I speak a lot about building trust. How can we have any significant trust in a religious system which seems to ignore real life outcomes? The teaching that “our righteousness is in Christ” often comes across as if sin in this current life doesn't matter. This teaching, which emphasizes that our righteousness is only in Christ is true. It has some very important applications. Until we know that our righteousness is in Christ, every single thing we do will come out of human effort and will fall short of the glory of God. I get that. The right application of this doctrine is huge in its importance.
Here’s the rub. This doctrine is used by many to justify the fact that they never grow up in Christ. It is used as an excuse for continual and ongoing failure in ways that totally destroy the integrity of the believer. I speak a lot about trust, and the importance of being open and honest. If there is never any progress in a person’s walk, repeated reports of failure soon are greeted with a shrug. After many shrugs, faith in a heart transforming God fades. The power of God is mocked. Our faith is seemingly worthless.
Where is the burning fire to develop men and women of God who will walk in a blameless manner? The Hebrew men in Daniel chapter one had been forcibly removed from a wicked Israelite nation by the most powerful king on the earth. They were being offered the luxuries of that day. Instead, these young men chose God’s way. If these young men who had who had come out of a perverse generation can do it, why can’t we walk in a manner that is light to this generation? We can! We just don’t believe we can because we have interpreted a gospel truth in a way that excuses sin instead of claiming its power to overcome sin.
The fact that my righteousness is in Christ means that I have access to the very character of Christ whenever and however I need it. It is there, waiting for me to tap into it. It is not some mirage that will eventually manifest in heaven. It is accessible. Here and now. But I have to believe it and forcibly establish it in my life. Even as the young men in Daniel had to take a forceful stand, I have to know that I am called to walk blameless instead of falling back on a doctrine that says “when I sin, it’s ok.” It’s not ok. Sin has outcomes. The righteousness of Christ is my strength to overcome, not my excuse to fall back.
All things do work by spiritual authority. If I am not able to overcome in an area, there is some kind of spiritual force of darkness that needs to be defeated. As I spoke about in the “Win Hearts” blog, some of those forces are strong, established by an entire generation or even generations of people. When that is true, it just means that the fight will be longer and harder. In Christ, we have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). To get where we need to go, we might actually have to partner with others. The young men in the book of Daniel worked together.
The independent spirit of this generation has wrongly used another true doctrine, the individual priesthood of the believer, to justify staying isolated from others. Our unwillingness to join with others in true openness and total honesty is a major reason why we cannot overcome. Another reason is the “might makes right” approach or the manipulation discussed in the “Win Hearts” blog.
Our power is greatly multiplied when we actually join together. One puts a thousand to flight; two put ten thousand to flight. If we walk things out the way that God says to do it, we have the power to overcome. That overcoming is not instantaneous. It is a fight. There will be times when we feel defeated and lack the understanding of what we need to do next to overcome. But our righteousness is in Christ. It is not a paper thin righteousness. It is real. It gives us the power to overcome.
It is time for the excuses to stop. We need role models. We need those whose paper righteousness matches up with their real lives. Sure, it takes years to develop the greater fullness of the righteousness of Christ, but if the young men in Daniel can make the stand they did, why can’t we?
Let’s fight the fight of righteousness together and win. Let’s see the integrity of the church and of men and women of God restored in this nation. Without real righteous, who has any reason to join our cause?