The Fruit of Righteousness
Imputed or Revealed Righteousness
By J.M. Beatty
The Church today is filled with considerable doctrinal debate about the righteousness of Christ and it's influence on our lives. Let's also consider this issue. What is the righteousness of Christ? What influence will it have on us today in our lives, families, and churches?
2 Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (KJV)
It's common Christian doctrine that Jesus was made to be sin for us, that His righteousness would be imputed to all who receive His free gift of salvation. We have legal authority to stand before God, because of the righteousness of Christ that was imputed to us (Rom 4:11, 22-24; 5:13; James 2:23).
impute=logizomai (log-id'-zom-ahee/3049); middle voice from 3056; to take an inventory, i.e. estimate (literally or figuratively): KJV-- conclude, (ac-) count (of), + despise, esteem, impute, lay, number, reason, reckon, suppose, think (on).
logizomai - (Thayerís Greek/English Lexicon)
1) to reckon, to count, to compute, to calculate, to count over
a) to take into account, to make an account of
1) metaphorically, to pass to one's account, to impute
b) to number among, to reckon with
c) to reckon, to account
2) to reckon inward, to count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate
3) by reckoning up all the reasons, to gather, to infer
a) to consider, to take into account, to weigh, to meditate on
b) to suppose, to deem, to judge
c) to determine, purpose, decide
The Greek word "Logizomai" clearly teaches that the righteousness of Christ was passed/posted to our account. Simply stated, the righteousness of Christ is implanted into every soul that turns to Christ. There is much that can be said about the authority the Christian has in Christ because of this impartation
Let me pose two questions. Since we are the beneficiaries of such a great gift as Christís righteousness, then why are we such a frustrated group of believers? Where is the power of this imputed righteousness?
Awake to Righteousness
1 Cor 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame
The Apostle Paul admonished the Corinthian church that it was necessary for them to awake to the righteousness within them. He admonished them to turn from their sinful ways, and allow their imputed righteousness to change their lives.
This concept creates for us a paradox. Christian doctrine taught in the church today indicates that the righteousness of Christ is our natural Christian birth-right. The doctrine also teaches that the authority and power of this righteousness is open to every saint. This doctrine teaches that in order to exercise this power we must understand the doctrine concerning our legal rights as Christians. The paradox is simple. How can we exercise the power and authority of righteousness without going through the awakening process?
Awake eknepho (ek-nay'-fo/1594); from 1537 and 3525; (figuratively) to rouse (oneself) out of stupor: KJV-- awake.
eknepho - (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
1) to return to oneself from drunkenness, to become sober
2) metaphorically, to return to soberness of mind
When we examine the Greek word for "Awake" we discover the application is not associated with normal sleeping patterns. But it has the application of a person being awaken out of a state of drunkenness into a sobriety of mind. There is an implied truth in this definition; spiritual drunkenness frustrates the manifestation of righteousness in our lives.
What is Spiritual Drunkenness?
Luke 21:34-36 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. (35) For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. (36) Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (KJV)
Rom 13:12-14 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (13) Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. (14) But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
Simply stated, spiritual drunkenness is many things, but world conformity and self-gratification are it's two main roots. Christians must realize that our love for our comfort and for the things of this world is frustrates our ability to awaken to Christís imputed righteousness within us.
We honestly don't realize the risks we are taking by pampering our lusts and self-indulgence. Our spiritual drunkenness is robbing us of our ability to stand before the Son of Man, and escape the horrors that are coming on the earth (Luke 21:34-36)
1Thes 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation (KJV)
Spiritual sobriety is the opposite of spiritual drunkenness. It's a seriousness of mind and purpose, it's the discipline of Christ being walked out in our lives. Our ability to put on the armor of God is directly connected to our spiritual sobriety. (Rom 13:12-14, 2 Cor 6:7, Eph 6:11-18) The context of these references clearly teach that consistent prayer is vital to our being robed in the armor of God. Memorizing these references is profitable for our spiritual welfare, but our conformity to this world frustrates their living reality in our lives. The armor of God is much more than doctrine we memorize, it's our spiritual welfare; we must realize the importance of being sober before the Lord.
1 Pet 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer
Again we have the confirmation that consistent prayer is vital to our spiritual sobriety.
1 Pet 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (9) Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (KJV)
We have an enemy who presents himself to the world as a "Roaring Lion". His whole mission and purpose is to roam about the world seeking souls who may be devoured. Eph 4:27 clearly warns us not to give place to the devil, therefore we can conclude that the devil can only take place in our lives to the degree we give him place. Our spiritual drunkenness is the open door to Satan to devour our souls in these areas. Peter infers that our Christian duty has three avenues of expression when resisting the devil.
Rom 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith
Paul, the Apostle, in his epistle to the Romans provided us the answer to our paradox. There is a great difference between the imputed righteousness and the revealed righteousness. Let's examine the Greek word used in this verse for "revealed", it will provide for us insight into the principle of awakening Christís righteousness within us.
revealed=apokalupto (ap-ok-al-oop'-to/601); from 575 and 2572; to take off the cover, i.e. disclose: KJV-- reveal. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
apokalupto - (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
1) to uncover, to lay open what has been veiled or covered up, to disclose, to make bare
2) to make known, to make manifest, to disclose what before was unknown
To remove the cover from an item is to expose it's hidden contents. During birthdays and at Christmas we joyfully take our gifts and remove the wrapping cover to expose their hidden contents. Ponder for a moment with me the possibility that our imputed righteousness is the hidden contents within our spiritual person. Does the fact that Christís righteousness being hidden diminish it's power and ability to redeem, transform, and save? NO! A hundred times no! But the fact still remains, our imputed righteousness is hidden in us, and it's our responsibility to allow the Holy Spirit to remove the cover and allow Christ to be revealed in our lives. Now we come to the crux of the matter. What is the thing in our lives that veils our imputed righteousness?
