Righteousness by Faith/Spirit
WHAT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH?
WHAT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SPIRIT?
This word, “righteousness”, causes us to wonder, as it should, because it is very hard to define. The Bible uses it in many different applications. The synonyms of holiness, and perfection don’t quite seem to measure up to the notion we get, or should get, when we hear the word righteousness.
When the phrase, “…by faith”, is used, it is often associated with the words or subjects of salvation or justification. The word righteousness, however, is a whole different thing, and to couple it with the phrase, “by faith”, or “of the Spirit”, makes it all the more dynamic.
If we look in a concordance at all the verses that contain the word righteousness throughout the New Testament, we get a clearer perspective as to what the UNIFYING theme is with regards to the progression from Law to faith and what our works should be.
The Whole Bible has one PREVAILING theme, which is knowing God and the pursuit of righteousness.
God and His righteousness is not divided by the Testaments. It is the one CENTRAL theme throughout the Bible. What does change, are the means and revelation by which we obtain this righteousness.
The righteousness of God, is, and once was, revealed in the Law, but that righteousness has now been completely revealed in Jesus Christ. Don’t believe it? Let’s read:
“But now the righteousness of God APART FROM THE LAW IS REVEALED, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, THROUGH FAITH in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of one who has faith in Jesus.”(Romans 3:21-26)
“For Christ is the end of the law FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS to everyone who believes.”(Romans 10:4)
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…for in it the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD is REVEALED from FAITH to FAITH.”(Romans 1:16-17)
Where people fail in pursuing the Law, is that they fail to pursue the righteousness revealed therein. This can be applied to any type of adherence or observation whether it be a denomination or a doctrine. Being a child of God involves being identified to Him in His likeness. We were created to be in the image and likeness of God. This is righteousness, and this is what we are to be pursuing. Pursuing the Law does not guarantee a person is pursuing righteousness, but even if a person is pursuing righteousness, this does not guarantee their method is honored by God either. Let’s read:
“but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law…” (Romans 9:31-32)
Unfortunately the HRM twists this concept of Romans 9 by saying that since faith has always existed, and the Bible never demanded righteousness by works, then there is therefore, no such thing as righteousness by the Law.
This is simply one way for people to avoid being accused of having righteousness through the Law. They just make up the idea that it doesn’t exist, and this a lie. Although God has always wanted those that seek Him apart from themselves, nevertheless, He revealed Himself through the Law. God did expect people to identify with Him, through the Mosaic Law. Also, nowhere under the Mosaic covenant could a person be considered righteous apart from the terms of the covenant, which was the Mosaic Law. What Romans 9 tells us is that people did not seek the revelation of righteousness in the Law. Righteousness by works may not have been what God intended but that mentality did in fact exist as we see in Romans 9:31-32. There are two forms of righteousness by the Law:
1)A self-righteous, self-justifying righteousness that assumes merit, and reward for its performance.
2)An honest but misguided trust and dependence on the format of the Law as our only means of knowing and doing what God desires.
We can read in Philippians that Paul rejects the Law as His source of righteousness:
“…that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;…”(Philippians 3:8-9)
What we can take from this verse in Philippians, is that Paul is making a distinction between two SOURCES. These sources aren’t different for the purposes of salvation, they are different as the sources for EVERYTHING. Righteousness is the inclusion of everything. It encompasses the whole Christian life and Paul states that he desires to have righteousness from God by faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul isn’t rejecting the Law, he is rejecting it as a source and means. He also links that idea of self to the Law. This is because the Law does not require the Spirit of God. It does not appeal to the Spirit, but to man and his five senses.
The HRM wishes for us to believe that we are supposed to be led by the Spirit in order to be led by the Law, and what this supposes is that one source of righteousness point us to another. But it’s the Law that points us to Christ and His Spirit, not the other way around. The whole idea of being led by the Law is simply to say that righteousness, instruction and understanding only come from the Law. This couldn’t be more opposite than what the entire New Testament teaches, plus it denies the whole purpose of the Cross of Jesus Christ and His Redemption. The Law was written because man was unregenerate. Man could not be lead by the Spirit, because his sinful nature was the present and ruling factor in his life. He had the nature of the first Adam, not the second. The HRM simply wants to define righteousness as that of ancient Israel and the Law. Righteousness is about everything and Jesus proved in the Beatitudes that the Law does not contain everything about righteousness; He contains everything and we have Him and His righteousness through the Spirit by faith.
The main problem with the HRM is that they are looking for a sign of righteousness with their five senses. This is what the Law provides. The commands are written and visible, the obedience to it is visible, and everything is physical in evidence. I understand the Bible says that “you shall know them by their fruits”, but the demand for evidence that the HRM requires has nothing to do with the root or source of righteousness, just works. The New Testament teaches that righteousness is sourced in the intangible by faith. When Jesus made the claim that a man must be born again to see the kingdom of God(John 3:3), that source of righteousness forever changed from the tangible aspect of the Law and our senses, to being of the Spirit. That is why Jesus subsequently said;
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is BORN OF THE SPIRIT.”(John 3:8)
Paul chastised the Galatians for this dependency on the physical:
“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace. For we THROUGH THE SPIRIT eagerly wait for the hope of RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH.”(Galatians 5:
The HRM cannot step away from the concept of obedience and works long enough to understand what has happened to people because of Christ and the new manner in which we operate. All scripture has become more than commandments:
“All scripture is given…for instruction IN RIGHTEOUSNESS that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”(2 Timothy 3:16)
Scripture has become instruction and revelation to the redemptive work that God has worked in us through faith in Christ. This is why Paul calls it the ministry OF THE SPIRIT:
“…how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? (2 Corinthians 3:8)
Obedience hasn’t changed, only that righteousness can not be built on it, it can only be built on the Redemption. We are freed from the law not because the standard of righteousness has changed, but because the source and the method of how we live righteously has. Let’s read:
“But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness OF THE SPIRIT and not in the oldness of the letter.”(Romans 7:6)
When a person operates in this manner, Paul then goes on to say:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who walk not according to the flesh, but according TO THE SPIRIT.”(Romans 8:1)
Those who operate from their senses are the ones who are considered carnal. (Romans 8:5)
If the Law is your guide and source of righteousness, you cannot say with Paul:
“For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ in me…”(Galatians 2:19-20)