So, let’s continue our look “In the Mirror” today and find out what else we look like. And when I say we are looking “in the mirror,” we are not talking about a physical mirror. Of course, the world likes to identify us by how we look on the outside, but the Word is what shows us our true spiritual identity on the inside. So, that is the mirror we are looking in—the mirror of God’s Word.
And I cannot stress enough the importance of us discovering who we are in Christ—for when we do not understand who we really are, we fall prey to that roaring lion who constantly is trying to devour us. However, when we are established in our spiritual identity, he is going to have a much more difficult time stealing, killing, and destroying our lives—because we know who we are and whose we are. Amen!
We have based this series on a passage of Scripture that is used to describe who we are in Christ Jesus--Second Corinthians 3:18–which I believe accurately “reflects” what happens when we look in the mirror of this New and Better Covenant. In it, the apostle Paul says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
So, this verse teaches us that as “we all”—that is, every born-again believer who is now found in Christ—behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord—which we have learned is the mirror of God’s new covenant which exceeds much more in glory than that of the old covenant… When we behold it with this unveiled face, we are being constantly transformed into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Living God! So, what that means is that when we look into this New Testament and behold it without the veil, it will change us from the inside to the outside. In other words, our outward man will begin to reflect the condition of the inward man. Amen!
So, let’s quickly recap what we’ve seen in the mirror already:
At the beginning of this series, we talked about how even the Lord Jesus Himself had to grow in His spiritual identity. We verified this by looking in the first couple of chapters of Luke’s Gospel and we learned that Jesus grew up in the wisdom, strength, and favor of His Father. If you missed that one, you need to get ahold of it!
Then we moved into the specifics of who this New Covenant teaches us that we are: Several weeks ago, we began looking into this mirror by looking at the filter everything is to be viewed through—love. And I made the point that I believe the first thing you and I need to see when we look into this mirror is that WE ARE LOVED! In fact, I made the point that since we are called the Lord’s Beloved many times through the New Testament’s Holy Spirit inspired pages, then that means that not only are we loved by Him, but we “Be-Loved” by Him.
But not only can we see that we are loved by God when we look in this mirror, we can also see that we are His new creation. And this is what we learned next—that we are God’s own work of art, His masterpiece, and His new creation! This means that we are absolutely special, having His treasure placed in these earthen vessels!
This led us to another part of our spiritual identity that we would do good to look at in the mirror of God’s Word: Not only are we loved, not only are we His masterpiece, but we are also chosen: We looked at a number of Scriptures a couple of weeks ago, and we learned that in Christ Jesus we have actually been chosen, selected, and predestined. So, we learned that God “chose” all of us. How? In Him! So, you see, God the Father chose His Son Jesus, but by us choosing to be “in Him,” we are chosen as well.
So, again, all of us who have received the Lord Jesus Christ are “chosen” by God—not because we in ourselves are holy and without blame before Him, but to become holy and without blame before Him (See Ephesians 1:4). But one of our biggest takeaways from this verse is what we were chosen & predestined unto—and Paul says in Ephesians 1:5 that it was “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself”! We learned that adoption is actually one of the greatest acts of love that one could perform—because for a couple to adopt a child means that they specifically chose that child—meaning they picked out exactly which child they wanted. Now that, my friends, is love!
And we learned that Jesus Himself was that precious, chosen stone from First Peter 2:4-10, but in the same passage of Scriptures, we saw that we also are living stones. Therefore, we are precious, valuable and “chosen” as Jesus was and is. Therefore, looking in this mirror, we see that we are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Amen!
Then last week, we looked into this mirror and saw that we are also “holy,” which might seem to be a hard “gos-pill” to swallow, but it’s true!
We learned that being holiness is in the eye of the beholder. Just like something holds the value of what someone else is willing to pay for it, likewise, we are holy unto the Lord because He esteems us as holy to Himself. So, we saw last week that being holy does not just describe some state of perfection; it can actually mean that we are special, precious and different to God.
