The Purpose of Practicing Righteousness

1 John 2:28-29 through 3:3
And now, little children (You, if you are rescued), abide in him (Jesus); that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
If ye know that he (Jesus) is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man (or woman) that hath this hope in him (Jesus) purifieth himself (or herself), even as he (Jesus) is pure.

If you have your Bibles, looks especially at verse number 29.

If ye know that he [Jesus] is righteous. If you say Pastor, I know He is righteous; if you have discovered that He is the Righteous One and without a doubt He is sinless; if you understand in Hebrews 4:15 that we have a High Priest which has been tempted just like us, and yet He was without sin; if you know the Truth that Jesus went to the wilderness and in spite of all the temptations, He did not sin, if you understand that He, the One Who knew no sin, was made sin for us, if you have come to the realization that the Man, the Person who was crucified was without any sin; if you have come to that idea and you can relate to and understand that truth, then you are born again. You are a child of God. You are a son or daughter of God. If you by faith have believed that Jesus was born of a Virgin and kept all the Jewish laws perfectly; if you believe that there was never a single time in His life that He rolled His eyes at His parents. Not one time. I have to tell you that from a carnal perspective, it is hard to imagine. It is hard to imagine that a person could go their entire life and never be rude. And you say well, Jesus did not have to drive on the streets of Fayetteville. When our Savior walked and talked on this planet and dealt with rude people, He always responded in the right way. There was never a time that He was rude, and He ultimately lived a life without even one sin, not even the smallest sin. If you have not embraced that truth as your own, then you are probably not converted, because that truth is a truth that comes from God.

Hebrews 4:15
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (This is a Key Gospel-Presentation Verse!)

Proof Text: Matthew 16:15-17
He saith unto them, But whom say that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, by my Father which is in heaven.

The realization that Jesus is the Righteous One, the acknowledgement that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, does not come from a human perspective. You do not muster that up inside of you. That is not something you realize because you earnestly studied it. According to Matthew 16, it is a gift from God. The truth that Jesus is the Righteous One comes from the Father. This reminds me first and foremost that when I am presenting the Gospel, I need to emphasize the person of Christ. I need to emphasize that He is Virgin born and that He lived a sinless life. I need to emphasize that. I am not going to assume that my neighbor or my cousin understand that. I am going to present Jesus as the Righteous One. Pastor, what happens if they do not believe that? I am going to pray. Why are you going to pray? Because I cannot convince them of that. I cannot prove to you a virgin birth. I can show you in Scripture, and I can tell you that we believe by faith. That is the extent of it. I cannot convince you. I cannot prove it to you like 2 + 2 = 4. I can explain that He had to be virgin born, that He had to be born of a virgin so that He would not have a sin nature. I can show you that He is fulfilling Old Testament prophecies, but in the end, you have to believe it by faith, and that faith comes from God. You cannot generate that in and of yourselves. That is why we emphasize here that we need to be praying for the salvation of lost souls. It is not an intellectual mind game in which we get into a debating match. I want you to see the parallel between the Apostle Paul and the Apostle John.

1 John 3:1
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

I am very concerned that the church is moving further away from the excitement over the Gospel. The centrality of Jesus leaving the glories of heaven and coming and dying on a bloody cross so that you and I could be called the sons of God. So that there is now no condemnation to them that are in Jesus Christ. I have got to tell you that if the glory of God and the incredible love that He displays isn’t something to you, then you may not be born of God. Because people who are born of God say “what manner of love!” and they pause for a minute and they are enamored by the love of God. It speaks to them. They think about it in their very soul and being, and they find themselves communicating to God in worship.

Notice what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

This verse communicates to us that when you realize that Jesus died on a cross for the world and that He did it so we can live, that gets inside the fiber of your being and it stirs within you a desire to stop living for yourself and start living for Him. This is why John says in verse 29 that these people practice righteousness. Look in your Bibles at verse 29: If ye know that he (Jesus) is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.
• People who are born of Him are born-again and are children of God.
• God imputes the righteousness of His Son to the account of each person who knows that Jesus is Righteous—these are children of God.

Perhaps if you had a checking account, you were bouncing checks, and something was deposited into your account, maybe you would appreciate that more. Everyone needs to understand that if you are a child of God, you are spiritually bankrupt. You have nothing in your account. You are as broke as broke gets. And God imputed (credited) into your account a sum that causes you to stop bouncing checks. And what the Apostle John says is that when we grab hold of that concept, it should cause us to want to practice righteousness. This does not mean going to church, dressing a particular way, and wearing a tie. I am talking about practicing righteousness. Paul says it like this:

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Paul calls children of God “new creatures”. I do not know anything about salvation in which things do not change. I do not know anything about a salvation in which someone knows that Jesus is righteous but they do not start practicing righteousness. Do you see it in that verse? These people start doing righteousness. There is not a disconnect between knowing Jesus is righteous and but not doing righteousness. The two go together. So then let’s ask ourselves: What do those who know that Jesus is Righteous do as new creatures? They do righteousness. 1st John 2:29.

