LIVING FOR JESUS

A STUDY BY
GARY RAY BRANSCOME


   
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. // To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (1Corinthians 10:31, Jude 25)

    While those who try to make themselves righteous may think that they are pious or holy, they are really seeking their own glory rather than God's glory. Moreover, because they refuse to admit the full extent of their sinfulness, God sees them as stiff-necked and rebellious in spite of all of their efforts, for by denying their sin, they are refusing to submit to His law. Therefore, contrary to what they may think, they are following the broad way that leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:25).

    Although we are cleansed of sin, made righteous in the sight of God, and saved by forgiveness alone, that forgiveness did not come easily. Because God does not just overlook sin, or dismiss it on a whim, there would not be any forgiveness if Christ had not died to obtain it for us (Joshua 24:19). For that reason, all glory, laud, and honor belongs to Him alone. When it comes to salvation, He did it all! We cannot do anything to save ourselves, or even to help to that end. And, because He did it all our lives belong to Him. Therefore, when it comes to the way we live our lives, we should conduct ourselves in a way that brings Him honor, not shame. We should live in a way that is in accord with holiness, not in order to make ourselves holy, but because He has made us holy through His death on the cross (Hebrews 10:10&14).

    At the same time, we need to realize that even though willful sin may make us unrighteous, avoiding sin (or even earnestly trying to do all the law requires) can never improve on the righteousness we have in Christ. In fact, any attempt to make ourselves righteous is a denial of our own sinfulness, and of the righteousness which is ours through faith in Him.
 

DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS


    Those who convince themselves that they have to keep the law to be saved, want to believe that salvation depends on works because they want to be motivated by the law. However they are deceiving themselves (Galatians 3:21, Jeremiah 17:9). While they think that their struggle to overcome impure lusts makes them righteous, if they were really righteous they would not have such desires to begin with (Matthew 15:19). Moreover, by denying that they have a wicked nature they are, in effect, telling God that they are perfectly happy with their nature and therefore do not want a new nature. In short, by denying their sin they are rejecting the righteousness of Christ (Romans 4:6 and 5:19).
 

GOD LOOKS AT THE HEART


    In their ignorance, men judge righteousness by what they can see and hear. As a result, their judgement is skewed toward outward behavior, toward words and actions. In contrast, God looks at the entire person. He sees not only words and actions but also the devilish orientation of the heart that produces sinful words and actions. In His sight, all men deserve to be destroyed because all men are by nature enemies of God (Ephesians 2:3, Romans 8:7). You may look at the rules you keep, but he looks at how your flesh fought against keeping those rules. You may look at the good deeds you have done, but He sees how many you have left undone. You may look at the amount of time you spend in prayer, but He looks at all the time you did not spend in prayer. You may see righteous behavior, but He sees only sin (Isaiah 64:6, Ecclesiastes 7:20). Furthermore, God knows whether you are repentant or not. He knows whether you admit your sin or excuse it. He knows if you can honestly say with the Apostle Paul, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing,” or whether you have convinced yourself that such is not the case (Romans 7:18). And, as far as He is concerned, those who refuse to admit their own unholiness are hardening themselves in unrepentance (Galatians 3:3).

THE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS


    While God wants us to stop denying our sin in regard to our own righteousness, He wants us to believe that we have been cleansed of all sin by the blood of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 64:6, 1John 1:7,9). In other words, our righteousness is nothing, Christ’s is everything; we are by nature “vile” while “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes” (Philippians 3:21, Romans 10:4).

    To better understand the righteousness that is ours in Christ, I would like you to close your eyes and visualize yourself as being totally filthy from head to toe. Then picture the blood of Christ flowing all around you like a stream, washing away every spot or blemish from you soul. Picture it cleansing you so thoroughly that you shine, not because of any goodness of your own, but because you have been cleansed of all sin by the blood of Christ. Then, picture yourself standing before the throne of God, sinless in the sight of God, not because of any goodness in you, but because all your sins have been washed away (Isaiah 64:6, Revelation 19:8).

    The only righteousness that will count on the day of judgement is the righteousness that I have just described, the righteousness that comes by having your sins washed away by the blood of Christ (Revelation 7:14). In contrast, God shall see nothing good in those who trust in their own works (Isaiah 64:6). They shall be condemned and cast into hell, no matter how hard they have tried to make themselves righteous (Romans 3:20).

LIVING FOR JESUS


    Since Christ is our Savior, our lives belong to Him. As it is written, You have been “bought with a price,” namely the price that Christ paid on the cross for your salvation (1Peter 1:18-19). For that reason, your bodies “are not your own,” they belong to Him (1Corinthians 6:20). Therefore, we are to glorify God in our body and in our spirit, which are God's (Romans 6:4-18, Romans 7:6, 2Corinthians 5:17).

    Because those who are under the law generally excuse their faults, freedom from the law results in better behavior, not worse. In addition, those who are trying to make themselves righteous frequently come across as cold, unfriendly, or even mean spirited. In some cases they are unreasonably critical of others over things that are relatively unimportant. In other cases they may be rude and unmannerly, excusing such behavior by contending that the law does not define or require good manners. In contrast, once we have been freed from the law we do not need to ask ourselves if the law requires this or that, we simply try to be kind and considerate of others. At the same time, we do not delude ourselves into thinking that we are superior to those who fall into sin. Although we condemn the sin, we see those ensnared by it as people who need help escaping from a trap, not people who are inferior.

    As we walk by faith Christ lives through us. As we serve our families, or others, by providing for their needs, Christ is doing it through us. As we show kindness to the sick, the handicapped, and the elderly Christ is doing it through us. As husbands and wives serve each other by providing for each other's needs, Christ is doing it through them. As Christian brothers and sisters serve each other by helping each other in time of need, Christ is doing it through them. For, the fruit of the Spirit is a manifestation of Christ in us, and as we serve one another all of our lives are enriched.
 

CONCLUSION


    I want to make it perfectly clear that eternal life is totally and completely a gift of God. Not only is our salvation a gift of God's grace, but the faith by which we have access to that grace is also a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Furthermore, after we are saved God sends His Spirit into our heart to help us in our struggle with the flesh, that the fruits of the Spirit might be manifest in our lives (Galatians 5:17). Therefore, all glory belongs to Him! Of ourselves we deserve nothing, yet He has given us everything (1Corinthians 3:21).
 

“Glory To God Alone”