I used a couple of examples to illustrate this: One was of the “Holy Bible,” and while it’s certainly perfect and infallible, it is also called “holy” because it is special and different from any other book on the planet. So, it is “holy” in that it is a special and precious Book while also being perfect and without error. But we looked at another example in First Thessalonians 5:26 where Paul said to greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. A holy kiss would obviously be both a pure and a different kind of kiss—meaning, it’s not like other kisses out there, while at the same time being void of any impure motives.
So, we learned that just like we have a “Holy Bible” and “holy kisses”—which are precious and pure things—God’s church is said to be holy and without blame before Him in love. That means that He views us, spiritually speaking, as “infallible, without error, precious and prized.” Yes, we are different, His own peculiar treasure, that is passionately loved by our Creator!
And again, we saw how verses like Ephesians 1:4 say that we are holy and without blame before Him: You see, we might have a different opinion of ourselves and others might have different opinion of us, but it’s not anyone else’s opinion that is important; it is God’s opinion that truly matters.
So, last week, we saw one of the predominant ways that God sees us by looking at how He refers to us. And we saw that over 50 times in the Epistles of the New Testament, we are called “saints.”
Now we learned that the way that we generally use the term “saints” today is to either refer to old Christians or dead ones. But the Bible doesn’t share these same sentiments. When you look at these 50-plus verses that use the word “saints” you will see that they all refer to every born-again believer. So, someone might then gravitate towards watering down the meaning of the word “saint” when they see it refers to every Christian, but it does essentially mean what we have believed it to mean. It comes from the Greek word hagios which literally means “holy ones.” And we learned that this word hagios is the very same word used to describe God’s “holy” law (See Romans 7:12), the “holy” apostles and prophets (See Ephesians 3:5), the “Holy” Scriptures (See Romans 1:2), the “Holy” Spirit (Romans 5:5), the “Holy One,” Jesus Christ Himself (See First John 2:20 & Revelation 3:7), and, yes, the Lord God Almighty Himself who has the hosts of heaven constantly declaring that He is “Holy, holy, holy!” So, do you know what that means? It means if we are His holy ones, then we are in the same boat with the rest of these other Most Holy things! So, as Romans 11:16 says, “if the root is holy, then so are the branches.”
Now we made the point that there is a difference between our “who” and our “do.” Yes, we need to be holy in all our conduct! Yes, we ought to live holy lifestyles! But what we need to avoid is basing our holiness on our actions. We are not holy because of what we do; we are holy because of what Christ has done.
So, we looked over at Colossians chapter one and learned that not only did Christ make us holy, but He also made us blameless and above reproach in the sight of God! Again, in His sight; not other people’s sight or our own, but God’s.
We also learned that the word “blameless” refers to being “faultless & without blemish”—like the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were to be without blemish. In fact, we saw how this word “blameless” is the same word used in 1 Peter 1:19 to describe Jesus as the Lamb “without blemish” and without spot. Therefore, we have been presented to the Father like pure and spotless lambs because we are in the Lamb of God who is pure and spotless! That means we have no spots, no wrinkles, and are presented that way to our Holy Husband (Compare with Ephesians 5:26-27).
Then we saw how the next words— “above reproach”—literally mean “not called in” (i.e. “not called to account”). This phrase describes being totally free from any charge being on our account. You see, not only are we made without blemish, but all the charges that were previously on our account have been washed away in the blood of Christ! Glory!
And we saw that all of this is contingent upon us continuing in the faith when Paul went on to say in verse 23— “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard…”
We saw that “the faith” being referred to here is the faith of Jesus Christ, our new and better covenant. So, we saw that as James 1:22-25 teaches us, continuing in the Word is how we will begin to see these truths reflected in our lives. Therefore, church, we must set these truths ever before us and proclaim them in the face of all temptations to believe otherwise. So, when our flesh, our own heart, or the devil tries to tell us that we are impure, unclean, or not special, it is then that we need to proclaim that we are “Holy!” When our mind or the enemy tries to tell us that we are to be blamed, it is then that we must proclaim that we are “blameless.” When any of these things try to bring an accusation of something we may have done, it is then that we must proclaim that we are “without reproach.” Yes, it is when we look in the mirror and declare “It is written, It is written, It is written” that we will begin to experience the fruit of who are in the spirit.
