MORE THAN BITS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
There is religion that is formulae and spirit that is life. We had this thing going at the Bible College I attended as a youth. The keys to godliness were stated to be prayer and Bible study. As noble as these disciplines may have been they had little personal effect on my godliness and precious little effect on any victory over sin. They have little effect on anyone. As shocking as it may seem to some, Bible study does not make us better people. Sure, we need to know what the Bible says. The word does say that it is profitable for instruction in righteousness. But it has no power to change you into what you are reading. It cannot give you life in the Spirit. Only Jesus does that and to be specific it is His Spirit in you that achieves our transformation. The assumption that a whole church engaged in Bible study will produce godliness cannot be supported. But Christ in you, Christ as you will make you a son, not a phony or a religious prickle. But a son/daughter of God.
Nevertheless we are most unwise if we do not know the scriptures and the power of God.
If you have led the normal Christian life, you will most probably have been taught a list of things we should do to be good people, good Christians and worthy witnesses to each other and the non-believing world. You may also have been given to understand that your success in this kind of enterprise achieves intimacy with Jesus and acceptance with our Father. Fact is. It does not. We are already in intimate relationship with Jesus and we and our Father are one. This is entirely not of ourselves. It is the gift of God. It may come as a shock but I hope as a pleasant relief, to find that our fellowship with Father and life as sons, has little to do with us ‘doing things’ and a lot to do with us living in what God has done for us already.
‘You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness’ Rom 8.9,10.
Not a few people have primitive religion. They live from a matrix of things Christians should do. Unfortunately they can be somewhat pleased with themselves. But the effect can be smallness of mind, bigotry and a deficit of genuine spirituality. This is not life in the Spirit or the life of a son. It’s the attempted life of one still attempting to find life in Adam and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Spirit of God in us will not make us bovine.
Life in the Spirit is more radical than many know. It is an affront to the materialistic secular mind and an offence to the religious man living from a new testament version of the law. Jesus is more than a means to righteousness. He is our life. He is the life of heaven in us.
In His introduction to Corinthians Francois du Toit writes,
‘In the first four chapters he [Paul] takes his time to reinforce their faith in the
finished work of the cross as the only valid reference to their lives.
In chapters 12 and 14, he brings clarity regarding the charismatic gifts.
Then he highlights the essence of the gospel in the most beautiful love
poem in chapter 13. For many years this chapter was read and preached
in a typical window-shopping frame of mind.
In Paul's gospel this mind-set is totally reversed; he proclaims that what
God has done in Christ actually unveils the life of our design. Low
celebrates the completeness of all that God has always had in mind for
us. Love is not some prize one has to labor for; love mirrors who you are!
What we perceived in prophetic glimpses is now concluded in
completeness!’ (1 Cor 13:9, 10).
Note the words, ‘window shopping frame of mind.’ This refers to the habit of plucking principles from epistles and gospels or aspects of Christ’s character and asking Jesus to give them to us or make us like this. This is noble but not the gospel of the Kingdom. The latter is Christ come in the flesh – Christ come in you with His life as you. Jesus is more than bits of righteousness. He is life itself. The life of heaven in you because God has come to live in you. Jesus was transfigured with the light of heaven. You are too. The invisible light of the Spirit in you is just as real as it was in Jesus. Just live in what we have been given. Your glory is that you are a son.
‘When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.4 NIV.