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How to Be Righteous

Righteousness – it’s one of the main focuses of the Christian life, and many people are constantly striving towards the goal of being righteous; or being more righteous. There are entire books, study guides and conferences all centered around living righteously, and learning how to be more righteous.

There are countless numbers of Christians today who are on a quest to “better themselves”, to be more righteous, and be more like God and please Him. I used to be one of those people, as well. I know exactly how it feels, and it seems right; it seems like a very good thing. You may even be asking right now “why wouldn’t that be a good thing?! We need more righteous people, who want to please God!”

And I do agree that it is a very good thing for people to be righteous, and of course to please God – we all want that. However, the question isn’t really whether that’s a good thing or not; but rather how do we accomplish it?

You see, no-one is questioning the importance of being righteous, but rather where we diverge is how to be righteous. Because when you ask this question, most people immediately jump to their own works and performance, and what they need to do for God.

So today, we will be examining what the scriptures actually say about how to be righteous; and the answer may surprise you!

How to Love God (By Receiving His Love)

How many times have you heard that you need to love God? This popular phrase is often heard when referring to Christian living and the Christian life, and is used in an attempt to conjure up reciprocal love for God.

However, when a person is trapped in legalism, with the burden of religion weighing them down, this phrase “you need to love God” takes on a heavy meaning which causes people to be introspective and focused on their own ability to love, rather than focusing on the root of the issue, which is God’s love for them.

I’ve spoken with a great number of people (and been one in the past as well) who were so consumed with trying to love God, that they completely missed His love for them – and in reality, the only way that we can truly love God at all, is by receiving His love for us in the first place!

So today in this study, we will be exploring the topic of how to truly love God, not by trying harder, but by receiving His love for you.

Your Part to Play in Salvation

One of the most common questions that I receive in relation to the Gospel of Grace, is “so you’re saying that I have nothing to do; no part to play?” – and I understand that reaction. The Gospel of Grace in Christ is completely opposite to the typical message of religion, which says that we must constantly work hard, struggle and strive to earn redemption, please God, serve Him, and even work to love Him! Whereas the Gospel of Grace testifies that Jesus has done the work, made the final sacrifice, and we simply receive what He has done as a free gift.

Having said that, I do want to address this question and clear up any confusion, because you do have a part to play… though it might not be what you expect. So join me today as we examine what your part in the Gospel of Grace in Christ, actually is.

The Backwards Mentality of Religion

I had a conversation with a gentlemen once who asked me what I did [for a job] – and I told him that I was a Gospel minister – to which he paused awkwardly, and then said “Oh, I’m not religious”. So I chuckled and said, “That’s okay neither am I!” – after that we each went our separate ways.

It wasn’t until three days later, that we met again and he said to me in a puzzled voice: “What did you mean, when you said that you weren’t religious?!”.

You see, religion is not at all the same thing, as having a relationship, a union with Christ. And sometimes I think that we use the words and say these phrases, but haven’t really stopped to consider what they mean, or what the implications of them are.

It may also surprise you to hear that a great number of Christians also do not understand these differences. And so we are going to explore this today, and look at how the mentality of religion, is actually quite backwards to the truth of the Gospel of Christ taught in the scripture. And right-away I need to mention that when I say “backwards mentality” – I am not using that term as slang for stupid or unintelligent; not at all…

What I am saying, is that there is a religious mentality among many Christians, that is actually 180 degrees opposite to what the scriptures actually teach, and what the Gospel of Christ actually says. And this is what we will be exploring (and exposing) in today’s study.

God is Not Just a Bystander

What is your view of God? Some people see Him as a mere observer or a bystander; someone who is watching your life go by, but not taking part in it. In this view God is seen as more of a score-keeper, someone who is just watching your life, seeing the decisions that you make and keeping a record of your performance in order to judge you.

With this view of God, it is very difficult (or even impossible) to have any kind of real relationship with Him. You can never really have any closeness with someone who has real power to affect change and offer assistance, but refuses to act, and instead just uses your pain to judge you. Would you even want to have a relationship with someone like that?

The real question is, is this idea of God truly accurate? Is this the picture of God that we see in the scriptures?

We will explore this today; and the answer may surprise you.

Jesus Has Given You New Clothes

Several times in the past, I have heard preachers say something along the lines of:

If you were going to meet royalty, you would put you best foot forward behavior, and you would wear your best suit! Well God is here now, and you should look your best for him, too!

In a certain way, these pastors are correct… we should look our best for God. The question is “how exactly do we accomplish that?” By what means and method do we “put on our best suit”? Where exactly can our best clothes be found – spiritually-speaking?

There are some who think that we must strive, struggle, and sweat, to work for God, and exercise our own force-of-will in order to look our best for God… but is that the truth?

Today we will answer these questions in this study.

Death to Sin: Your New Life in Christ

Spend some time listening to Christian leaders and you will probably hear them say that we must continually “die to sin” and “die to self”. They will typically say that this dying is a process that we must continually strive towards, focus on and work hard to achieve.

This leaves many people stuck in the spiritual mud of legalism – spinning their wheels furiously to get ahead, but never actually making progress – because progress can not actually be made in this fashion.

So today in this study, we will be taking a look at the idea of dying to sin, and dying to self, as well as what it actually means to have new life in Christ, because all of these ideas and terms are actually related… and sadly through generations of religious indoctrination, we have forgotten the foundation of the finished work of Christ, and begun to construct a faulty foundation of works and self-effort in-place of the cross, and that is not only foolish, but it is flat-out deadly.

What it Means to Lay Aside Every Weight

There an interesting phrase in Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1, which encourages us to lay aside every weight and sin; and this directive has caused some degree of confusion and misapplication, to make people think that they must strive to “stop sinning” through their own self-effort. And this, like every other form of religiosity, will lead to spiritual and emotional bondage and ultimately death instead of the freedom and life that Christ sacrificed to give us.

What I would like to share with you today, is a different perspective on what it means to lay aside every weight and sin – and it doesn’t rely on your own efforts, your own sacrifices, or your own strength, but on the finished work of Jesus Christ. And as you see this truth today, you will rejoice at how easy Christ has made all of this for us.

The Danger of Perceptions

There are numerous examples in the scriptures of God promising things to people; of Him telling them to do seemingly impossible things because He has empowered them. And along with those examples, there are also some instances where people who have been promised things by God, allowed their perceptions to influence their judgment and their beliefs – sometimes to disastrous results.

Perceptions can actually be quite a dangerous trap. The way that we see and perceive can hold us in bondage, and even damage our belief if we do not have a solid foundation in Christ Jesus. And what I want to share with you today is how a Christ-centered perspective is essential for enjoying victory, and how a perspective based on the natural mind and senses, can be dangerous, and sometimes even deadly.

The Sacrifice of Jesus is Enough

When you think of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, what comes to your mind? This is a question that I asked to a group of believers, and most of them had the same couple of answers:
– Forgiveness of sins
– The pain and suffering of the torture

There’s nothing too surprising with these responses. In-fact these are all that is typically mentioned on Sunday’s in most sermons. Many people see the sacrifice of Christ as little more than spiritual fire-insurance. You get a ticket on the Heaven-bus when it arrives.

The sacrifice of Christ becomes something that merely gets mentioned at the end of sermons in order to attracted new converts to the membership of the church, but otherwise it is ignored.

However I’m here today my friend to tell you that the sacrifice of Jesus is much more than simply fire insurance – it is much more than a tool to gain new converts – it is in-fact everything that you need. And it is more than enough to solve every problem.