The Carnal Mind
Rom 8:5-8 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (KJV)
1 Cor 3:1-3 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. (2) I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. (3) For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (KJV)
flesh=sarx (sarx/4561); probably from the base of 4563; flesh (as stripped of the skin), i.e. (strictly) the meat of an animal (as food), or (by extension) the body (as opposed to the soul [or spirit], or as the symbol of what is external, or as the means of kindred), or (by implication) human nature (with its frailties [physically or morally] and passions), or (specifically) a human being (as such): KJV-- carnal (-ly, + -ly minded), flesh ([-ly]). (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
sarx- (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
1) flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood); used of both man and animals
2) the body
a) the body of a man
b) used of natural or physical origin, generation or relationship; born of natural generation
c) the sensuous nature of man, "the animal nature"
1) without any suggestion of depravity
2) the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin
3) the physical nature of man as subject to suffering
3) a living creature (because possessed of a body of flesh), whether man or beast
4) the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God
FLESH ó The human body, in the totality of all that is essential to manhood, i. e., spirit, soul, and body (2 Cor. 10:3a; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:22; Matt. 24:22; John 1:13; Rom. 3:20
The weaker element in human nature. (Matt. 26:41; Rom. 6:19; 8:3a) The unregenerate state of men, the seat of sin in man" (Rom. 7:5; 8:8,9; 2 Pet. 2:18; 1 John 2:16)
The lower and temporary element in the Christian, and in religious ordinances (Gal. 3:3; 6:8; Heb. 9:10). The natural attainments of men (1 Cor. 1:26; 2 Cor. 10:2,3) (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
Both of these scriptural references teach us that the Carnal Mind, the natural human way of thinking rob us of our ability to fellowship with God, and to understand His spiritual truth. The Strongís, Thayerís, and Vineís Lexicons all agree that the Greek word "Sarx" is the weaker elements of our human nature in all it's frailties and passions. The Sarx or Flesh consciousness is the sensuous part of the human nature; it's the area where we have our self will. In fact, Vineís Expository Dictionary alludes to the fact that this nature can be shrouded in the elements of our Christian religion.
It's so important we understand this one point. Christians don't hate the carnal nature in totality, they only hate it's selfish cruelty. It's very common for Christians to refine their carnal nature to the point it's acceptable to the local congregation. We teach our human nature to not cuss, spit, or crew, or to run with those who do. We also teach our human nature the correct religious vernacular and doctrine in order for us to hide our sensuous nature. Remember this one point; the carnal nature ó noble, religious, or crude ó is enmity (hostile) with God.
1 Cor 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (KJV)
(Amplified Bible) "But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them ó of progressively recognizing, understanding and becoming better acquainted with them ó because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated."
natural=psuchikos (psoo-khee-kos'/5591); from 5590; sensitive, i.e. animate (in distinction on the one hand from 4152, which is the higher or renovated nature; and on the other from 5446, which is the lower or bestial nature): KJV-- natural, sensual. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
psuchikos- (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
of or belonging to breath:
a) having the nature and characteristics of the breath, the principal of animal life, which men have in common with the brutes
b) governed by breath; the sensuous nature with its subjection to appetite and passion (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
Once again the concept of the sensual Christian arises. Remember what was taught earlier in this study. One of the roots of spiritual drunkenness is a non-crucified sensuous nature (Rom 6:5-6). A nature caught in the mire of self-gratification and comfort. Paul admonished the Corinthian church that the natural, sensuous Christian is not able to receive the gifts from God, because they are discerned in the spirit. The ability to receive a gift doesnít change the fact that the gift being given. Ponder this scripture in regards to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and their acceptance by various elements of the Body of Christ.
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (KJV)
The sensuous, carnal nature is the root of all spiritual drunkenness and darkness we experience; it's the cover that must be removed from Christís imputed righteousness. Simply stated; to the degree we allow the cross of Christ to crucify this nature is the degree we reveal Christís hidden righteousness in our lives. We think Satan is our greatest enemy, but he can only have access to our lives through the sensuous, carnal nature. The more we allow the cross of Christ to put to death this nature the less access Satan has in our lives. Once again, our greatest enemy is not Satan, it's Self.
Faith to Faith
Romans 1:17 also alludes to the fact that the revealed righteousness we manifest is a dimensional experience we walk out through faith. But this verse also alludes to the fact that faith is a dimensional experience. How can this be? What do you mean by "a dimensional experience"?
2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (KJV)
In order to answer these questions we must realize that our walk with Christ is a progressive revelation of His person to us and through us. It is commonly taught in churches across America that revelation is new insights we experience in the Bible. True revelation is not our personal insights in the Holy Writ, but it's the experience and the dimension of Christ we are walking in. We read in Col 2:6 that the Christ we received we are to walk in Him. Simply stated, revelation is the depth of personal relationship we have with Jesus. Each time we are allowed to enter into deeper relationship with Jesus we enter a new revelation of His person.
Eph 1:17-18 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (18) I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (NIV)
1 Pet 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (KJV)
It's so important we realize that Bible knowledge is not revelation. If knowledge of the scriptures is true revelation, then the Pharisees were right and in them we have eternal life. This is not the case, Jesus taught that the scriptures were designed to reveal His person. We study the scriptures in order to experience more of His person (John 5:39-40). Each new revelation we enter into will open to us several things by removing the cover of our human nature; let me list them.
Pray that we might enter into greater degrees of Jesusí intimate presence; that we might know Him in the power of His resurrection (Phil 3:10). Also that we might understand the our hope in Him, and His glorious inheritance in the saints.
The Image of Christ
To conclude this study let's briefly ponder the reason for Holy removing the cover of our carnality. What is the goal of Christís revealed righteousness?
Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren (KJV)
2 Cor 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (KJV)
We have often thought that the goal of the Christian is heaven, but these two references clearly state that our spiritual goal is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. There is only one reason why Christ imputed to us His righteousness, and that is to impress on us His image: In order that He might be the first born among many spiritual brethren. (Heb 2:8-10)
What is the Image of Christ?
We have made the image of Christ to abstract and spiritual. The fact that we are to be conformed to His image indicates that it must be an attainable and practical goal. The question should arise again. What is the image of Christ?
John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
(Amplified Bible)"I am able to do nothing from Myself ó independently, of my own accord; but as I am taught by God and as I get His orders. [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision.] Even as I hear, I judge and my judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will ó I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose ó but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me."