Amen. So, we are certainly holy in Christ Jesus, and I want us to now turn in our Bibles over to Ephesians chapter 4 because I believe these verses reflect these truths and lead us into what the Lord has for us today …
THE IMAGE OF THE NEW MAN
In Ephesians 4:22-24, the apostle Paul says– “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Now just before these verses, in verses 20-21, notice how Paul told them, “but you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus…” So, in these verses, Paul is assuming that the Lord has been teaching them through their fellowship with the Holy Spirit. And what was Paul supposing they had been taught by Him? That is what he goes on to say, beginning in verses 22-24. So, what this shows me is that this is one of the main things that Christ is going to teach us—putting off the old man, renewing our minds, and putting on the new man.
But notice how the apostle Paul includes in verse 21 the phrase that says, “as the truth is in Jesus.” This is an important part of the context, as we will learn momentarily. But let me add here that the truth is in Jesus; it is not in the flesh or in ourselves. Yes, the truth of who we are is found only in Christ Jesus!
You see, because of their carnality, most people only think what we can feel, what we can see, what we hear, etc. is the truth. But that is not what is “true” according to the Holy Spirit. Here, He inspired the apostle to write that the truth is “in Jesus.” In other words, who we are in the spirit is the truth, not who we are in the flesh. In other words, if this mirror tells me that, in Christ, I am righteous, holy, loved, blessed, etc. then, bless God, that is the truth—for the truth is in Christ, not in this physical, natural world. The truth is not what you see today; the truth is what God sees today! And that is exactly what Paul goes on to describe in the following verse …
So, let’s move on to Ephesians 4:22-24 and take a look at three short verses that comprise what we are learning from Christ Jesus …
In verse 22, the apostle Paul starts off by talking about what we need to “put off.” Now I think it is interesting how Paul consistently started off his teachings on “putting on” and “putting off” with the “putting off” part. For example, in Romans 12:2, before he said for them to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, he exhorted them to not be conformed to the world. And in both these verses in Ephesians chapter four and Colossians chapter three, he exhorts them to “put off” these worldly behaviors before he told them to “put on” the godly virtues. (i.e. Why repentance was first!)
Now the words “put off” come from the Greek word apotithemi which means “to put aside” or “to place away” (like clothing). But notice that it is not God who takes these things off of us; we are the ones that take them off. And as we know, clothes just don’t just fall off of us. Therefore, this process is up to us and that means that it will take some effort and determination.
But when it comes to this putting off of the old man, let’s not just look at this putting away of the former conduct of our old man as us simply changing our actions. Let’s look at it from the perspective of putting off our former identity—for the things we do in the flesh first come through the mind (i.e. a mindset, mentality, etc.).
You see, we understand from other New Testament verses that the old man has been crucified and done away with (see Romans 6:6, Colossians 3:9, Galatians 2:20 & 5:24). So, we are not trying to crucify the old man! He was crucified with Christ! When we entered into Christ our old man died! Our job now is to strip ourselves of the old habits and tendencies left in our flesh by the old sin nature. In essence, Paul is saying, “Don’t keep living as if that old man is still alive!”
You see, it’s a new mentality Paul is telling us to adopt. We are not that old man anymore! He’s dead, being crucified with Christ! We are a brand-new man! Which leads me to verse 24:
After telling us in verse 23 to be renewed in the spirit of our mind—which I believe to be our attitude, Paul tells us to then “…put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”
Now by beginning verse 24 by saying, “and that you,” Paul is reiterating that just as it is our responsibility to “put off” the old man, it is our responsibility to “put on” the new man. The words “put on” come from the Greek word enduo which mean to clothe or dress. You see, God gives us the clothing, but it is our job to “put on” what He has put in our possession. And the gospel I wish to share with you today is what Paul says are the garments God has put in our spiritual closet …
Notice that we are exhorted to put on this new man “which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness.” Now I want us to take some time this week breaking down this part of verse 24 …
First of all, notice how Paul describes this new man as that “which was created according to God…”
The phrase “according to God” literally denotes “according to what God is in Himself.” The NIV translates this phrase, “created to be like God.” The TEV translates it, “created in God’s likeness.”