What does it mean to practice righteousness? The answer is in 1 John 2:3. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Doing righteousness begins with striving to keep the commandments. We are characterized by practicing righteousness. Please note that “practicing righteousness” is NOT being a morally decent person. That is very important. There are going to be a lot of morally decent people in hell. It will be filled with morally decent people. People in hell are going to say “I never murdered anyone.” People in hell are going to say, “I was faithful to my wife.” People in hell are going to say, “I never perjured myself in court.” People in hell are going to try to articulate moral decency because they have a warped sense of righteousness according to God’s standard.

What does the Bible say the first commandment is? Not what does culture think? The most important commandment is to love God!? Not go to church on Sunday. Not giving a tithe. But do you love God? Do you get up in the morning thinking about God? Do you go to bed at night thinking about God? Can you go long periods of time throughout your day without thinking about God? For you is thinking about God a Sunday morning event? Or are you crazy about Him? Do you go on your back porch at night and look at the sun or the moon and say “God you made that! God you are awesome!” That is doing righteousness!

Commandment #1
Mark 12:28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is,
Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
• “Doing Righteousness” is NOT conforming to particular cultural customs.
• “Practicing Righteousness” is NOT a particular haircut, method of dress, or a fixed behavior unique to a generation.
• Christianity rises above and beyond a human culture; it rises above apple pie, baseball, and the American flag

Doing righteousness is loving God with all your heart, soul and mind. And let me tell you something, I do not always do that. Sometimes I find myself incredibly selfish. And I find myself warring within my very being to have the victory for even just a moment.

“Many American churches have actually embraced cultural conformity as a strategy for church growth. They do not see that surrendering to the culture means the disappearance of the church. The current culture is effacing its doctrines, ignoring its morality, and erasing its history.”
Gene Veith

“Practicing righteousness” is doing what is morally and ethically right without regard for the cultural norms of a particular society and without a historical anchor point in a certain decade or century when God was moving. God does not have a favorite culture, language or people group. Do you understand that God is working right now all over the planet and with all different ethnicities? Do you recognize that Korea is getting ready to take the lead in sending more missionaries out than America? Do you know that right now churches in Africa, South America, and Korea are sending missionaries to America? They see us as a pagan nation. They see our materialism as the idol that must be destroyed. They see us in love with the power of positive thinking as a superstition. And they are seeking to evangelize their own people by leaving their country to take the Gospel to America because the Gospel that is being preached is the perverted Gospel. So what was the number one commandment? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and being.

Let me take you to what I believe is the number two commandment. It is the most difficult one: be kind. “Doing righteousness” means “being kind!”

Ephesians 4:32
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

You see, we are so wrapped up in the Ten Commandments that we say “Well, I’ve never perjured myself. I’m not really covetous because I have everything I ever wanted and more; I don’t commit adultery and I’ve never killed anyone so I’m probably a pretty good person.” But what about when we examine ourselves in light of this verse right here: “Be ye kind one to another.” Why don’t we take that commandment right there and say that is what doing righteousness means? Doing righteousness does not mean I wear my white shirt on Sundays, carry my big Bible, and make a show when I come into church. That is easy to do. I am going to preach to myself right here because this is Sean Harris’s biggest struggle right here. This is my greatest sin. I am not kind 24 hours a day, 7 days a week like my Savior is. I am not kind. We could say if you know that Jesus is righteous, then you will be kind. You’ll be tenderhearted. You will forgive other people. We could take that single verse where it says “doeth righteousness” and we could insert that right into the text. Does that help you get a better understanding? Our young people in the middle school have such a hard time being kind. Students are so rude to each other. They are mean and look for every way to elevate themselves and put down everyone one else. They are constantly looking for a way to mock someone else. The Apostle Paul says under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit “be ye kind!” What we need to do is kill them with our kindness. We need to be out on the highways or on Skibo Road by the mall and still be kind! We need to be able to drive through this city and be kind. See, we get such a warped perception of what Christianity is. We figure “I go to church on Sunday. I read my Bible three out of five days a week. I sing songs. I listen to Christian music. I check the block.” But we go through all our daily life being rude. I am going to use this analogy, and as long as they are open, I am going to keep on using it. We need to go to Wal*Mart and be kind. I mention it all the time. I see a lot of you at Wal*Mart, so it must be a pretty relevant thing. You see, we need to be able to be in line and still be kind when she says “I am sorry. I am closed”. That is what doing righteousness is.