In this one verse Jesus identified the image we are to be conformed to, and that image is "Self weakness ó God strength." Jesus realized His own personal weakness to do the will of His Father, but He also realized that this weakness is the source of all His spiritual strength. Jesus realized that in Himself He could do nothing, but God, His Father was strong through Him, because He did not pamper or nurse His own self-will. Jesus also understood that His human weakness is an opportunity for God to be strong through Him.
2 Cor 12:8-10 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (KJV)
The Apostle Paul also learned this lesson. He learned that Christís strength is matured in him through his personal weakness. Paul may not have realized the significance of his statement, but the image of Christ was being matured in him.
The process Jesus utilizes to reveal His righteousness in us will weaken our own carnal self-willed nature. The revealed righteousness is the image of Christ having freedom to imprint itself on our whole person. The most important thing we can do as Christians is to allow the "Awakening Process" to occur. We also must realize that we have a carnal nature that can hide in our religious attitudes. The cover of this nature must be removed in order for Christ to reveal His righteousness in us. To the degree we allow Christ to awaken within us His righteousness is to the degree we will walk in divine revelation of His person.
The Fruit Bearing Process
In Part One we examined the concept that there are two different aspects to the righteousness of Christ as it relates to the average Christian. The first phase is the action of Christ within us, it is the imputation of His righteousness into our spirit. The second part is the responsibility of the beneficiary of His imputed righteousness. We are to awaken to our imputed righteousness and allow the Holy Spirit to "remove the cover" of our carnal human nature to reveal Christ within us. Our responsibility is to yield to the awakening process, and endure the loss of our human identity while we are conformed to the image of Christ.
Fruits of Righteousness
Phil 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God (KJV)
Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (KJV)
These two verse clearly teaches that the imputed righteousness implanted in us at regeneration is designed by God to yield spiritual fruit. The fruit of righteousness is the spiritual fruit produced in us by the revelation of our imputed righteousness.
The Vine Principle
John 15:1-8 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. (2) Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (3) Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (4) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (5) I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (6) If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (7) If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (8) Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (KJV)
In these verses Jesus taught that He is the vine, but we are the branches that sprout from the vine. According to this metaphor the branches are the natural expression of the vine. All (spiritual) fruit that glorifies the Father will grow in the lives of these branches. Even though the branches produce the fruit itís the responsibility of the vine to provide the branches with the necessary vitality and sustenance to bring itís fruit to fruition. Simply stated, the fruit is the product of the vine, while the branches are the conduit for the life force of the vine. Consider this thought. Where does the vine end and the branches begin? Does the vine end at ground level, or does it end several feet above ground? Is the vine the roots, and everything visible being part of the branches; or is the vine and the branches one expression? I am convinced that every facet of the vine, from the root to the fruit is an expression of the vine. To make a distinction between the vine and the branches is dangerous, because we are subtly stating that our identity is in the branch but not in the vine.
It is natural to read this chapter and think of fruit and lush green vines, but the principle Jesus taught clearly indicated that the vine was subject to seasons. The grapevine is not an evergreen that produces fruit throughout the year, but it has a clearly defined season of fruit bearing. As surely as the vine will have a season of harvest it will have a season of pruning. Since Jesus used the grapevine as His symbol to communicate to us the maturing process His disciples would experience, we must take into consideration all the seasons and how they affect the vine, because each spiritual season (i.e. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) is designed to work in our lives a special work of righteousness.
Psalms 1:1-3 clearly states that righteous men and women have seasons which produce fruit. Every Christian has a season when he or she will be fruitful, but, also they will have a season of pruning (Eccl 3:1 Heb 13:8). Ponder this thought! What is happening in the lives of righteous saints when the season of fruit bearing has past? The answer should be obvious, we are being prepared by the Lord for another season of fruitfulness. When we are not in a season of fruit bearing, then the Lord is nurturing our lives with great patience and faith in a future harvest yet to come. A fruitful saint is fruitful in every season of life, but he or she may not be producing fruit. Fruitfulness is a process not a product; a vine being pruned is just as fruitful as a flourishing vine laden with large clusters of vintage grapes. We must change our point of perspective, and stop seeing fruitfulness as a product we produce but a process of seasonal change. Each season we experience is an integral part of the fruitful process. A frigid winter season is just as valuable to the vine as a summer season filled with the sweet fragrance of a soon coming harvest. We are so busy trying to produce the product that we fail to recognize and endure the process.
Once we understand that this process is part of our Christian walk then we should yield to the nurturing of the Lord even in the midst of our winter season. God has designed each cycle of the seasons to produce in us deeper dimensions of abiding in His presence. Let me personalize this last paragraph. I have written this syllabus to help you understand the fruitful process you endure during the various seasons of the fruit bearing cycle. The Lord is concerned for His people, they are suffering in a state of confusion trying to produce a product, but frustrating the process by their pride and fear. Many of God's people have endured long frigid winters with no end in sight, and have fainted in their faith because they frustrate the grace of God in ignorance. As you study this syllabus please personalize the vine experience; do not see it just as a description of the corporate body of Christ, but perceive it from the perspective of an intimate personal relationship with Jesus. You and the vine are one person, envision the branches as your personal growth in the Lord, and the fruit being the image of Christ reproduced in your personality.
The Pruning Process
One thing John chapter fifteen made clear; every fruitful Christian will endure seasons of pruning. The cutting back of unnecessary growth in order to prepare the saint for a new season of fruit bearing. The cutting away of this growth, the pruning of the Christian life is the revelation process ó removing the cover óreferred to in Romans 1:17. Hebrews 12:11 also indicates that a pruning process is necessary in order to yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness: let's return to Hebrews and study this point.
Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (KJV)
chastening = paideia (pahee-di'-ah/3809); from 3811; tutorage, i.e. education or training; by implication, disciplinary correction: KJV-- chastening, chastisement, instruction, nurture.
paideia - (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
a) instruction which aims at increasing virtue
b) chastisement, chastening, (used of the evils with which God visits men for their amendment)
We often think that chastisement is some form of corporal punishment administered to disobedient children. Padeia, the Greek word used in this verse, has that application, but it's only one small part of it's definition. It's interesting to note that the word has the application of "Tutorage, education or training", also "instruction" which aims at increasing virtue. The applications do not necessarily indicate disciplinary correction. A tutor is a private instructor whose primary goal is to increase the knowledge or virtue of his or her pupil. When we apply these thoughts to Hebrews 12:11 we realize that God has provided us with a private instructor, a tutor whose primary goal is to mature our virtue in God. John 14:16, 26, and 15:26 identifies our private tutor as the Holy Spirit, the great comforter of the Lord, the Spirit of Truth, whose primary responsibility is to reveal to us the person of Jesus Christ.
