~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Peter DeWitt. You can hear the whole sermon, Valuing what God Values (Part 2: Righteousness by Faith) by clicking here.
Christian philosophy is to think like Christ. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is about trying to discern good and evil for ourselves. God is saying “that is going to kill you.” God has not made us to have the discernment for good and evil. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. We therefore, are encouraged by God to simply just do what He says. Jesus Himself did exactly that. He did not count equality with God something to be grasped. John 5:19-20 says that Jesus just did what He saw the Father doing. That is the start and the finish of Christian Philosophy! It’s enough that we would be like our Father – like our teacher!
When we are discipling others, it is not enough to only know it “good enough” for ourselves; we want to know it well enough to set others free as well! When discipling others, we are not called to replicate the world – we are called to replicate the Word! If we are not solid in a topic, we will tip-toe around it and people’s lives won’t get transformed to what the Word actually says.
There is no more important message than the message of righteousness by faith. At the very beginning of his first letter to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3-9) we read this: “As I urged (charged) you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person.”
The law is not for the righteous person! Jesus became sin even though He knew no sin in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him! Therefore, the law is not for the believer! This is the first thing that Paul wrote to Timothy, the young pastor who had taken over the church that he had set up – that righteousness is by faith apart from works that no one may boast! Romans 10:4 says it so well“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” We are to guard this revelation! The tendency is to mix the law with grace such that grace is no longer grace – or to mix grace into the law such that the law is no longer the law! But God keeps things separate when they are meant to be separate.
John 16:7-11 says “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
Does the Holy Spirit convict of sin? Yes! Who does He convict of sin? Those that “do not believe in Me” of sin. Holy Spirit is convicting those that do not believe in Jesus of their need for a savior. For believers, however, Holy Spirit is convicting us not of sin, but of our righteousness in Christ! The enemy is called the “accuser of the brethren” in Revelation 12:9-10. The enemy’s job is to accuse you! Does the enemy accuse you of righteousness? No! Satan accuses the brethren continually before God, but all believers have a Great High Priest who is eternally, continually, and successfully ministering righteousness on their behalf before the throne of God in the Heavenly Holy of Holies. And IF we do sin, we have an advocate before the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who is constantly declaring “righteous, righteous, righteous, he’s righteous, she’s righteous because of Me declares the Lord!”
Isaiah 54:9-10 says “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” God has sworn to each of us that He would not be angry with us! It is impossible for God to be angry with you. God’s faithfulness is first to His Himself. There is nothing greater that He can be faithful to than His Word. He is not a man that He should lie and here He swore that He would never be angry with us! When God made this promise, He made an un-conditional covenant. All of the wrath of God for all sin for all time actually went on Jesus. All of the anger for all time got put on Jesus; that means there is none left for you! There is even none left for the people that don’t know Him yet either, so we can minister with absolute love and no reservation because the wrath for their sin got put on Christ too. God already took care of His part of their reconciliation (Romans 5:10) which is why the angels declared on earth “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Lk. 2:14) There will be a day of judgment – a day of wrath – when people will be judged accordion to Jesus’ Word … namely whether they received Christ or not. But today is the Day of Grace! Now is the appointed time for salvation!
God is wanting EVERY believer to be “established in righteousness!” The Holy Spirit is convicting us of righteousness. In Isaiah 54:15, we see that “Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me.” Righteousness means to be in right standing with God. We have peace with Him by faith! (Rom. 5:1) If we do not know we have peace with God, we will conclude that bad things in our life potentially came from Him. Trouble will come in all of our lives … but NOT because of God! God is not sending ANY bad into any of our lives! This is totally counter-cultural but it is true! God will never put anything on you that He put on Christ! For instance, He’s not going to put sickness on you. He put that on Christ so it didn’t need to be on you! By His stripes you were healed! (1 Pe. 2:24) Jesus’ body was not broken for nothing – it was broken for you! Likewise God is never going to separate you from His love. Jesus bore all the separation from God so that we would not have to! Jesus was forsaken by God so that we would never have to be separated from the love of God! God is not distant from you. He is not withholding His love from you at any point. Draw near to God and He WILL draw near to you. What can separate us from the love of God? Anything? Absolutely not! On the cross, Jesus got separated temporarily from the love of God so that we could always be united with Him! God will never send anything bad our way! Our church’s name is “the goodness of God.” God has nothing but goodness for us! If you go into God’s heavenly inventory system to see what He has labeled with your name on it … and it is NOTHING but good!
This word of righteousness by faith is actually the foundational revelation of all revelations! Hebrews 5:12-13 says this exact thing. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.” Paul was saying everyone who is partaking only of milk – who is not mature and ready to be a teacher – is unskilled in the word of RIGHTEOUSNESS. This is the foundational revelation of ALL revelations! This is the key who unlocks everything else. Romans 2:4 even says that it is the goodness of God is what leads us to repentance. The ability to change your mind (repent) is completely contingent upon our revelation of God’s goodness towards us! The entire discipleship (the process of changing our mind to God’s Word and ways) is contingent upon our revelation of God’s goodness towards us! May we set many free by the word of righteousness!