2: Righteousness of God – Am I Dead or Alive?

 

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Dead as a doornail                                  Alive Alive-O

Romans 6:6                                                   Romans 6:7-8

Romans 7:4 (a)                                              Romans 7:4 (b)

Ephesians 2:5 (a)                                         Ephesians 2:5-6

Colossians 2:13 (a)                                      Colossians 2:13-14

Galatians 2:19 (a)                                         Galatians 2:19 (b)

Luke 10:25-28

To summarise this post, the clear concept of two natures in our salvation and ongoing relationship to God is vital in understanding righteousness. The concept of switching back to the old nature is portrayed in the Bible as a nonsense for good reason.

And to sum up the picture above, Galatians 3:21 is the source.

Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.

 

At the end of the last post, man had been tried in every situation of responsibility and had failed every time, the law being another way in which he was tested. Legal righteousness is righteousness that meets the standard of a law, and none are found to have it. Further, by its command to do, law becomes a command to be, and finds us not being, as amplified by the Lord’s words, from whom we draw the summary ‘Do this and you shall live’.

Here we go again with our friend’s article:

 

.. The great moral principles of [sin], the three stages, suffice here: lust; lawlessness in will, or transgression; and hatred of God Himself as goodness. The first Adam, the flesh, is thoroughly and wholly condemned. Another Adam is set up — the Second man: God looks for nothing from the first. He sows (this is just the truth of the parable of the sower; He brings something by the word of life); He does not look for fruit. The fig-tree in His garden, after all His pains, only cumbers the ground. It is, for faith, cut down, and will be so, in fact. Leaves it had, but no fruit; and the judgment of the Lord is, not only that it had not produced fruit, but “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever.”

It may be said This was Judaism. True, but Judaism was flesh under law. And this was what judgment was here pronounced upon. Flesh was judged — Adam and all that sprung from him. Not only was evil fruit condemned, but no fruit (which the Lord, in a probationary way, looked for) was ever to be borne by it.

The false principle of all this system is, that it is making out the righteousness of the first Adam under the law, instead of putting us in the Second entirely and absolutely, and treating the first as dead and gone. Had I then no personal responsibility? Not indeed under law, as a Gentile — still I had. Sin reigned over me and death. Hence Christ was, in sovereign grace, made sin for me and died, not to build up the old man again, after death, when it was dead, and confer righteousness on it, but to put me in a wholly new position in the heavenly man, who is my righteousness; to set me in the righteousness of God, seated in heavenly places in Him. Christ was the root and spring in life of the redeemed race; and the first is wholly set aside, judged, condemned, and dead. Christ is of God righteousness to us. All is wholly new, though we are personally brought into it only as quickened with the life of the second Adam, having Him for our life.

This is the special doctrine of Paul: no thought of a righteousness of law acquired by another for us. There is atonement for sin, in which we lay, which we had committed as in the first Adam; but I repeat, no conferring of righteousness on it, but closing its history, and being before God in death, in which He in grace took its place, in respect of the judgment due to it. “I am dead to the law, by the body of Christ, being married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead.”

Hence, there was no connection of sinners with Christ under law. A corn of wheat, except it fall into the ground and die, abides alone; if it die, it brings forth much fruit. We are united to Christ in His new position, where He is the righteous man at the right hand of God, when He has died unto sin once, and is alive unto God. But if the corn of wheat die alone, as come amongst the family of the first Adam, death is written on all that is of Adam. It has ceased to exist, so to speak, before God.

And when the Spirit of God, in the Ephesians, speaks, in its full extent, of the blessing we are called to, He does not speak of men as having lived in sin, or being condemned under law as having a life in which they had to keep law. Man was dead, wholly dead, in trespasses and sins; the Jew is viewed not as a transgressor, but as by nature a child of wrath, even as others. (Eph 2:1, 2:5-6) But what is the first object then presented? Christ dead (i.e., in the place, by grace, where we were), raised far above all principality and power, and then we, “quickened together with him, raised up together, and made to sit in heavenly places in him.” In view of the counsels of God there was, so to speak, no living man at all. There was man dead in trespasses and sins, but a Christ dead there too; and as God raised up Him, so us with Him who descended for us there. When God deals with us morally, as responsible beings, He does see us living in sin, breaking law, despising goodness. This last is the way the point is looked at in the Epistle to the Romans. In the Ephesians it is simply a new creation when we are dead.

