To live a flourishing life, we must believe we are forgiven and righteous in Jesus. Righteousness means in right standing. We can experience that life when we get rooted in Jesus!
Alright, hey everybody, welcome to Valley Creek Church. We are so glad that you are here with us today. Whatever campus or location you may be at, can we just welcome each other together for a moment? I am so glad that you came to hang out with us today. And this week, as I was praying for you. And getting ready for this week, I just kind of had this thought. I thought I don’t really know what you expect when you come here. I don’t really know what you’re hoping for when you’re kind of getting ready to get in the car and get over here. I don’t really know what’s going on in your life. But my prayer for you is that you would have a fresh encounter with Jesus. My prayer for you is that every time you are here, you will open up your mind and your heart to receive everything that God has for you, that every time we gather together as a people, you will have a fresh feeling with the life of Jesus. You see, hope is here because Jesus is here.
And so, my prayer is that you would experience that hope today. And if you’re here and you believe that, I would invite you to help carry that hope right into the atmosphere wherever you are. In fact, if you do believe that, my invitation to you is to use your faith to create an environment where hope is free to move because people need hope. You see we’re in a series called Flourish in Life. It’s really a continuation of our theme as a year as a church of getting rooted in Jesus so we can flourish in life. And last week, we made a bold claim that a lot of us, if we’re honest, don’t really believe. We said that we believe that Jesus wants us to flourish in life. In every area that he wants us to be full, and abundant, and overflowing to have the life that he offers us and he tells us that we experience that life if we will get rooted in him, that’s how we will flourish in life. That’s why John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you, will bear much fruit. But apart from me, you can do nothing.”
In other words, Jesus says as long as we get rooted in him, we remain in him and we allow his abundant source of life to flow through us. We will flourish in every way, shape, and form. We will become whole, we will become free, and we will become fruitful. And so, what we’re doing in this series is we’re talking about different layers of the soil, different layers of the life of Jesus that we get rooted in, to draw from. And we started last week by just talking about the soil of forgiveness, that everything starts with the journey of forgiveness. But the deeper you go, the healthier and the more you begin to flourish in life. You see, forgiveness is amazing, but it is just the beginning. It’s just the beginning of the life of Jesus. And so, what I want to do is I want to just tell you a story that’s recorded in three of the four gospels of a man who had leprosy. You see, one day, Jesus was traveling along like he always did and there was a big crowd of people and they were amazed at Jesus. He had been doing some amazing things, raising the dead, healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, casting out demons.
So there’s this crowd of people in wonder and amazement with Jesus and off in the distance is a man with leprosy. This is a broken man. This is a defeated man. This is a man who knows what it’s like to be all alone. You see, he’s got leprosy. It’s an incurable contagious disease. It’s almost like literally the worst thing that can happen to you. It’s walking death. And we don’t know how we got it. We don’t know where it came from. We just know that what leprosy does, is it disables, disfigures, divides, and destroys. That’s leprosy. It disables your purpose in life. It disfigures you. You lose all sense of feeling, and hurt yourself to a place where you’re beyond recognition. It divides you from people and God because you have to go because you’re contagious and it ultimately destroys everything that you love. And so, I wonder what it was like when this guy first found out that he had leprosy. Was he in the shower one day and washing himself and all of a sudden, he sees a little spot on his arm and he starts thinking to himself like, “Dear, Lord, like please, please let this not be leprosy,” and he scrubs it really hard to try to get it off and he gets out of the shower, wraps it up, and his wife says, “Honey, what happened?” “Oh, no, nothing. I just cut myself.”
And I’m sure for the next few days, he’s doing everything he can. Man, he’s loading up on essential oils, pounding every vitamin you can think of, popping antibiotics like it’s candy. Like he’s doing everything and he like, “Dear, Lord, let this not be true,” but it begins to spread. And then, one day, maybe he’s hanging out with his family after work and all of a sudden, his kid sees sores on the other part of his arm and they say, “Dad, you have leprosy.” And in that moment, everything changes. He loses his family, he loses his friends, he loses his job, he loses his purpose, he loses his relationship with God because he can no longer go to the temple, and he now has to wander by himself as a defeated broken leper. Years, he’s been out wandering around.