The tutorship of the Holy Spirit is designed to nurture us through the fruit bearing cycle. He is the life force that flows from the vine to the branches that matures the fruit, and He is the pruning agent who judges our life and removes the cover of our carnal human nature. The pruning process is the judgment of God in our lives. It's the cutting away of our self-willed human nature. It's the cross alive and active in our lives. Christians fear divine judgment, they see it as the heavy chastenings of the Lord: But the Bible provides a different picture of judgment.
Ps 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day (KJV)
Ps 11:5-7 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. (6) Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. (7) For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the uprigh (KJV)
We read that God judges the righteous, but He is angry with the wicked every day. King David also recorded the fact that the Lord tries (tests, proves) the heart of the righteous. When we correlate these two verses with Hebrews 12:11 we should realize that the judgment and trial of the righteous is the tutorship of the Holy Spirit instructing us, curbing our passions, correcting our mistakes, and increasing our virtue.
Ps 25:9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way (KJV)
Ps 22:26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever (KJV)
Ps 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (KJV)
Zeph 2:3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger. (KJV)
The meek are the blessed of the Lord, and they shall be guided into the paths of righteousness by the judgment of God. The process of judgment the meek endure opens to them the secret ways of the Lord. In fact, the meek will be guided by the eye of the Lord. This phrase indicates an intimate relationship that allows the eyes of the Lord to be seen and experienced.
Judgment should be feared by only those who remain defiant and disobedient to the chastenings of the Holy Spirit. Should our hearts remain humble and teachable the judgments of God are peaceable and pure, they remove the cover of our carnal human nature to reveal the righteousness of Christ in us. John 15:26 clearly states that the mission of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the person of Christ. We often think that this only applies to the understanding we have of Jesus, but we have missed the greater application. The mission of the Holy Spirit is not only to reveal the person of Christ to us, but He is to reveal the person of Christ through us.
Word of God
Ps 37:30-31 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. (31) The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. (KJV)
Ps 40:8-10 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (9) I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. (10) I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. (KJV)
The Will of God
An important element of the pruning process is the implantation of the word of God in our hearts. In order for the implantation process to occur their must be a willingness on our part to do the will of God. We cannot ever hope to walk in the power of the Revealed Righteousness without being obedient to Godís revealed will. Why do we allow the word of God access to our inner most being? The answer is simple, we hunger for intimate relationship with the Lord, therefore we allow the word of God to prune away our carnality.
The problem we have today in the church is obvious. We have substituted fashionable Christian doctrines and emotional enthusiasm for true encounters with the pruning sword of Godís word. Implanting the word in our hearts is much more than simple Bible memorization. It's obedience to the revealed will of God, it also involves a willingness to endure the pruning cycles of God.
The Hidden Righteousness
King David realize one very important spiritual principle, and that is the dangers of hiding the righteousness of God in his heart. We must also consider the seriousness of this principle, because it's possible to hide the righteousness of Christ behind a carnal human nature shrouded in religious attitudes.
We honestly don't realize the seriousness of Christís imputed righteousness being hid (covered) in our lives. The greatest enemy to true spiritual maturity is traditional religious thinking. We must allow the Holy Spirit to remove the cover of our humanity in order to allow the light of Christ to shine through us. In Luke 19:12-26, Jesus taught the parable of a nobleman going into a far country to receive his kingdom. The nobleman gave one pound to each of his ten servants. On his return it was discovered that one servant buried (hid) his pound in the ground out of fear of the nobleman. This servant was sternly chastened for his disobedience. Consider this thought with me. We are the servants of Christ who have received His imputed righteousness. The day will come when we must give an accounting to Christ for what we accomplished with His righteousness. Those saints of God who buried (hid, covered) His imputed righteousness in the ground of their hearts will be sternly rebuked by the fire of His holy eyes (1Cor 3:13).
King David listed several attitudes of heart as proof of Godís righteousness being revealed in his heart. It's interesting to note that each of these attitudes were expressed in the "Great Congregation." The house of God, the local congregation, was the recipient of Godís righteousness through David. Let me list the attitudes David manifested in the congregation of God.
Now we come to the crux of this topic. King David realized that service to his local congregation was the only way to allow Godís righteousness to be revealed in his life. Three millennia of divine revelation has not changed this simple principle. The local congregation was designed by God to be a fruitful field of His imputed righteousness. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches of His body, therefore the local congregation is the vineyard of God. While we remain faithful to the vineyard we will remain fruitful. As long as we will endure the fruit bearing process, we will yield to the pruning of the Lord, but in the end we will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have exercised themselves in the local congregation.
The key to spiritual maturity is the servant attitude being exercised in the local congregation. Consider this thought with me. Is it possible that our personal spiritual frustrations are directly connected to our refusal to serve in the local congregation. The servant heart is also the pruning hook used by God to remove the cover of our carnal human nature.
Ps 125:3 For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity (KJV)
Prov 28:10 Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit: but the upright shall have good things in possession (KJV)
Rom 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness (KJV)
Psalm 125:3is a sobering experience when this verse is applied to the church today. The authority (rod) of the wicked (world) will not rest on the righteous, unless the righteous identifies with the wicked and conforms to their way of thinking. The Christian church today has conformed themselves to the world, they use their methods in TV evangelism, in gifts and offerings, in program development, even in the compromised message being preached. Do not be quick to blame the ordained ministers, because they are providing the type of ministry we demand. We must have comfort, intellectual stimulation, and synthesized pastors and preachers, but we don't want to be spiritually challenged. Is it possible the reason we see the universal church weak and defeated is the result of our putting forth our hands unto iniquity (world conformity), and the judgment of the world is resting on us.
