Jun. 14, 2014

Jesus Has Removed the Garment of Condemnation from Us

Through the Law We are Condemned; through the Cross We are Justified

The law is based on do’s and dont’s. It is not based on faith. The laws tells us only what we should or should not do. So, under the law, if we don’t do what we should do, or we do what we should not do, we are guilty. So, the purpose of the law is to condemn us. Under law, we feel unhappy, because the law makes us conscious of our state as sinners. In other words, the law makes us self- and sin-conscious. Indeed, the real purpose of the law is to make us realize that we need Jesus. 

But, once we have come to Jesus, we don’t need the law anymore to remind us that we are guilty and need Jesus. Once we have come to Jesus, we have 100% come out from the law system because through the cross of Jesus, we have received the free gift of righteousness. When Jesus died 2000 years ago, all our sins (past, present, and future) were imputed to him. And when we believed that Jesus died for our sins, Jesus’ righteousness was imputed to us. 

So, the purpose of the cross was to justify us. When we believe that through his death on the cross Jesus has justified us, we feel very happy, because the cross makes us conscious of our state as righteous. In other words, it makes us Jesus- and righteousness-conscious. Indeed, the real purpose of the cross is to make us realize that we are declared 100% righteous through Jesus forever.

 

Jesus Came to Proclaim the Good News

So, when Jesus came, He did not come with a message of condemnation. He came with the good news that there is forgiveness of sins available. He came to preach the “acceptable year of the Lord.” The “acceptable year of the Lord” referred to the year of Jubilee, which was a year when people forgave each other all outstanding debts. So, when Jesus came, He forgave people their sin, and removed the effects of sin by setting them free from any kind of physical and mental ailments.

And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:14-21)

 

Jesus Fulfilled the Word of God from Old 

When Jesus came to his hometown Nazareth, He read a part of a passage from the old book of Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus however finished halfway through verse 2 with the phrase ‘to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.’ Jesus did not include the phrase ‘and the day of vengeance of our God’ because Jesus had not come the first time to condemn the world but to save the world. (Jesus will come again; and then He will fulfill the this part of Isaiah’s prophecy.) However, Jesus already fulfilled verse 3 of Isaiah's prophecy as well.

The spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

So, Jesus came to preach the good news. He came to bind up the brokenhearted, and to release people from their prisons of sickness, bitterness, sadness and so on. Jesus also came to remove the garment of condemnation (a spirit of heaviness) from people and give them the garment of praise. Through the cross of Jesus Christ, we are perfectly righteous before God. So, we are ‘trees of righteousness’ which God has planted. The righteousness that we have is not our own works righteousness. It is the gift of righteousness by faith, to the glory of God.

 

In Religion, under Law, You are Never Good Enough; through the Cross, God has made You Righteous

In religion, where people are under laws, they are never good enough because they can never measure up to the standard of those laws. But, through the gospel--the good news of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection--we have been justified through God’s grace. The question is no longer “Am I good enough?” but “Was Jesus good enough?” Since Jesus has removed all our sins (past, present, future) from us, we are now righteous and blameless in God’s sight. Under law, we tried our best to be righteous through our deeds. But we could never measure up to God’s standard of righteousness. So, under law, we were never good enough and fell short of God’s perfect standard of righteousness. But now we are under grace, God’s undeserved favor on us, we have received God’s gift of righteousness. This kind of righteousness is a gift from God to us which came through the cross of Jesus Christ. On the cross, our sins were imputed to Jesus and Jesus’ righteousness was imputed to us.

 

In Christ, We Rejoice in What Jesus has Done for Us 

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed [is] not grievous, but for you [it is] safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high  of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (Philippians 3:1-15)

In Christ, we rejoice in what Jesus has done for us. Beware of people or any teachings that want to bring you back under of rules and regulations! Beware of people that want to tell you that you are not good enough and that you still need to do this or that in order to become righteous before God! In other words, those people will want to tell you that there is still something that you must do, so that God is happy with you, apart from what Jesus has already done on the cross. This kind of teaching is demonically inspired and is very dangerous to our spiritual growth because it brings us back under the law. Paul calls people who peddle this kind of teaching “dogs.”