So, we can see from this phrase that the new man was created in the image and likeness of God just as Adam was originally created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). So do you know what this means!?! It means that God’s image and likeness, which we lost in the first Adam, has been restored by the last Adam, Jesus!
Let’s look back at these verses in God’s original creation because I believe they reveal to us what has now transpired in our born-again spirit:
In Genesis 1:20-25, we are told that God made all of the animal creation “according to their own kind.” In other words, they were created to reproduce after their own kind (i.e. in their own image and likeness), but what He did for us was much better! He did not create us to reproduce after our own kind; He created us to reproduce after His own kind! Let’s now look at verse 26: Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
You see, with every other living creature that He created, He said that they would reproduce after their own kind. But with us, He said that we were to be made in His own likeness and image! In other words, we were to reproduce after His own kind! Verily, verily I say unto you we have truly been crowned with glory and honor!
Notice that God said, “Let Us” … This is the first reference we have to the Trinity in the Word of God, where God counsels among Himself that He would create man in their image and according to their likeness. I believe that this is why we find that we are created as a tri-fold being as well. As we have seen, First Thessalonians 5:23 says that our whole person is comprised of three parts—spirit, soul, and body. So we are, in essence, a “trinity” as well.
Let’s look over at Genesis 2:7… In this passage, we are told that God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into His nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. You see, just as God is a Trinity, He created us as three-part beings—spirit, soul, and body—and in Genesis 2:7 we have the description of how this worked…
And although God is concerned with all three parts of us and has provided salvation for all three parts (one part takes place immediately when we are born again and others will come when He returns), our spirit—our core and central part of life—is what is the most important… Notice that He breathed into man the breath of life through His nostrils. This is what Jesus did in John 20:22 when He breathed on His disciples. You see, just as the old creation began with the breath of God, so the new creation began with the breath of God as well. And the awesome thing is that God’s Word is God-breathed! And does the Word of God not say that we are born again through the Word of God which lives and abides forever?
So, what does it mean that we are created in His “image”? This is a reference to how we look. God, in His infinite love for us, created us to look just like Him. So, when we look around us, we need to understand that we are looking at God! Each one of us, bear the mark of Yahweh. But too often, we look at ourselves and are dissatisfied with how we look saying things like, “I don’t like my hair, I don’t like my hair color, or my ears are too big.” This should not be so. We should value the way that God made us because each of our unique physical characteristics are a reflection of God Almighty Himself and, He made us like He saw fit to make us. We should respect and honor how He made us and not demean the way He created us.
So, what does it mean that we are created in His “likeness”? This is a reference to how we are like God or are compared to Him. In other words, Adam and Eve were not just like Him in physical appearance; they were created like Him in His nature, characteristics, and actions. This is why the device that the serpent used to tempt them was so ridiculous. He said that if they ate the forbidden fruit that they would be like God. Well, the truth was: they already were like God! But, you see, my brothers and sisters, Satan still uses this tactic today: He will tempt us to think that we need to be something that we already are: to chase our own tails, if you would.
But as we well know, this temptation worked. Eve ate of the fruit to be like God and the image and likeness that they were created in was partly ruined because of the Fall. Although man maintained His physical appearance to a certain degree (aside from the death that works in each one of us causing things to stop working in our bodies and things to waste away), the death that we experienced was mainly unseen.
This was the result that God forewarned them would happen when He said, “You shall surely die” … In the Hebrew language, the phrase “surely die” literally says, “in dying, you shall die.” In other words, there are two deaths that came as a result of the sin in the Garden: Number one, “in dying” He meant they would die spiritually. They would experience a separation from God in their spirit which caused them to lose many of the elements of His likeness. But then He said, “in dying, you shall die” or in other words, “because of your death spiritually, you shall die naturally.”