When we identify with the world we strengthen our carnal human nature. This action restricts the ability of our imputed righteousness to shine through us. This fact is obvious, to the degree we strengthen our carnal human nature is to the degree we place the cover back on our imputed righteousness. Let me once again reiterate the realization that carnality is not restricted to corrupt sensuous human expression. The carnal (sarx, flesh) mind set conformed to a compromised, lukewarm Christian religion is the hardest attitude to expose and break down. It is a sad thing to realize that our personal Christian walk is at enmity with God, because of our comfortable religious attitude. Sarx is sarx no matter how ornate we robe it in Christian religious thinking.
John 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal (KJV)
Jesus also wanted us to understand the seriousness of world conformity. He who loves his life shall lose it, but he who hates his life in this world will find true value and purpose for eternal life.
life = psuche (psoo-khay'/5590); from 5594; breath, i.e. (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from 4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from 2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew 5315, 7307 and 2416): KJV-- heart (+-ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you. (Strong's Concordance)
psuche - (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
a) the breath of life: the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing:
1) used of animals
2) used of men
c) that in which there is life, a living being, a living soul
2) the soul
a) the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul, etc.)
b) the (human) soul insofar as it is constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life
c) the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body)
The life referred to by Jesus is much more than the living force that animates our physical bodies. The "Psuche" life force is our soul, it's the seat of our feelings, desires, affections, and aversions. Simply stated, it's our self-centered personality, the seat of our carnal human nature. Jesus wanted us to realize that the cover of our Psuche personality must be removed from the eternal life of His righteousness. Jesus also wanted us to realize that loving the world and the things of the world is fatal to true spiritual maturity.
Phil 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (KJV)
Faith is the active element that removes the cover, that opens us to our imputed righteousness. This is a strange thought, because the church is filled with faith, but true righteousness is absent from our witness. Is it possible that faith is not the Christian doctrine we memorize and confess, but much more? This thought can cause controversy since much has been taught about confessing the politically correct Christian doctrines. Should we stand on the vogue doctrines and scriptures that are propagated by the current trend, then we have faith. How far from the truth this concept is.
2 Cor 4:13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak (KJV)
The Apostle Paul realized that faith is a living Spirit, not a doctrine we put our trust in. The fact that we have the same Spirit as all believers indicates that the Spirit of faith is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of faith is not the doctrine we believe, but it's the Person we trust. The primary mission of the Holy Spirit is to reveal to us and through us the person of Jesus. Faith is the revelation of that person through us, and the belief we put in His personal revelation.
Resisting the Cross
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin (KJV)
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (KJV)
Gal 5:24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (KJV)
Scripture teaches us that a cross is implanted in each born again saint. The mission of our spiritual cross is to destroy in us our body of sin, our flesh nature with the affections and lusts. The Bible teaches that our carnal human nature is called the "Old Man," while the spiritual life of Christ, His imputed righteousness, implanted in our spiritual man is called the "New Man" (Eph 4:24 Col 3:10)
There should be no doubt in our thinking about our carnal human nature. In order for the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to us we must endure the crucifixion, the pruning of our flesh nature. We must allow the Holy Spirit to remove the cover of our Old Man in order for the righteousness of our New Man to be revealed.
Most Christians blame the devil for their spiritual frustration. They blame the devil also for their defeated spiritual condition. Is it possible that our spiritual frustration is caused by the Holy Spirit crucifying our carnal human nature. The truth is obvious, Christians spend more time fighting the cross then the devil. The cross is in us, and we must endure it's operation. The only obstacle we have to our spiritual maturity is our flesh, even the devil can only assault our lives through the arena of our flesh nature. It's true, our flesh dies hard. The process the Holy Spirit must use to reveal the righteousness of Christ is difficult, because the process requires a yielded human host who hungers for the spiritual life of Christ. We spend more time resisting the Holy Spirit, causing Him grief, than we ever do fighting the devil (Gal 5:17 Eph 4:30).
The fruit bearing cycle is an automatic process for all who have been implanted with Christís imputed righteousness. We can not run or hide from the process, all we can do is frustrate the pruning process by our resistance to the Holy Spirit. Is it possible that the spiritual frustration we now endure is the result of our resistance to the pruning of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives. Never forget this truth, as surely as we will have seasons of harvest we will also have seasons of pruning. Let's not frustrate the process by our harden religious attitudes; let us be yielded vessels to the Holy Spirit.
The Barren Heart
2 Pet 1:4-10 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (5) And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; (6) And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; (7) And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (8) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (10) Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: (KJV)
Peter wanted us to realize that it's possible for a blood bought Christian to be spiritually barren. Peter lists eight characteristics that should be developed in the spiritual heart of the fruitful saint.
The Amplified Bible clearly states that it's necessary to exercise one quality to develop another. Peter in his own way indicates that fruitfulness is a process of character development. In order to develop these eight characteristics in our lives we must exercise the seed faith of Christís imputed righteousness given to us at new birth. It's interesting to note that these eight characteristics are nearly identical to the fruit of the Spirit.
2Peter 1:5 (Amplified Bible) "For this reason adding your diligence [to the divine promise], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy); and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence)."
What Constitutes Spiritual Barrenness?
argos (ar-gos'/692); from 1 (as a negative particle) and 2041; inactive, i.e. unemployed; (by implication) lazy, useless: KJV-- barren, idle, slow. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
argos- (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
1) free from labor, at leisure
2) lazy, shunning the labor which one ought to perform
The Greek word "Argos" provides for us painful insight. Spiritual barrenness is caused by spiritual inactivity. An unwillingness on our part to exercise our faith in the work of the Lord. We all know what we should do for our Lord and His church. When we shun the labor we ought to perform we frustrate the fruit bearing process.
Heb 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (KJV)
The author of Hebrews teaches us also that slothful, lazy Christian attitudes frustrate our ability to inherit the promises of God.
