'For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to the last, just as it is written: "The righteous shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17) This passage was Martin Luther's gateway to heaven as it changed his life forever! On understanding the phrase "righteousness from God," Luther said, "Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The Scripture took on a new meaning ... This passage of Paul became to me a gateway to heaven." There is a revelation in the Gospel about a righteousness, which when revealed, liberates us from the shackles of the law because 'no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin'. (Romans 3:20) Paul was liberated the day he received the gospel by revelation from Jesus Christ and it changed his life forever. 'I want you to know brothers, that the Gospel I preached is not something man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.' (Galatians 1:11-12) He was once a legalistic Pharisee, but this revelation of a righteousness through Christ changed his outlook forever. 'I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes through the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.' (Philippians 3:8-9). It was about this righteousness by faith that Jesus meant when he said, "... unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Phariseees and teacher of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20) Abraham received this righteousness by faith even before the law was given. 'Abram believed the Lord and he credited it to him as righteousness.' (Genesis 15:6) We too are credited with the righteousness of Christ when we believe the Gospel. The Holy Spirit comes within us to impart this righteousness. Hence, it is imperative that we receive the Holy Spirit because those who haven't received the Spirit, haven't received this surpassing righteousness of Christ! But before that, God strips us of our self-righteousness, which the Bible calls 'filthy rags' (Isaiah 64:6, Zechariah 3:3-4) and then clothes us with the rich robe of Jesus, just as the prodigal son was clothed with the best robe. (Luke 15:22) Paul 'came to his senses' when he received the revelation of a righteousness from God and submitted to it. But in speaking of the Israelites, Paul wrote: 'Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.' ( Romans 10:3-4) Amen.
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