I’m sitting in a study carrel in the library feeling a bit like I’m back in college. I have always loved this setting. Stacks of books. An occassional glimpse out of the window. Quiet place to think, read, and write.
I’m working today on the Bible Study that we will be leading for Acts 2 beginning on February 1. Trying to finish up the first week of material on the authority of the Word, and just came to a revelation about “righteousness” that I thought I’d take a moment to share with you.
The concept of righteousness in the Word carries two ideas. First, it denotes a right legal standing with God. As we turn away from sin toward God, we are legally made whole. The debt of our sin is paid (Romans 6:23). We are legally made right.
Second, it carries the idea of being placed into a right relationship with God. To sin is to say to God, “I don’t want to be in relationship with you right now.” When we are made right, we are placed back into relationship. Our friendship is renewed and restored (Psalm 51).
What righteousness accomplishes in our life is beautiful. It takes us from being in debt and without a friend, and makes us joint-heirs and sons. No longer slaves to the debt we couldn’t pay. Rather, righteousness rescues us from slavery, and makes us children of God. But, we are not just children who have no claim to the inheritance (remember that was a first-born right). We are given claim to the inheritance, because God’s grace makes us into children with a birthright. (Galatians 4:4-7/Romans 8:14-17)
Righteousness is to be put into both a right legal standing and a right relational standing with God. A right legal standing makes us citizens of the Kingdom. While a right relational standing makes us children of the King.
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba , Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:1-7 NIV)
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:14-17 NIV)