Peter indicates that the spiritual fruit produced in our lives is the knowledge of our Lord Jesus.
epignosis (ep-ig'-no-sis/1922); from 1921; recognition, i.e. (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgement: KJV-- (ac-) knowledge (-ing, -ment). (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
This Greek word indicates "Full and complete discernment and knowledge". The word is comprised of two Greek words and they are; EPI "That which is over, above, and beyond," and GNOSIS "The act of learning knowledge". When we merge these two words together we have a implied meaning of "knowledge that is learned over, above, and beyond the normal way of human learning." Simply stated, this type of knowledge is an intimate knowledge a person would learn about Jesus. It's a knowledge a husband or wife would have of their mate.
In the end their is only one spiritual fruit produced in our lives through submission to the fruit bearing process. That fruit is an intimate knowledge of our Lord Jesus. When we have this type of knowledge all fruits of the Holy Spirit will manifest in us, because the righteousness of Christ is being expressed.
In Lesson One we identified the difference between the imputed righteousness of Christ, and the revealed righteousness of the Holy Spirit in us. In Lesson Two we discovered the fruit bearing cycle we must endure in order for the fruits of righteousness to be produced in us. In Lesson Three we will study the various fruits produced by those who endure the seasons of fruitfulness. There is much that can be said or written about the spiritual fruit produced by the righteous. I will not attempt to examine every aspect of our spiritual fruit; my goal is to cause those who read this study to ponder the importance of the fruits of righteousness.
King David taught us much about the benefits the upright shall enjoy from their relationship with the Lord. The questions that will arise from this study are not easy to answer, because they demand serious self-introspection. Let's expose one misnomer right now; most of these benefits we will examine are enjoyed by those who are actively involved in the fruit bearing cycle. Memorizing the doctrines of our Christian imputed righteousness does not produce these benefits in us. The fruits and benefits of righteousness described in the Bible are manifested in the lives of those who remove the cover of their carnal human nature from the life of Christ in us. Simply being a Christian does not open to us the benefits of righteousness, these fruits belong to those who are yielded to the workings of the Holy Spirit. Let's ponder some of these benefits enjoyed by the upright of heart.
Ps 32:11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart (KJV)
Ps 33:1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright (KJV)
Ps 68:3 But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice (KJV)
Ps 119:7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments (KJV)
One of the first fruits that will be seen in the upright is a heart filled with honest praise and rejoicing. King David realized that his ability to praise the Lord was directly connected with the spiritual lessons he learned from Godís righteous judgments. It's true, the context of Psalm 119 indicates that Godís righteous judgments is His holy word. By now I hope we understand that Godís judgments are much more than the teachings of holy scripture. The meek God guides in judgment, and the meek He teaches His ways. The righteous judgments of God is the pruning process used by the Holy Spirit to prepare our lives for fruit production. The upright in heart follow the judgments of God like the children of Israel followed the glory of the Lord in the wilderness. They realize that Godís judgment is the revelation of His person, therefore they follow His judgment in order to enjoy their relationship with the Lord (Psa 94:15). A righteous person will be known by their deep love of praise and worship. Let me ask you some questions. What part of a normal Sunday service do we enjoy the most? Is it the worship service? Do we come late to church because we believe the worship is not as important as the preaching of the word? How we answer these questions will help us determine the depth the righteous judgments of God have pruned us, and imprinted on our hearts the true worship of God.
Ps 34:15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
1 Pet 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil (KJV)
This verse teaches us that the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears hear their cries for help. The ears of the Lord are attentive to the prayers of His righteous saints, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Immediately every Christian disqualifies him/herself from the last phrase of this verse. "The Lordís face canít be against me, because I am not evil. I am not a thief, murderer or robber, therefore Iím one who doesnít do evil." These are the thoughts echoing in the minds of millions of Christians. But, are we exempt from the indictment of this verse because of our religious beliefs?
Evil = kakos (kak-os'/2556); apparently a primary word; worthless (intrinsically, such; whereas 4190 properly refers to effects), i.e. (subjectively) depraved, or (objectively) injurious: KJV-- bad, evil, harm, ill, noisome, wicked.
kakos - (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
1) used of a bad nature: not such as it ought to be
2) used of a mode of thinking, feeling, acting: base, wrong, wicked
3) troublesome, injurious, pernicious, destructive, baneful
The Greek word used in this verse for evil has an interesting application. It's true that this word does have the application of pure, animalistic evil, but it also has the application of an action or mode of thinking that is worthless. For something to be worthless it must be empty and vain. The evil spoken of in this verse can also be our worthless, empty, and vain mode of thinking, feeling, and acting. Our thoughts are empty and vain when they are preoccupied with "...the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches..." Jesus also taught that these actions "... choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." (Mt 13:22). Maybe this is the reason why the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Consider this thought with me. To the degree were caught by the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, is to the degree we frustrate the Holy Spirit, and the face of the Lord is resisting our actions.
Eyes of the Lord
These two verses also indicate that the eyes of the Lord are open to the righteous. These verses also have an implied meaning that the eyes of the righteous are open to the Lord. This phrase speaks of a loving relationship between God and His righteous saints. The righteous who know the eyes of the Lord are the most blessed, because they allow the fire and glory found in His eyes to purge and prune their worthless thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Rev 1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; (KJV)
Rev 19:11-12 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (12) His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. (KJV)
These two verses teach us that the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ are filled with glory and holy fire. Those who dare to gaze into these holy eyes must endure the exposure of the light of the Lord. The gospel of John teaches us also about the light of God.
John 3:20-21 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (21) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (KJV)
evil = phaulos (fow'-los/5337); apparently a primary word; "foul" or "flawy", i.e. (figuratively) wicked: KJV-- evil. (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
phaulos- (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
1) easy, slight, ordinary, mean, worthless, of no account
2) ethically, bad, base, wicked (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
hate = miseo (mis-eh'-o/3404); from a primary misos (hatred); to detest (especially to persecute); by extension, to love less: KJV-- hate (-ful). (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
Again we are exposed to the concept of evil. Another Greek word also has the implication of that which is worthless, ordinary, and easy. It's also interesting to note that the Greek word "Miseo" translated "Hate" has the application of loving something less than something else. When we combine these two expanded Greek applications we come to this conclusion. Those people who fill their lives with worthless, ordinary, and easy thoughts, feelings, and actions will love the light of God less than their worldly pursuits. In fact these verse tell us that these people will not even come to the light, because their deeds will be reproved (pruned) by the light. Christians are not disqualified from the indictment of this verse because of their religious beliefs. In fact many Christians treat the light of God with indifference. They search for congregations and pastors who will help them to protect their comfort zones. Simply stated, Christians love the salvation of God, the love of God, the blessings of God, the grace of God, but they treat with indifference the light of God, because of it's exposing and pruning quality.
