Beatitude 4: The Only Way to Be Righteous
About being righteous Jesus said:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. “ (Matthew 5:6)
When we hunger and thirst, we have a compelling craving to satisfy our physical need. Here Jesus applied them figuratively to a strong spiritual desire for righteousness.
God is righteous and only the righteous can enter into His presence and be in communion with Him.
To be righteous means to be in good standing with God. The righteous can go before God without condemnation or fear. His condition is the opposite of that of the wicked.
The Bible explains the concept of righteousness and it shows the evolution of this concept as God’s revelation increased. The change is of great consequence for us. It can be summarized by saying that the righteous were identified as God’s servants in the Old Testament but in the New Testament, they are presented as God’s sons.
THE SOURCE OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS
God, in His justice and sovereignty, established that the price of sin is death.
Therefore, when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, he became unrighteous and was condemned to death. (Gen 2:15-17) When Adam became unrighteous, his spiritual death was immediate. Spiritual death separated man from God’s life and physical death became a condition that man’s body was subject to. (Gen 3:17-19)
It is interesting that recent research has shown that memories are passed from parents to descendants even at a DNA level. This agrees with what the Bible says. Adam’s sin and that sinful condition spread to all his descendants.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
GOD’S TEMPORARY SOLUTION FOR SIN: THE LAW
From birth, all men are naturally aware of their separation from God and some desire to repair this condition. This is why all religions have tried to develop ways to appease God and to make man accepted by Him. These ways have not been effective.
Nevertheless, God is a loving God and reached out to man with His love from the beginning. (Gen 3:7-10, 14-15, 21)
God responded to the desire of godly men who sought to please Him. In the Old Testament, He communicated to some of them and gave them understanding and instructions. He established progressive covenants with the Jews; covenants that corresponded to their spiritual understanding and development. God communicated this understanding in the Law He gave to the Old Testament prophets.
The focus of the Law was on external behavior and physical ceremonies. Therefore, at that time, they achieved righteousness by obedience to the Law.
BUT THE OLD TESTAMENT’S LAW WAS INADEQUATE
Perfect obedience to the Law was required for righteousness by the Law. This was a problem because perfect obedience was impossible to achieve. For this reason, they continuously killed animals as offerings to God to pay for the sins they committed.
However, these sacrifices were inadequate to make sinners righteous. The sacrifices only covered their sins, without changing the sinners’ propensity to sin. (Hebrews 10:1-4)
Nevertheless, even in the Old Testament, God began to reveal a promise. A day will come when He will make possible to receive a new heart free from the effect of sin. (Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:25-27) That great deliverance from the bondage to sin was going to be the work of an anointed Savior. (Isaiah 61:1-3)
The Jews received this revelation but did not understand it fully because of their focus on the physical realm and of their interpretation as a physical, national deliverance.
Today even many Christians do not understand this Beatitude because they fall in the same mistake of the Jews and believe that they can achieve righteousness by their physical actions and by obeying the Law.
This is not what Jesus came to reveal to us. He explained and fulfilled God’s promise of righteousness by His life sacrifice on the cross.
HOW YOU BECOME RIGHTEOUS ACCORDING TO THE NEW COVENANT
In this Beatitude, Jesus said that you “can” be filled with righteousness. But how can you?
Strongly desiring righteousness is a requirement, however, in itself it is not enough. This is why Jesus came to offer Himself as the sacrifice for your sins and to offer His righteousness in exchange for your unrighteousness.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:17-19)
By believing in what Jesus has accomplished on the cross, we receive His righteousness.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:14-18)
We must take a leap of faith.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (Romans 1:17)
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:21-24)
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8)
WHY DID JESUS SAY THAT WE MUST HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS?
Our mind does not find it easy to take that leap of faith and believe that we can obtain righteousness only believing in what Jesus has done. We must have a strong desire to overcome our resistance. We do it when the following conditions are also met:
- We have become frustrated by our failures to fulfill the requirements of the Law.
