Summary: This sermon attempts to communicate the truth that when you believe in Christ you not only are declared righteous, but in your spirit you are made righteous before God and in your inmost being thereby you are able to love and live like Christ.
Everybody wants to be right don’t they? In fact, if the truth were to be known, most of us want to be right all the time. Just yesterday Kathy showed me a magazine ad of a framed saying that sums up what I’m saying. It went this way, “I may be left-handed, but I’m always RIGHT.” Most people are just prideful enough not to ever admit they’re not right all the time. And there are some people who never admit that they’re not right.
Being right all the time is what righteousness is all about. That is, being upright, okay, in a right position, accepted, in a right standing before God and in your inmost being. The Greek word for righteousness is “dikaiosune” which comes from two other words “dikaios” meaning righteous and “dike” meaning justice. It all boils down to this. Righteousness refers to the fact that God has certain standards that are expected, imposed and conform to His character. It refers to God’s uprightness. And for you to fully submit to that right of God upon your life, you must receive this position and condition as a gift from God. That’s why righteousness must be revealed!
From the dawn of history people have struggled in many different ways to somehow merit acceptance by God; to measure up. People have always tried to gain favor with their gods by doing what they believed would please them. That’s why Hindus have prayer wheels, Muslims bow down 5 times daily toward Mecca and Christians all too often count on regular church attendance and doing deeds of kindness. According to the vast majority of people living on earth, righteousness is something they must earn. But to stand before God as accepted and righteous can’t be merited by your actions, activity or performance. Righteousness is a gift from God. It’s a gift given by Him to those who live by faith. That’s why “Righteousness Is Revealed.” My prayer is that righteousness may be revealed to you through this message. So let me mention 3 ways this text indicates righteousness is revealed. First of all:
I. RIGHTEOUSNESS IS REVEALED IN THE GOSPEL
Verse 17a reads, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed.” What is the gospel? I Corinthians 15:1-4 details it completely. That’s the good news that no matter how helplessly mired in your own self-centeredness you may be, there’s a way to gain a right standing and be accepted before God. The gospel is for those who come to the end of their trying and completely trust this gospel of what God has done for you and will do in you when you believe. It’s the instrument of God’s power to save, deliver, set free, make accepted and righteous before God. And it’s all through what Jesus has done and not your own effort.
All people begin as sinners before God. All miss the mark, fall short of God’s standard, fail to measure up. But God levels the ground in the gospel. For in the gospel God is at work not only to save, deliver and forgive you, but to make you righteous, holy and accepted. In your spirit you are born again, given a new heart, made just as if you’ve never sinned or ever will again. It’s in what God has done in and for you through Jesus. Righteousness is the status of a person resulting from the activity of God. And this work of God is a free gift of God’s love, grace and power. Dwight L. Moody once said, “The gospel is like a lion. All the preacher has to do is open the door of the cage and get out of the way!” All you have to do to be in a right relationship with God is open the door of your heart to Him, He’ll do the rest. I urge you, receive the righteousness that’s revealed in the gospel!
II. RIGHTEOUSNESS IS REVEALED AS FROM GOD
Verse 17a again reads, “a righteousness from God is revealed.” By nature we tend to view righteousness as something we can achieve on our own, that is, as a result of what we do, our activity, our accomplishment, our human effort, our performance. However, the righteousness of God is totally different. It’s the result of God’s activity, not yours. The righteousness revealed as from God is a judicial act whereby He declares you to be righteous, okay, upright, accepted, forgiven and free from guilt. This act of God comes from the attribute of God. Paul says in Romans 3:26 that God is upright, righteous, and just. “He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
When God declares you just, righteous, okay, upright, accepted and forgiven – you are not only put in a right standing or position before God, you are in a new condition before Him. You receive a new life, a new heart, a new spirit, a new identity. You receive Jesus eternal life and that makes you spiritually and morally regenerated. That is, God makes you righteous as Romans 5:17 says you’ve, “received the gift of righteousness.” You’ve been morally transformed in your inner man, in your spirit which is “one with God’s Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17). You’ve been made right, therefore you can do right. You’re nature has been changed. You’ve laid hold of the righteousness that’s from God. Again my prayer is that this truth is being revealed to you. Finally