And he sees Jesus in the distance and he thinks to himself, “I’ve heard rumors about this Jesus.” Just like us, there’s all kinds of rumors who Jesus is and what he really can do. And he’s thinking to himself, “I’ve heard some people say he’s crazy. Other people have said he’s a deceiver. But I’ve also heard a bunch of people said he raises the dead, and heals the sick, and casts out demons. So maybe he can help me.” And as Jesus gets a little bit closer, the man kind of closes in, but he can’t get too close and he starts yelling out, “Unclean, unclean,” because by the law, he has to tell everyone that even comes within a remote distance of him that he has leprosy and is contagious. And so, he hits his knees and he bends down and he shouts out to Jesus, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Interesting. He believes God is able. He’s just not so sure that God is willing. And so, Jesus does the unthinkable. He closes the distance, walks over to the man filled with compassion, starts to reach out his hand to touch him.
And I can just picture the disciples. I can picture Peter like torn, like not really sure what to do, like reaching out for Jesus’ arm, but not wanting to get too close to the leper. I can picture John over here shouting, “No,” you know. And then, Bartholomew, you know, one of the disciples that never talks, just go, “Hah.” You know what I mean? That’s like — That’s what’s happening in that moment. But Jesus presses through, and he reaches out, and he touches the man, and he says, “I am willing. Be clean.” And in that moment, from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, he is completely clean, completely restored. And for the first time in his life, he begins to flourish. Why? Because in that moment, Jesus just made him right. He literally just made him righteous. He removed every barrier that was between this man and God. Every fault that there was and just like that not only were his sins forgiven, he was made right with God and he began to flourish in life.
And so I tell you that story because we’re the leper. You’re like, “I don’t have leprosy.” I hope not. We’re the leper, why? Because you see leprosy is a physical picture of a spiritual truth. Leprosy of the body is what sin does to the soul. Sin disables, disfigures, divides and destroys. Sin disables your purpose, it disfigures you beyond recognition, like if you’ve ever seen someone go down a really dark road and you see them and you’re like you can’t even — they don’t even look like the same person. You know what I’m talking about? It disfigures you, it divides you from people and God, from everything you love and ultimately destroys everything. That’s why Jesus tells us Satan comes to steal kill and destroy. He wants to steal your affection, kill your heart and destroy your faith. But Jesus has come that you might have life. And so when we hit our knees and invite Jesus into our life, he comes with compassion, reaches out his hand, touches us, declares us clean and in that moment we get rooted in righteousness and we start to flourish in life.
You see what I’m trying to tell you is this, in Jesus, you are right with God. In Jesus you are right with God. Say, “I am right with God.” Now say it again like you believe it. Yeah, you are. Got to have little confidence in that truth. I mean, think about what happens in this moment when Jesus walks up to this unclean leper, you have to remember what was happening in those days. In those days if a clean person touched an unclean person, the clean person became unclean. Sin was the influencing agent. So if a clean person touched an unclean person, they’d became unclean. But when Jesus, the clean one, walks over to the unclean one and touches the unclean one, the unclean one becomes clean, the clean one doesn’t become unclean. In other words with Jesus, when he touches the leper, Jesus doesn’t become unclean, the leper becomes clean. And the same is true with us. That’s why 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him Jesus who knew no sin, who was clean to be sin for us, so that within him we might become the righteousness of God.” In other words, Jesus touches us and he doesn’t become dirty, we become clean. He not only forgives our sins, he makes us righteous.
