THEOLOGY & APOLOGETICS
The Righteousness of God
By Brian Marcum
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Continued from Page One
What is the rational response to this hopeless condition? We are left with an untenable position in the matter of righteousness before God. The Bible says that when we believe in Christ, all that Christ is replaces our own account of failure, pride, sin, and "not good enough." To seek the righteousness of God is to be in the process and possession of sanctification. Sanctify is the word used in the Bible to describe this ongoing work that God starts inside a believer when he or she has given up on their own efforts to earn God's approval and believes in Christ's finished work on his or her behalf. To sanctify is to make a saint, which is to become more righteous, and so, to be continuously improved. To clearly understand sanctification, let's use two doctrinal terms that will help illuminate this work that God performs on his born-again children.
Progressive Sanctification is what God performs on every believer. A Christian has the Holy Spirit living inside them at the moment that they are born again performing the work of sanctification until they leave this earth. "...And he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you." (John 14:16).
Positional Sanctification makes reference to our status of perfection before God. We are imperfect at the moment, but slowly becoming more perfect, which in this human body we never reach the final completion of. The concept of positional sanctification is that God declares a verdict of righteous in His sight, so that when He looks at imperfect sinners who have accepted Christ, He sees perfection in us, and treats us as such.
To believe in Christ is to have sought His righteousness and to have attained it (positionally) and be moving more and more towards its perfection (progressively). Second Corinthians 6:4 says, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." To pursue the righteousness that you have obtained through Christ is to continue in His work of sanctification. First Thessalonians 4:3 states, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification..." A key to a successful pursuit of sanctification is for a believer to pursue a cooperative lifestyle with the Spirit of Gods' work, and not fight against it. Some quintessential items to a lifestyle that is pleasing to God's spirit are: regular fellowship with other believers (joining and attending church events), reading God's word, praying, giving, doing good deeds, and by abstaining from sin, idols, and lust, as best as you understand how.
As believers, when we attend to keep in step with God's spirit, we receive the best life that God affords to his children here on earth. Matthew 6:33 says to us, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33 is making reference to essential needs in this life, such as food, clothes, housing, and proper health care, but the context also intimates that "these things" are also the blessings of God which cannot be limited to the human imagination. Such things could be a scholarship to a desired school, or perhaps a possession that brings you joy, a job, a toy, a vacation, a skill that you didn't know you had, a spouse, a child etc. Christians have the righteousness of Christ to their account, and their lives should be marked more so by the contentment that this eternal truth brings and marked less so by a rigorous, competitive pursuit of riches and pleasure. Christian lives should be lived in fellowship with like-minded Christians, trusting that God will provide and reward them for their trust and belief. Hebrews 11:6 says that, "...for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."
Image Credit: Judith Siches; "Atardecer"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Theological-Beliefs
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