The Power of Righteousness

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The Power of Righteousness.

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 20th September, 2020

As I was preaching last week about the Holy Spirit, I included a Scripture from:

Romans 14:17

The Passion Translation

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of rules about food and drink, 

but is in the realm of the Holy Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace, and joy.”

My focus last week was on peace and joy and the freedom we have in the Holy Spirit.  It was a call to lift our eyes to see things from the Holy Spirit’s perspective, and be filled with, washed in, anointed by His presence.

I just sensed we all needed to be refreshed as the church – and to pray for the Anointing to be poured out over us just as it was described in Psalm 133.  With the oil of anointing flowing down like it did over Aarons head and beard – right down to the hem of his garments.

It sounded pretty good to me!

The Holy Spirit brings life!  

Life is going to flourish again as we come through 2020. The church is going to flourish!  It’s expanding and enlarging and we are part of it.

But a few times after last Sunday, I was getting this little prompting – but what about righteousness?  You mentioned peace and joy, but you didn’t mention righteousness.

I like to share with you how I come to be preaching on the things that I do, because for me, it’s important that we know that this is God’s word for now to the church – not just some nice message to tickle our ears.

So I was talking with Venese during the week, and I said I’m still not sure what to preach on this Sunday – and she says – what about righteousness?

OK.  That pretty much sealed it.  When the Holy Spirit and Venese line up –  I really take notice.

I think as Christians, we can steer away from dwelling too much on righteousness and holiness because we know – our conscience tells us – we know we aren’t righteous.  We know we fall short.  

As much as we’d love to live that perfect and pure life that Jesus lived, we know ourselves too well.

We know the scriptures, like:

Romans 3:23

New King James Version

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Or:

Romans 3:10

New King James Version

“As it is written:  “There is none righteous, no, not one;”

So those scriptures seem to resonate with us fairly easily.

But I want to make sure this morning, that none of us actually get stuck in that place – because that’s exactly what the devil would want you to continue to believe about yourself.

I believe that the Holy Spirit wants to release a renewed and refreshed sense of power and strength into your lives this morning…. And that every one of us will be able to stand up with faith and confidence – and declare over ourselves this truth:  

Proverbs 28:1

New King James Version

“The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion.”

The wicked flee when no one purses because there’s always this underlying sense of fear, guilt and shame…. 

Sure, some wicked people are very bold…. But generally speaking, sin keeps us bound to fear, guilt and shame.

The classic example is Adam and Eve, when they ate from the tree that God said not to eat from.  And when God came walking in the garden in the cool of the evening – Adam and Eve were hiding.  They tried to cover their shame with leaves.  But it didn’t change how they were feeling about themselves.

That’s what happens – we hide ourselves – we try and cover ourselves with all kinds of coverings, masks, disguises – in case somebody sees who we really are.

It’s a really sad picture.  And it’s especially sad when we as Christians carry those mindsets into our new life in Christ.  

Because – if you have Jesus Christ as Your Saviour, and you’ve been washed in His Blood, and the Holy Spirit is alive on the inside of you – then you are able to rise up –  to stand strong – and be as bold as a lion!  You are righteousness in Him.

The only thing stopping us from walking in righteousness and being as bold as a lion, is our own unbelief of what He has done for us – and our own conscience.”

1 John 3:20

New King James Version

“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”

I actually love how the Passion Translation puts it:

1 John 3:20

The Passion Translation

“Whenever our hearts make us feel guilty and remind us of our failures, we know that God is much greater and more merciful than our conscience, and he knows everything there is to know about us.”

There is so much to say about all of this.  It’s really the heart of the gospel. 

Jesus Christ – the Son of God – the only man who has ever lived without sin – the only One whose heart is pure…

He did something incredibly amazing when He was crucified.  He took our sin upon His own body.  He took the punishment that was due for us.  He took our place in death.  

But there was an exchange that happened at the same time.

2 Corinthians 5:21

New King James Version

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Instead of sin – He gave us righteousness.

Instead of curses – He gave us blessing

Instead of sickness and disease – He have us health.

Instead of poverty – He made us rich in all things

Instead of rejection – He gave us acceptance

Instead of shame – He gave us His glory

Instead of death – He gave us life

And that list goes on and on…

This is the one and only reason that we can stand up as righteous as a lion.

Because when Jesus took our sin, He at the same time gave us, among all those other things – His righteousness.

By faith, we receive Christ’s righteousness.  You are righteous!

What does righteousness really mean?

It means you are in right standing with God.  The biblical definition actually says – you are as you ought to be.  

Isn’t that the one elusive thing that many people are searching for in life?  To be as they ought to be?  They look for it in all kinds of places – but it can only be found in one place – and His name is Jesus!

You can sit there all day and say – but I don’t deserve it.  I still know that I sin.   I still know that I fall short.

Well I have something pretty confronting to say about that.

How long are you going to stay sin focussed and self focussed and having your heart condemn you every single day? 

How long are you going to hinder that incredible exchange that happened at Calvary?  How long are you going to squash the power of God from moving in your life? 

How long are you going to allow unbelief to be your default position?  How long will you continue to live under condemnation that will only rob you of your true destiny?