The flip side of the coin is also true. The saints of God who strive to be doers of truth not necessarily doctrine, are draw to the light of God like a moth to a candle. These saints realize that the light of God will prune their worthless thoughts, but they draw near to the Lord anyway to have their hearts exposed. These saints also understand that the light of God will be found in the eyes of the Lord, therefore the eyes of the Lord are open to the righteous.
Ps 34:17 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles
Ps 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all
Ps 37:17-19 "...the LORD upholdeth the righteous. (18) The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever. (19) They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. (KJV)
Ps 37:39-40 But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble. (40) And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him. (KJV)
Prov 11:6 The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness (KJV)
Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness (KJV)
These verses identify another benefit provided to the righteous. Troubles do come, but the Lord shall deliver the righteous out of them all. But why does God allow afflictions and troubles to torment His righteous saints?
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (KJV)
Let's put another misnomer to rest. In this world we will have tribulation, persecution, and suffering. These conditions afflict all mortal flesh. Jesus taught us that the rain falls on the just and unjust alike; tribulations are no different (Mt 5:47). We have this comfort, Jesus overcame the world, therefore in Christ we can also overcome the world. But, we still have not answered our question. Why does God allow His righteous saints to endure afflictions, tribulations and persecutions?
2 Cor 4:10-11 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (11) For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
2 Cor 4:17-18 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (KJV)
1 Pet 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (13) But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (KJV)
The Apostles, Peter and Paul, answered our question. Afflictions are used by God to prune our carnal human nature in order for the life (righteousness) of Christ to be manifested (revealed) in our bodies. The fruit bearing cycle is not easy to endure. We are creatures who enjoy our comfort. Should we be allowed to decide our own level of spiritual maturity, we would continually rest ourselves in a lazy, casual experience with Jesus. Our afflictions are designed by God to reveal His glory in us. In order to experience the exceeding joy of Christís glory we first must be a partaker in Christís sufferings. The Apostle James, also understood this principle: let's read his thoughts.
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (NIV)
James 1:12-15 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (13) When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; (14) but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. (15) Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (NIV)
James understood that afflictions and trials are opportunities for our faith to grow and mature. We must understand one simple fact. God has a plan for our lives, but, in order to accomplish this plan we must mature spiritually. James also understood that the reward of endurance is a crown of life (revealed righteousness)
James also identified the root cause for most of our trials. We often fall into afflictions and trial when we are enticed to leave the "straight and narrow path" of righteousness to act upon our lustful appetites. The path of appeasing our lusts is very dangerous; should we follow this path unabated, the end of it is physical and spiritual death. God does not tempt any person with evil, but He uses the afflictions we reap from our lusts to prune our carnal human nature. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but God delivers them out of them all. Godís deliverance is the pruning hook of human lust and desire. Any person who experiences Godís deliverance will be changed by their encounter with Him.
Fruits of Righteousness
Up to this point I have described the benefits of righteousness, now let me identify three spiritual fruits that is produced in the lives of the righteous. Let me clearly state that there are many more, but in this study I will expound on three.
Ps 37:21 The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth (KJV)
Prov 21:21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour (KJV)
Mercy, an act of loving compassion, is one of the fruits produced in the lives of those who endure the pruning cycle. When a person endures the pruning hook of the Holy Spirit the one thing he or she cries for is mercy, therefore it's logical for mercy to be planted in the souls of the righteous. The righteous manifest mercy, because they have received mercy. It's interesting to note that mercy is not identified by Paul as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (KJV)
This apparent oversight of Paul is not necessarily an oversight. A survey of the Bible seems to indicate that mercy is the active agent of the Holy Spirit that produces in us His fruit. Each of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit are qualities produced in our lives through the action of mercy. Mercy must be the active agent that produces these fruits and causes them to have true spiritual expression. Take mercy from the nine fruits of the Spirit and we no longer have true spiritual fruits. All that is left is religious doctrine concerning the fruit, but it's true expression is absent from us.
Ps 37:30-31 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. (31) The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. (KJV)
Prov 2:7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly (KJV)
Prov 2:8-10 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. (9) Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path. (10) When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; (KJV)
Prov 10:21 The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom (KJV)
These four references teach us that wisdom is found in the hearts of the righteous. It's also interesting to note that the law of God is also found in the hearts of the righteous. It's important we realize that the law of God is much more than the religious doctrine we memorize. The law of God in the heart clearly speaks to the fact that the righteous heart is an obedient heart.
Prov 6:14 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord
Prov 11:20 They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are upright in their way are his delight (KJV)
Eccl 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil (KJV)
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it (KJV)
Froward = tahpukah (tah-poo-kaw'/8419); from 2015; a perversity or fraud: KJV-- (very) froward (-ness, thing), perverse thing.
The Bible plainly teaches that the normal spiritual state of the human heart is deceitful, full of evil, and desperately wicked. The human heart is froward in nature, it's filled with self-will disobedience. It's interesting to note that the word "froward" has the application of fraud. To be a fraud is to be an impostor, to project a facade to the world of who we pretend to be, but we are not that person. We think because we are Christians we do not have frowardness in our hearts, but this is not the case. The Christian facade is easy to project. We learn the correct Christian conversation, we wear the correct Christian clothing, but our hearts are far from the Lord. We have formulated Christian dogma that will protect our hidden frowardness.
The righteous saint allows the Holy Spirit to prune his or her frowardness in order to prepare a place for Godís law and wisdom. The Bible associates the law of God with doing His will. The law of God planted in our hearts is much more than the memorization of selected verses of scripture. The law of God is the way of the Lord taught to us by the Holy Spirit (Ps 25:4-5 40:8). In fact, King David realized that in order for him to learn the ways of the Lord he must have a united heart dedicated to the fear of the Lord (Ps 86:11)
Now we come to the main question. What is wisdom?
