|RIGHTEOUSNESS: Guides To Lead Us To Justifying
HIS GLORY REIGNS
Feb 20, 2009 08:00 A
There are some guides that lead you directly to that righteousness which must justify a sinner before God.
Men are seekers in this point, but "few there be that find it." Israel sought it, but did not find it because they missed their
way. "But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness." Romans
9:31. Why not? "Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they
stumbled at the stumblingstone;" Romans 9:32. The Philistines would not have found out Samson's riddle if they had
not plowed with his heifer (Judges 14:18). And truly, as Elihu said to Job 33:23, there must be an interpreter, "one of a
thousand, to show man his uprightness." So doubtless it is the Spirit of Christ that must help a sinner to find out his
justifying righteousness and show him where it is. So our blessed Savior says, "And when he is come, he will reprove
the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" (John 16:8) as well as of sin; yet he does it by means. The
Hebrews say that the Jews had hands set up in the way to point the offenders to the cities of refuge so that they might
not miss it in their hasty flight from the revenger of blood. So to this famous city of refuge, these considerations, under
the command and power of the Spirit of Christ, may be the poor guilty sinner's guides.
USE 1. This informs us of what exceedingly great weight this doctrine is; as it is a great mystery, so it is of great
importance. I (Obadiah Grew) may say of it, as Moses to Israel, of the word of the Lord in his days, "It is not a vain
thing, for it is our life." There is no point of religion of greater concern than the way of a sinner's justification and
standing righteous before God. David says, "In Thy sight shall no man living be justified," that is, by the law, as Paul
expounds it. And so David, a man after God's own heart, prays, "Lord, go not to law with me" (Psalm 143:2). So the
word may be read.
So this point of our being righteous by the righteousness of Christ is the vein of the gospel, and here lies the vein of
life. The law cannot give life. If the sinner had only the guilt of one sin upon him, the law could not justify from this one
sin. But the righteousness of Christ made ours justifies from all sin, sins from which the law of Moses could not justify us
(Acts 13:39). Yea, and this righteousness is provided only for sinners (Romans 4:5). The angels do not have the use
of it. Christ was not made sin for them, nor are they made the righteousness of God in Him, as we are.
Unless we try to mingle law and gospel, grace and works, and bring confusion into our state with God, we must keep up,
and keep in view, this righteousness of Christ made ours, and that in both the doctrine and experience of it. The Jews
ignorance, their willful ignorance, of this righteousness (for such theirs was), undid them, and damned many of them.
In the experience of this righteousness stands first, the comfort of perplexed consciences. As in the righteousness we
trust in, such is or will be our peace of conscience; when sin grates there, it is this righteousness of Christ made over to
us that is the mother whose womb conceives and bears that true quiet of conscience that sinners have. Romans 5:1:
"Being justified by faith we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." Therefore Christ was first King of
Righteousness (Hebrews 7:2) and then King of Peace.
Second, as this righteousness conduces to comfort our consciences, so also it very much exalts and glorifies God's
free grace. As the apostle said in Ephesians 1:6, "to the praise of glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us
accepted in the Beloved." It is by this doctrine that God had designed to hide pride from man, from the best and holiest
of men, even from Abraham the friend of God and the father of many nations, even of us all who believe. Even he had
nothing whereof to glory in before God. Yea, and Paul challenges all other men when he speaks of this righteousness
in Romans 3:27 and 4:16: "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay, but by the law of
faith," that is, "by faith that it might be by grace." We must cry, "Grace! Grace!" to our righteousness of justification, or
for which we are justified. The Jews were to do this at the laying of the headstone of the second temple (Zechariah 4:7).
Third, besides what has been said, this doctrine of the righteousness of Christ made ours is the greatest quickener of
love and obedience to God as can be. We are "alive to God through Jesus Christ" (Romans 6:11). It is the second
Adam who is a quickening Spirit.
Fourth, by this doctrine the whole or main fabric and building of popery and popish anti-christianism fall down. It was
on this ground that Luther pitched the field against the pope. A sinner made righteous by the righteousness of Christ
is, as that blessed servant of God used to say, Articulus statis aut cadentis ecclesiae, the crisis of a church's standing
or falling. It's the foundation point of the glorious gospel. When the Galatians impured this doctrine, Paul told them that
they were removed to another gospel, and so to another Christ, another faith, and another salvation.
So certainly a sweet state of peace in our consciences, the promotion of the free grace of God, a life of godliness in the
saints, and the death of the man of sin, all hang upon this hinge: Christ the Lord, our Righteousness.
USE 2. This doctrine may serve to exhort us to get a greater acquaintance in it and to make a fuller use of it. Oh, get
into the clefts of the Rock, while God passes by you with His holy and pure eyes! It is here that you may behold God
and hear His voice, without that fear of Adam (Genesis 3:10, that terror of the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 5:24),
and that exceeding quaking in Moses mentioned in Hebrews 12:21.
Fly there for sanctuary when conscience complains in you and charges you with imperfections, yea, with filthiness in
your own righteousness. And when Satan charges you with your filthy rags, as he did Joshua the Jews' high priest
(Zechariah 3:3); yea, when the holy law of God charges you, answer the law with this righteousness! Fly into the bosom
of this righteousness like a poor, hunted bird!
Remember that there is no righteousness that will serve a sinner's state but that of Christ. There is no such obedience
as His in men or angels; nor is there any righteousness but His now communicable. Adam communicates sin to us, but
not righteousness - Christ does.
It's true that God is pleased to take pleasure in His peoples' inherent holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord.
But if this should be offered to God as satisfaction for sin, He would refuse it and us too, and make us a terror to
ourselves in the midst of all our own goodness. As Levi had father, mother, and children, and affections for them, yet
Levi did not know them when in competition with God (Deuteronomy 33:9). So though the people of God have
righteousness and holiness in them, yet they may not know it, neither will God, in the point of justification. Paul
disclaimed his own righteousness. Therefore let us seriously give ourselves to the study, knowledge, and experience of
this point, which is as much as our life, and that forever, "Christ the Lord, our Righteousness."
The LORD Our Righteousness, by Obadiah Grew, D.D., Copyright 2005, Soli Deo Gloria Publications.
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