Romans 8:1

New King James Version

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

There it is again…. This link with that first verse I shared with you.

The kingdom of God is about the realm of the Holy Spirit – filled with righteousness, peace and joy.

The scripture doesn’t say, you only have a little bit of righteousness.  You can keep just a little bit of shame to keep you in your place.

No!  There is NO condemnation.  None. Zero. Zilch. 

I’m not for a moment taking away the need to be living a lifestyle of repentance – always allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal those things that we need to bring to Him for healing and forgiveness.   We need to keep short accounts with God.

But the bible says it is even the gift of God or the kindness of God that leads us to repentance.

Even repentance is something that we can only find by God’s grace through His Spirit.

This message is all about grace.  How sweet is the sound of grace.

His mercy and forgiveness are new every single morning.  He is always there to cleanse us and wash us from our sin – and that’s freedom.  That’s our peace and joy!

Our righteousness and our right standing with God are purely because of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross of Calvary.

Church, this is probably the most powerful truth that we can walk in – because it is the heart of the gospel.

And it’s powerful because when we receive righteousness as the revelation that it is – it carries the power for us to actually walk in it.

When we receive the truth and the revelation that we are righteous, all of a sudden we start thinking righteously.  We start behaving righteously.  Because it’s the power of the Holy Spirit in us that does that work.

The more you focus on your sin, the more you actually exalt the power of sin – and the more you will struggle with it.

The more you focus on righteousness, the more you will empower righteousness in your life – and walk in it.

Faith empowers us. Love empowers us.  Hope empowers us.  And righteousness empowers us.

You can be in church your whole life and never understand who you are.   

How sad is it that religion has often focussed on doing the right thing, keeping people in bondage to the law – rather than releasing people with the truth that they already are a new creation – that old things have passed away and all things have become new.  That it is the power of faith in the word of God that changes us – not rules and laws.

Psalm 32:1-2; 10-11

New King James Version

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered.   Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,   And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

The Lord does not impute your sin – that means He doesn’t charge it to your account – it never shows up! 

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;  But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.  Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous;

And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Talk about words of faith and conviction!  We need to be convicted – convicted of the truth of God’s word and what it says about us!

If I could mention one man who had a profound revelation of what I am talking about this morning, apart from the apostle Paul who wrote most of what I’m conveying, it would have to be Martin Luther.

As part of the Roman Catholic Church back in the 16th century, he knew he was bound and not free.

He still felt the guilt and shame of sin. 

But he went through a transforming moment in his own life that led to a reformation in the church.  And he later wrote this:

“I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, “the justice of God,” because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. 

My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by his faith.” Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. 

Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on new meaning, and whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven.” (Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, 49–50)

The righteousness that God has imparted to us through faith in Jesus Christ, is our door into paradise – our gate to heaven.

While your mind or your conscience might be saying to you:

I’m not good enough

I’m a hypocrite

I’m a sinner

I’m a failure

I’m weak

I should be stronger

I should do better…

Lift your eyes above yourself – and see things according to the Holy Spirit.

Honestly, the Christian life is a lot about getting over ourselves.

See things according to the truth you find in the word of God.

Allow the power of righteousness to do its work in you.

Just like Martin Luther, we can be filled with the sweet love of God simply by accepting by faith that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

There’s a scripture in John 16 that brings some more clarity to righteousness.  

I want to finish with this…

This is when Jesus speaks about the coming Holy Spirit.

John 16:7-10

New King James Version

“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;”

Firstly, this just reinforces that it’s the Holy Spirit’s role to convict people’s hearts.  We can share, we can preach, we can do all we can to share the truth. But only the Holy Spirit has the power to change a person’s heart.

Conviction of sin is for the unbeliever.  Because Jesus says, they do not believe in me.   

However as believers, the Holy Spirit does convicts us of righteousness.

He reminds us that we are righteous.  It’s the continual call upwards – to walk in our true identity.    We are blood washed sons of God.

It’s like He says – come on – that thing that you’ve been struggling with – that’s not who you are!  

Remember the definition of righteousness?  You are as you ought to be!

Because I go to the Father – you have the Holy Spirit now…. It’s like Jesus is reminding us of who we have on the inside.

And I just see the Father heart of God here – a Father that doesn’t condemn – but provides the strength and power for us to live as Kingdom people – to live in the realm of the Holy Spirit –  which is exactly where we started with this message.

Finally – this is my second finally – as if we don’t have enough to lead us into a true revelation of righteousness, there’s a further call upward as it says in:

1 Corinthians 15:34

New King James Version

“Awake to righteousness, and do not sin”

Notice it doesn’t say don’t sin – and awaken to righteousness.  The revelation of righteousness comes first – then sin dissolves…

I believe that genuine revival will include deep repentance, lots of prayer and intercession, and a powerful move of the Holy Spirit.

But part of rising up as the church of Jesus Christ will be an awakening of who we really are as sons and daughters of God – which means we will know our righteousness – we will walk in it – and it will cause us to be as bold as a lion in our testimony of what Jesus has done in our life.

Perhaps there is coming, a profound shift of our understanding of righteousness as Christ’s bride – where we say as Martin Luther did – the true justice of God has become inexpressibly sweet in greater love.  


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