"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:8.
"Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God ....Being then made free
from sin, ye became servants of righteousness. Even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness" Romans 6:13,18,19.
The word of Micah teaches us that the fruit of the salvation of God is chiefly seen in three things. The new life must be characterised, in my relation to God and His will, by righteousness and doing right. It must be characterised in my relation to my neighbour, by love and benevolence. It must be characterised in relation to myself, by humility and lowliness. For the present, we will meditate on righteousness.
Scripture teaches us that no man is righteous before God, or has any righteousness that can stand before God.1 It says that man receives the rightness or righteousness of Christ for nothing, and that by this righteousness--received in faith--he is justified before God.2 This righteous sentence of God is something binding by which the life of righteousness is implanted in man, and he learns to live a righteous life.3 Being right with God is followed by doing right. "The just shall live by faith" a righteous life (Galatians 3:11).
It is to be feared that this is not always understood. One sometimes thinks more of justification than of righteousness in life and walk. To understand the will and the thoughts of God, let us trace what the Scriptures teach us on this point. We will be convinced that the man who is clothed in a divine righteousness before God must also walk before God and man in a divine righteousness.
Consider how, in the Word, the servants of God are praised as righteous 4--how the favour and blessing of God are pronounced on the righteous 5 --how the righteous are called to confidence, to joy.6 See this especially in the Book of Psalms. See how often in Proverbs all blessing is pronounced upon the righteous. See how everywhere men are divided into two classes--the righteous and the godless.8 See how, in the New Testament, the Lord Jesus demands this righteousness.9 See how Paul, who announces most of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, insists that this is the aim of justification-to form righteous men, who do right. 10 See how John names righteousness along with love as the two indispensable marks of the children of God.11 When you put all these facts together, it must be very evident to you that a true Christian is a man who does righteousness in all things, even as God is righteous.
Scripture will also teach you what this righteousness is. It is a life in accordance with the commands of God, in all their depth and profoundness. The righteous man does what is right in the eyes of the Lord.12 He does not obey the rules of human action--he does not ask what man considers lawful. A man who stands right with God, who walks uprightly with God, dreads, above all things, even the least unrighteousness. He is afraid, above all, of being partial to himself and of doing any wrong to his neighbour for the sake of his own advantage. In great and little things alike, he takes the Scriptures as his measure and line. As an ally of God, he knows that the way of righteousness is the way of blessing and life and joy.
Consider, further, the promises of blessing and joy which God has for the righteous. Then live as one who--in friendship with God, and clothed with the righteousness of His Son through faith--has no alternative but to do righteousness.
O Lord, You have said, "There is no God else beside Me: a just God and a Saviour" (Isaiah 45:21).You are my God. It is as a righteous God that You are my Saviour and have redeemed me in Your Son. As a righteous God, You make me righteous also, and say to me that the righteous will live by faith. Lord, let the new life in me be the life of faith, the life of a righteous man. Amen.
1) Ps. 14:3; 143:2; Rom. 3:10,20
2) Rom. 3:22,24; 10:3,10; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9
3) Rom. 5:17,18; 6:13,18,19; 8:3; Tit. 1:3; 2:12; 1 John 2:29;
4) Gen. 6:9; 7:1; Matt. 1:19; Luke 1:6; 2:25; 2 Pet. 2:7
5) Ps. 1:6; 5:12; 14:5; 34:16,20; 37:17,39; 92:13; 97:11; 146:8
6) Ps. 32:1l; 33:1; 58:11; 64:10; 68:4; 97:12
7) Prov. 10:3,6,7,11,16,20,21,24,25,28,30,31,32
8) Eccles. 3:17; Isa. 3:10; Ezek. 3:18,20; 18:21,23; 33:12; Mal. 3:18; Matt. 5:45; 12:49; 25:46
9) Matt. 5:6,20; 6:33
10)Rom. 3:31; 6:13,22; 7:4,6; 8:4; 2 Cor. 9:9,10; Phil. l:11; 1 Tim. 6:11
11) 1 John 2:4,11,29; 3:10; 5:2
12) Ps. 119:166,168; Luke 1:6,75; 1 Thess. 2:10
1. Observe the connection between the doing of righteousness and sanctification in Romans 6:19,22 - "Yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness." "Having become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification." The doing of righteousness, righteousness in conduct and action, is the way to holiness. Obedience is the way to become filled with the Holy Spirit. And the indwelling of God through the Spirit is holiness.
2. "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15). It was when Jesus had spoken that word that He was baptised with the Spirit. Let us set aside every temptation not to walk in full obedience toward God as He did, and we too will be filled with the Spirit. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matt. 5:6).
3. Take pains to set before yourselves the image of a man who so walks that the name of "righteous" is involuntarily given to him. Think of his uprightness, his conscientious care to cause no one to suffer the least injury, his holy fear and carefulness to transgress none of the commands of the Lord--righteous and walking blamelessly in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. Then say to the Lord that you should so live.
4. You understand now the great word, "The Just shall live by faith" (Gal. 3:11). By faith the godless man is justified and becomes a righteous man. By faith he lives as a righteous man.
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