Don’t confuse your sin with unrighteousness. If you are a born again believer, you are the righteousness of God through Christ. Just because you make mistakes, respond in the flesh, or sin, it does not make you unrighteous in the eyes of God. Your righteousness was purchased with a high price – the crucifixion of Christ. Hallelujah, He rose from the dead and sealed your right standing with God forevermore!! God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Just because you sin, you are not unworthy, unaccepted, unloved by God, or unrighteous! God is not fickle! Your sin does not undo the fact that God has reconciled you to Himself through Christ and His perfect sacrifice.
Do you write off your child or your friend just because they make a mistake? No. God does not disown you when you sin. He is a compassionate God. Run to Him. If we all walked perfectly by the Holy Spirit every second of every day, we would never respond in the flesh in the middle of challenges, but I know I have not personally attained that state, and I’m sure you don’t feel you have either. In Christ, however, we do have a great example of someone who did, and because we have His Spirit living in us, we can listen to the Holy Spirit and respond in the fruit of the Spirit, and when we mess up, we can receive forgiveness, a clean slate, and a new opportunity to go forth in victory! That should make you jump for joy!
So, we know we are righteous in Christ. What is our responsibility? Jesus walked on this earth as a man led by the same Holy Spirit He sent to us when He was resurrected and sat down at the right hand of the Father. We just need to follow His example. Easier said than done, you say. Well, fortunately, because the same Holy Spirit resides in us as born again believers, we have the fruit of the Spirit dwelling in us as a part of our recreated being. We have love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). These fruit really define our character, our inner man, once we are born again. That is really who we are; not who the devil is trying to make us think we are when we sin. You are loving, kind, joyful, peaceful, patient (or forbearing), faithful, gentle and self-controlled. Now, believe that picture of yourself, the Godly picture. Then, when you feel the flesh rising up inside of you, you know you have what it takes to make the choice to respond with the fruit with which God has already equipped you. I know that’s not always easy, and we each fail to do that every day in some way. Just remember, that He has not left us helpless, and when we fail, He still loves us and picks us up and helps us try again. We have a great big God with a great big Holy Spirit Helper, and we can choose to yield to His guidance!
So, when you feel anger rising up on the inside, STOP! Think about what its opposite is….peace, love, gentleness, self-control. Those are lots of choices. It’s not the anger that is the sin; it is what you do with it. It’s the same with any fleshly response to your circumstances. Is oppression trying to control you? Choose joy; choose thankfulness. Is the devil trying to entice you to be greedy? Choose love or an expression of love – generosity. Is arrogance or pride knocking on your door? Choose gentleness or an expression of it through humility. Choose to give in to God instead of the devil. Paul encourages us in Galatians 5, letting us know that we have what it takes to say no to sin. “I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law…. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal 5:16-18, 24-25). Remember, there is no temptation from which He has not given us a way of escape (1Cor. 10:13). The Lord is standing with you, undergirding you, strengthening you!
You might feel that in the middle of a hard spot, you don’t have the strength to make the Spirit-led choice. God gives us a sure cure for that. He gives us His Word. You see, because you are born again, your true, heart-felt desire is to please God! As you yield to that desire, you will spend more and more time with Him, reading and meditating on His word, seeking out Godly counsel. As you do that, your relationship with Him becomes more and more intimate; you come to know Him better and better. His Spirit becomes large on the inside of you, and you will more easily hear His voice, and more quickly respond to His beckoning. God transforms you more and more into His likeness and character; He takes you from glory to glory as you continue to walk with Him (2 Cor. 3:18). You are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Eph. 6:10)! Your responsibility to walk away from sin becomes your joy in expressing your love for Him.
You are the righteousness of God – loved and adored,