And now, Lord, what wait I for?
my hope is in thee.
And now, Lord, what wait I for?
my hope is in thee.
“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). How can we escape the deadly deception that generates such a facade and sham of Christianity? The only way to escape it is by being brutally honest with ourselves and to God. We need to take three basic steps. Each step moves us away from the world and closer to God. Each step involves the believer in communicating with God and allowing God to communicate directly to that yielded believer’s heart. The first step towards intimacy with God begins with prayer. Our prayer life must be willing to communicate with God about every integral detail of our lives. Be sure of this, you will never shock God or surprise Him with what is going on in your life. He already knows and is working to help you get victory. Getting that victory begins by you coming to Him and talking with Him about everything that is going on in your life. If you do not learn to communicate with God about the details of your thought life, the details of your so-called secret sin-life, and the details of your struggles with temptation, do not expect intimacy with Him.
‘Not called!’ did you say?
‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say.
Put your ear down to the Bible,
and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin.
Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity,
and listen to its pitiful wail for help.
Go stand by the gates of hell,
and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house
and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters
not to come there.
And then look Christ in the face,
whose mercy you have professed to obey,
and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances
in the march to publish his mercy
to the world.
In a present day courtroom a decision is rendered in both verbal and written form. When a defendant is pronounced either guilty or innocent the court will orally announce the finding but also prepare the necessary legal papers documenting the disposition so there is no doubt about the legal ramification. Most people who have accepted Christ as their Redeemer know of the verbal decision. They are no longer guilty because someone else paid the penalty for their sin. What we want to look at now is the legal sense behind that verbal decision, and the resulting implications for your life.
God is Righteous. There is nothing in Him that can relate to evil. This is the reason God had to separate Himself from man at the fall. We might say that by doing something God said was wrong man lost his right(ness) or right-eous-ness. For God to renew relationship with man something had to be done to give man back this quality. Justification is the legal term for our re-obtaining Righteousness from Christ.
If you use a credit card or write a check you know that every time you make a transaction an entry is made against your account. We call these negative entries debits. You then get a statement itemizing the debits and stating how much you spent or are required to pay. For the purpose of illustration I want you to think of Redemption using the same pattern. However, in Redemption we are not denominating debits and credits in terms of money. Instead, righteousness is the currency necessary for us to have fellowship with God. Think of your sinful nature in terms of a huge negative balance on your account. You were born with the debt-load of a fallen nature. Every time you sin yourself you add another debit to an already overwhelming negative balance of righteousness. To compound this problem there is nothing you can do to pay off the monstrous debt you owe. It is impossible for a sinful nature to do anything that earns the respect of God.
This is where Jesus Christ comes to the rescue. He is the only source of Righteous credit for humanity. Christ came and in our place, paid off the balance for those who admit they are in debt and will accept His gift to them. If you are redeemed your debt was paid off with a deposit of the Righteousness of Christ.
Now let’s carry the illustration further. Suppose you owe $10,000,000 and someone paid off the debt with a deposit from their account to yours. How much money would you have? Technically you would not owe anything. You would be out of debt. On the other hand a ten million dollar credit to offset a ten million dollar debt leaves a balance of zero. Though out of debt you would still be broke. In the same way, if Christ gave you enough righteousness to pay off your debts you would probably think you were in great shape. But the same problem would exist. You would have no righteousness on credit in your account. In other words, if Christ only gave you enough righteousness to cover your debt before God you would not be redeemed. For God to receive us we need more than a zero balance. God has to see the Righteousness of Christ to accept us. Therefore, in order to redeem you, Christ gave you more than enough righteousness to satisfy your debt. The next logical question is: How much extra righteousness did Jesus grant each of us?
The issue at stake over the amount of righteousness Jesus supplied is your security in redemption. Suppose He gave you only enough to allow a small positive balance. This would create a new problem because every time you sin you would earn a new debit. Eventually this would put you back to zero or a negative balance. Then, because you cannot show positive righteousness, you would lose your Salvation.
We call this issue Eternal Security. If you can loose your salvation you have no permanent security. If, on the other hand, you have enough of Christ’s Righteousness so that you cannot lose redemption you are secure. For us to experience security in Christ He had to give us more than a set amount. Consider I Corinthians 1:30 and II Corinthians 5:21. When we accept Jesus’ payment for us we receive the Righteousness of Christ. How much righteousness is that? No quantity is mentioned. The implication is that we receive all the righteousness that Christ has. Think about that. You have exactly the same amount of righteousness as Jesus. An inferior equivalent would be having your bank account backed by the full faith and credit of the wealthiest country in the world. Every time you sin the payment is covered by Christ’s Righteousness. Your redemption is secure!
When I ask Christians to give me a definition for the word Justification I usually get an answer that is a play on the word justification; just-(as)-if-I-never-sinned. We get this definition because when God looks at your account he sees Christ’s positive balance of righteousness. Thus the account looks as if you never sinned.
David testifies about the righteousness we receive in Christ stating that Christ’s righteousness is sufficient to cover believers in all areas (Romans 4:7-8). By quoting David, Paul affirms that this statement is true and correct.
As a statement of fact they declare that past sins are forgiven. Any and all sins we have ever committed are offset by the deposit of Christ’s Righteousness. In Justification we would expect that. The latter half of the statement is significantly more impressive. They go on to affirm that any sins we commit in the future will not be sufficient to exhaust our supply of the Righteousness of Christ.
This is what we mean by a believer being secure. If the righteousness of Christ can never be expended a negative balance can never occur again.
For the sake of argument let us say that the Righteousness of Christ is exhaustible. Suppose Christ only gave you +10 righteousness. After ten sins even the most well meaning person would be in trouble. What if one did not realize he had run out of righteousness and was run over by a truck before he had a chance to re-repent? That would mean someone who realized the experiential need for redemption and possibly tried to live a life pleasing to God would go to eternal separation (Hell). God did not save us to leave us plagued by doubts about our status. He said we were redeemed when we accept Christ’s sacrifice and we never need to worry about our disposition again. We have been placed in a state called “grace.” No wonder David called the redeemed “Blessed.”
Exertion of body or mind without
unnecessary delay or sloth;
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
Keep thy heart with all diligence;
for out of it are the issues of life.
O that there were such an heart in them,
that they would fear me,
and keep all my commandments always,
that it might be well with them,
and with their children for ever!
“In the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”
Jesus would always find time for prayer, or make time for it. If His days were full of excitement and toil, He would take time out of His nights for communing with God. At least He never allowed Himself to be robbed of His hours of devotion. There are some Christians who think they are excused from prayer and meditation in secret because they are so busy. Their work presses them so in the morning that they cannot possibly get time to pray. Their cares occupy them so all day that they do not find one quiet moment to go apart with God. In the evening there are so many social or other engagements, meetings, societies, parties, or they are so tired, that prayer is crowded out. The example of Christ speaks its solemn rebuke of all such trifling. We must find time for communion with God, or God will not find time to bless us.
There are some people, also, who claim that they can pray and commune with God just as well in one place as in another. They do their praying while they walk about and while they work. They see no use in going apart to pray. Surely if any one could pray well in a crowd or while engaged in work, Jesus could. No doubt He did hold communion with His Father even in His busiest hours, but this did not meet all the needs and longings of His soul. He left the crowd, left even His own disciples, and retired into places where no eye but God’s could see Him. where no human footfall or voice could interrupt the quiet of His soul, and where He would be absolutely alone. Surely if He required such conditions in praying, we do too. We need to find a place for prayer, in which nothing can intrude to break the continuity of thought or devotion. “Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray.”