That’s why when Jesus hung on the cross, he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In that moment, every dirty and unclean thing about your life and mine was put on Jesus. His relationship with the Father was broken so yours could be restored. The Father became a distant God to Jesus so he could become a loving father to you. Not only are you forgiven, you have been made right with God in Jesus. Now, I know you’re sitting there and here’s the word, we hear the word righteousness or like, I don’t know. It’s a big word. It’s a church-ey word. It feels like it should be in the King James Version English bible only. Some of you are wondering why am I using a word that none of us really understand. Okay, I get it, it’s a big word, we just nod our head, like, “Righteous, yeah, righteous.” Now, okay, what does it mean? Righteousness means right standing. That’s all it means. Righteousness means right standing. It means your relationship with God is right. It does not mean right living, it does not mean right behaving, it does not mean right doing, it simply means right standing. Righteousness means that you and God are right and there is nothing in between your relationship.
And so every time you read your bible, every time you hear the word righteousness, every time you see this big word and get stressed out about it, I want you to just stop and say, “All that means is that in Jesus, I am right with God.” And so the question then is, well, where does that righteousness come from and how do we get it? Well Romans 3:22 says, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” So we become right with God through faith in Jesus. In other words, when we believe that Jesus is who he says he is and did what he said he did, we become right with God. That’s why John 6 tells us that the work of God is to believe. Isn’t that an interesting verse? The work of God is not to be religious. The work of God is not to be religious. The work of God is to believe. Just like the leper couldn’t cleanse himself of leprosy, you cannot clean yourself from your unrighteousness. You have to believe and receive. In fact, listen to this verse, Galatians 2, says, “Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Jesus Christ so that we might be made right with God, because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”
He says, “Hey.” He says, “They don’t matter how much you perform, how good you are, how successful you are, how religious you are, you can’t make yourself clean. You have to believe in Jesus. That’s it. You see the problem for us is, we’re never really sure where we stand with God, if we’re really honest. Most of us this is what we believe, we believe something like this like if we do good things, then our relationship with God is good but when we mess up, then we’re on the outs with God. Won’t anyone admit that? You’re like, “No. Yeah.” That’s what we believe. That’s a really exhausting way to live. The problem is, is that’s not in the bible. Jeremiah 23 tells us that God’s name is the Lord Our Righteousness. His name is our righteousness. It’s not our performance our righteousness, it’s not our effort our righteousness, it’s not our good behavior our righteousness, it’s the Lord Our Righteousness. You see under the law, even the best fail under grace even the worst can become righteous. We become right with God by looking to Jesus and only Jesus.
I mean, think about the relationships in your life like the people that you love. Isn’t it interesting how sometimes, things happen and you’re not really sure where you stand with them? Like you did something, you said something, something happened, there was an awkward moment and so you’re not really sure like where are you so you’re kind of like tip toeing around and sneaking in and trying to use these nice little words, you know, like, “Hey, are we okay? Did I do anything? Are you mad at me? Is something off?” You know what I’m talking about? And then what do you do when you feel like that? You try to like do all these little things to make it up to them and like take your — or you completely avoid them all together. Right? That’s how a lot of us live with God. Something happens and all of a sudden we think, “Are we okay?” Are you mad at me?” “Did I do something?”
And then we feel, like, we need to make something up to God or we just avoid him altogether. But here’s the deal, you never have to have that conversation with God because he has already declared that you are forever great with him because of Jesus. You don’t ever have to wonder, like here’s the deal, you are as righteous as Jesus is. You are as righteous. You have the same right standing with God as Jesus does. You’re like, “No, no, bro.” Yeah. Why? Because Colossians 3:3 tells us that you’ve died. Your life is hidden with Christ. You’re included in him. If you are included in Christ, then everything that’s true of him is now true of you. 1 John 4:17, “As he is, so we are.” So if Jesus is righteous then, so am I. I am as righteous as Jesus is, because he gave me his righteousness. That’s why. I’m as righteous as Jesus is because he gave me his righteousness which means if Jesus is right with God, so are you. Like I would submit to you, I don’t think Jesus ever says to the Father, “Are we good?” “Did I do something?” So neither do you. If he’s pleased with Jesus, he’s pleased with you. And so, every time you start to wonder, where am I with God based on your behavior, your performance, stop and look at Jesus and ask yourself the question, “Is Jesus right with God?” Then so am I. Then so am I.
