God is the Source of Righteousness
If you want to live holy, it can only be Christ in you, enabling you to live a good and holy life. God's resources are unlimited, empowering you to live righteously.
Kingdom Principle: Righteousness; Part III
Locate in Scripture: Luke 18:9-14
In 2004 I headed out with a group to church plant. Over the next several years we worked tirelessly caring for the growing church. It was a great experience. Many times filled with heartache, but most of the time filled with joy and excitement. However, the seeds of discouragement were planted after an encounter with someone who ‘meant well’ and then took root when personal situations drastically changed making it hard to maintain the demands of family, work and ministry. I needed help and found that the well was too dry to continue. Somewhere along the line what had been a joy and passion had turned into a terrible burden. But instead of seeking the help I needed from the Lord, I ran away and quit the ministry because I didn’t know how to continue.I was tired, I was beaten up and most of all, I was discouraged.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalt himself will be humbled, and those who humble himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14).
This is an interesting parable. At its heart lies a foundational truth about the lies we believe, especially among believers. The core issue of the Pharisee’s attitude was self-righteousness. He wanted to be like God without God. In other words, he wanted to be good, holy and do the things required of him but the source of this goodness didn’t originate with the only one who is good, God. It came out of himself.
This is the same lie presented to Adam and Eve in the garden; if you eat this fruit you will be like God (Genesis 3:5). Incidentally, this attitude is also what got Satan kicked out of heaven, he said to himself “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). This idea that we can be good and right without the only one who is good and right as the source is destructive. This is why Paul said that the mystery hidden for the ages but now revealed to God’s people is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). To be good and right the source has to be Christ in you!
The tax collector on the other hand realized that he was not good in comparison to the only one who is good and falling on the mercy of God, received forgiveness that day. There was something in the way he humbled himself that brought justification. In other words, he knew there was nothing good in himself, so he would have to rely 100% on God’s mercy. In his lack, he went to the source and found what he needed.
This of course is always the starting point; but what many do not realize is this is also required throughout the Christian life. It is Christ in you that makes you good and right and enables you to live a good and holy life.
Do Not Be Deceived
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).
I’ve always interpreted this in very black and white terms. If you sow sin of course that is what you will reap in life. However, the most destructive lies come at you in very non-threatening forms. Many believers are reaping what they’ve been sowing in the flesh under the disguise of ministry and good things; and what they are reaping is exhaustion, burnout and ineffectiveness because the good they’ve been doing hasn’t originated from source of the One who is good. Unknowingly, many of these things are done out of the flesh.
Do not be deceived. We must protect the foundation of our beliefs. It is Christ in you, that makes you good and enables you to do good. Most start this way. I did. I imagine even the self-righteous Pharisee began in this way, but somewhere along the way, it is easy to buy into the lie that in ourselves we can do something for God and yet Paul says, “And God is ableto make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (II Corinthians 9:8). God as the source of goodness is the only way for you to abound in every good work.
Seek First His Kingdom and His Righteousness
After I experienced the burnout of ministry, I spent one full year with the Lord going verse by verse through the book of Romans. I didn’t do one kingdom thing besides dwell in the scriptures and in that relationship. What I found that year was healing and restoration. When I started writing it was because there was a fire in my heart and I needed to share these amazing truths with anyone who would listen. So I wrote what the Lord was showing and speaking to me and at the end of the year, the fruit of this was evident in my life as well as the resulting blog on Romans, (which is still the most visited, most commented on section of the entire website). However, the source of that fruit was the Lord, it was a completely different experience than what I had previously undergone. In contrast, studying and writing revived me. The long hours and the early mornings were what recharged and revitalized me instead of draining and discouraging me. I found His resources to be unlimited and the passion to study and write take over my desire to do anything else.
Jesus said to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). If you seek to live by your righteousness, trying to be like God without God, then what you will have in life is exactly that, a life that might look good on the outside but inside there is a void. However, if you seek God and the righteousness that exists because he is God and He is good, then what you will have is unlimited, unrestrained resources to do the things He has called you to do. It will be born of Him, it will flow out of you because of Him and it will be “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over...” (Luke 6:38a).
Join me for Part IV; 'What is Self-Righteousness?'