So this is what happened: When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, they immediately experienced death by having their spirit die. This was like being killed from the root. So then, the result of having their root system die, was that “in dying spiritually, they shall die physically.” This will come with time but because what is unseen and underground (i.e. the root) is spoiled, it will eventually cause the part of us that is seen to spoil as well.
You see, what we lost in the Garden was the image and likeness of God in our spirit. Our root system was killed. So, this obviously affected our outward man as well. This is why we see things like sickness, weakness, infirmities, diseases, and death rampant in the world today. It is because we lost the glory! We no longer can be naked and unashamed because we have become sin-conscious. But the good news is this—what the first Adam lost in the fall, the last Adam has regained through His resurrection!
The New Testament teaches us that the fullness of the image and likeness of God that man possessed in the Garden has been regained through Jesus Christ! Not all of the glory has been manifested immediately. Our body, for instance, still has death abiding in it, but the price has already been paid for its resurrection and glorification! That will come when Jesus returns on that great Day! But just as Adam & Eve died spiritually the moment they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we were made alive spiritually the moment we ate from the tree of life! Yes, we gained back the image and likeness of God the moment we ate from the tree of our Lord Jesus Christ (i.e. the cross) just as they lost the image and likeness of God the moment they ate from their tree.
Now unfortunately many of us have been taught otherwise. Because of the misunderstandings and misinterpretations of many ministers over the years, we have been taught that we are essentially just as lost as Adam and Eve were when they were banished from the Garden. We have been taught that we are just little worms and lost sinners. And although they do admit that we are saved by grace, that salvation is pushed off in the future after we die. But although this is what many preachers teach today; this is not what the apostles taught!
Let’s turn over to First John 3:9 and look at one of these verses I’m referring to …
THE DIVINE NATURE
First John 3:9 says that “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and He cannot sin because He has been born of God.”
Now, of course, this does not mean that someone who has been born again cannot commit a sin and miss it occasionally. This would not be consistent with this First Epistle of John itself because he said in the first chapter that if we say that we have no sin, we are a liar and the truth is not in us. He went on to say that if we do sin that we can confess our sins and be cleansed from all unrighteousness. So, from these Scriptures we can see that John is not saying if we are a Christian, then we will live spotless lives. So, what is he saying?
The first thing we need to understand is that when this verse words things like “does not sin” or “cannot sin” it is not to be read like we talk today. If I were to say, “I do not sin” or “I cannot sin” you would hear that I’m saying that I never commit a sin. But in the Greek language, words have different tenses so when the Bible uses a phrase like “does not sin” you have to look at the tense that is used in the verb because that will indicate whether the writer was talking about “having done, doing, or continue to do the sin. And in this particular situation, the tense is indicating that we will not continue to do (or, practice) sin. Therefore, we can see that John is not referring to a Christian avoiding every specific act of sin; he is referring to how a believer does not continue a lifestyle of sin after he or she has come to know the Lord.
And what is the reason that the Apostle John gives that whoever has been born of God does not continue in sin? He says that whoever has been born of God does not sin because God’s seed remains in him! You see, this is why Jesus said to Nicodemus that you must be born again. It is because a new nature has to be placed in you to, number one, take out of your spirit the sin nature and its penalty, and then, number two, to put in you a new nature that will lead you out from under the dominion of sin. And the new birth is the only way that all of this could have been accomplished!
But what does John mean when he said that God’s seed remains in us? Well, the word “seed’ comes from the Greek word sperma which is obviously where we get the word “sperm” from. So, what we can begin to see now is that when the Bible speaks of being born again, it is not some symbolic term of having a new beginning or something else like that (although the new birth does provide a new beginning). No, when we are “born again” we literally are reborn in our spirits. How? Because God’s very own “seed” is placed in us and remains!
Now let’s look at this from a natural and physical perspective: What is inherent in the seed of a man? A man’s sperm carries in it the DNA of the father! So, when we are physically born, we are born with the DNA of our earthly father. This means that we have his nature and will grow up to look and act like him in certain ways.
