143. Righteous by faith.
We are not righteous (meaning morally right and justifiable) in God's sight by our good works because the human heart is deceitful. 'The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?' (Jeremiah 17:10) The Lord himself had made this chilling assessment of man, soon after men began to multiply on earth. 'The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become and that the very inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.' (Genesis 6:5) There is a motive behind everything we do which is not evident to men but to God because 'man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.' (1 Samuel 16:7) 'The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.' (1 Chronicles 28:9) 'All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.' (Proverbs 16:2) Nothing we do externally can change the state of our hearts. Some say that if our mind is good, then that will be enough! But how can the mind be good when the heart isn't? Therefore, God is not impressed with our good deeds, unless our hearts are fixed first ! He does it by first circumcising the sinful nature of our hearts with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 'Circumcision is the circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.' (Romans 2:29) And it is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of the righteousness through Christ. "When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement." (John 16:8) God then imparts the righteousness of Christ into our hearts by his Spirit. This process causes us to become 'born again'. To be 'born again' would therefore mean to receive the Holy Spirit who once left Adam and Eve when they sinned. When the Spirit left them, they became naked since the glory that covered them left. But once the Spirit comes back, we are clothed with Christ. They had covered their nakedness with fig leaves which barely covered their nakedness and hardly lasted for a day! But 'the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.' (Genesis 3:21) Even so the Lord will clothe us with the righteousness of Christ, if we let him strip us of our self-righteousness. 'All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.' ( Galatians 3:27) Our righteousness ( meaning the quality of being morally right or justifiable) definitely doesn't weigh more than the righteousness of Jesus. Therefore God credits all who believe in Jesus with his righteousness, just as he credited righteousness to Abram. (Genesis 15:6) But it was just a title, since righteousness was not imputed to Abraham, as the Spirit had not yet been given. (John 7:38-39) Whereas, a new testament believer is not just given a title but it is also a 'state of being' because he has been imputed with the righteousness of Christ by the Spirit. This becomes our 'breasplate of righteousness' (Ephesians 6:14) which helps us to stand confidently when the enemy accuses us. But he cannot find a chink in 'armour of God' through which he can shoot at our hearts because our hearts are well protected by his righteousness. Therefore, let's 'be found in him not having a righteousness of our own but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.' (Philippians 3:9) Amen.