To make this a little more clear — there are two ways I can deal with the point of the relationship between God and man. I may simply take the counsels of God and begin with them. This is done in the Ephesians. Or I may take the actual state of men as responsible children of Adam, and shew how grace meets this state. The result is blessedly confirmatory of the other, but the point of view different. This last is the view taken in the Romans — the ways of God in His moral government met by grace. In the first, man is found dead in sin. All is God’s work from beginning to end. Christ is seen — to bring about this blessed counsel in grace — dead; and we, dead in sin, are brought back up to God, according to these counsels, with and as Him. In the Romans, man is proved to be dead, dying under the effects of sin and his moral condition as a living responsible being, a child of the first Adam; and this responsibility, as a sinner who has ruined himself, met by grace.

But before I unfold the Epistle to the Romans in its bearing on the point which occupies us, under the added light of that to the Ephesians, I would gather the statements of scripture as to righteousness to see how far it has to do with law, in the case of a believer. Of course a man under law could only be righteous by keeping it. But is this the way (i.e., the making good legal righteousness in any way) in which righteousness is obtained by the believer — his title to be in heaven? Turning to Romans 3:21, I read, “But now the righteousness of God without the law” — not without the man’s doing it, and by another doing it for him, but apart from law entirely, choris nomou. It is witnessed by law and prophets, but it is another kind of righteousness, made out independently of it. “To him that worketh not” — well, what instead? — but believeth on him that has wrought it out for him instead? Not at all: “but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly” (Romans 4). It is opposed in kind. So, further on, the promise that he should be heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed by law. It was not on this principle. It is not that it is on this principle, but that another had to carry it out: but it was not on the principle, not by law. The law entered by and by (Rom 5: 20). We are not under the law, but under grace (Rom 6). Why, then, must I have it fulfilled in my place? We are become dead to the law by the body of Christ (Rom 7: 4). How held to its fulfilment, if I am dead to it, and consequently it has no more dominion over me? So, further on, we are delivered from the law, being dead in that in which we were held. Then he enters into its power as a means of convicting of sin, which is not my object here, but of which I purpose speaking further on.

So in Galatians, as many as are of works of law are under a curse — not as many as have broken it: all under it had; but that is the position of one under it. No man is justified by the law; for the just shall live by faith, but the law is not of faith. That is, our justification does not proceed on this principle, whoever may meet it. And how are we redeemed from its only effect — a curse? The curse is taken by another. It is not met by another’s fulfilling it; not a hint of it. After faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. I have nothing to do with it as a way of righteousness. How was another to be my righteousness by keeping it? I must have righteousness; but I am not under law, so that righteousness should be claimed in that way. If righteousness came by law, Christ is dead in vain. How could this be said if it does come by law, Christ having livingly fulfilled it to be our righteousness? And mark, His death is appealed to. Christ is dead in vain, if law is the principle on which I have righteousness. For faith, in the death of Christ, the very nature is dead in me from which the righteousness of the law would have been expected. “I am crucified with Him; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Is He under law? If not, I am not. If I am justified, says the apostle, by works of law, why have I cast it all down? If I build law after Christ, I am a transgressor in leaving it to come to Christ. But I through law (says he) am dead to law (i.e., not bound to it), that I might live unto God (which no one under law ever did: it is weak through the flesh); for by works of law shall no flesh be justified, be he Jew, or Christian, or who he may, or whoever may do them. No one is justified by works of law. We are set on a wholly different ground — dead and risen again in the second Adam. We are in the presence of God through the rent vail. Again, Christ is become of none effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law. You are fallen from grace. It is on another principle. It is not Do this and live.

As regards walk, even, it is the same setting aside of law. If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under law. If led of the Spirit, they were going right, yet they were not under law. We are not children of the bondwoman. The whole of the system on which I am now commenting, and which places man on the ground of legal obedience, flows from not apprehending the truth of being in Christ. But of this point in examining the Epistle to the Romans.

These quotations will give not a particular, difficult, or contested passage, but the well assured view of the Spirit, often expressed. The Epistle to the Romans, to which I now turn, will give the great principle on which this depends, and how the saint passes from the old state to the new.

What I find in the scripture is this: when I read in the Ephesians of the counsels of God, I find nothing of the law at all. All is God’s work, and all is in Christ, who is not spoken of as alive down here, but is first viewed as dead, then exalted, and believers exalted in Him. It teaches unity now of all saints in Him, when taken out of death.

