“I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost; Christianity without Christ; forgiveness without repentance; salvation without regeneration; politics without God; and Heaven without Hell”
– William Booth
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”
– 2 Timothy 4:2-4
“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
God given wisdom is anchored in righteousness and the fear of the Lord. Those who are wise, have a fear of the Lord as they walk and seek to understand the true righteousness of God. The wisdom of God causes His people to shine in the brightness of His countenance. It is the truly wise who understand the consequences of sin and righteousness knowing that in Him all their actions are weighed. The foolish do not consider the wages of sin; they walk lightly and carelessly. They forget that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” and give an account for all the things we have done (1 Corinthians 5:10). Their lack of understanding produces wrong thinking, wrong living, and consequently, unholy lives.
The wise shine forth His counsel and righteousness for it is in the ministration of wisdom that others are made wise. It is in the speaking and the living with a true understanding of “the holy” (Proverbs 9:10) that others are turned to righteousness. There are many who preach forgiveness, acceptance and grace but do so at the expense of righteousness. It is in the preaching of righteousness that men and women seek God for mercy and forgiveness! There can be no true and earnest desire for mercy except there be a revelation of the righteousness of God. A penitent heart is one who has been impacted by the holiness of God.
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” Acts 2:37-38
It is the preaching of righteousness in the power of the Holy Spirit that “turns” people to righteousness. The preaching of grace and forgiveness apart from the ministration of God’s righteousness is an absurdity.
“The depth of our repentance
will determine the depth of our revival”
The reason for the dearth of holy zeal, passion and fervency of spirit is because we have not seen the enormity of our sins! For they who are forgiven much love much. Lukewarm hearts, apathetic lives and lethargic living in His people is the fruit of those who have forgotten or have never known the extent of their transgressions.
They who are wise preach righteousness
for they love Him who is righteous.
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. for if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. but he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” 2 Peter 1:5-9
The foolish lack diligence, virtue, knowledge, temperance and all the above qualities of the character of Christ because they have become blind through forgetfulness of how much they have been forgiven.
They who are alive in Christ walk in the wisdom of God and live for the sole purpose of preaching Christ and His righteousness.
“For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace”
In every generation false ministers speak peace and comfort when God’s desire is righteousness. There can be no true peace apart from God’s righteousness. These false comforters speak peace “when there is no peace”. They have never confronted the sin within themselves and therefore cannot and will not speak to the sins of His people. Righteousness is simply a religious term with no meaning in those who proclaim such a message. These are false and impotent expressions within His house. Words like mercy, forgiveness and grace have little value without an expression of righteousness. If sin is not understood as the evil and horror it is, then the sacrifice and shedding of Christ’s blood holds little weight in the hearts of His people.
We live in a day of tremendous obscurity as the result of a false and man-centered preaching of the gospel. While these ministrations lure His people into slumber of spirit and a false sense of peace and safety, death and destruction lie at the door.
“Your prophets have seen false and foolish things for you; and they have not revealed your iniquity, to turn back your captivity”
It is in preaching the righteousness of God in Christ that His people discover the wretchedness of their ways and can avail themselves of the beauty of His grace, mercy and truth. It is in the ministration of His Holiness that we discover His power to save us and raise us up to be a flaming expression of Him. He came to save us from our sins not to leave us in them. He came to give us a peace which cannot be taken from us because it is founded in Him. It is a peace that the world cannot give. Those who speak peace when there is no peace are liars and traitors to the word of God. They seek to soothe and console when God desires conviction and repentance.
What is the end of such preaching? What does a church look like that endures such false and beguiling words? Read the next verse from the Book of Lamentations.
“All who pass by clap their hands at you. They hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city which they called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?”
Men mock and scorn the very thing that should reveal the power, the love and the glory of our God. When the church as a whole listens to the falseness of this gospel His face and heart are hidden from the world around us.
The Church at Laodicea
“Because you say, I am rich, and I am made rich, and I have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”
This is God’s church! Why did she not know her true condition? Why did she not know of her wretchedness and poverty? Her condition was the result of a false gospel which spoke peace and comfort instead of preaching the truth. Deception is anything which hides God and prevents His people from truth. Truth is the revelation of Jesus the Christ; in His piercing light we see Him and we see ourselves. It is in this ministration that men and women find powerful comforts of mercy and grace whereby we are set free from our sins and our poverty becomes the storehouse of His riches; the blind eyes see, our nakedness is clothed in the garments of His salvation and His joy becomes our strength.
Woe to those who seek to comfort His people with anything less than the living truth of God. Woe to those who would speak comfort to people who are at home in this world. Woe to those who seek out and listen to those who would lie to them.
This is a day for crying out to God for truth that we may turn from our ways and back to His ways; that the hurt and the cause of our lukewarm hearts would be discovered and healed so we may rise up in the purity and fire of a love that cannot be quenched.
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape”
1 Thessalonians 5:3
This is a word to God’s people not the politicians of the world.
“If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” where is no peace; if I forget the poignant word “Let love be without dissimulation*“ and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love…”
*Note: The meaning indicated here is to speak the same to all people; we do not blunt the edge of truth because of friendships, associations and people with whom we seek advantage. Calvary’s Love destroys the seeking of the approval of men for it brings us to the same heart as the One who offered Himself at Calvary. He died for Jews, Gentiles, slaves and free men. His blood is without dissimulation and so must be our ministration of Him!
“Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high. My friends scorn me…”
Throughout all ages those who preach righteousness have done so at great cost. The pursuit of righteousness and truth brings alienation and separates the wheat from the chaff. While many would live at ease, satisfied with doctrinal declarations and teachings, the true seeker of righteousness will know separation and loneliness. Loneliness is not only a result of righteousness it may also be the path into righteousness for it brings the heart to a new and deeper dependency upon God Himself. The cost is trivial compared to the reward of growing in Him. While many accuse of legalism the true seeker of righteousness (His righteousness) knows full well his inherent inability to walk in this righteousness apart from the Life of Christ within. His Life becomes the only hope of a life of purity and authenticity. The covering of the “leaves” of religion will never bring true peace.
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”
Without righteousness there can be no abiding peace. When one is at home in God there is Peace. Where there is Peace there is a deep and settled Joy in the Holy Spirit. It is the Joy of God Himself beholding and approving our life in Him. These things cannot be apprehended by teaching and religious declarations; they must be wrought in our lives by the working of His Spirit within us.
“Anything the church doesn’t want to do it calls legalism”
The pursuit of righteousness will separate even good friends. God’s end in His own is righteousness not popularity. In truth the separation from friends and companions is part of the way into this righteousness; it affords opportunities to grow in forgiveness and long suffering. It is the means to bring us into the very heart of Christ Himself as Job discovered in the trial with his friends.
“And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends”
The individual seeking true righteousness will discover sooner or later not only the bitterness of their own heart but an inherent ability to pray for those who withdraw themselves and even speak evil of them. That is the righteousness of Christ. Righteousness is treating others rightly regardless of how they treat us. God spoke to my own heart the other day this powerful truth:
“It is impossible to hold true righteousness without knowing the Love of God”.
Love must cause us to treat others rightly. Righteousness is the fruit of love. Love is the very righteousness of God expressed in the deeds it produces within an individual’s life. Without Love there can be no righteousness, no real peace and no joy in the Holy Spirit.
“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous… In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother”
1 John 3:7,10
Doing right is not optional for the true child of God.
“I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord”
One cannot preach Christ without preaching righteousness. He is our righteousness and our living hope. Today faith is relegated to a statement of what a person believes rather than how a person lives. We have reduced faith either to signs and wonders on the one hand or a teaching that declares we are the righteousness of God as a doctrinal concept on the other. We have forgotten that faith is a living power within the life of a true believer by which righteousness is made a reality in those who walk in the Spirit. Paul in the eighth chapter of Romans declares this righteousness which is to be fulfilled in us requiring a walk and an abiding in the Spirit!
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”
The purpose of faith being given, the reason for which God initiated the New Testament, is for the sole effect that the righteousness of the law be fulfilled in the life of His people (Hebrews 8:7). The ministration of the Law failed as a result of the weakness of the flesh not because of its commands*. Paul prefaces the declaration of the fulfillment of this righteousness of the law with…
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death”
Romans 7 speaks of a man who is living in the law of sin and death; wanting to live right but feeling the impotency of the human condition to actually do right. Paul in Romans 8 reveals the way out of such a life of contradiction and failure! He introduces us to the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”. It is by living in this law, this divine enablement, that we are freed from the law of repeated sin and death. It is the law of His life living, ruling and freeing us from the “body of this death” as set forth in Romans 7. This righteousness is to be ours as we learn to live and abide in the very Spirit of God. He has made a way, a living way, for you and I to enjoy freedom from the cycle of wanting to do right and failing. His Name is Jesus! But a Jesus that is living and ruling in our hearts. The reason we can preach righteousness is because of this very thing: He is able and He who loves us, sent His only Son into the earth to bring forth a people who live and walk in His righteousness.
How can we not preach righteousness? How can we settle for a life of constant defeat, living with a desire to do right without the power to do right? This is not the Gospel that God has presented unto us. This is “another Gospel”, the product of men who would ignore the dying to self and the battle of faith to see the victory of Christ wrought within the heart of every believer. This is the religion of our day where men no longer expect, believe, nor pursue a life where the “righteousness of the law” is actually fulfilled in those who walk in the Spirit of God.
The preaching of righteousness is simply the testimony of the work of Christ and the purpose for which He was sent. The depth of our enjoyment of His freedom is proportional to our walk and abiding in His Spirit. Paul goes on in Romans 8 to declare…
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live”
The life of dependency in the Spirit is to be the truth of every child of God. This is the life we have been called to. It is a life of seeming impossibility when viewed from our own resources but one of endless possibilities when viewed through the eyes of faith and the power of God.
Every believer should be a preacher of righteousness because it is a life that is available to all who believe.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy”
* Paul says in Romans 7:14 “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal…”The Law is not a carnal commandment;it is a spiritual law which requires a spirit-led life to fulfill it. The carnal mind is enmity with God, and as such cannot please God for it is not able to subject itself to Him. They that live in the flesh are not willing or able to please God.
“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God”
Herein lies the cornerstone of the New Testament. Only those who live and walk in the Spirit can please God. The scriptures are clear: life in the Spirit of God is the only desire God has for His people! To begin in the Spirit and then to turn to the flesh is the horror of religion. It is the fallacy of religion to present a legal code of ethics to bring this about and it is also the fallacy of religion to absolve men of responsibility for their sin thereby circumventing the call to righteousness. Faith is the conduit through which the power of God is made available to walk and live within the Glory of His Kingdom.
“Now unto him
that is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless before
the presence of his glory with exceeding joy”