I mean, listen, 2 Corinthians 5, “If anyone is in Chris, he is a new creation; the old has gone, leprosy is gone, leprosy of the soul. New has come. All is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ.” He has reconciled us once and for all, it says we are forever righteous, right standing in him because of what Jesus has done. That’s why we pray in Jesus’ name. So you’re like, “You said that for years, you have no idea why you pray that.” Just that’s what you heard in church, or what grandma taught, “In Jesus name,” what does that mean? It means that I am coming based on Jesus’ righteousness, not mine which means I now am righteous. How different would your life be if you believed that? How different would that be? When you think about this, Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Righteousness, peace and joy. The kingdom of God is when we get made wrong things with us, right, we become right with God. It removes – or all of a sudden it brings peace in our heart and joy in our life. Righteousness, peace and joy. When we get right with God, we have peace in our heart and joy in our life. If you get rooted in righteousness, you will flourish in life. So, track it backwards.
If you walked in here today and you don’t have a lot joy, it’s because you don’t have a lot of peace. And if you don’t have peace, it’s because you don’t really believe that you and God are right. That really hit me a while back. You see, I don’t know about you, but I have a gift. I can walk into a room and pretty much the only thing I see in a room is what is wrong. Does anyone else have this gift? It don’t matter where I go or what I do, I walk in and my gift is everything that’s wrong and what needs to be made right. And so, sometimes I’m sitting there and I’m stressed, and I’m anxious, and I’m thinking about all these things, and a lot of times, stuff with church and family, and life, and things out at me. I could just literally walk in a room and just see everything that’s wrong. The problem is, one day, I realize I don’t have a lot of joy in my life. I don’t have a lot of peace in my life. And so I started tracking it back, and it was like, “Okay, I don’t have joy because I don’t have peace. And I’m not at peace because I think a whole bunch of things are wrong that need to be made right.” And so sometimes when I’m spinning, I will be at home and Coleen will just look at me and she’ll say, “Hey, Johnny.” Trying to get my attention, she say, “Hey, hey, everything is right in the world right now.” Okay. I think sometimes we need to look at each other and say, “Hey, everything with you and God is right, right now.” So I can have peace in my heart.
And I can have joy in my life. You will never flourish in life until you’re rooted in righteousness. Which brings me to the next thing and it’s this, “Not only are you fully forgiven, you’ve been fully restored.” Like, think of the leper, not only are his sins forgiven, he’s fully restored. He gets to go back to his family, and his friends, and his purpose, and his destiny, and his calling, and so do you. Romans 5:17 says it like this, “For if the trespass of one man, Adam and his failure, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through one man, Jesus Christ.” [Indecipherable] [0:18:57] here’s what he says, he says, “When you were made in Adam, everything was good But then, when Adam sinned, we all fell and we died.” We became lepers, leprosy of the soul. But then Jesus came. And when Jesus came, he didn’t just bring us back to Adam, he gave us even more in Jesus than we lost in Adam. This is what you had in Adam, he died, he sinned, we all became lepers, and now, Jesus came and gave us more in Jesus than we ever had in Adam. Jesus not only cancels your debt, he credits your account. He forgives your sins and gives you his righteousness.
Like, you remember the Israelites? 400 years of Egyptian slavery, 400 years as slaves, poor, beggars, they’ve got nothing. They’ve got this bondage and this debt. And then God decides to set them free. And the moment he sets them free, they killed a lamb and they put the blood on the door post, a picture of Jesus in the cross. They leave, they were poor slaves, they leave as rich sons. They leave with all the gold of Egypt. Not only did God forgive their sins, he credited their account, filled them with right standing and an overflowing abundance of life. See, God never brings you back to neutral. He never brings you back to net zero. He always credits your account and gives you even more than you lost. So, listen to it again, “For if the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through one man, Jesus Christ.”