If I turn to the Romans, I find the responsible man in flesh proved guilty, not seen dead; but no remedy for his condition by making it in any way good, but death brought in; at which point we arrive at the beginning, so to speak, of the Ephesians, but making thus the state of man uncommonly clear. We do not find even Christ exalted in the Romans (save in one passage which does not apply to this point and confirms the general view I am presenting), nor the counsels of God as to the Church. The result of the union of its members is presented in one practical passage. The Epistle to the Romans places the individual on the ground of righteousness, and thus of true liberty in life, but does not reach the union of the body with Christ. Hence, death and resurrection, which suppose man to have had to say to sin in life, are its theme. After stating that its purport was God’s good news, it begins with a divinely powerful display of the wickedness and evil state of man, alike terrible and true; and terrible, because true. Gentile conscience must quail before its plainness, telling things as they were; and Jewish hypocrisy, too, laid bare by the edge of that very word in which it made its boast, seek to hide itself in vain in its anger. All the world is guilty before God.

But grace meets this. By deeds of law none are justified; by law is knowledge of sin. But now righteousness of God is manifested. What is this? The first idea, so to speak, which is given us of God’s righteousness (Rom. 1:17), is exceedingly abstract. In other passages we shall see the way it is brought about and made good as to us; but here I do not doubt it is its general nature and character. It is God’s, not man’s. It is — has its character, quality, and source — from God, not from man. It is what it is that is spoken of, not how it is. It is a righteousness after this fashion, not man’s. It comes from God for man, not from man for God. Hence it has the character and qualities of its source, whoever may be given to profit by it.

So wrath of God from heaven: it is not human wrath or justice on earth ending there in its nature and quality, nor even divine wrath exercised in an earthly way by earthly instruments. It is divine, from heaven.

It is not “the” righteousness of God, a fact, an existing thing, which is spoken of, but “righteousness of God” — this quality of righteousness. But hence it must first be found in God Himself; or it would not have that essential quality. Hence we are after God as to the new man created in righteousness and true holiness.

“The righteousness which is valid before God” (which is the sense put by Luther and Calvin on the expression) is utterly astray, because legal righteousness, where it existed, would be valid before God. If accomplished, it would be accepted. Man would live in doing it; but then it would be not God’s righteousness, but man’s: whereas the whole point on which the apostle insists in this expression is, that it is God’s, and not man’s.

Mr Bacon’s Easter Story?

Waitrose have got a bit of a cheek, haven’t they?

Waitrose Easter

They sent this to me after a while of being a member of their loyalty scheme (which is great, I might add).

I opened it, and was put right off a perfectly good company.  Why?  They had my name on the front, Easter was the theme, and inside there was just food on sale.  If any moneychanger’s table needed kicking over, surely this is ripe candidate, where the events of Jesus Christ’s arrest, mockery, trial, death by crucifixion, side being pierced, the veil of the Temple being rent, Christ’s burial, the weeping of Mary, the resurrection, events that drove Christianity through successive bloody persecutions and on through the past 2,000 years are reduced to Lamb and Anchovy, Zesty White Wine and a delicious pud?

That’s not my Easter Story!  Don’t put my name on that please, O Waitrose Marketing Department!  Don’t worry about me kicking over any of your tables during my lunch hour – the only man who had a right to do something like that is synonymous with the word ‘Easter’.  Isn’t it just a very slight miscalculation if you use the mental image of that man being nailed to a cross to sell lamb and wine?  I got strong Monty Python-like impressions of you standing next to the events saying “Get your passover kit here!”  “Albatross, get your albatross!”

Well – their odd marketing has worked to some good. I felt Mr Bacon here had better put his Easter Story out there.  Not as tidy as the John Lewis Partnership’s, but maybe a bit more thoughtful.  It’s a mind map of events, covering some of the points in a connected way, because those historic events were indeed connected.  Nothing can improve on the words of the Bible, but I thought I should explore it for his sake, who went through it all for me.

Click on the pic below, and it should take you to the map I’m working on.  It will be updated in future as there is endless depth to add, but it did help to think through that ‘stolen pagan festival’ thing for starters.

Easter Mind Map

Happy Easter, Waitrose!  No hard feelings, on account of what Easter’s really about.