"For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ."
Righteousness by Grace is what the Gospel is all about. I've been digging into the well of righteousness for a few years now... Meditating on this reality, chewing on it, asking hard questions... And getting quite frustrated at times for it doesn't make sense to my natural mind that my performance doesn't determine who I am...
I want to share some of the glorious life changing realities I have discovered along my journey in hope that you to will be encouraged.
I remember a time a year or so ago where I was living under so much condemnation. It was my third year at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and there was a day where I was just not doing well.
I was caught up in my head... Feeling a whole bunch of self pity. My thoughts were consumed with introspection. It was after I preached at one of the schools afternoon classes.
This is usually when the enemy likes to come... Right after taking risk and getting outside of our comfort zone.
I was having so many thoughts of doubt... Like I just don't have what it takes to preach the gospel... Like I really wasn't called to this... Maybe I should just quit...
I think the whole next day I was rehearsing all the things I said, analyzing, ruminating...
Basically it was a whole bunch introspective crap!
Thank God I didn't stay in that place of wallowing... :)
What got me out of this funk wasn’t my positive self talk, it wasn’t me pumping my ego up. It wasn’t me rehearsing all the good things I have done.
It was an encounter with truth.
I was in my garage cleaning and all of a sudden I had this thought... “ I am feeling this way because I am thinking way to much about myself. I turned inward in my thoughts, in my affections... My focus was on all me, my limitations and my lack.
I believe that when our focus is on us we will always come up short.
I love what the NLT version says in Philippians 3:3-4:
"For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort,though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!"
Paul tells us to find no confidence in our accomplishments, behavior, status, or performance. When we do this we are deriving our self worth, image, and confidence from a lesser place.
The word confidence in the greek is peithó, this can also mean trust.
See, I realized that when I was so caught up with my inabilities I was being self absorbed... Trusting in my self which is anti-gospel. Why? Because our performance is not trustworthy. There is only one place to put our trust and that is Jesus. As new creations we no longer identify and derive our worth from behaviors and performance!
Our identity is in Christ!
I had this quick vision where I was sitting in heaven with Jesus, overlooking the world. I saw myself wearing this breastplate of righteousness with a huge smile on my face. I felt inside me true confidence. Not a puffed up ego, but a heart fully assured of His love for me in Christ. I felt like a King! This encounter changed me. It instilled within me my identity as a righteous man apart from my performance or behavior.
A shift happened within me where I stopped looking to myself for confidence. I stopped looking inward for answers.. I stopped trusting in the flesh.
This is what Paul is talking about when he says in Romans 7:18
"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out."
The word flesh here is sarx. Its the same greek word used in Philippians 3:3 where it talks about "human effort."
My thoughts were, "why would I even be surprised when I come up short? What good do I expect to find in my own flesh? (human effort or self dependency.)
In that moment I felt so incredibly free.
Because I stopped depending upon my own human effort and started trusting in what Christ has done.
What Has He Done?
He has given us a new identity... No longer do we identify with self effort, self lack, or anything to do with self... We do not live according to our own good deeds or actions.
Like Paul says in Galatians 2:20
"My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
The essence of who we are is now found purely in Christ and His accomplishments.
He himself is now my righteousness. He is the place where I derive my confidence and worth.
Knowing We Are Righteous Destroys The Power Of Shame.
Shame is the voice that tells us we are failures, we are no good, we are mistakes, we will never measure up. It keeps us hiding behind our fig leaves like Adam in the garden. It keeps us from expressing the fullness of who we are.
It uses past experiences and failures to reinforce the lie that we are not unconditionally loved. When we mess up, shame tells us WE ARE MESSED UP, UNLOVEABLE, AND UNWORTHY. But that loses its grip in the reality 2 Cor 5:21
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
See, Jesus took all that shame, guilt, and condemnation upon Himself and destroyed its power on the cross. He literally became what we were so that we could become what He is... Righteous and blameless! Its WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST!
“… as He is in Heaven, so are we in this world. “ 1 John 4:17
Our identity is no longer found in what we have done or will ever do. Its not in our actions. Our identity has and will always be found in what HE HAS DONE. We were co-crucified with Him on the cross. The old man is dead, we are brand new creations.
You may ask, but how can I still sin if I am just like Jesus? How can I still feel so rotten inside if I am so holy?
Great question… I have wondered this time and time again. I am convinced first of all, that the truth is the truth. No matter what I believe it is still the truth.
Like Bill Johnson says, “ I will not sacrifice the goodness of God on the altar of human reasoning.”
I think that is so profound. Just because my experience isn’t lining up with the truth doesn't mean its not true.
Breaking Agreement With The Lies
Time and time again, when I feel condemned, unrighteous, guilty and ashamed… its because I made a mistake and have identified with it. I allowed those thoughts of shame and condemnation to convince me that I am something other than what Jesus says I am. I make an agreement in my heart with the LIES and feel that I deserve punishment because of my failures.
These are the times we must press into the Gospel. We must take those thoughts captive and make war with the truth.
Next time your in that kind of funk just ask yourself how much does the Father love Jesus? Now realize you are in Christ and receive everything The Father has given to Jesus. Unconditional love and acceptance…. You are loved just the same as Jesus is loved.
Just as Jesus is worthy so are you!
Not because you did anything to deserve it, but because He did everything to deserve it. And He really loves you a lot and decided to give it all to you free of charge.
That’s the FREE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS MY FRIEND! ENJOY IT!