So, look what he says, he says, “If you will receive grace, the forgiveness of God, and the gift of righteousness, you will reign in life.” You’ll flourish. And look at the order and look at how you get it. Receive God’s abundant provision of grace, the forgiveness of your sins, and the gift of righteousness. That’s a gift. Which means you can’t earn it, and you don’t deserve it, and you can’t perform for it because if you could, it would be called a wage, not a gift. So we receive it and we start to flourish in life. Our problem is we believe we’re forgiven. We just don’t believe we’re righteous. So we spend our lives trying to become who we already are. Like Romans 5:19, it says this, this fascinating verse, “Through the disobedience of one man, Adam, the many were made sinners,” an identity statement. “But through the obedience of one man, Jesus, the many were made righteous.” So see if you can catch this. When you were born, you were born in the prison of sin. That’s really hopeful, isn’t it?
You were born in the prison of sin. Why? Because Adam sinned. So you weren’t a sinner because you sinned. You sinned because of were a sinner because who you are determines what you do. And you were trapped in a prison of sin and there was nothing that you could do, but then Jesus came and Jesus rescued you from the prison of sin, brought you over, and put you into a position of righteousness. Now, you are right with God not because you live righteously. You now live righteously because you are right with God. And just like there was nothing you could do to get out of that, there’s nothing you can do to get out of this. See, what’s fascinating in Roman 6, the bible tells us, “That in Adam, we were slaves to sin.” Can slaves set themselves free? Can a slave set themselves free? They can try all day long. Now in the Jesus, the bible tells us we are slaves to righteousness. It’s the word it uses. Slaves to righteousness which means you cannot set yourself free from a right standing relationship with God and Christ Jesus. Listen, think about it like this. If an unrighteous person does a righteous thing, does it make him righteous? Let’s try this again. If an unrighteous person does a righteous thing, does it make him righteous? No. So why then do we believe if a righteous person does an unrighteous thing, it makes them unrighteous? Let me ask it to you this way. Is there anything you can do to earn God’s favor?
Are you sure about that? So why then do we think there’s something we can do to lose God’s favor? You see, the truth, I’m getting hot up here today. You see, the truth is because this is so important if you’re going to live free. The truth is, and we have a really hard time believing this, the truth is you are either under the curse of Adam or the blessing of Jesus. You’re either a sinner or you’re righteous. You’re either a new creation or you are not. There is no in-between. You — there is no such thing as a righteous sinner. I — literally, when people say that, you’re like, “Bro, no one can have two identities. It’s not possible.” And the reason we struggle with it is because we look at our own lives and we’re like, “Yeah. But look at how I live.” I know. We were sinners and yes, we may still struggle with sin, but we now are righteous in Jesus. You are a slave to it. You can’t even get out of it even if you want him to. So think about it like this. Don’t you think it honors God when we call ourselves, “Beloved sons and daughters” instead of, “Worthless sinners”?
Isn’t it honoring when we believe that we are fully forgiven even when we walk in aware of our current failures? Doesn’t it take more faith to believe that we are defined by what Jesus did instead of what we do? In Hebrews 11:6, it says, “Without faith, it’s impossible to please God.” So if you really want to please God, start believing what he actually said about who you now are. I mean, can I ask you this question? Once the leper is made whole, do you think he’s going to run around, shouting, “Unclean” anymore? That’s a really good question, isn’t it? Hey, unclean, unclean. No. So why do we think we’re going to somehow get preference points in heaven by running around, demeaning ourselves after what Jesus has done for us? We should not be telling ourselves how unclean and how broken we are. We should be telling ourselves “I’m a beloved son or daughter. I’m the righteousness of God and Christ Jesus. I’m victorious. I’m walking alive, and empowered, and free. I am right with God no matter what I do.” That’s what we should be saying. Not the other. Not the other stuff. Are you with me on this? You see, what I’m trying to do is deconstruct your way of thinking so it can be constructed and conformed to the kingdom of God.
