves in Him and clothe ourselves with the person of Jesus; being found in Him, not trying to or fretting about establishing a righteousness of our own.
Paul said that everything was a loss to him. Nothing in his life that somehow he had credited to himself as establishing his own righteousness was worth anything. He said, “...I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Php. 3:8-9). The only way to walk in a “right” relationship with the Father is by hiding ourselves in the fact that Jesus is the only one who had a “right” relationship with the Father. It’s Jesus’ “rightness” that we are after. Seeking first His “rightness”—not our own! Nothing that we could ever establish by praying enough, serving enough, or putting our thoughts together properly (whatever that means!). It’s apart from striving and straining to please God; apart from our own human frame and mind and flesh. It is totally outside of myself, my abilities, my mind, my own strength. None of those attempts at “living a righteous life” will ever cut it, because Jesus is the ONLY Righteous One. Remember in 1John 2:1, “...we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” No one or nothing outside of Jesus is acceptable or pleasing or close to God. Nothing. Jesus alone is our answer and our hope for right standing before the Father. It is only because He is right with God that I am right with God. Therefore I don’t have to worry and I don’t have to “add” anything in order to get God’s approval. That is very good news and quite a relief. Jesus has God’s full approval. Therefore, so do I.
Some more healthy food for prayer and thought:
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Cor 5:21).
“For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:3-4).
“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord’” (1Cor 1:30-31).
“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’” (Rom 1:17).
“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’
“Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom 4:1-5).
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone” (Titus 3:4-8).
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).