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Learn about the three Stages of Righteousness: Declared (Justified), living (sanctified), perfectly living (glorified) through the Chinese character yi for righteousness.
The top character (yang) means lamb. The bottom character (wo) means me, self or I.
When they are put together, the word righteousness (yi) is formed. True righteousness is gained therefore by putting self under the lamb Christ Jesus.
The word' justified' is the same as declared righteous. The Christian, therefore, is one who by faith in Jesus Christ is declared righteous. He is acquitted of his sin not because he is good (by doing righteous things).
He can't do enough good things because he has already failed. Instead he is proclaimed innocent because of his faith in Christ. The penalty for his sin is paid fully by Christ's death on the cross. The scriptural term used is that we are "in Christ."
When as a believer I am accused of wrong doing, I must humbly come and confess any wrong doing. But I must follow this up by recognizing that my righteousness only comes from Christ Jesus. I am in Christ. Christ is my righteousness. I am forever His even in my failures.
The Destroyer does his best to have us give up this life by telling us that we have no hope, we are no good, we are sinners.
We should quickly acknowledge that in ourselves we are most hopeless, evil and sinful, however, follow that up with a declaration of your faith in Christ's work on your behalf.
Because of this truth, we do not need to observe any kind of penance (self inflicted payment for sin so to earn forgiveness). We have instant forgiveness upon our repentant heart and confession. However, there might be consequences to our sin.
When we are saved by Jesus Christ, our whole purpose in life changes. We love God and His ways. We want to do what He says. This does not mean we cannot do wrong. We certainly can. However, we do not have to live unrighteously. We have a better choice of committing the members of our body to righteousness.
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"And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:13).
This exercise of doing the right thing is the foremost challenge of the Christian. To the degree we do this, we will see God live out His wonderful love through our lives to others. We will walk in communion with God living as Christ did.
As areas of sin are revealed, we confess them and ask for forgiveness. We are not totally righteous; we are seeking to be perfectly righteous. So our attitudes must always be humble. Without Christ, we would be judged.
What one area right now is the Lord asking you to turn from and confess? What and when was the last area God has revealed an area of sin in your life? If it has been a long time, there is probably pride in ones life.
One day when Christ returns, we will receive a new body to match our new nature. Sin will be impossible from then on. Upon death, our old body is permanently put aside never to return. We will be perfectly righteous. I believe we will not at all be tempted to sin.
"See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:1-3).
How much do you focus on that righteousness to come? To the degree that we focus on what is to come, we treasure and pursue those things now.