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His Only Gift

His Gift Of Righteousness

CHAPTER TWO

The gift of righteousness is not separated from the gift of the Son. Righteousness is in God's only gift. For generations, in religious circles, men have tried to get better. These have, at least, tried to appear better. All, from the least to the greatest, are in some way trying to accomplish this.

I remember back into my young life how this happened. When a child begins to realize he has peers, he finds himself concerned as to how he looks in their eyes. As with the common animal we find ourselves adjusting to the "pecking order." Young people try each other to see who will be the leader. Strangely, this does not end with youth. Adults continue this practice in one form or another.

Outside my window I keep a hummingbird feeder. As I watch them I see the traits of many human beings. They compete for the feeder, one chasing off the other and spending so much time at it that the one chasing cannot get much of the nectar himself. It seems that the bird who can spread his tail feathers the farthest chases off the others most successfully. Then, again, those with the red throat do even better. Most of this chasing and struggling is all a big show from my vantage point. They cannot see that if they would all take their turn, there would be enough for everyone. There are three holes in the feeder, but they will only let one feed at a time and, most often, even that one gets chased off. There is provision for all, but these little creatures will not for a moment realize this.

So it is with the human population. These have wars and struggle and fight not for a moment realizing that there is enough for everyone. The greatest business in the world is in military weapons. We will do anything "even so much as to destroy the earth to protect our nectar" and in so doing we will find that we will not get any either.

When Christ came to bring His love to this earth and offer His salvation, He brought a new spirit. "But the Spirit's fruition is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, generosity, fidelity, gentleness, self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23.) Those who receive the gift of Christ's righteousness are receiving this Spirit and none of the traits of this Spirit are missing. Since Christ is perfect, perfection is what those receive who receive Him. How can there be anything greater than that?

Free From Sin

I remember back to that day when I found this great gift. I was reading the Bible in my living room and I read, "But now, free from sin and made slaves of God, the good you derive leads to holiness and the consequence is eternal life." (Romans 6:22.)

This was disturbing to me. I was a Sunday school teacher in a popular protestant church but I still sinned. I saw myself even liking some of it. But the Bible said Christians were freed from sin. I also read, "So sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14) I had always believed that being under grace meant we could sin and it was okay. Now I was reading that those who are under grace do not have that desire. I began to understand that those who are under the law are those who still sin. Sin has no power over the true Christian. As I read this I became deeply perplexed. I was unsettled and convicted that I had been believing a lie. I now had a choice. Was I willing to give up my sinning for a Savior? Was I willing to give Him my slime for His righteousness? I had no little battle over this one. I looked at my possessions. I knew immediately that a strong wind could carry them all away in a moment. I looked at my life and I saw myself wretched and miserable. It is true, I had a small business and I was respected in my work. It is true, I had a nice family and two cars in the driveway, but freedom from sin I did not have. I saw that I was like a hummingbird always trying to chase the others off to get the nectar for myself. I saw that I was concerned as to how I appeared to others.

Not From Human Lips

God was very close to me for I had not heard words like these from human lips. My minister had no such idea. The religious leaders would have thought that my understanding was nonsense. Whoever heard of being free from sin's dominion? "Everybody sins sometime." With not one person to help me understand, I turned to the Biblical Interpreter. I knelt down by my bed and asked the Lord to save me or let me die. This wrestling lasted three days, and at the end of my prayers, I knew I had received eternal life. I knew I had been freed.

This religion of Christ, which so few have come to know, is that "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." (Psalm 16:8.) The religion of Jesus is the religion of always doing those things that please Him. When trials and temptations come, victory over them is always assured. The Christian will never move from this most basic thought. "Dear children, no one should deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He Himself is righteous." (1 John 3:7) "...God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:3-4.)

I remember the day when I first received the gift of God. I had been in prayer asking for salvation because I had a terrible knowledge of my corrupt state. This great need, which was precipitated by the knowledge that Christians do not sin, drove me to the place of perfect peace and that place was Jesus. Christians have Christ's life. Reading this from Scripture shocked and dismayed me. Who then could be saved? I read, "No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has either seen Him or known Him...No one born of God commits sin; for God's nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God." (1 John 3:6, 9.) As I wrestled with God asking for this gift, I found the answer to all the difficulties that had perplexed me, for God gave me His own life. God had freed me from the dominion of sin. Sin no longer had its chains on me. I now knew what the cross had provided me. I now was in possession of His righteousness. I now knew the meaning of the words of Paul, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Romans 8:14.)

