Righteousness Revealed Part 5

I want to complete this series by looking more at how we see ourselves. Recently I was reminded of a song that came out of the counter cultural hippie movement of the 1960’s. While there was a popular expression, “peace, love and Woodstock” and the “summer of love” in San Francisco, the fruit of the movement was primarily debauchery and rebellion. There were some things to challenge but by and large the fruit of this movement was not good and what saved our culture at the time was a revival known as the Jesus Movement that swept through the hippie movement. It touched North America and Europe and whether or not you are aware of it, greatly influenced the instruments you see and music you sing in the evangelical church today.

Joni Mitchell wrote a very popular song in November 1969 about the Woodstock music festival that immortalized and sanitized the event. The garden reference is to the Garden of Eden.

Woodstock

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
When I asked him where are you going
This he told me.

I’m going down to Yasgurs farm
Think I’ll join a rock and roll band
I’ll camp out on the land
I’ll try and set my soul free.

We are stardust, we are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.
Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog

And I feel just like a cog in something turning.
Well maybe its the time of year
Or maybe its the time of man
And I don’t know who I am

But life’s for learning.
We are stardust, we are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.
By the time I got to Woodstock

They were half a million strong
Everywhere there were songs and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky

Turning into butterflies
Above our nation.
We are stardust, we are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

We are stardust, we are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.
We are stardust, we are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Songwriters: JONI MITCHELL
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing
For non-commercial use only.

I think many of us in the church are like the sentiment expressed in this song, trying to ‘get back to the garden.’ That is only one of the many wrong concepts here. The song expresses a longing for something lost and a belief that we need to recognize that we are ‘stardust and golden.’ Yet humanity without Jesus is lost, not stardust and golden. There is a longing in this song to ‘become who we are’ but it is really a longing to become who we were created to be while missing the only thing that will enable us to achieve that, the new birth.

The sentiment in the song is about identity. The issue in the church is identity. Once we have encountered Jesus and been born again our goal should never be to ‘get back to the garden.’ Adam and Eve never had what we have. Prior to the Fall they had innocence but lacked Jesus; Yahweh’s nature, in their spirits. We have that and to ‘become who we are’ we need to reflect that in our beliefs and speech. Do we think of ourselves as sinners? Is that our identity? That may reflect popular church culture but it is just as aberrant as Joni Mitchell’s song.

The scriptures teach what we are;

12  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: John 1:12 (NKJV)

6  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:6 (NKJV)

5  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, Ephesians 1:5 (NKJV)

10  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 (NKJV)

9  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. Colossians 2:9-10 (NKJV)

17  But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 1 Corinthians 6:17 (NKJV)

17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

21  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 (NKJV)

9  But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)

1  Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:1-2 (NKJV)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, search the NT for other references and meditate in and on this reality and cooperate with the Spirit of Life and Truth. Turn these truths into prayers and declarations to truly become who you are. Here is truth about us.

20  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (NKJV, emphasis mine)

 

Righteousness Revealed Part 4

Look at the verse below.

19  My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, Galatians 4:19 (NKJV)

The context is Paul writing to believers, new creations, and speaking to them of the need for Christ to be formed in them. How does that make sense? It requires understanding the need to become who we are. We are new creations in that we have a new spirit at conversion. What we don’t receive is a new soul (our mind, will and emotions). What is in our recreated spirit (Jesus nature) needs to be formed and manifest in our soul. That is Paul’s point in Galatians 4:19. He reinforces this in other places.

23  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:23-24 (NKJV)

Here Paul is saying that deep within our thought processes we need to align with what we are in our spirit, a new creation created in righteousness and holiness (imparted righteousness). This will be reflected in our behaviour.

1  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 (NKJV)

Paul here exhorts us to wholly surrender to Jesus nature in our recreated spirit and reflect in our lifestyle what is good and acceptable in our behaviour.

16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (NKJV)

22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25 (NKJV)

In these passages from Galatians Paul provides more of the how. Walking in the Spirit requires a daily submission and surrender of our desire and will to the Holy Spirit. We can know we are doing that when what is reflected in our behaviour and attitude is the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, etc. When this is what is consistently reflected in our lives we have become who we are. While I don’t believe any of us will ever complete this in our lifetime that certainly needs to be our goal, reflected more fully over time. Paul put it thus.

12  Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)

Jesus laid hold of us to conform us to His image and be bearers of His glory in broken vessels. Let us press on that others may encounter Jesus shining through us.

NOTE – For further teaching on understanding spirit and soul search my blog for my post “Restoring Repentance Part 5.”

Righteousness Revealed Part 3

I looked at imputed righteousness in my last post, Jesus righteousness being credited or ‘imputed’ to us which leads to the Father treating us as He would Jesus. I also referenced imparted righteousness. If imputed righteousness treats us as having something we don’t actually possess what is the effect of imparted righteousness?

Before answering my question let me ask another question. If we have been born again what happened? What have we become? Understanding this tells us how we both can and should live. Our calling as believers is something the Holy Spirit spoke to me over two decades ago, ‘Become who you are.’ I have continued to understand that at deeper levels over time. Then in recent years I was at a work event and a speaker was sharing about a change they had gone through and said, “To become who we are we have to let go of who we were.” I thought about that. That thought further captures the working out of imparted righteousness. While 2 Corinthians 5:21 talks about imputed righteousness, earlier in the chapter Paul captures imparted righteousness.

17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Paul here refers to conversion and what happened in our spirits. While he does not use the exact same language as Jesus, he is referring to what Jesus spoke of in John 3, the need to be born again, or more literally, born from above. Our spirit is literally reborn at conversion. Being born again or becoming a new creation is the same thing. Having a new spirit means that we have had something imparted to us. Our calling then is to learn how to live out of this new nature, to become who we truly are.

The answer to my earlier question around the effect of imparted righteousness is that we need to learn to understand who we truly are and live out of that identity.

I will expand further on this in my next post as this is the answer to the question so many of us have about how to live the Christian life.