A New Righteousness

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Luke 2:22-40

A man took his wife and mother-in-law to Jerusalem on a trip. The mother-in-law while in Jerusalem died unexpectedly. The mortuary said to the man as he was making arrangements; We can bury her here for $150 or it will take $5,000.00 to send her back to the states. The man thought about it and said, “I will pay the $5,000 to send her back home.” The mortician said, “She must be a special mother-in-law.” The man said, “Well, I heard that a man died here and after three days came back to life and I just can’t take any chances.”

Jesus was in every way a Jew whose parents “fulfilled all righteousness” by presenting him to God at the temple in Jerusalem. While they were there in obedience to the law, Simeon and Anna were there in obedience to the Spirit. The two old people’s recognition of Jesus was the beginning of a new age, and the old order would be turned upside down.

Paul speaks of the “fullness of time” when Christ came into the world. (Galatians 4:4)An old man holds in his arms a baby, an old man who had almost given up hope for Israel. And the old man sings with joy because he has seen the salvation of his people. An old woman also sings. She had spent her days at the temple in constant prayer and fasting, signs of deep contrition and mourning. Yet at the moment she saw the newborn child, she began to praise God. How will our congregation receive this call to complete, uninhibited joy? There is something about us that is hesitant to embrace fulfillment when it is offered. There is something about us that holds back when confronted by the summons to rejoice. Is it because so often we have been disappointed in our hopes? Is it because there is something a bit humiliating in admitting that what we need is completely in the hands of God? The incarnation, at last God with us, in the flesh! We had waited, down through the dim millennia we had waited. We have prayed with the prophets, “God, come down and save us!

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. (1 Corinthians 3) God’s goal for humanity has always been righteousness. Purity of heart and rectitude of life; being and doing right. The righteousness of Christ denotes not only His absolute perfection but is taken for His perfect obedience to the law and suffering the penalty thereof in our stead. For you and me righteousness is holy and upright living, in accordance with God’s standard. The word righteousness comes from a root word that means “straightness.” Righteousness is a moral concept.

For example, Adam and Eve would have acted righteously in their relationship with God if they had obeyed Him, because His commands defined that relationship. The Ten Commandments and related laws defined Israel’s relationship with God. To obey those laws was to act righteously, because such obedience maintained the covenant relationship between God and His people.

There are four stages that God has led us through. Conscience: Adam and Eve were granted freedom with only one boundary. The sole test is obedience or disobedience. Covenant or promise. The covenant was with Abraham. Now it is not so much obedience as it is trust. Trust me and I will make you a great nation. We generally appear to go to God only when we are in trouble, only when things are not going well. When our lives are right again, we forget God. Isn’t it interesting that we seem to adore God only in our bad times, when we grieve, not in our good times when we rejoice? Law: In the Old Testament the term righteousness is used to define man’s relationship with God and with other people. In the context of relationships, righteous action is action that promotes the peace and well-being of human beings in their relationships to one another. God gave Moses the Law on the mountain. Sin is disobedience to the terms that define man’s relationship with God and with other people. Since the FALL in the Garden of Eden, man is inherently unrighteous. Man cannot be righteous in the sight of God on his own merits. Therefore, man must have God’s righteousness imputed, or transferred, to him. Grace. The cross of Jesus is a public demonstration of God’s righteousness. God accounts or transfers the righteousness of Christ to those who trust in Him. We do not become righteous because of our inherent goodness; God sees us as righteous because of our identification by faith with His Son.

He who keeps his face towards the sun shall find that the shadows fall behind him. When an observatory is about to be built, the site selected is always on same high mountain. The aim is to find a place with is a clear, unobstructed view of the heavens. Similarly, faith requires for its heavenly vision, the highlands of holiness and separation, the pure sky of a consecrated life.

John Grisham (Author) once said, I have never been tempted to resort to gratuitous sex, profanity, or violence. I couldn’t write a book that I would be embarrassed for my kids to read a few years from now. Plus, my mother would kill me.

True spirituality manifests itself in certain dominant desires. First is the desire to be holy rather than happy. A man may be considered spiritual when he wants to see the honor of God advanced through his life even if it means that he himself must suffer temporary dishonor or loss. The spiritual man wants to carry his cross. Again, a Christian is spiritual when he sees everything from God’s viewpoint. Another desire of the spiritual man is to die right rather than to live wrong. The desire to see others advance at his expense. The spiritual man habitually makes eternity-judgments instead of time-judgments.

One thought on “A New Righteousness

  1. Lynn Lear

    “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. (1 Corinthians 3)”

    It is in this quest I must remember and continue to learn and grow. Thank you for reminding us that it’s okay- even expected- to be imperfect and weak.

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