So, now apply this to being born again: When God’s seed is placed in us and we are born again spiritually, the same thing occurs: We essentially receive the spiritual DNA of Almighty of God! In other words, we receive His nature! God is love, so love becomes our nature. This is why John went on to say that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. This is also why peace and joy are immediately experienced. It is because He is the God of peace and He is joyful God, so joy and peace are products of His nature. And, yes, all of the rest of the fruit of the Spirit- patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, etc. are all resident in that new nature that is within us!
Let’s look at the Amplified Bible’s translation of this verse because I believe it perfectly illustrates what this verse is saying: It says, “No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides within Him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within Him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God.”
Let’s look over at a passage of Scripture in Second Peter chapter one that goes along these same lines:
Second Peter 1:3-4 says that “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
You see, church, this is who we are! Our God has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. We don’t give ourselves these things; we were begotten again to life and godliness! Yes, this is how you and I were made partakers of God’s divine nature—through His exceedingly great and precious promises!
Notice that the apostle Peter said in verse 4 that through these great promises of the gospel, we have been made partakers of God’s divine nature! This literally means that we have become sharers of His godly characteristics! And “sharing” is when someone gives of their own to someone else, letting them partake of it as well. That’s what God did: He shared with us His godly nature, His divine characteristics. And, no, this does not make us “God,” but it does show that He made us to share in His nature by the new-birth. Hallelujah!
TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HOLINESS
Now let’s go back over to Ephesians chapter 4 and look at a couple of the specific “divine characteristics”—the image and likeness of God Himself—that the apostle Paul said we have been given …
He said that this “new man which was created according to God” was created “in true righteousness and holiness.” Wow! Did you know that this was in your Bible!?! What Paul is describing this image and likeness of God that we’ve been created in as is “true righteousness and holiness.” Therefore, saints, our new nature that we inherited from Christ through the new birth is created in God’s true image of holiness and according to His true likeness of righteousness. Amen!
And notice that He calls this holiness and righteousness--true righteousness and holiness. That is opposite of false righteousness and holiness—because if there is a true kind, there must also be a false one. So, what is the false kind of righteousness and holiness? That would be the man-made kind, and that is what we must strip ourselves of—that self-righteousness and man-made kind of holiness that puts its confidence in the flesh!
Church, this true righteousness and holiness is something that has been given by grace and not something we grow into or something that eventually will be created in us through our own self-effort! This is how we were created at the new birth! We are not trying to become righteous or holy; we already have been created righteous and holy! Our only job now is to start putting on this new nature and spiritual identity and wearing it in our everyday lives!
So, this would be Trey’s Translation of Ephesians 4:24: “and dress your outer lives with the new nature you have been clothed with on the inside, which was created in God’s very own image and likeness—absolutely righteous and thoroughly holy!” Amen!
But, in the past, I have made the mistake of stopping in verse 24: Notice what Paul said next in verse 25: “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.”
By beginning this verse with the word “Therefore” we can see that this thought is tied together with what we saw that he just said before. So, Paul says next— “putting away lying, let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.”
You know, one of the reasons that people do not see themselves in “true righteousness and holiness” is because they see it as untrue and believe they would be lying if they said they were truly righteous and holy. But I just love how he tells us to put away lying right after telling us that our new man that was created by God is “truly” righteous and holy. Why? Because the truth is that our born again, new man is righteous and holy. That is the truth—the truth that is found in Jesus! Therefore, we need to be speaking this truth with our neighbor!
I AM RIGHTEOUS!
But what I want us to camp on this week is that this new man—the new us which is recreated in the image of God’s holiness—is also created in His true righteousness. What that means is that not only are we holy, we are also righteous. I am—you are—righteous in Christ Jesus!
Now, as it is with many terms we see used in the Bible, we do good to look them up and find out exactly what they mean. In this case, what is righteousness? Righteousness literally means “rightness.” Therefore, our righteousness before God describes our state of “being right and in agreement with God’s standards.” So, what this means is that the moment we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior and are born again, we are positionally made “right” in God’s sight. You are probably familiar with the description of righteousness as “right standing with God,” which is, in my opinion, an adequate definition. He indeed makes us “right” in His sight to where we stand before Him positionally holy and blameless!
