Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.
There is a myth in the church today that grace produces righteousness. By accepting the salvation of Jesus Christ, righteousness is instantly established. No matter how one may live or the choices they make in the future as long as they have called on the Name of Jesus Christ – they will be saved. I believe that when we call on the Name of Jesus Christ surrendering all of our sin at the foot of the Cross, we step into righteousness. However, without faith it is impossible to please God and remain in right standing with Him. Grace does not bypass the Law of God or the Way of Jesus Christ. God’s Way of making us right depends on faith. Something must become of the measure of faith that you have been given rather than leaving it hidden deep inside your heart. (Romans 12:2) It is a life for a life. It is a proven fact that our sinful nature does not allow us to remain in the righteousness of God. Before we are cognizant of sin’s potential, it is too late infiltrating our heart and life before the age of accountability. Babies are selfish and self-seeking in nature. From the moment that they are born struggling to survive probably because deep in DNA he or she is aware only death awaits as a result of one man’s sin. Who would say I want to suffer with Jesus Christ so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection Power of God demonstrated in the moment of death? Who really wants to press to possess what Jesus Christ possessed us for? Grace does not produce righteousness – it is a byproduct of faith. Grace is only the access point to righteousness. Faith produces righteousness and confident hope work to maintain it. Please do not misunderstand the Grace of God extended to you on the Cross, but accepting it work to gain Christ and become one with Him. This is true right standing with God to be One with the Lord.
Proverbs 21:21 (NLT)
Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.
If righteousness is obtained by grace, then why must one pursue it to find life? Grace is not a fix all and cure everything but can open the door to the Kingdom of Heaven in your life. You must step through the gateway of Christ, cleansed by the Blood of Jesus, washed by the water of His Word, filled with His Holy Spirit and pursue the Lord to find life, righteousness and honor. We have stretched grace so far out of kilter that we no longer know what it is or how to use it. Grace allows us to stumble but not fall as we live what we believe by faith that becomes confident hope in our life. However, if we step out of God’s Grace by choosing a life of sin and death once again – we will surely reap the consequences. How can that be? Once saved is always saved – right? Of course, but true repentance is turning our life over to Jesus Christ and walking in His Ways no longer out of necessity but completely in love with the Lord. As in marriage, it is a life for a life. I have given my life to my husband. He has given his life to me. Our union has produced more life in our children and continues to bear fruit as they produce grandchildren one day. Love multiples and reproduces in our life based on the initial union. However, if I were to wander outside of our marriage straying from our covenant and breaking trust with my husband – his love would grow cold and distant. There would be no benefit in our union as the partnership is broken by sin. If he would extend his grace to me and mercy for my indiscretion one time, it would be a miracle but over and over again would be foolishness as it is apparent that I am no longer committed to our relationship. What makes us think that the Grace of God is a revolving door for an unfaithful bride who lives for other people and basking in the world, yet expecting good and perfect gifts from a foolish husband? The Grace of God is not to be mocked. It begins with repentance as we give Jesus our life for His Life graciously accepting His Offer to give us life, righteousness and honor. Turning from evil – we now pursue good because of His Great Love. This is grace. It is the access point for a passionate love affair with Jesus Christ. It is by faith that we continue to remain in the righteousness of God. Faithfulness produces confident hope as we learn to love and trust Him more over the course of our life until everything else becomes worthless compared to knowing Him more.
Isaiah 28:16-19 (NLT)
Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken. I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness. Since your refuge is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, a flood will sweep it away. I will cancel the bargain you made to cheat death, and I will overturn your deal to dodge the grave. When the terrible enemy sweeps through, you will be trampled into the ground. Again and again that flood will come, morning after morning, day and night, until you are carried away.” This message will bring terror to your people.
Grace does not in any way nullify obedience. The Lord assures us that “I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness.” What about Jesus Christ who wiped away all record of sin? Well, He did. But then when you left the altar of God it became apparent that you were not really giving your life to Jesus but sucking the life out of God. I know this sounds harsh, but there is day coming when those misunderstood what the Lord required will be shaken and trampled due to a lack of knowledge. Maybe this illustration might help. I have a theory called the “backpack” theory. One day at work, a student’s strap to their backpack was broken and falling apart. I have backpacks used for school promotions so seeing the young lady struggle offered her a new one which she graciously accepted. So she took the new one and discarded the old one. Over the course of the day, student after student would come in and inquire about “free” backpacks although they had perfectly good ones on their shoulders full of books and supplies. They saw what the young lady had and asked where she got it. She told them, “Student Services gave it to me.” They immediately came for what was free. Grace requires an exchange of our old life for a brand new life. To call on the Name of the Lord and not make the exchange accomplishes nothing. There were no “free” backpacks just a supply for those who needed one. If you do not want the Righteousness of God then grace is unnecessary. The primary purpose of grace is so that we can exchange our old broken life for something better. If that is not your desire, then you need not answer the call.
