Chapter 4 - Righteousness
Never was there a time when the
Lord's people needed to pray more earnestly for "a spirit of
wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; the eyes of the
heart to be enlightened." We may be sadly led astray or be brought
into confusion unless we have understanding by the Spirit in the
foundational matters of our life in Christ.
We would here give one or two illustrations of what we mean. There
are matters upon which not a few children of God are being made to
Person and the Work of Christ
There are many who put a not
permissible division between these two. The Word of God does not
allow of such a separating. There is no surrendering to Christ
apart from a recognition and acceptance of the work of His Cross.
There is no making much of His Person, not even of His deity and
Godhead apart from that which He accomplished at Calvary.
Look where you will in the New Testament and you will find that
the two are always related, even in those parts where the greatest
unveiling of His Person is given. The Holy Spirit has put these
two together, and no man may put them asunder. In different words
the one abiding relationship is "Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."
This is followed through even into the Revelation, where to a very
large extent, the day of salvation is past.
Let us beware that we do not fall into the snare of the devil in
putting Christ in a place of importance as One to be surrendered
to, talked about, or championed, and at the same time fail to
realise or accept all the implications of His Cross as to our
place therein. Such a course can never be of pleasure to the Lord
in Relation to the Person of Christ
It may surprise some people when
we say that, in the eyes of God, the matter of our sin and
salvation is not a question of the number or nature of our sins.
It is not sins few or many, bad or not so bad. If it were so, then
salvation would have to be on a sliding scale by which allowance
would have to be made for good or bad heredity, training, or the
lack of it; and all such considerations.
Salvation has never been based upon the confession of our sins
(plural) either to God or to man. ("Confess your faults one to
another" is something said to believers.) The Holy Spirit convicts
believers of specific sins, but He convicts the unsaved of sin.
Then sin is not regarded as something apart and by itself. It is
always looked upon in relation to a Divine Person. Men often
confuse sin with vice or vice with sin. Vice is usually that which
relates to either the one who commits it or to the person or
persons against whom it is committed. Vice is something against
self or society. Sin is against God. We are never saved by ceasing
to commit acts of wrong, vice, or sin against ourselves or others.
We are saved when we come to see by Divine illumination that sin
is what we are, and that
in His Cross Jesus Christ representatively and substitutionally
took us under the judgment of God against a sinful race, and has
set us aside by nature, so that in Christ risen we take our stand
by faith as having died to sin.
This whole question is gathered up in one comprehensive statement
of Christ's. "When he, the Spirit, is come, he shall convict of
sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they
believe not on me. Of righteousness, because I go to the Father.
Of judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged."
Sin then is a matter of our faith union with Christ as Saviour.
The one question which will ever be the basis of our justification
or condemnation will be, not how many sins, or how we have sinned,
but what is our relationship with Christ the Saviour? God will
never say, "were you a bad sinner or guilty of few or many sins?"
But, "what did you do with my Son, the Lord Jesus, in view of His
atoning work on the cross?"
Righteousness is a question of relationship with Christ as having
gone to the Father. No one ever yet went to the Father who was not
absolutely righteous and sinless. Which means that Christ being
there is our righteousness, and we have none apart from Him. Our
acceptance by God is only upon the ground of our faith union with
Christ as made unto us essential righteousness from God.
The question of judgment is settled upon the same basis. The
prince of this world has been judged. The Word of God says that
"the whole world lieth in the wicked one." We are, therefore, by
nature in the wicked one. This is the opposite of being "In
Christ." Judgment was first formed for the devil, man was never
intended for judgment. If, however, we do not choose to take our
place in Christ, seeing that, by Adam's voluntary act he has
involved the whole race in the captivity of the devil, we must
share in the devil's judgment. God has provided the Way out in
Christ, and there is no other way. Judgment therefore rests upon
our position out of or in Christ.