But my favorite definition of “righteousness” was given by the late E.W. Kenyon. He once beautifully defined righteousness as, “It is the ability to stand before the presence of God without a sense of fear, inferiority, or guilt, as if sin never existed.” Glory to God! I love that!
I know these are radical statements to some of us, but allow me to go through a couple of Scriptures that verify these true statements:
Second Corinthians 5:21, a verse that goes along with verses we have looked at thus far in this series, says, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
You could interpret this verse to say that Jesus, who knew no sin, was made to be sin for us even though He did not deserve it, so that we, who knew no righteousness, could be made righteous even though we did not deserve it. Wow! What an awesome truth! The Father placed all of the sin of the world upon Jesus, making Him our sin, even though He never experienced sin, so that we, who all have experienced sin, could be made righteous through Christ! In other words, He identified with our sin so that we could identify with His righteousness! What a glorious act of grace!
So, yes, there has only been One who has ever walked this earth that has truly been righteous before God, and that is the Son of God Himself. But that is why He came! Yes, that is why Jesus came to the earth, so that after living a completely righteous life and fulfilling the righteousness of the law, He could then go to the Cross for us so that we who have all lived completely unrighteous lives and have broken God’s righteous requirements could receive all He had! Glory!
Many of us are familiar with how we are all born into this world with a sin nature and are, therefore, deemed “sinners.” Well, the reason we are born with this corrupt nature is because of the sin of the first Adam. He, through his one disobedient act in the Garden of Eden, sent a curse upon all those born through his lineage to where every man and woman is born into this world a “sinner”—that is, with a sin nature. We all were just born this way—before we even chose to disobey God ourselves. So, you could say that we were made “sinners” by grace—that is, by a free gift from the first Adam and completely independent of our works, right?
Now you know where I am going with this, don’t you? Just as we were made sinners by the grace of the first Adam, likewise we were made righteous by the grace of the last Adam—the Lord Jesus! The apostle Paul used this same example in Romans 5:12-19 of the similarities between the first Adam and the last Adam. In these Scriptures, he compared how what we inherited through Adam in the Garden was a type of what we inherited through Jesus on the Cross. When we were physically born, we inherited a sinful nature; when we were spiritually born-again, we inherited a righteous nature. It is that simple. Thank you, Jesus!
So, this example of Adam should make us think on what we believe about what Jesus truly provided for us. Let me explain this by asking you a question: Do you believe that there was any righteous act or any amount of good works that you could have done to make you in right standing with God before you became a Christian? Of course, you don’t! To believe otherwise would completely violate our core beliefs that we are saved solely by grace and not by any good works we have done. So, let’s turn this question around then: How can we believe that any unrighteous or sinful act we commit can make us a sinner after we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ during our born-again experience?
You see, before being born again, there was no amount of good that we could have done to make us righteous in the sight of God. Likewise, after being born again, there is no amount of sin we can commit that could make us unrighteous in His sight. To not believe this nullifies the grace of God that washed away our sinfulness completely independent of our good works.
This is why I despise the common Christian statement that says, “I am just an old sinner saved by grace.” This is completely contrary to what we are taught in the New Testament! No, you are either an old sinner who needs to be saved by grace or you are the righteousness of God in Christ that has already been saved by grace. You cannot be both! If you are saved by grace, then you are no longer a sinner. If you are still a sinner—meaning that you make a lifestyle of sinning—then you either need to get truly born again or you need to learn to walk in the Spirit as opposed to walking in the flesh.
Now sure, all of us even after we become the Lord’s disciples are going to make mistakes and yield to the flesh from time to time, but that does not make us “sinners.” Being a “sinner” implies that sinning is a profession to a person. In other words, a “sinner” is a person who habitually practices sin as a lifestyle.