1 Cor 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (NIV)
1 Cor 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit (KJV)
James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (NIV)
Wisdom is much more than knowledge or insight into the Bible. It's the person of Jesus Christ, it's His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom (Isa 11:2 Eph 1:17). James provided a description of wisdom that clearly indicates that it's a living person to be experienced not a knowledge to be learned. Wisdom is the infusion of the Holy Spirit in us and through us. It's His thought and revelation; it's the image of Christ being embossed on the tablets of our hearts.
The righteous saints who speak the wisdom of God from their hearts only indicate the depth of pruning they have endured: The image of Christ is surfacing in these saints. Again I return to the same simple truth; to the degree we allow the pruning of the Lord is to the degree the law of God and His wisdom will be found in our hearts. Also, to the degree we yield to Godís law and wisdom is to the same degree His image is revealed in us ó the revealed righteousness of Christ.
Ps 85:10 Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other
The final fruit we will examine is the spiritual peace produced in the lives of the righteous. This verse plainly states that righteousness and peace are part of one another. We cannot remove the cover from our imputed righteousness without releasing true spiritual peace. True peace is not the absence of conflict, but it's a mind fixed on the Lord in trust. Isaiah, the Prophet understood this point; let's ponder his concept.
Isa 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee (KJV)
Isaiah associated trust with peace, but he also emphasized the importance of keeping our minds fixed on the Lord. It's natural for children to trust their parents. They don't worry about food, clothing, or shelter, because their parents will provide what they need. The righteous saints understand this point also, they trust the Lord for all their substance. Worry and fear are the by-products of a divided heart, they are the trust robbers. James realized also that a double minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8 4:8). Great peace is found in the hearts of the righteous, because their hearts are united (one focus - one goal) in the fear of the Lord (Psa 86:11). Therefore we conclude that peace is not controlled or manipulated by external factors, it's a heart and mind united in love and trust of the Lord.
Ps 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them (KJV)
King David also understood that great spiritual peace is not influenced by external circumstances. True spiritual peace belongs to those who love the law of God. Now we have a correlation between great peace and the law of God and wisdom. It's interesting to note how these spiritual principles all intertwine. Nothing is able to cause them to stumble from their faith. The Hebrew word that translated the English word "Offend" is "Mikshowl", and this word clearly indicates "a stumbling into unbelief." The word doesnít indicate a person who occasionally deals with anger. The peace the righteous saints have is built on trust in the Lord and His word.
2 Pet 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord (KJV)
knowledge = epignosis (ep-ig'-no-sis/1922); from 1921; recognition, i.e. (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgement: KJV-- (ac-) knowledge (-ing, -ment). (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance)
epignosis - (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
precise and correct knowledge; used in the New Testament of the knowledge of things ethical and divine (Thayer's Greek/English Lexicon)
The Apostle Peter, provided an interesting application to our discussion on peace. According to this verse grace and peace is multiplied in our lives through our knowledge of Jesus Christ. The interesting application is found in the Greek word used by Peter for knowledge. Epignosis is a composite of two different Greek words. The prefix "Epi" is translated "that which is over, above, and beyond," and the Greek word "Ginosko" is translated "to have knowledge, to understand, to learn". Ginosko knowledge is the type of knowledge we acquire in our class rooms. When we apply the prefix "Epi" to Ginosko we have a knowledge that is over, above, and beyond the normal way of learning. Simply stated, Epignosis knowledge is intimate knowledge, it's the type of knowledge a wife would have of her husband. The Apostle Peter stated that grace and peace is multiplied in our lives when we cultivate an Intimate Knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Bible doctrine and religious books or tapes cannot open this arena to us. We must cultivate this type of relationship through personal prayer and Bible meditation.
Ps 17:15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness (KJV)
Ps 11:7 For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright
To have an intimate relationship with the Lord is the greatest benefit any saint of God could enjoy. King David realized that his deepest hunger was to behold the face of the Lord, and to allow the image and likeness of the face he sees to be embossed on him. In these simple words, King David, defined the entire goal and mission of our imputed righteousness. Christ didnít give us His imputed righteousness in order for us to maintain a well ordered religious system, nor did He grant to us this gift as our ticket to heaven. Our imputed righteousness must have a goal, and David defined that goal: The goal of our imputed righteousness is to conform us to the image of Jesus, but in order to accomplish this mission we must gaze in to His face. Therefore the Holy Spirit will implant within us a driving hunger to walk with Christ in intimate relationship. Jesus even taught this principle to His disciples during His final commission to them.
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (KJV)
We have taught our children only a portion of the truth concerning eternal life. We teach them that eternal life has guaranteed our ticket to heaven. Our doctrine has made heaven the our personal, but Jesus taught that the primary goal of eternal life is to reveal to us His person and His Father. In order to know God and His Son we must abide in the light of His countenance, therefore Jesus gave to us the tools necessary to accomplish this mission, He gave us His imputed righteousness which is eternal life.
Gazing into the face of our Lord, what a joyous experience, but this action will have an affect on us. Remember the eyes of the Lord are like a flame of fire, His face is filled with the intense light of His eternal glory. The Apostle John, when he stood in the presence of our glorified Lord, he fainted at Jesusí feet (Rev 1:17). The countenance of our Lord is glorified and intense, His face will have a dramatic effect on all who dare to gaze into His eyes.
Ps 90:8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance
The light of the countenance of our Lord will expose the secret sins that plague and torment our lives. These sins usually are known only by us on a personal level. The power of secret sin is it's ability to hide itself in self-deception. We tolerate these sins, mostly out of ignorance, but the light of His countenance will manifest the hidden parts of our lives. The eyes of the Lord will search deep into our hearts to prune away the cover that restricts the full manifestation of His revealed righteousness. All that we endure during the fruit bearing cycle is designed to remove the cover of our carnal human nature, and to reveal Christís righteousness. How glorious is the joy experienced by those who endure the eyes of the Lord, but how deep his holy fire prunes. Do not run from the eyes of Jesus, they are filled with love and compassion, but the light of His glory will transform us. Cultivate the driving hunger that motivated King David, strive to behold His face in righteousness, and only be satisfied when you awake within His likeness.