By faith we eagerly await through the Spirit, the righteousness for which we hope. Galatians 5:5
As parents of three young children, my wife and I have lot’s of training and correction to do. When dealing with a behaviour problem in one of our children, we’ve found the best approach goes along these lines, “Son, what you did there is just not you, it’s not who you are. You are better than that. God has made you awesome and you had a bad moment. Let’s put that moment behind us and help you to be the great young man that you already are.” On the other hand, a really terrible approach is one that leaves a child downcast about how bad they’ve been, hoping somehow that guilt and shame will be positive motivators.
God is the wisest of Fathers, and has a way of transforming us into the most glorious of children, like the Firstborn of all Creation. His way is called the “Good News” and it declares to us, that despite our rotten sinful selves, we are made completely righteous in His eyes through Christ on day 1 of our journey with Him, the day we trust Jesus to save us. On minute 1 of day 1 its all done, every requirement to be “right” with God is ticked off. What a lifetime of legalism couldn’t do under Moses’ covenant, is achieved in an instant through the miracle of spiritual rebirth.
From then on, righteousness becomes our identity. Its who we are as sons of God in Christ. And here’s the other great thing – its not only our identity, its our destiny. Our lives are being transformed, we’re overcoming sin, love is growing in us, hearts of stone are turning to hearts of flesh. Real change is happening, and a greater experience of God’s Presence clothes it all as we learn the great joy of abiding, or “staying connected”, to Christ. As our Galatians verse says, we hope for the fruit of righteousness that we know we already clearly have. Several of my recent posts talk about being sure you’re righteous in Christ.
The great secret of overcoming sin is not to wallow in guilt and shame, nor is it the result of supreme effort. The secret is to let Christ live through you, for the righteousness that’s already in there to come out. This is a different way of thinking, and it doesn’t come naturally to Christians, even to some who have been around a long time. But its the truth of Christ’s gospel.
Here is a link to a talk I did on this topic during October 2015 to over a thousand university students in Johannesburg, South Africa titled the “Power of Righteousness”. Enjoy!