When one receives this gift of God he is given a new Spirit. "A new heart, too, I will give you. I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall observe My ordinances and do them." (Ezekiel 11:19-20.) More specifically we have already read what that new Spirit gives: "...love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, generosity, fidelity, gentleness, self-control. There is no law against these." When one receives Christ his attitude changes. He may not possess all knowledge, but he will possess this attitude of Christ with the knowledge he has. Not one of these traits of attitude will be missing in one who has received this new heart. This is a wonderful trade. God gives us His Spirit and we give Him ours.

Our fleshly nature has with it all the curses of life. The apostle describes the source of this curse. "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, such as immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, magic arts, animosities, strife, jealousy, bad temper, outbreaks of selfishness, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousings and everything of the kind, of which I warn you as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galations 5:19-21.) In my own mind I could now see that those who do these things do not find the kingdom of God, heaven, paradise or any such place. This attitude is death to all who possess it. On the other hand, there is no condemnation and no law against those who have the gift of God. This gift is for all who ask for it.

Some will acknowledge that Christians live good lives most of the time, but lose their temper or exhibit impatience on occasion. We have heard that the life of Christ is the goal but, in reality, no one actually lives that way in the real world. I want to stress the point that the life of Jesus is not the goal it is the possession of all who know Him. The Christian does not sin less and less. Christian growth is the development of righteousness, not less and less sin. We grow and in that growth we do not corrupt ourselves along the way. We need also to observe that this life is continual and not sporadic as some may suppose. We have read where we are given everlasting life and not temporary life. If we choose to dwell in this life we will never fall or fail. Whoever chooses to be separate from this life will only fail and fall continually. Some feel that they do well most of the time, but only under extreme pressure they give in. These imagine that they are standing in eternal life between falls. If one would only look at this experience, he would have to acknowledge that the seeds of falling were there all along. If a man is honest he can see further than the occasional fall. He will see that the truth of it is that he is dissatisfied and his heart is woefully unhappy continually.

The Natural Man

You may have heard that Paul had some sin problems in his life and so do we. You may have heard Romans 7:19-21 quoted. "For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me." This is the continual state of the man who is searching for the gift of God. Paul went on to say, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24.) Paul was saying he did nothing good. He went on to say he did only evil. In Romans, chapter 8, we see what happens when one receives this victory of God. Although he still has with him his flesh, he no longer lives after that flesh. The new man in Christ now lives after the Spirit. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit...For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Romans 8:1, 14.)

I can remember in my religious training of being instructed as to the Advocate. I was taught that when I sin I was to go to the Advocate and receive forgiveness each time I sinned so that my record would be clean. Jesus was a kind of heavenly confessor. I can remember confessing my sins each day. I also remember getting up from those prayers not experiencing forgiveness. I remained guilty; but I had misunderstood the Advocate. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1.) Those who use this text to remain in sin but stay confessed-up, miss some very important statements that surround this portion of Scripture. In verse 9 of the preceding chapter we read, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." How is it that we are still sinning if we have been cleansed from all unrighteousness? In Chapter 2, verses 3 and 4, there is more light. "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." If one is a Christian keeping all God's commandments, then how is it that he is using the Advocate for confession because he has not been keeping the commandments?

If one will but spend a little time with the Word of God, he will not be confused. The Advocate is never intended for our willful sins. When any man sins we have an Advocate. Any man can come to Him and God will cleanse that man from all unrighteousness. If a Christian has not had light on a given truth and finds that he has been in violation of a spiritual principle unknowingly, he may also come to the Advocate and he will be cleansed from that previous error. But in no case is the Advocate for those who retain their corrupt heart but need a confessor for the sins of that heart. Is it not true that those who confess this way still leave the place of confession bearing the marks of their burden? Are not those who repent in this way simply repenting to repent again? This kind of repentance needs to be repented of.

He Frees Us

The Advocate is He who finds us in our sins. He draws us away from them with His intercession so that we sin not. He "cleanses us from all unrighteousness." We are "freed from sin's control" forever. That is the gospel. This is the "good news" of the kingdom. "Sin shall have no dominion over you." By this we can know if we are Christians. If sin still has control over us, we can know we are not the children of God. Is that bad news? No! We have something wonderful to look forward to. We can accept Christ and be freed from this monster. We can look forward to the gift of God and His righteousness where love and obedience will continually dwell. We shall never fall with this gift. We shall never fail with this gift. What a joy this will be for all those who accept it.

