So many Christians attempt to live out the Christianity in their own strength, resource, and ability … yet sadly this always falls flat and comes up short.
Isaiah 64:6 tells us that even our best effort still only produces filthy rags.
So how is it possible to live out the Christian life – this impossible standard we are called to?
We are told numerous times in Scripture that God alone is righteous …
- … Righteous and upright is He. (Deuteronomy 32:4)
- There is none righteous, no, not one … (Romans 3:10)
- My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)
- Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. (Revelation 19:11)
In our effort, in our strength, in our talent, in our ability, or our whatever, it is impossible to live the Christian life as it was intended. I love what Major Ian Thomas says about the Christian life, he wrote:
“The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus Christ, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you – your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything – than although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it! … It has got to become obvious to others that the kind of life you are living is … beyond all human explanation! That it is beyond the consequences of man’s capacity to imitate, and however little they may understand this, it is clearly the consequence only of God’s capacity to reproduce Himself in you!” (from Saving Life of Christ and the Mystery of Godliness by Ian Thomas, page 162-163)
So how are we going to live the Christian life? How are we going to walk in purity, holiness, and righteousness?
We need to be indwelt by the One who is the fullness of purity, holiness, and righteousness.
Isaiah 61:10 talks about the Messiah (Jesus) and declares, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
We are to be clothed by Jesus Christ (also see Ephesians 4:20-24).
And when Jesus Christ indwells us by His Spirit (whom we call the Holy Spirit) then we experience His righteousness and fullness of life within us (see 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 4:24; Philippians 1:11; 3:8-9).
We aren’t merely to “look” righteous on the outside (actions, words, deeds) but more importantly be righteous in the inside (thoughts, motives, attitudes) – see Matthew 23:27-28.
I love how Jeremiah expresses this concept. In Jeremiah 23:5-6, Jeremiah talks about Jesus, calling him the Branch of righteousness and giving Him the Name Jehovah Tsidkenu (God our Righteousness). The passage says:
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Jesus’ Name is “Righteousness.”
But I love how Jeremiah continues this idea. The other passage in Scripture where the Name Jehovah Tsidkenu shows up is in Jeremiah 33:15-16. In this passage, this Righteous Branch is brought into Jerusalem, and the place where the Branch (Jesus) dwells, takes on the same Name – Jehovah Tsidkenu.
Wherever the One who is righteous dwells, that location becomes righteous.
How do we live a life of righteousness? By allowing the One who is righteous to indwell our lives via His Holy Spirit.
We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and as He indwells our life, He makes us righteous. What an amazing reality!
Will you embrace the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jehovah Tsidkenu) afresh today and allow His life and righteousness to mark your life? May the only explanation for our lives, as Ian Thomas says, be Jesus and only Jesus.
Cheering you down the Narrow Way of the Cross!
PS – remember, if you are interested in joining me in April for our next Bible Study Tour in Israel, the early bird discounts October 23. Find out more.