Like one more big verse for you. 1 John 1:9, it says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That verse is basically the leper hitting his knee and saying, “If you’re willing, you can make me clean.” It’s the same thing. We read that verse and we say, “Confess all your sins.” “Bro, I got to remember 50 years or 30 years or 20?” No. What’s he’s talking about? He’s talking about salvation. He’s talking about your acknowledgement that you need Jesus. And in that moment, what happens? He comes and cleanses you of all unrighteousness. Not some, not just the ones that he wanted to take care of. All. And you know that word, “cleanse” is the same word that you use when Jesus says to the leper, “Be clean”? It’s the same original Greek word. So literally, what that means is when Jesus comes to you and you invite him into your life, the way he cleansed the leper fully, he cleanses you fully from your unrighteousness. Here’s one of the problems that we say in the church. We walk around and say, “I’m covered by the blood.” You ever heard that? “I’m covered by the blood.” First of all, if you’ve never heard that and that sounds creepy, don’t like — well, the point is I’m trying to say, “I’m covered under the blood of Jesus.” But that’s actually wrong. You’re cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
Jesus didn’t cover the leper, and throw a cloak on him, and be like, “Hey, no one will never know what’s under there.” But that’s how a lot of us live. We think Jesus throws something over us and is like, “Man, no one will ever know what’s really under here.” No. He says, “You’ve been cleansed of all unrighteousness.” So here’s the problem. We don’t believe it because our behavior doesn’t line up with it. So we look at our own behavior and we say, “This can’t possibly be true, so I kind of — I’m out on that deal.” Okay, question. Where does your righteousness come from? If it’s not from your behavior anyways, then maybe you need to move past making decisions based on that point. You see, let me try to explain it to you like this and then I’m going to tell you a story.
When you start to believe that you are righteous, you will start to live a holy life. That’s really how it works. Righteousness is the root, holiness is the fruity. Righteous is who you are, holy is how you’re empowered to live. Like even think of Jesus, Jesus was righteous and he lived a holy life. So when you start to understand you’re righteous, all of a sudden you become empowered to live a holy life. You say what’s a holy life? It’s like the fruit of the spirit man, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, it’s a wide and spacious life. Holiness does not mean constrained in this miserable thing that — no, it means free. I don’t know what that was but that’s not what it is. It means free and hopeful and alive. You see, remember who you are determines what you do. Identity determines behavior so then if a righteous person is sinning, it’s like using a hammer to wash dishes, to using a screwdriver to make a painting, it’s like a bird swimming, a fish flying, a dog meowing or a cat barking. It is awkward and uncomfortable and destructive. But it doesn’t change what it is.
You can use a hammer to wash dishes all day long, it’s still a hammer. And if a dog wants to meow, that’s a creepy dog but it’s still a dog. I’m just saying. See the problem is, is we forget that when we start to believe that we’re righteous, we’ll live righteously. We walk around and talk about how un-righteous we are, no wonder we’re living un-righteously, because who you are determines what you do. Let me tell you a story about a guy that — 6 months ago started coming to our church. 40 years he’s had an addiction to marijuana. 40 years, that’s a long time, man. That is steeped in to your very persona. And for 40 years he’s tried to kick this addiction and he’s not been able to and he’s been in church for years. And he would walk in the church and he would hear the messages about how bad he is and how much sin and shame and guilt and how he’s got to try harder and do better and all this stuff for God and he would sit there and it would just crush him. And he said that he would look around at all the other people in church and he would think to himself, “I just wish I could be right with God like they are.”