Loving Jesus the Righteous One and being kind one to another is a sure way to know that you know Him. If you are able to forgive someone, chances are you are born again. Because you know what the natural born mind says? I’m not forgiving you. The natural mind says “I’m not forgiving. Are you kidding? You shouldn’t have done that, and you are not going to get my forgiveness.” The natural mind is not kind. The natural person believes that their life is the most important life. If that person would drive 5 miles faster, I would get there 30 seconds earlier. Don’t they know that 30 seconds is important in my life? What are you talking about today, Pastor? I am trying to take our Christianity out into the world! That is what I am trying to do. We go to the doctor’s office and we see that the doctor is running behind schedule. We step in there and are just as rude as can be. Why? Because we think we are the most important person in the world. And that doctor needs to be on time all morning long so that when we get there, we will get seen on time. We are not concerned that maybe the person before us had a greater problem and needed 5 more minutes of their attention. That happened twice, and therefore they are running 15 minutes behind schedule. That is not our concern. Do you know what we need to do in this church? We need to forgive each other. We need to be tenderhearted and forgiving of each other. Why? Because Christ forgave us. There are husbands and wives in this church that are still holding grudges. You are just not letting it go. You keep bringing it up over and over. You are dredging it up from the bottom. It’s been talked about. It’s been forgiven and dealt with; it’s under the blood, but you keep bringing that thing up. You have to bring it up one more time. That is not doing righteousness. You need to let it go.

The Ultimate Standard
James 4:17: Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
A true believer can’t just say, “O well I’m just not a kind ….”

Six Biblical Reasons Why Christians Should “Practice Righteousness”
There isn’t anyone here that does not need this advice. I struggled for 15 years in the United States Army with this. I had a hard time being kind to soldiers I was chaptering out of the Army. Every day the Holy Spirit would work on me about that. I know what it is like to have a pill for a boss. I know that I need to be kind. I need to be kind at home. I need to be kind to my wife, my son, my co-workers, and my neighbors.

#1. We are new creatures!
2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
If you have stuff from your former life, let that stuff go. Let it go. You are able to forgive.

#2. We love God.
1 John 3:1: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:

How many would say, “I sure am glad that God doesn’t hold a grudge against me.” I love the idea that God always forgives me. I love that every time I go to God and confess my faults He is faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. According to 1st John 3:1, that should motivate us to be kind! God does not throw it in our face that we are short. God does not throw it in our face that we are overweight. God does not throw it in our face that we are not as smart as others. God does not throw it in our face that we are not athletic. And yet our middle school students will be just as rude to each other, and it’s unbelievable. It seems to be an age where it comes natural to them. Seeing the love that God demonstrated should be enough.

#3. God is pure and Holy and He commands us to be pure.
1 John 3:3: And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

God could come in our city and drive on our streets, and He would never ever for even a moment lose it. God could go to Wal*Mart or your place of business every single day; and He could show you how to be kind, considerate, loving, compassionate, and forgiving; and He could do it incredibly well. He did it 2000 years ago and He could come back today and do it again. It would be no problem for Him to do that. And the Bible says that I can look at God and say, “you are pure God, so You show me where I am impure or where I am harboring bitterness. You show me where I am not being kind, compassionate, and forgiving. You show it to me, and I will confess it as sin and work on changing it by the grace of God.”

#4. We don’t want to be ashamed when He returns.
1 John 2:28: And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may hve confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

You only get one life to live. You only get one life to be kind. You get one life to be tenderhearted. You get one life to be forgiving. You only have one life, folks. You cannot do it over. Monday is going to come tomorrow, and you get one day. After that, it’s over. Some of you work at customer service events. You work with people all day long. The medical field is a tough area in which to be kind. All day long you are dealing with people and their problems. It is hard, and that is why you need God. It is why you need the grace of God to do that job. You need the grace of God to work with difficult people. And that is why I go back to number one “loving God.” Doctors, how about every single time you go from patient to patient, you stop and say “Jesus, I love you, and I need some of Your grace to make it to the next patient.” Teachers how about every time you change classes, get a break, or move from subject to subject, you stop and worship God for just a moment. You say, “God, I love you. I know what You did on that bloody cross. I know how You suffered for me. It’s the least I can do to receive this pill one more time.”

#5. It shows that we are born of Him.
1 John 2:29: ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

Kindness shows that we are born of Him. Being kind at school, work, or in the home shows we are born of God. If you are the one student in the classroom that can stay kind when everyone else is mocking that one individual, it is an indication that you are probably born again. Because it is hard to be kind. It does not come natural to us. Just the opposite comes natural.
#6. Someday, I will stand before my Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:14: If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

You know, we have such misperceptions about what the Judgment Seat of Christ is going to be like. We think that all the preachers are going to line up and be rewarded. I tell you we are going to be shocked when we see who gets some of the greatest rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We are going to be shocked. Kind, compassionate, forgiving people who love Jesus seven days a week are going to be rewarded beyond our comprehension. That wife that has been living with a miserable husband for years and years and yet she stayed faithful is going to be rewarded beyond comprehension.

When we go out those doors and tackle the world that we live in, we need to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and body. We need to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving people. We need to assume that the person in front of us is having a bad day, and we are going to understand their problems. We are going to forgive each other when we ask for it. We are going to love each other. Why are we doing all this? Because the Bible calls this “doing righteousness.”

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this amazing sermon. You have no idea how much it meant to me or how many questions it answered. Thank you.