One of the Fruits of Being Justified By Faith

A favorite section from R.C. Sproul’s classic, The Holiness of God:

When our holy war with God ceases; when we, like Luther, walk through the doors of paradise, when we are justified by faith, the war ends forever. With the cleansing from sin and the declaration of divine forgiveness we enter into an eternal peace treaty with God. The firstfruit of our justification is peace with God. This peace is a holy peace, a peace unblemished and transcendent. It is a peace that cannot by destroyed.
When God signs a peace treaty, it is signed for perpetuity. The war is over, forever and ever. Of course we still sin; we still rebel; we still commit acts of hostility toward God. But God is not a cobelligerent. He will not be drawn into warfare with us. We have an advocate with the Father. We have a mediator who keeps the peace. He rules over the peace because He is both the Prince of Peace and He is our peace.
We are now called the children of God, a title granted in blessing to those who are peacemakers. Our sins are now dealt with by a Father, not a military commander. We have peace. It is our possession, sealed and guaranteed for us by Christ. (chapter 7)

A call to and reason for worship for all who have experienced this peace!

Can I Get A Witness? – 1 John 4:13-17

I had the opportunity to talk with a young lady after worship yesterday who is dealing with a lot of spiritual issues.  In tears, she said to me that she felt lost.  I asked in what sense she meant that and she told me that it seemed she was adrift at sea without any direction.  Remembering that on another occasion she had told me she had trusted Christ, I asked her about her relationship with Him.  She said, “I thought I had trusted in Jesus, but there has been nothing in my life to give evidence of that.”

I remembered back to John’s teaching in chapter 3, verse 6 [see commentary here]: “No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known Him.”  As we talked, she was right — there had been absolutely no transformation in her life since she “prayed a prayer.”  She still was unable and/or unwilling to give up the lifestyle choices she had made that were leading to destruction.

I suppose the good thing about this is that she continues to feel drawn at this point.  She still feels the tug of conviction, but she doesn’t have that ever-important element that John describes in the reading for today: the inner testifying of the Spirit of God that we are children of God.  The transforming work of love is carried out in our lives and we, then, “have confidence for the day of judgment…”.

I have great hope that she will truly come to trust in Christ because of the evidence that He is drawing her in to Himself, but when there is no transformation and no inner testimony of the Spirit that we are saved, there can be no justification.

The Deception of Righteousness – 1 John 2:26-29

“I’m basically a good person.”

Number 1 answer given for the question, “Why do you think you should be allowed in heaven?”  The belief that doing good things is enough for salvation is probably one of Satan’s biggest attempts to keep us from Christ.  Strange, isn’t it?  Satan doesn’t want you to be bad…he wants you to be good, so long as that is what you rely on for salvation.  Then he has you.

In reading part of today’s section, it could almost be argued that doing good indicates you have been saved and have gotten your proverbial ticket punched.  Take a look at it:

If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

Sounds to me like he’s saying that those who practice righteousness are born of God.  Cool.  That’s easy enough, right?  Not so fast.  Remember that John has said that he is “writing these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.” [v.26] There are plenty of people (including entire religions and denominations) that will tell you that being good is enough.  But looking at the entire context, we understand that when the Holy Spirit indwells us, we need not listen to the musings of various theologies and philosophies because He, Himself, will reveal Truth to us, which is why John emphasizes the need to abide in Him; stay close; stay in the Word of Truth.

Let’s briefly look, though, at this idea of “righteousness” talked about in John 2.  What does he really mean by connecting righteousness with being born of Jesus?

First, it seems that verse 29 must be talking about those who practice righteousness IN HIS NAME.  It can’t be that just by doing good deeds one is considered justified.  Of course, secondly, it’s also important to identify what is intended by the use of the word “RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  I think of 2 Corinthians 5:21 that says since Christ became sin on our behalf, we became that righteousness of God.  In other words, since we became the righteousness of God, the righteousness that we act out on is not our own, but Christ living and moving through us.  So there is something tied very closely into placing total faith in Christ which results in righteousness (and salvation!), not based on our own merit, to this passage.

Today, it is my desire to live a righteous life.  But I must understand the source from which the righteousness is derived and if I am having to work to manufacture “good works” rather than it over-flowing naturally from what Christ is doing within me, then it’s time I do a heart-check because “righteousness” can be very deceptive.

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