And so he would leave on Monday, you know, Sunday and on Monday he’d kick it for a day or two and it wouldn’t work and he’d get frustrated and then condemn himself and the cycle would continue, so it’d get worse. Okay. Well, somebody invited him to Valley Creek like 6 months ago, he shows up and he starts hearing about this kind of stuff. And he starts hearing about this kind of stuff and all of a sudden one day, God just whispers into his ear and says, “Hey, you’re a beloved son. And you know how you’ve always wanted to be right with me like all those other church people? Ever since you believed in Jesus, you always have been regardless of what you’ve done.” And that revelation allowed him to kick a 40-year addiction to marijuana like that. That — that should be happening in our lives all the time. I mean that’s — you wonder why do you give? You’re not just putting money in a box, you’re giving so people can hear the hope of Jesus. Why do you serve? Why do you invite? Why do you create an environment where hope is free to move? Because that’s what Jesus wants to do. And what does he want to do in your life? Maybe you got some anxiety or some depression or some worry or some fear that if you actually started to believe you are right with God, maybe, just maybe, he’ll be gone and you’d be free.
That’s why 1 Corinthians 15 says, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not.” When you awake to who you are in Jesus, wholesomeness starts to change. See, what if we put all of the energy and effort that we put into acting religious into actually believing that we’re righteous? Oh, that’s good right there. What if you put all the energy, you put into acting self-righteous, trying to be right with God into actually renewing your mind and believing that’s true, you would flourish in life. Which brings me to the last thing to pull it all together and it’s simply this, righteousness changes how you live. Do you really think this leper is going to go back to his leprous way of life? You’re not going to go and shout unclean anymore, you’re not going to cover himself up, you’re not going to live wandering the desert separated from his family, he’s free. But so many of us do. We receive Jesus but nothing really changes.
We’re still full of — feel full of guilt and shame and condemnation, we still perform and put in our effort and try harder to behave better and do all these things to kind of get right with God. See, the problem for a lot of us is we believe that we are saved by grace but then we want to live by performance. We believe we’re saved by grace but we believe our relationship with God is 100% determined by our performance. We trust in Jesus for salvation, we trust in ourselves for righteousness. So what then are you rooted in? Self-righteousness, which means you’re trying to make yourself right with God which is the definition of religion, which is death and destruction. But God says, “Hey, I don’t work like that.” He says, “With me you are saved by grace, you walk by grace, you live by grace, you stand by grace, you’re changed by grace, you move by grace, you breathe by grace. It’s all by grace.” The law, religion offends us because it tells us what to do, grace offends us more because it tells us there’s nothing we can do.
What can you do? You can get down on your knees and say, “Lord if you’re willing make me clean.” I mean Matthew 6:33, a verse we use all the time in church says, “Seek first His kingdom and your righteousness.” Right? Yeah. But that’s what I’ve been told in church my whole life, “Seek first His kingdom and my righteousness and then I’ll have a good life.” It’s not what it says. “Seek first His kingdom,” what’s His kingdom, how do you get into it? By receiving the forgiveness of Jesus, and His righteousness. And then what? Everything else will be added unto you. If I will seek first His forgiveness, I will get into the kingdom of God through the forgiveness of Jesus and His righteousness, believe that I made right with God through Jesus Christ, everything else, parenting, marriage, family, finances, hobbies, calling, purpose, destiny will be added unto me. How different would our life be if we believe that? You would walk with a bold strength.
Hebrews 4:16 says, “Boldly approach the throne of grace in your time of need. If you really believed you are right with God, you would walk right into the throne room of heaven all the time and just say, “What’s up?” You’re like you can’t say, what’s up to God? What do you think God wants you to say to you? “Here’s — I am here as heavenly as father is.” No, he wants you to say — he wants to say, “Hey, dad, I love you. I want to talk to you.” And because of Jesus I can walk right in. I’m not saying we dishonor him but I think it dishonors him when we act religious in front of him, just as much as it does if we take him for granted. I’m just saying. Or how about this, just — this is — I wouldn’t just go for today. James 5:16, how about this, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Who is that talking about? You. Why? Because you’re right with God, in Jesus. The problem is we don’t believe that so we don’t pray. Because why am I going to pray if I don’t think my prayers are going to get through, because I know what I did yesterday, I hardly talk to my wife or what I did at school, like, so —
Or how about Proverbs 24:6 or 16, it says, “The righteous man falls seven times, and he gets up again.” The righteous man. The man who is made right with God falls down and became unrighteous. No, it’s not what it said. Gets up again, why? Because he knows he’s not defined by what he does, he’s defined by what Jesus has done. Who changed everything? You see, when you actually start to believe this, all of a sudden, you start to believe that God is with you. It’s really what righteousness is at the end of the day. Righteousness is to believe that God is always with me no matter where I go, what I do, or what happens, he will never leave me, nor forsake me because he already did that to Jesus, so he cannot do it to me or he would be unjust. And he is a just and good God.
