“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:8)
As the sun was getting ready to set on the last millennium and the dawn was rising on another, there was an atmosphere of excitement and anxiety around. There seemed to be many voices to listen to and choices to make, on behalf of our beloved country in general, and the heart of our society, the family, in particular. The discerning reader, listener, watcher and sifter of events and news regarding the Republic/Monarch debate quickly picked up on the emergence of two distinct motives:
The Dark & Sinister
This group had & still does have a hidden agenda, Big Brother mentality, and humanistic in it’s life’s philosophy. Once they were very subtle but now they trumpet ever so loudly their global village community values. They’re bent on removing any Christian identity & link from our heritage, including our flag. Their goal is to turn our sun burnt country into a secular, humanistic and a spiritually barren land. I, like many Australians, shared Tony Abbott’s concern that the most distressing aspect of the Republican Debate was “its chief protagonists sneering at our heritage”.
The Dedicated & Sincere
The concerned citizens in this group demonstrated deep love, sincere attitudes.
Their sentiments were similar, and best described by the famous American inventor, A. G. Bell when he prepared his gravestone’s epitaph, he had it read: “Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor – Teacher, born Edinburgh, March 3, 1847, died a citizen of the USA 1922″. He could have listed his numerous inventions and honors. But that he was a citizen of the U.S.A. was his most cherished accomplishment *
However there was and still is a higher level and a spiritual dimension that we should be concerned about and concentrating on, i.e. THE WILL OF GOD for our nation as Paul was for his when he penned these words under the inspiration of the HOLY SPIRIT:
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:1- 4).
Apostle Paul, deeply concerned over the nation of Israel, in regards to their relationship with God, concludes by pointing out that the solution to their lack of Knowledge, ignorance and pride is successfully found in the person of Jesus Christ and that the righteousness of God is sufficiently fulfilled in Him.
Today many religions in the world, like Israel of Old, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, are zealously going about to establish their own righteousness of kingdom and authority.
Some adopts a low-key approach – Most of us have experienced the unexpected doorstop visit and sometimes-unpleasant experience of couples with famous initials. They just pull up at your front door and one of them pulls out from his/her case the not-so-free literature. Also we’ve all come across the young foreign missionaries with a mysterious singlet under their clean white shirt (as it is reported by some and rumored by others) who ride their pushbikes from one shopping center to another. In reality they are both of the same kind -the OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS kind – just a different nametag. Both groups, and many others like them, promote their ”own righteousness” and persuade many, especially the spiritually illiterate and Biblically naïve.
On the other end of the religious spectrum a different kind of danger is looming on the horizon. This category opts for a very high profile whilst it is very busy establishing its own righteousness. Equipped with a contradictory belief system, these complex beings with low soul esteem are not satisfied unless they occupy center court on the world circuit and draw all the media’s attention to their cause. Their leaders push and shove to secure a dominant position on the political world stage. This fits perfectly with their propaganda of a religious world leader image, which is supposed to be enjoying an exclusive and an unprecedented blessing from their god. Their confusion is carried over from the righteousness of God to the evil of Satan who in their view not only comes in two sizes but is also represented by any opposing ideology. They are conditioned from childhood not only to kill and destroy others but also to be prepared to die as martyrs.
The shocking terror of September 11 and the sickening horror of October 12 was not their first act of violence, nor will it be their last volatile aggression.
However whether it is the subtlety of the behind the scene and low-key approach of group A, or the shove it in your face and the very high profile of group B, the damage and disaster, the bondage and burden is carried out in the name of righteousness…Their own righteousness .
Why the concern.
Well the reason is simple and the Bible declares it. And as it is appointed unto men once to die but after this the judgement (Heb.9: 27) Eternity stands in the balance. This judgment will be based on righteousness “Because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained” Acts 17:31a. (That man is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ).
“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Prov 14:34)
“Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.” (Psa 89:15-16)
James Hewett illustrates the value of this point so vividly. I have seen military funerals on the news and have participated in 6 or 7 across the years. And not once have I seen the American flag go down with the deceased. At every instance the flag was removed at the end of the service, and neatly folded and handed to the survivors. It’s true, a nation cannot die for someone; it is powerless to do so, indeed it must not die. A nation survives and the removal of the flag from the casket symbolises that, though all its citizens die, the nation continues. I am impressed that the symbol of our faith is the cross of Jesus, who died for men and women of all nations so that they may have life. A nation will finally say its farewell to us all but the savior will not (page 397).
I. THE COVER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
First & foremost we need to put on & be covered with the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10)
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.”
This happens when each individual is:
- convicted by the Holy Spirit of sin, righteousness and judgement (Jn16:8-11);then
- converted and being made righteous not by our righteousness (Isa.64:6 & Tit.3:5-7) nor by our own righteousness (Phil.3:9a)……
“He who would gain righteousness by faith and works is as the dog who runs along a stream with a piece of meat in his mouth, and, deceived by the reflection of the meat in the water, opens his mouth to snap at it, and so loses both the meat and the reflection” (Martin Luther, Treatise on Christian Liberty [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1943])……but by the righteousness of GOD in CHRIST JESUS (Rom.3:21-22; 2 Cor.5:21; Gal.3:13 & Phil.3:9b).
If we look through a piece of red glass, everything is red. If we look through a piece of blue glass, everything is blue. If we look through a piece of yellow glass, everything is yellow, and so on. When we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, God looks at us through the Lord Jesus Christ. He sees us in all the white holiness of his Son. Our sins are imputed to the account of Christ and his righteousness to our account.
The Chinese character for “righteousness” is most interesting. It is composed of two separate characters – one standing for a lamb, the other for me. When “lamb” is placed directly above “me”, a new character – “righteousness” is formed.
This is a helpful picture of the grace of God. Between me, the sinner, and God, the Holy One, there is interposed by faith the Lamb of God. By virtue of his sacrifice, he has received me on the ground of faith, and I have become righteous in his sight.
II. THE CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
First & foremost we need to put on & be covered with the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10) …..then finally we will pick up & collect the CROWN & the Reward of Righteousness.
(2 Tim 4:8) “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.””… Verily there is a reward for the righteous:… (Psa 58:11) ” … but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.” (Prov 11:18). For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield (Psa 5:12) “….. the desire of the righteous shall be granted.”(Prov.10:24) “… the righteous shall flourish as a branch. Prov 11:28) “… to the righteous good shall be repayed. ( Prov 13:21) ”
(Isa 3:10-11) “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.”
The instructive motto of the state of Hawaii is a result of the influence of the Protestant Missionaries who first came to Hawaii in 1820. It expresses a great truth in the Hawaiian language: “Ua Mau Ke Ia O Ka Aina I Ka Pono”, which means “the life of the land is preserved in righteousness”
Righteousness is what preserves a nation, not a constitution. What sustains and perpetuates a national identity is the righteousness of its people – the reflection of their recognizing their need for God, worked out in their relationships with one another.**
(Mat 6:33) “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”(2 Tim 2:22) “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
(1 John 3:6) “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.”
(1 John 3:7) “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.”
(Titus 2:11) “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,”
(Titus 2:12) “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”
(Eph 6:14) “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;”
Blackmailers once sent C.H. Spurgeon a letter to the effect that if he did not place a certain amount of money in a certain place at a certain time, they would publish some things in the newspapers that would defame him and ruin his public ministry. Spurgeon left at that station a letter in reply: “You and your like are requested to publish all you know about me across the heavens.” He knew his life was blameless in the eyes of men, and therefore, they could not touch his character.
With the love of CHRIST
Pastor – Inner West Baptist Church