A “Heavenly” Mind

by Lester Young

Today, let’s talk a little bit about ‘righteousness.’ Not just the condition but the word itself. Now, show of hands: who knows what the word ‘righteous’ actually means? I’m not really talking about the “churchy” definition we’ve tended to attach to it, thereby elevating the word to such a lofty idealistic status that the likes of you and I could never actually reach it. You’ve heard it before – we all have: “Oh, yes, brother. Jesus was certainly a righteous Man. But me? Nooo… I’m just hopin’ and prayin’ and strugglin’ to make it up the Mountain someday. Yes, amen.. Hallelujah!” Uhh, okay.

We’re going to circle back around to that in just minute (so all of you with your hands still up… please, put them down). The truth is that the word ‘righteous’ is not a “religious” word at all; we’ve just pigeonholed it into strictly “religious” uses and in so doing missed its simplest – and perhaps most profound – meaning, which is simply this… are you ready? The word righteous means <drum roll>… ‘to be right.’ That’s it! To be “right” in any connotation; whether morally (that is, right as opposed to being wrong), forensically (innocence as opposed to being guilty in any matters of law; in other words ‘just’ or ‘justified’) or even bodily (wholeness, healthiness and cleanness as opposed to conditions of sickness or impurity). You might paraphrase it this way: “Everything in good condition and proper working order, unbound and operating freely.”

We often interchange the words ‘righteous’ and ‘justified,’ and that’s fine because they do mean the same thing. But as we’ve seen, the ‘righteous’ definition of righteous encompasses additional concepts. Nevertheless, it would be thoroughly unwise to underestimate the term ‘justify’ – “to be proclaimed innocent” in a court of law. That’s huge. And in Christ Jesus, it’s exactly what’s happened to us. God, the Presiding Judge Himself, is the One Who did the proclaiming (Romans 8:31, 33). As soon as you give yourself to Jesus and take Him as your Savior, God sees you not only as ‘not guilty,’ but as innocent. Your faith and reliance on Jesus’ shed blood justifies you. You’re ‘just’ as far as God’s concerned – ‘just’ as if you never, ever sinned! (Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 31:34; Micah7:18-19; Hebrews 8:12, 10:17) I don’t know about you, but that’s utterly amazing to me, that the Righteous God is willing – no, yearning – to treat us as though we never messed up. That’s just plain Grace! (Romans 4:16)

Now, getting back to that “Jesus righteous, me not.. Hallelujah!” statement above: I suppose that when considered in strictly human (spelled ‘c-a-r-n-a-l’) terms, that sentiment would seem both rational and correct. Fortunately, we’ve already been warned – and rather sternly, too – that we’ve got absolutely no business seeing, judging or operating at any time from a purely ‘natural’ point-of-view (Matthew 16:21-23; Romans 8:1-14; 2 Corinthians 5:7, 10:7; Hebrews 11:6).

What am I getting at? It’s true that we’ve got nothing ‘right’ within our own natural flesh-and-blood selves. There isn’t anything we’ve done or could ever do in our own power that would make us ‘right’ with God – nothing. That’s why He went ahead and gave it to us as a Gift. And not only do we have (as in ‘to possess’) God’s righteousness, right-standing with Him; we are (as in ‘to be’) that righteousness. In other words, in Christ Jesus, we’re the very embodiment of the concept of “right-standing with God”. We didn’t ‘earn’ any righteousness – we couldn’t. We were given it as a gift; we were made over in Jesus’ righteousness! (Romans 3:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:21) As such, as far as God is concerned, we’re as righteous right now – in as much right-standing with Him – as we’re ever going to get, because right now we’re just as righteous as Jesus is (Romans 5:15-21, 8:14, 29; Galatians 4:6).

Hard to grasp? Yes, I understand. But it’s because you’re looking at yourself through your own eyes and opinion. Instead, try seeing yourself the way the Father sees you. After all, He’s ‘right,’ remember? (Romans 3:4) God sees you through Jesus-colored glasses, and it’s a much prettier sight than we typically have of ourselves. It’s a sight filtered by intense love, ever-enduring mercy and great grace. Of course, there may still be things we need to clean up and throw away, but He’ll help with those, too. And all without a hint of condemnation – because He’s not the condemner, He’s the Justifier (Romans 8:1, 31, 33).

So stop beating yourself down. Look up. Grab hold of that ‘Heavenly’ mindset we have access to, because we’ve been given the mind of Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 2:16) – and He certainly didn’t judge things or operate from an earthly point-of-view. Remember, you’ve been justified by the Chief Justice of the Supremest Court, and He’s longing to treat you ‘just’ as if you never sinned, if you’re willing to receive it (2 Corinthians 7:2). Remind Him of it; proclaim it to Him (Isaiah 43:26). You’ll both be glad you did!

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