The Chart - A Good Christian?
People Who Believe In Themselves Have Trouble Believing God.
First the Problem - Self
Luke 18:19 'And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good save one, that is God.'
There was a great question on social media recently: what is the difference between holiness and righteousness? It is a question that every true believer must come to grips with, for there is a world of difference. Understanding this difference will make one's relationship to the Word become healthier and makes one's relationship to God grow exponentially.
First, let us couple the Luke passage with Paul's lament in Romans 7:24 'O wretched man that I am…', along with Christ's rebuke of the religious gathering (church) in Laodicea (Revelation 3:17) ' … knowest not that thou are wretched …". Moses in Numbers 11:15 prayed ' … let me not see my wretchedness'; a theme found among the Old Testament holy men of God that was anything but self-proclaiming goodness. i.e. Isaiah – I am a man of unclean lips (6:5); Job – I abhor myself (42:6).
2 Timothy 3:1-5 rebukes the heresy of self and records nineteen (19) traits of those within churches who are guilty before God, by placing self before Him. We have been warned, but I would wager that those who espouse and extol their gatherings within churches today, have, more than likely, never heard this passage preached or taught. From lovers of self to having a form of godliness; these are truly the black cancerous growths within today's gatherings. For example: one posted the other day, that he was proud to be a member of a certain church; not thankful but proud. This disease of self so easily distorts the Truth.
Today, many within the churches have no clue as they have been blinded by the 'new' gospel with its' toned down messages to appease the ears of those who flock to these establishments. The Many demand the new gospel, the Few are being systematically starved but being that they have a heavenly Father; He will bring them out in His time. I thank God for these strange days in which we live, for He is going to glean His Church, the Bride, out from among them. Soon, the Few will know the difference between righteousness and holiness.
Are we to pursue righteousness?
To a Child of the King, What is Righteousness?
First of all, it was never ours, for the righteousness a believer now possesses is a one-time gift from God. We presently carry our very unrighteous flesh wherever we go. Paul speaking of the flesh stated in 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 that we are currently clothed in corruption and that one day we will become not only incorruptible but also immortal. That day is not today for those who are reading this article; for we are stuck with it for the time being.
The righteousness we currently possess is our standing before a holy God, given to us the day we were saved, as Paul stated, he no righteousness of his own. This is where the Chart begins; it is our personal journey towards a more intimate relationship with our Savior. Again, I stress our personal journey, never to be used in assessing another's journey. We, in the beginning know so little of our Lord, except that the burdens that weighed us down so greatly, have been forgiven and cast into the depths of the sea. Very much like the confession of the blind man at the pool of Bethsaida; I was blind but now I see. Neither Paul nor John, have any more of a righteous standing before a Holy God, than any other believer. Remember, when John met the glorified Christ in Revelation chapter 1; he fell down as if dead. We will need a new eternal body for us to be able to stand in the presence of Jesus.
If we had a righteousness of our own, we would not need the intercessory work of our Savior; for the Devil knows we stink, as he accuses us day and night before the throne in heaven. (Revelation 12:10) Consider this, we are the only ones he accuses, as everyone else does his bidding. Jesus' words with the Pharisees, demonstrated His hatred of self-righteousness within Israel. Likewise, self-righteousness in a Christian is not acceptable to God and will be dealt with in His time. Every believer will remember the days when they were taken down a notch or two with the lesson that we are not God: enter holiness.
Life With All Its Foibles Is to be Lived With Our Eyes Fixed Upon Jesus.
Holiness – the Journey of a Lifetime.
From the first moment, mine came September 19, 1968, God has been directing our paths into a deeper relationship with Jesus, day by day. Some at a faster pace than others, but always as God has foreordained for each child of the King. As Peter puts it – we have been given 'exceeding great and precious promises' that will guide us on our journey. (2 Peter 1:4) The verses that follow; 5 to 8 are God's path to holiness without which no one would see God in us. (Hebrews 12:14) It is our greatest witness to the world: Peter states it very simply, for it begins immediately following the gift of faith unto salvation:
- To faith, add virtue – a change in one's lifestyle, it is the living example of repentance; going in a new direction from where you once were headed;
- To virtue, add knowledge – this is where our renewed minds crave the Word and begin to feast upon God's righteousness;
- To knowledge, add temperance – learning to curb your previous fleshly desires and pursue that which is pleasing to God;
- To temperance, add patience – learning that God is in control, we are not. This is also where the peace begins that world cannot comprehend;
- To patience, add godliness – we begin to do that which pleases God no matter the circumstances, even if it is to our hurt.
- To godliness, add brotherly kindness – think about it, true brotherly kindness cannot come before virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience (lots of this), and godliness for it is our expression of who we are in Christ for the world shall knows by our love for one another.
- To brotherly kindness, add charity – loving without requiring the same in return; nearly impossible, but the goal of holiness.
This is not a seven-step process: it is a constant within the Christian's walk this side of heaven. Often, God will take us back to the beginning to put us back on track. We must be in the Word with the goal of learning more about our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The rest will follow the more we seek Him, for as Hebrews 11:6 states, He is pleased with those who diligently seek Him. Seeking is holiness.
Let Us Consider the Conclusion of the Matter.
The Conclusion to the Matter at Hand.
Only God is good. The Christian has a righteous advocate in Jesus who defends our unrighteous behavior in the face of the Devil, as well as before the Father where He declares our righteous standing in Him. We, ourselves, are not good but praise God, Jesus is our righteousness.
Ephesians 2:10 declares that we have been ordained to good works which only can come via the way of holiness that God has laid out for each of us individually. Also per Jude 24 – 'Now unto Him who is able to keep us from falling and present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy': that blessed future day when we will be perfectly holy.
One day we will also be righteous as He is righteous.1 John 3:2 Until then, the older we get, the greater God will become and the less we will esteem ourselves. Thus the gap between our God and ourselves within our personal Charts will become greater as we grow in knowledge and greater intimacy with Christ. May God bless us as we journey to know Him better, day by day.