Sunday, July 3, 2011

Righteousness - A basic foundation for effective prayer and fasting

In context of our discussions, we will discuss what righteousness is, how righteousness comes, what makes one righteous, and what righteousness offers. We will also look at how and why righteousness could serve as a basic foundation for effective prayer and fasting.

Righteousness defined

I define righteousness as a right standing with God which is secured by the atonement work of Jesus Christ on the cross, sealed by His blood and is obtainable by simple faith in Jesus Christ.

Description of righteousness

Having a right standing with God means that we are no longer blocked by the middle wall of unpaid debt of our sin, which was death. Jesus has paid the debt by His personal life and has taken away the barrier so that we could come into the presence of God at any time. The void that was created as a result of the enemy of sin was replaced by Jesus Christ in the person of the Holy Spirit. Right standing with God can be translated as having peace with God or being reconciled to God. That reconciliation was made possible by the costly price of the sinless blood of Christ.

Price for the purchase of righteousness

Glory to God that Jesus was willing to pay the price when there was no one who qualified to do so. He was the only one who had the power to give His life and pick it up again. No angels or elders in heaven would have. In addition, the price required sinless blood atonement. Even the blood of blameless animals used in the Old Testament for sacrifices against sin could notdeal effectively with the conscience of man by giving him a new life; it therefore required a better blood sacrifice, which that of Christ qualified.

In the course of the painful journey of purchasing righteousness or redemption, He (Jesus) paid the price for many things for mankind, which includes healing by His stripes, acceptance by His rejections, peace and joy by His crushed life and acquaintance with sorrow (Isaiah 53:2-5). The culmination of the whole debt was paid by His death. Immediately upon givingup His ghost, the curtain of the temple in Jerusalem physically tore open, which symbolized an access to God in the form of right standing with God. No longer could only ordained priests go into the holy of holies in the temple of God, but everyone had access, who by faith received that free gift of righteousness in Jesus Christ.

Righteousness should be lived out

When this was completed, man was redeemed and justified and was set free to go and sin no more. The book of Romans 5:12-18 puts it this way:

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life”.

If we read the above verses closely, we will find that the righteousness is a free gift of God, by which we are justified from the debt of the inherited sin from the first man, Adam. Potentially we are redeemed and justified, but it does not end there. There is lifestyle typical for the right standing with God. That lifestyle can only be achieved by abiding in Christ (John 15:1- 8). When God speaks of arming ourselves with His armors in Ephesians 6:14, He makes reference that our heart should be protected by a covering plate of righteousness. When we think in that context as well as in the context of John 15:7; we shall know that it refers to the fact that our heart must be made available for Christ to live in. This will enable us be in union with our intercessory partner, the Holy Spirit. When we suppressed our flesh more by fasting, we can experience a deeper union in prayer and the result will be an effectual prayer.

How does righteousness come?

Based on the above scripture, we can see that righteousness, which is a free gift of God, comes from Christ and is earned by man through faith:

17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life”.

What makes one righteous?

We are made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ, which is the payment for the purchase of our righteousness. We gain access to that free gift by faith in Christ Jesus. We exercise that faith in Christ Jesus by repenting, accepting the gift and committing our life to live the lifestyle typical of that gift (righteousness).

What does righteousness offer?

Righteousness offers us many things when we are committed to abide in Christ Jesus, which is the only means of living the lifestyle required of those who received that precious gift by faith. One of the major things it offers us is a right standing with God. This right standing with God gives us access to God’s resources like boldness, peace, quietness, assurance of salvation, joy etc. It is possible to repent, accept the righteousness of God and refuse to commit our life in living out the lifestyle that is required of us. In this case, we cannot experience the full blessings that this free gift offers us. This is why we see many born again Christians that are flung here and there, harassed by Satan.

Why should righteousness serve as a basic foundation for effective prayers and fasting?

As discussed, righteousness stands for a right standing with God; and this means unhindered access to God. If our access to God is blocked by sin, which is the only barrier that could block our access, then we cannot commune with Him. This convinces us that if we want to commune in prayer effectively, we have to renounce any known sin. If we are convicted by the Holy Spirit in any sin, we should not pretend they are not there, give excuses, and/or play a smart game with Him. It is very important that we are quick to repent. This will enable Him to flow through the channel of our lives, which will bring us into a victorious life. His involvement in our lives will give our prayers depth, dimension and value in functioning effectively to bring results that will put smiles on our faces. In addition, His union with us will help guide us in our fasting.

Strength in fasting and directions on how long we fast are part of the benefits to enjoy when we ensure that there is no un-confessed sin remained in our lives. Let us do all within the strength God has given us to ensure there is nothing blocking our relationship with Him, especially in this season of fasting and prayers.

If you use to talk too much, put your hand in your mouth during this season. If we often tell others how such and such a person has treated us bad, I advise to put that aside and replace the time with reading our Bibles and in prayer. Maybe the enemy has robbed us of much time by flooding our thoughts with self-pity? This is the time to begin studying and reading the word of God as we never have in the past and listen to His inspiring messages. Let them go through the eyes, ears and mind, into our hearts. Then get these inspiriting messages from deep within the belly and confess them more often. It will not take long for our mind and thoughts to be flooded with the word of life, which will give value and victory to our lives.

Summary

Understanding the value of God’s free gift (righteousness), accepting it, and committing our lives to its lifestyle will position us to experience an effective prayer and fasting life. Thus, we will enjoy a victorious Christian life.

In our next post, we will discuss the following topics:

 Does righteousness mean we must be perfect?

 How do we walk in righteousness?

 The armor of righteousness.

 When righteousness is missing.


*****TO BE CONTINUED*****

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