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Control Your SELF…..Righteousness


Self Righteousness is a disease, much like diabetes.  In other words, we live our life so much out of self righteousness that we begin to believe the sweet feeling we get from trying to be righteous.  Before long we don’t realize that our desire to be righteous is way out of control, off the charts.  Then to handle the self loving, prideful way of life we must get treatment or we will die spiritually because we have moved away from needing God.  Prior to a very famous scripture Romans 3:23 telling us that all have sinned there is another very pivotal verse dealing with the area of righteousness.  In Romans 3:10 Paul writes, “As it is written, There is no one righteous, not even one.”  What does that mean?  NO ONE IS RIGHTEOUS!!  So you may think, “Then how can I become more like Jesus and less like the world?”  How can I look at John 15:1-2 where Jesus says, ““I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful” and believe that I can be right with God?  The first thing you can do is quit trying to be righteous like the old teachers of the law, who themselves were hypocrites.  Matthew 23:27-28 27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.  The pharisees great desire was to appear righteous and they actually felt deeply that they were ok and in line with God’s teachings, but then they had a problem and His name is Jesus.  Jesus upset their norms and then when He proclaimed that He was the Word of God, it totally threw them into a huge tantrum.  So they killed Him.  We might be able to deduce that self righteousness kills Jesus in our lives. That might seem a little bit radical.  But is it really?  In our hearts we feel the desire to pursue God and that is prompted by the Holy Spirit, but if any of our self perceived goodness is in the mix that effort is tainted at best and alluring at worst.   So what do we do with this apparent problem?  Honesty and an open heart and mind is probably the best route to take to put ourselves in a position to “walk with God.”  It is no accident to need to get alone with God, whether it be in a closet or wherever, when trying to get connected with God through prayer and Bible Study, but what is the end result in your life?  Are you dealing honestly with God in the area of righteousness?  

Just think about what happens at conversion.  That which was sin has taken on righteousness.   The only thing is we didn’t do anything to earn it or deserve it. The righteousness we receive is 100% from Jesus, and only Jesus.  Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus in Chapter 2 verses 8 and 9 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  You may ask “Then what I do with James 2:17 where it says, ” 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”  Righteousness doesn’t initially have anything to do with “doing” things, but being someone.  Righteousness is our identity “in Christ.”  There is a dominant life of doing that comes from that righteousness, but not in reverse.  In other words, we don’t believe we are more like Christ when we do something, but we are more like Jesus when He is who we are and. the end result of that is a life that not only does more in service, but does it for the right reason.    The flesh is a qualifying agent that causes problems for all of us living in a very worldly world.  Religion compels those who follow that religion to give up something, do something, or win at something to show righteousness.  The faith we live in compels us to follow the Spirit in living our life and that is where we “come alive.”  1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but madealive in the spirit;  A temporal, weak faith is one based on what we do, not who we are.  A strong, permanent faith is faith based on the reality that we are weak and our only strength is found in Christ.  The first one is religion.  The second is relationship.  A self righteous person won’t trust the first one because it seems to far “out there” but that is where the faith comes in.  The second person will live in the freedom that faith gives them and they will do mighty things because of the closeness they have with God and that developed through relationship.

The church at Ephesus, like us, had a problem understanding and accepting this great truth about relationship because they only knew service to be made right, so Paul hit it hard with them and thus opened their eyes to a faith based life of serving Christ that was a growing faith as it developed them at their core, the heart.  In Ephesians 2:5 Pauls says, “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),”  Alive together with Christ is a HUGE statement!!  Reference this back to John 14:26 where Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  and you can quickly see that we are to take on the heart of Jesus and that is only possible through the Holy Spirit.  That is possible through relationship and the end result of that is righteousness that is propelled by the Holy Spirit.  If we leave the Holy Spirit out of any of it, we miss the point of the whole thing.

I firmly believe the reason regenerated people fall away from the faith is because of the lure of self righteousness.   The righteousness that comes from God and not ourselves never fails, like God’s love, and that is found in a deep, spirit filled relationship with Jesus and that relationship causes us to live much different than the world around us.  I fail in this whole thing, but I am learning more and more every day to trust the Spirit of God and rely on Him more.   But I am constantly drawn back to self righteousness by a competitive heart and mind, and the lack of me letting God develop me like He wants.  All of this is a truth I desire, but fail to grasp as I let the world’s way of looking at things influence me instead of the other way around.  I must change to be all Christ wants me to be and it begins by looking at life through the eyes of Jesus who gives me the righteousness I need to live the Spirit-filled life.  I must control my self righteousness by getting rid of it and trusting Christ more and more each day.  I love what Paul is saying to me in Romans 8:13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by theSpirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  Time to give up the reins and let this righteousness horse run, run, run!!!

The Pilgrimage continues….

David Warren

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