The measuring line of justice is the Word of God. Our life should line up with the Word of God not because we have to because His Grace and Unfailing Love recognized that we fail from the very beginning and wiped the slate clean so that as we strive for righteousness committed to Christ, He will cover us when we stumble so that we will never fall in our pursuit. Faith and confident hope allow us to live in the righteousness of God according to His Word no longer subject to its penalty for failure. The plumb line of righteousness is faithfulness revealing the contents and intentions of the human heart. If you really wanted the Love of God, then you would seek to maintain a solid relationship with Jesus Christ apart from sin. It would motivate us to praise God in every situation and affirm Him in our daily lives. We live what we believe. Every step of a believer should strive to be aligned with the footsteps of Jesus Christ. In all things, we would seek to maintain, preserve and prosper our life in Him. Even the things that we do in secret would bring honor and glory to the Name of God and Cause of Christ, as we seek righteousness above all else. It is all about relationship. His Grace abolished religion so that we could have total access to the Presence of God but the rest, my friend, is up to you. My relationship with my husband is personal. It is intimate and it doesn’t include you. We are the Bride of Jesus Christ. We are to live in a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord accepting all of Him in exchange for all of us. As we seek to live according to justice and righteousness, peace will be produced in our life. No longer in conflict with the Lord, we will experience all of His Goodness, Promises and Blessings in our life as a product of our union. (Isaiah 32:16-18)
Isaiah 45:8-12 (NLT)
“Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the LORD, created them. “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’ or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?’” This is what the LORD says – the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: “Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands? I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command.”
I wonder what would happen if believers truly had faith and trust in the Lord? No, really. His Word says that the heavens would open up and pour out His Righteousness. I picture righteousness like giant arms pulling us deeper into His Presence and closer to the Heart of God in a powerful way. This will never happen as long as believers and Christians live apart from right standing with the Lord. It is a broken relationship. It is dysfunctional. It is rampant in the church of today. If we really believe in God as the Great I Am who is all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere, it would change what we do and how we live dramatically! When we choose to do things our way according to our will rather than God’s Will, we break our union. When we complain and grumble about unfair treatment and fear of lack, we discredit our provider and create a breach in our partnership based on a lack of faith. This is a big deal to God. When people make the Lord just another person, the relationship is broken because He is God. No matter what we believe or what we make Him out to be, it does not change His Divine Character. Grace does not excuse bad behavior. It does not call unrighteous to be righteous. It is simply a way to discover the Way all over again to remain in the Presence of the All-Knowing, All-Powerful, and Everywhere God! He loves you. The Lord loves you so much He was willing to give His Life for you and only you. This is personal. This is a relationship. Are you in or out? “Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the LORD’s own mouth. The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see—a splendid crown in the hand of God.” (Isaiah 62:1-3) You are precious to God! Is He precious to you?
Matthew 5:17-19 (NLT)
“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Jesus Christ sums it all up in these verses. Grace does not exempt us from doing the Will of God and obeying His Word but enables us to reap the benefits as we strive in our weak capacity to do the best that we possibly can to love God and serve Him with our life. God wants us to be residents of His Kingdom reaping all the marvelous benefits of the family inheritance offered only to His Children. Could it be that it is more difficult to give our life away when we are no longer dying? Now that we follow the Lord out of love maybe we misunderstand that it is still a requirement because His Grace is sufficient. We must never, never take for granted the grace of God as a doormat for sin but strive to remain righteous in every aspect of life honoring the Love of God in every way possible. God has given us the right to seek and serve Him in love alone. Can we do it? God is Right and Just. We are made “right and just” through faith in Jesus Christ who is the Cornerstone revealed in Isaiah. He is the Foundation of Faith that we must build our life upon forsaking the crumbling earth for an eternal Kingdom. Faith and trust produce belief that His Way is the Only Way provoking us to radical obedience based solely on love. (Romans 3:25-28) We use weapons of righteousness to hold our position. (2 Corinthians 6:3-10) Jesus covered the Law with His Love so we could produce the fruit of the Spirit and live off of it now until forever comes. (Galatians 5:4-7) “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23) These are foreign concepts to the world but should be the foundation of faith produced when we love and trust Jesus, following His Example, walking in His Word and living in righteousness!
2 Peter 3:8-13 (NLT)
But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment. Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.
If you do not find right standing with God or living in His Presence appealing today, how in the world will you tolerate it forever? The new heaven and earth that the Body of Christ longs for is filled with His Justice and Righteousness. It has no tolerance for sin of any kind. You cannot love sin and love God, too. It severs the relationship. Grace cannot do anything unless it is an access point in which we embark to learn to love and trust the Lord more and more which cultivates faith and trust that becomes our confident hope that what is to come is more valuable than anything on the earth. To serve the Lord – you must love the Lord. Grace is based on His Unfailing Love. To have it you must love Jesus enough to exchange your life for His and become the Bride of Christ. The covenant between you and Jesus must be more than a piece of paper calling you a church member. It is a heartbound relationship to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords that provokes you to radical obedience and passionate love. So you see grace does not produce righteousness but faith does! Love has everything to do with it! I encourage you today remove anything that is between you and your First Love. Press to finish the race called faith. In the end, it will be worth it all!
2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.