In each of our lives we find times when something breaks. We look for the cause of that breakage. If our gardens don't grow, we look for the reason they don't grow. If a crack appears in the wall of our house, we check to see if the foundation is insecure. Why is it that one does not do that with his religious experience? If one finds that his spiritual house is falling in, why is it he does not look at the cause of it? Jesus gave us the explanation and solution to the problem of one's falling. If one wonders why it is he continues to yield to evil influences, he has only to look at the secret of life. "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit." (Matthew 7:17.) The problem with our lives is not the fruit; it's the tree. Most religious people spend time trying to make their fruit better. These spend time polishing and washing and spraying, but the problem is the tree. Your works are not the problem. Your deeds are not the problem. Your heart is the problem if you are bearing evil fruit. One's intention determines the condition of the heart. The Holy Spirit will always be in the heart that intends for that to happen.

The House On The Rock

Another secret to righteousness and victory is found in the place we build our lives. "Every one, then, who listens to these sayings of Mine and puts them into practice will be like a thoughtful man who built his house on the rock. The rains came down, the floods rose, the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it never collapsed, for it was based on the rock." (Matthew 7:24.) Notice that this house never collapsed. Never! Now that is good news. Who is it that would not like to have his house never fall? This is the gift of God to every believer. The believer will never fall. This is because he "listens to these sayings of mine and puts them into practice."

But what about the bad fruit? This is described in verse 26. "And every one who hears these sayings of Mine and fails to practice them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rains came down, the floods rose, the winds blew and beat upon that house and it collapsed. And the wreck of it was complete." All one need do is fail to practice the sayings of Jesus and he will fall and his fall will be complete. The evil tree can only completely fall and the good tree can only completely stand. We all have those storms to face. We all have great temptations and trials. Even so, those who build their houses on the word of God will not be blown down. When the weather is good and there are no storms it is difficult to tell whether a house is built on the sand or rock. But when the storm of temptation comes there is no more question. The man that falls can know where his house is built and so it is with the man who stands.

I Am The Way

What a simple lesson this righteousness of Jesus is. "...I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6.) Jesus gave us the truth of His life to be the truth of our lives and no one will come to the Father without the life of Jesus. Did Jesus fall on occasion? Did He sin now and then? This life, that will always stay true under any circumstances, is the life that Jesus offers us. This is what Jesus provided on the cross at Calvary.

Jesus' own life "His own righteousness" is the gift of heaven. This is the Christian experience. At no time did Jesus ever yield to the flesh, even though He went through dark times and discouraging experiences. He suffered hunger and thirst and there were times He could not see what was to come yet, in all this, He never yielded up His trust in His Father. He always obeyed His Father's commands even against the rage of His persecutors. He faithfully stood against the advice of His family. This will ever be His gift to humanity. No man or woman will ever come to the Father without this determination. Is not this a most wonderful gift? Have we not always desired the peace and love of the Father? Who is it that does not want joy and rejoicing? This is all in the gift of His righteousness.

This life is available to all, but one must count the cost. Jesus called this life experience "the kingdom". He said, "...the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." (Matthew 13:44-46.) "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:37.) These are the conditions for receiving the kingdom of God. Nothing less can be accepted. When one bows before the Lord, asking for this gift, he is in effect saying, I give all that I have. I give my job, my family, my respect, my life. Jesus said, "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" (Luke 14:28.) He was saying, "Perhaps before you start on the road to heaven you may want to consider what it will cost to finish the task and prepare your heart for that. After all, no man starts a building without considering this." Then Jesus gives the cost. Clearly He defines the expenditure. "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33.)

Some are willing to go to church to be saved. Others are willing to say prayers and pay money to be saved. Some are even willing to give all their earthly goods to be saved. A few are willing to die in order to be saved. But, truly, a remnant are willing to forsake all that they have. We must yield up every talent, every possession and every claim. We must even yield up death or any good work to gain this salvation. Every sin, all pride, every self-defense must be yielded up. When this is done you will live Christ's life, for He gave all to save you. You must give all to be saved by Him. His own life is all that He has ever given. If you want it, it is free. It will only cost all that you have. When you forsake all that you have, you may then be trusted to have all that He has. God can then trust you with family, friends and financial provision. When a man gives it up he will receive, but if man seeks to keep anything, he will lose it all.

This is the formula. It is not hard to do this if one wills to do this. My invitation to you is to accept this great life if you have not done so. All you possess is only chaff in comparison. We are only asked to trade things which will finally be destroyed, for the things which will last forever. Jesus gave us the formula and now He asks us to accept the gift of His righteousness.


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