- We realize that, in ourselves, we cannot be righteous by our works.
- We understand and believe in what Jesus has accomplished on the cross.
- We realize the huge implications in the step of faith we take.
When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, our strong desire motivates us. This helps us to decide to believe in what Jesus has accomplished on the cross and everything changes in our life. Then:
- our sins are forgiven,
- we are born-again,
- our spirit is made alive in God,
- we become children of God, and
- we receive Jesus’ righteousness.
BORN-AGAIN AND FILLED WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS
Did your thirst and hunger lead you to become born-again? Then, God’s Word says that, at that moment, you were changed and now you are a new type of being, filled with Jesus’ righteousness. Now you are no longer a natural sinner.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)
Now, you are complete in Him.
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power. 11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:9-14)
Now all the requirements of the Law are fulfilled in you. You are:
- Buried in baptism
- Forgiven for your trespasses
- Raised from the dead
- Circumcised of the flesh
Now you have everything you need for life and godliness
As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW IS FULFILLED IN YOU
Now all this is yours by walking by faith. YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS!
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 AND YOU ARE COMPLETE IN HIM, WHO IS THE HEAD OF ALL PRINCIPALITY AND POWER. 11 In HIM YOU WERE ALSO CIRCUMCISED with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 BURIED WITH HIM IN BAPTISM, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, HE HAS MADE ALIVE TOGETHER WITH HIM, having forgiven you ALL TRESPASSES, 14 having WIPED OUT THE HANDWRITING OF REQUIREMENTS that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:9-14)
That does not mean that you can continue in sin –
- You were buried in baptism
- The LORD is your shepherd; you shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
When you are born-again, another change happens. You should no longer hunger for righteousness, because you have already received it.
For we are His workmanship, CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS FOR GOOD WORKS, which GOD PREPARED BEFOREHAND THAT WE SHOULD WALK IN THEM. (Ephesians 2:10)
For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
NOW THAT WE ARE RIGHTEOUS, WHAT SHOULD YOU HUNGER FOR?
Now, Jesus becomes the example of the walk we can follow. He addressed these words to believers:
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. THEREFORE BE ZEALOUS AND REPENT. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:19)
Your hunger should not be for spiritual power because He has already given it to you (Matthew 28:18-20). You must appropriate by faith what you already have.
NOW YOUR HUNGER SHOULD BE:
- TO BE ZEALOUS TO DO GOOD WORKS
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, ZEALOUS FOR GOOD WORKS. (Titus 2:11-14)
- TO SEEK SPIRITUAL TRUTH
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)
- TO RENEW OUR MIND
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
- TO REMAIN IN CHRIST
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. 9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:4-11)
Jesus demonstrated for us how to walk filled in righteousness by setting His mind on spiritual things more than on physical things. Read all the Gospels and learn from Him. Following are two passages:
Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE HAS EATEN ME UP.” (John 2:13-17)
In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I HAVE FOOD TO EAT OF WHICH YOU DO NOT KNOW.” 33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “MY FOOD [what Jesus hungered for] IS TO DO THE WILL OF HIM WHO SENT ME, AND TO FINISH HIS WORK. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest. (John 4:31-35)
Jesus came that we may live and be righteous. The only way to achieve that is to be born-again. If you are righteous, don’t look back and start walking in the light that Jesus came to give you.
If you are not born-again, now is the time to experience this life changing experience. Please:
- Read the Scriptures quoted in this post. They are God’s message to you. Your heart is speaking to your head about the spiritual truth revealed in them.
- Decide to believe in them. Accept that Jesus died for your sins.
- Accept God’s forgiveness and embrace the life of God that will start to flow in your life.
- Simply say with your mouth from your heart, “Thank you Jesus for what you have done for me. I acknowledge you as my Lord and Saviour. I will follow you for the rest of my life.”
That is all God requires of you. I did it two weeks before Christmas in 1972 and it was the best decision I ever made in my life.
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