This should not be the testimony of a follower of Christ. Our profession should be that of practicing righteousness and, as First John 3:7 says, “He who practices righteousness is righteous.” What this means is that if we have been made righteous through Christ, it will result in practicing righteousness in our life. Let me use the example of an apple tree: When an apple tree is alive, it will bear apples in its season. In other words, if it is truly a living apple tree, apples will manifest. For an apple tree to not ever bear any apples would cause someone to question whether it is really an apple tree or whether it is dead. Likewise, just as Jesus taught, our fruit is the indicator of what kind of tree we truly are (see Matthew 7:17-18).
But my point is that even when we are made righteous in Christ, we still are likely to fall short of the glory of God in our actions from time to time. Sure, the fruit of the Spirit should be evident in our lives, but because we live in this unredeemed body (which will receive at the Second Coming of Jesus what our spirit received when we were born again. Hallelujah!), we will have times where we yield to the flesh and miss the mark of perfection. These are the times when we must know who we are in Christ positionally—not identifying ourselves by our works, but identifying ourselves by who we are in Christ.
So, you and I—everyone who is born-again—has been made “right” with God and free from the sense of inferiority. Yes, we are righteous before Him because of what Christ has done for us. In fact, we ought to say it right now: I Am Righteous!
FILTHY RAGS OR A RIGHTEOUS ROBE?
Now I’m sure many of you balked at saying those three words— “I Am Righteous”—because there are likely some countering thoughts that will come up in people’s minds.
Many of us have been trained that there are none righteous, no not one. We know the Scriptures also teach us that all of our righteousness are as filthy rags (See Isaiah 64:6). And guess what? That’s true! The Bible goes to great lengths to show mankind that no one is righteous, but it does this for a specific reason—and that is so that we will not try and establish our own righteousness and place our trust in our own righteousness.
Let’s look at one passage of Scripture that teaches us this truth that there is none righteous--Romans 3:10-23: Starting in verse 10 and going through verse 18, the apostle Paul quotes an Old Testament passage of Scripture, which makes the statement that there is none righteous. However, the important thing to note is that this verse in Romans is a quote from the Old Testament. In fact, in verse 19 he says, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law…” Paul said that this is what the law says but since we are not under the law anymore those verses aren’t talking to a New Covenant believer.
Then Paul goes on to say in Romans 3:21-22, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference.” When Paul says, “But now…” he means, “as opposed to the dispensation of law (i.e. Old Testament).” Then he says, “…the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed.” This means that “But now, as opposed to the old covenant when there was none righteous in God’s sight, true righteousness has now been uncovered and now covers all who believe!” And it’s been revealed “independent from the law” too! In other words, the law has nothing to do with our righteousness. Righteousness has been given by grace and not earned by works. Then when he said, “being witnessed by the law and the prophets” he meant the new covenant of righteousness was foreshadowed in the law and foretold by the prophets. Our dispensation was prophesied about! So, this is our way of knowing that this doctrine of righteousness was not conjured up, but it was previously planned and witnessed by the Old Testament. And the way it is given is “through faith in Jesus Christ.” This righteousness is indeed apart from the law, but it is obtained through another law—the law of faith, which is believing in the works of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said it’s “to all” which means “it is offered to all” and then he says it is “on all who believe.” The word “on” literally means “upon.” So, this righteousness is placed “upon” those who have faith in Jesus Christ—hence, the description of righteousness as a “robe” (Isaiah 61:10) and as a “breastplate” (Ephesians 6:14).
Then Paul says in verse 23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This is relating back to verse 10 where he makes the statement that there is none righteous. You see, no one can be good enough to meet God’s standards of righteousness by their works. So, God had to make a way for us to receive it freely by grace and that’s what He did through Jesus. Praise God!
So, glory to God, every one of us who have called on the name of the Lord and have received Him as Savior and Lord of our life have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. It was not the law or our own works that accomplished this; it was the grace of God that made it happen. So now, we have His divine nature, having been born of God, and His nature is one of holiness and righteousness in truth. Glory to Jesus!
So, let’s forsake the lies that judge us according to the flesh, and start believing the truth of who God says we are. This is ultimate expression of humility—when we believe what God says about us above anything else. Let’s be a people of humility, church, and look in the mirror and say we are who the I Am says we am! Amen!