Once we have come to Christ, we no longer have any confidence in the flesh, which is our human effort or human ability. We are justified through what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Through Him alone we have received the gift of righteousness. If we keep believing this, it is very helpful to our spiritual growth.

On the contrary, law teaching is based on self-righteousness. People who are under the law put their confidence in their own human effort and their own ability. They believe that they are ‘good people’ because of that they do. This kind of belief system is very detrimental to our spiritual growth.

When Paul did not know Christ, he underwent all the prescribed rituals, had a very good pedigree, and did all the right things, as prescribed by the law in order to be righteous. But when Paul came to Christ and received the gift of righteousness, he came to conclusion that all these things were dung. In other words, Paul came to the realization that self-righteousness stinks. In some bible translations, the translators translated the word ‘dung’ as ‘rubbish’. But in the original text, it really means dung (excrement). That is what God really thinks of all human efforts to be righteous before him, apart from the gift of righteousness that God provided through Jesus Christ.

The true righteousness is the “righteousness that is of God by faith.” This kind of righteousness is the perfect righteousness that does not come through our human efforts but comes through what Jesus Christ has done on the cross. We cannot do anything to attain this righteousness, apart from believing. This righteousness is “of God” (it comes from God through what Jesus has done for us on the cross) “by faith” (not through what we do but through faith). Only this kind of righteousness enables us to know Christ, and the power of God. In other words, the more we are established in this gift of righteousness the more we will know God (not in our heads, but in actual experience) and the miracle-working power of God. 

 

We are on the Way

In our walk with the Lord, we are on the way. We need to keep forgetting what was yesterday, and keep looking ahead and press on towards the finishing line. Don’t allow yourself to be bogged down because what happened yesterday. Yesterday is gone. So, seize the day, today. And keep looking forward and keep reaching out to what is ahead of you.

 

Summary

We are no longer under the law which was designed to make us realize our guilt. Once we have realized that we need Jesus, and come to Jesus, we have received the gift of righteousness. Now, our focus in on Jesus and the gift of righteousness that we have received by faith through what Jesus has done on the cross. Now, we are justified and declared 100% righteous. That is something to shout about! 

Jesus came to proclaim the good news of God’s year of Jubilee--the year of forgiveness of all debts. So Jesus demonstrated that God’s year of Jubilee had come by forgiving the sins of people and setting them free from the effects of sin by healing them physically and mentally. The prophet Isaiah foretold this in the 61st chapter of his book. When Jesus came to Nazareth, He read part of Isaiah’s prophecies.  

These prophecies also say that Jesus would remove the garment of heaviness from people and give them a garment of praise instead.

Once we have come to Jesus Christ, we can indeed rejoice because we are no longer under the law which had the purpose of pointing out our faults. We are now under grace and have received the gift of righteousness that is from God.

So, we should rejoice in what Jesus has done for us all the time, and be aware of people who want to tell us that we are not yet good enough.  We no longer put our confidence in our own (human) effort and ability (the flesh) to be righteous in the sight of God. We do not have our own righteousness anymore. Our righteousness is a gift from God. This gift of righteousness from God makes us 100 % perfectly righteous before God 24/7 (all the time) because of what Jesus has done and not because of anything that we have done or do or do not do.

Paul tried to be righteous before God based on his own deeds and pedigree. But when he came to Christ, and received the gift of righteousness by faith, he considered all his pervious human efforts to be righteous as dung (excrement). The gift of righteousness is the doorway to getting to know God in experience and the power of God. Be aware of people or teachings that will tell you that there is still something that you need to do or should not do in order to become righteous before God, apart from believing in what Jesus has done for you on the cross.