I asked God what He wants to say to those who read my blog (myself included) and dreamt all night about righteousness. The following morning James 2:14-26 was part of the reading for the day (I have been reading through the bible this year). Verse 23 jumped out which confirmed that God has a message for us regarding righteousness. I will take you through the scriptures I was led to and share what I believe is the message God is speaking to His church.
And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith. (Gen 15:6 NLT)
Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. (Ja 2:21-23 NLT)
When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. (Gen 22:9 NLT)
God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (Eph 2:8-9 NLT)
So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. (Ja 2:24 NLT)
Abraham was made righteous by his faith in God. He demonstrated his righteousness by his obedience. Like Abraham, our initial salvation and eternal forgiveness comes by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone and evidence of salvation comes by obedience. We, like Abraham, are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Jesus said in Jn 14:15, “If you love Me, obey My commandments.”
Let’s look at some definitions:
Righteous (tsaddiq): One who is right, just clear, clean, a person who is characterized by fairness, integrity and justice in his/her dealings; tsaddiq is derived from the verb tsadaq, “to be righteous, justified, clear”; to display justice & integrityin one’s lifestyle.
Righteousness (dikaiosune): Just, the quality of being right, conformity to the revealed will of God in all respects.
God declares the believer righteous, in the sense of acquitting him, and imputes righteousness to him.
Acquit means to set free; to release or discharge from an obligation, accusation, guilt, or whatever lies upon a person as a charge or duty.
Impute means that the righteousness of Jesus is treated as if it were ours through faith.
Stop and meditate on these amazing truths! They should cause you to praise God! Thank you Jesus for the cross!
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Co 5:21 NLT)
Then I am led to this amazing declaration by Habakkuk!
Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. (Hab 2:4 NLT)
“Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith. (Hab 2:4 NKJV)
I encourage you to read the book of Habakkuk before you read further.
*The book of Habakkuk is the account of Habakkuk’s journey of change and transformation. Initially, he is overwhelmed by the circumstances all around him and by the end of the story, Habakkuk is no longer controlled by or anxious over his circumstances because his thoughts are on things above and he has fixed his hopes on God from Whom his strength and joy comes from. Habakkuk has gone from complaining to confidence in God, from doubt to trust in God, from man to God, from the valley to the high hills!
Hab 2:4 is a clear declaration of faith. For Habakkuk, the promise is for physical protection in time of great upheaval and war. When the predicted invasion by foreign armies becomes a reality, the righteous remnant whose God is the Lord, whose trust and dependence is in Him, will be delivered and they will live.
Habakkuk does not deny his problems, nor does he treat them lightly, instead, he finds God sufficient in the midst of his troubles! It is possible to rise above circumstances, and even to rejoice in them by focusing on God who stands above all.
In Hab 2:4, the evil and the arrogant Babylonians are contrasted with the righteous and the trusting among God’s people. The transient and unstable nature of one who attempts to find life in himself is compared to the dependability and reliability of one who trusts God for his life.
Hab 2:4 is saying that, “The righteous person by his/her faithfulness shall live!”
Shall live (chayah) means to live, to stay alive, be preserved, to flourish, to enjoy life, to live in happiness, to breathe, be alive, be animated, recover health, live continuously.
Many scriptures suggest that “living” is the result of doing the right thing. (Deut 4:1; 30:19-20; Pro 4:4; 9:6; Amos 5:4 and Lk 10:25-28)
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” (Lk 10:25-28 NLT)
Paul takes the statement in Hab 2:4 and makes it the heart of the gospel. The righteousness of God is attained only through faith in Jesus, so that the right way to live is to trust in Jesus alone, be faithful to Him alone, and so find life as God means it to be lived!
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life. (Ro 1:16-17 NLT)
What is God saying to His church? To the ones who in Christ have been declared righteous. To the ones who in Christ, God has imputed righteousness. Desire to live your life for Jesus, holy and blameless. Demonstrate righteousness by being obedient to the commands of Jesus. Be faithful to Him alone. Display fairness, justice and integrity (the character of Jesus) in your lifestyle. Put your faith and trust in Jesus alone-He is more than enough! Turn to God in the midst of troubles. Rise above your circumstances, even rejoice in them. He will be with you and bring you through them. Be steadfast and persevering. Fix your eyes on and put your hope in Jesus alone. Love Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and, love your neighbour as yourself. Do these things in the power and enablement of Holy Spirit, and you shall live!
Note *from the introduction to the book of Habakkuk in the New Spirit Filled Life Bible
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches...” Rev 2:7