Paul the Apostle is one of the top 5 most influential people who ever lived. He turned the world upside down. In this series, we are exploring ‘Paul’s secret’ of how to change the world. That secret is found in Philippians 3:7-12.
In our first part, we learned Principle One: Don’t let your natural gifts get in the way of God’s grace. Be willing to surrender them all to God in order to live by grace and truth (John 1:14,17).
While natural gifts are a form of grace, a person who is infused with God’s grace will accomplish far, far more.
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 — Philippians 3:9
The second secret of a world-changer is found in the above verse, which leads to Principle Two: Make sure it is Christ’s righteousness, not your own, that is found in you.
If you want to partner with God to change the world, you will be far more effective living in His righteousness. Yes, God can and does use the unrighteous, but the most powerful vessels are those who are righteous in Him.
Definition of Righteous
Righteousness matters. It is the key to God’s kingdom and the good things He offers. Jesus made it plain: For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven - Matthew 5:20. What is this righteousness that makes the difference between heaven and hell?
‘Righteousness’ comes from the Greek word dikaiosyne (δικαιοσύνη) and ‘righteous’ from dikaios (δίκαιος). There essential meaning is to be ‘upright, faultless, virtuous, guiltless, acceptable and approved of God.’
Righteousness applies to God and people. The Lord is righteous in many ways, not the least of which is that His actions and nature are in agreement. His people need to be the same.
Put another way, to be righteous means two things:
1. Right-standing before God;
2. Right actions on behalf of God.
Benefits of Righteousness
The Bible promises great benefits to the righteous:
• God blesses and protects the righteous (Psalm 5:12),
• God watches after them and hears their cry (Psalm 34:15);
• God delivers them out of all their troubles (34:17);
• They are never forsaken (Psalm 37:25);
• They shall never be moved (Psalm 55:22);
• They are rewarded (Psalm 58:11);
• They are glad (Psalm 64:10; 68:3);
• They shall flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon (Psalm 92:12);
• Their desire shall be granted (Proverbs 10:24);
• They enjoy an everlasting foundation (Proverbs 10:25);
• They are kept safe in the Name of the Lord (Proverbs 18:10);
• They shall shine forth in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43);
• His fervent effectual prayers avail much (James 5:16);
• They have eternal life (Matthew 25:46);
Yet there is a dilemma. Our righteousness is not good enough. We learned that Pharisees righteousness fell short of entry into the kingdom of heaven. From an earthy point-of-view, they would have been considered very ‘righteous;’ however, Jesus makes it plain that from a heavenly view, they were not. How about the rest of us? Isaiah 64:6 says ‘But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.’
Source of righteousness:
If unrighteousness brings condemnation, how can we obtain true righteousness that brings justification and salvation? That gets us into God’s kingdom? That enables us to change the world?
Thankfully, it comes from our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who is righteous (I John 2:1). Through His atoning death on the cross, the Righteous One died in the place of the unrighteous. When we accept, by repentance and faith, the free gift of the gospel of Christ, we upload to Him our sins and unrighteousness; Jesus downloads to us His holiness and righteousness. This divine exchange gives us the wonderful gift of justification: meaning we are declare ‘not guilty’ and ‘righteous.’
Now that you are made righteous through faith in Christ and the gospel, you are positioned to be a changed person and an agent of change in the world. In our next article, we will learn Principle Three of how to be a world-changer. To be continued.