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Section IID

Danger 3 – Legalism
Answer: Christ the reality


Study D6

God’s Righteousness

Study D6 Let no one Judge (2)

God’s righteousness

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

The following two articles may seem have nothing to do with our subject. But if we are to understand the exhortation ‘let no one judge ..’ then we need to make sure that we have a firm understanding of our salvation.

D6.1 God’s Righteousness revealed

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. To the Jew first and also to the Greek . For therein the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: the just shall live by faith

The Gospel of Christ is a revelation of the righteousness of God. What God did to secure our salvation was righteous. In other words the action God took was  consistent with His character. God could not just forgive us and let us into heaven without our sins being dealt with, that would have been unrighteous. That is, inconsistent with His character. In fact the Bible says that God abhors those who justify the wicked and condemns the just, Prov.17:15.

Consider the fall: when Adam and Eve sinned God expelled them from Eden, the reason given was that they should not eat of the tree of life, lest they live eternally in that state, Gen.3:22. In their fallen state they could not bear to be in God’s presence, hence their hiding and trying to cover themselves. If they had eaten the tree of life then it would have been an eternity without God’s presence! Such a thought is too horrible to contemplate. Hence the necessity of their expulsion from Eden. This demonstrates the righteousness of God, it was the right action to take.

From that time on God set about the executing the plan of redemption. But God is righteous and therefore all that He had to do had to be done in righteousness.

The epistle to the Romans explains precisely how God outworked the plan of redemption.

D6.2 God’s righteousness declared

..the righteousness of God without [=apart from] the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and prophets, even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe… being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [=mercy seat] through faith in His blood to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God. To declare [I say] at this time His righteousness that He might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

D6.2a apart from the law

In this passage we see God’s righteousness declared in a fairly clear manner. God’s righteousness is apart from the Law, that is separate, or independent, of the law. In other words the law had no part to play in our redemption. To demonstrate the force of this word it is the same word used of Jesus in Hebrews.

We have not a high Priest which can not be touched with the feelings of our infirmities but was in all points tempted like we are yet without[=apart from] sin

See also Heb.9:7;18;22. 11:6.

The law had no part to play in securing our redemption. The law had its own righteousness, as Paul explains in the opening verses of Romans ch.10, we see that Israel’s failure was to seek their own righteousness being ignorant of God’s righteousness!

In Rom.10:4 Paul says that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. The word end used here implies that which completes a thing or perfects it. As we have seen previously, Christ is the reality, the substance of all that the shadows speak of.  Jesus said that He came to fulfil the law, Mtt.5:17 and that He did.

The law, alongside the prophets were witnesses to God’s righteousness. Since  the law was a but  shadow of the good things to come, they themselves could not  secure our redemption. The triune God alone was responsible for that.

God secured our salvation independently of the law.

D6.2b Propitiation

The redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [=mercy seat] through faith in His blood to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins.

God’s righteousness in justifying the sinner is because of Jesus’s death. He became sin for us and bore the punishment in our place. One word used for this is propitiation.

This is not the same as the propitiation that was seen in the Greek mythologies. There the gods were capricious, and sacrifices were made to quell the anger of the gods when they felt offended. And to earn the gods’ favour men had to appease by making sacrifices.

Vine explains it thus:
This use of the word … with respect to God, whether in the LXX or in the NT… is never used of any act whereby man brings God into a favourable attitude or gracious disposition. It is God who is propitiated by the vindication of His holy and righteous character, whereby through the provision He has made in the vicarious and expiatory sacrifice of Christ, He has so dealt with sin that He can show mercy to the believing sinner in the removal of his guilt and the remission of his sins.

So then, in the Bible propitiation is to do with God’s justice and holiness. Sin separated men and women from the presence of God. Sin has death as a wage,  Rom.6:23. Christ tasted the death we should have had, Christ bore our sins, He was made sin for us, II Cor.5:21. He bore the wrath of God for us.

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins the just [=righteous] for the unjust [=wicked/unrighteous] that He might bring us back to God being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.
I Pet.3:18

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law having become a curse for us

This is illustrated in the flood for us. The ark was covered with pitch. The Hebrew word used is kopher, meaning a covering , alternatively atonement. The same word is connected to the word for mercy-seat. In the NT the word propitiation is the same word used of the mercy seat in Heb.9:5.

What we see in the flood is that when the judgement waters were on the earth they lashed against the ark, but the eight people inside were saved from the judgement of God. The ark typifies Christ, and the picture is one of those who are in Christ, by reason of new birth, are saved from the wrath of God, for Jesus has borne it all for us.

D6.3 Summary

God’s character is immutable, He can never change his attitude towards sin. However, because of Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice God can act to those who come to Him by faith, acting in accordance to His righteousness. Thus Christ’s death deals  with the sin that prevents fellowship  between man and God. And, as Jesus said,  whosoever will may come.

If we confess [ acknowledge] our sins, He is faithful and just[=righteous] to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
I Jn.1:9