By Jerry Wiles – On a mission trip to Eastern Mexico, our team conducted a series of meetings in churches, as well as outreach efforts in a few coastal villages. I remember vividly discussions we had about Jesus’ statements recorded in John 16. Jesus said, “When the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement.” The discussion led to the topic of righteousness, and what it means to be a righteous person.
Convicted of Righteousness
In some of the church meetings, we would often ask for a show of hands of all those who saw themselves as being righteous. (The question was primarily to provoke some thought and discussion). Very few people would raise their hands. It was a great starting place to explore and explain what it means to be made a righteous person. From Scripture, we know that God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The Righteous shall Flourish
The Psalmist tells us that the righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, and still bear fruit in old age. James says that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous person produces much fruit. So, for many in the church today, an important question is, what does it mean to be righteous and how does one become righteous? There are numerous references throughout Scripture about righteousness and the righteous. The Apostle Paul wrote that, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things may have an abundance for every good work.” Later he mentions multiplying the seed you have sown and increasing the fruits of your righteousness.
Being what we have become
It’s been my experience that many Christ-followers do not see themselves as righteous or complete in Christ. Therefore, they feel they need to strive for perfection. That often results in trying to become what we think we should be, rather than being what we have already become in Christ. However, it is liberating to come to that place of accepting our acceptance, accepting ourselves as God has accepted us in Christ. Of course, it’s the finished work of Christ on the cross that makes that all possible. Fruitful, victorious, and righteous living is not about self-improvement, but Christ replacement. It’s the Galatians 2:20 reality, that it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.
A former neighbor, Bill came into that reality and began sharing it with others. He was freed from a performance-based acceptance mentality and received a passion to share his newfound liberty and joy with family, neighbors, co-workers, and friends. It has been a joy to learn of the fruit that has come from Bill’s walk with God and the multiplying impact he has had on many others over the years. He is a living example of God’s faithfulness, and His promise to multiply the seed sown and increase our fruits of righteousness.
Fullness of Life in Christ
It was a major turning point in my own life when I came to an awareness of the futility of self-effort. It was then that I could enter and appropriate the fullness of life in union with Christ. There was a new joy in sharing that liberating message. I began to see more people come to Christ, just accidentally, than I have been able to produce before on purpose. It was the difference of God at work through me, rather than my activities on His behalf. Just like we can’t save ourselves, we can’t live a fruitful, righteous life apart from Him. As we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, we are to walk in Him.
God’s Unlimited Love and Power
There seems to be a great need today among followers of Jesus to discover more fully, who we are in Christ, who He is in us, and how to relate to Him. We all have equal access to the throne of grace, and come to Him at any time, and find rest unto our souls. Resting in Christ does not mean inactivity, but ceasing from our own activity, and appropriated His unlimited love and power. It’s about the reproducing life of the Lord Jesus, in and through our redeemed humanity of forgiven sinners. That out working of the indwelling Christ will result in expanding His Kingdom around us and around the world.