See, it is impossible to have a relationship with God until you believe you are righteous. You see, you can’t get saved, no. You can get saved. I’m talking about a personal relationship. We heard this all the time at church, have a personal relationship with Jesus, we don’t know how to do it? Why? Because it is impossible to have a relationship with Jesus until you’re right — until you believe you’re righteous. Why? Because it’s impossible to have a relationship with someone if you never know where you stand with them. And that’s what most of us believe. You say, “But what about when I –” still righteous in Jesus. “But what about if I –” still righteous in Jesus. “But what about when I say –” still righteous in Jesus. “But what about when I go –” still righteous in Jesus. Why? Because it’s not determined by what you do, it’s determined by what he has done. And if you sit there and you say, “Bro, you can’t tell people.” I’m just saying to you, if you actually believe this, it doesn’t make you prideful, it makes you humble.
It doesn’t make you want to take advantage of it, it makes you want to receive it and give all kinds of glory back to God, and live a holy life. Righteousness always leads to holy living. Why? Because we’re empowered to now live a life that glorifies God, because we’re no longer doing self-righteousness or religion, we’re now right in God so we can freely go to him, he strengthens us, fills us, and everything changes. Are you with me on that? This is why — we go to the next slide. This is why these five roots are so important to us because these, we were talking about all year, I don’t have time to get into it. But what it’s doing is it’s drawing the belief of righteousness into your spirit so you can flourish in life. So, maybe, just maybe, it’s time to put some roots down, to rest on, receive from, and trust in the righteousness of Jesus, that you might be free. You see, some of you came in here today and you’re broken, and you’re hurting, and you’re like that leper.
If you’ll hit your knees and say, “Hey, Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” He is full of compassion, he is willing, and he is more than able to set you free. And then, there’s a bunch of us sitting here today, and we believe in Jesus for years but we’re still full of shame, and guilt, and condemnation, and so we hear a message like this, and we cry out, “Lord, if you’re willing, make me clean.” And if that’s you, he says, “I already have. I’m just waiting for you to believe it.” The leper had not only received the healing of Jesus, he had to believe the healing of Jesus. You have to not only receive the righteousness of God, you actually have to believe — go to the next one. You actually have to believe that this is true. That’s why Jesus says, “I am willing.” Now, go be free, and live. Giving us his righteousness is a decision God has already made, receiving it and believing in it is now the choice you get to make. So, you close your eyes with me. Here’s the question, “What do you think God wants to say to you today?” I think he wants to give you some hope. I think he wants — I think he wants for some of you, today is your day to say, “Jesus, I am that leper and I need you in my life. If you are willing, make me clean.” If you will cry unto him, the love and the grace of Jesus will reach out his hand, touch you and make you clean, not just forgive your sins but make you right with God once and for all. He will change how you live.
But I also think there’s a whole bunch of us sitting in this room, and we’re even struggling like, “Could this actually be true?” Yeah. So, what we’re trying to do is just deconstruct some of the religious baggage that we carry around, that we might receive the freedom of the Kingdom of God. And so, just ask the Holy Spirit, who comes into our lives to convince us of our righteousness. John 16 says, Jesus literally says, “He’s giving you the Holy Spirit in your life as a believer to convince you that you have been made right with God because of what Jesus has done.” The greatest way you honor Jesus is not by telling him you’re still not righteous, it’s by saying, “Lord, I don’t feel very righteous, but in you, I believe that I am. And so, I’m going to stop the religion. I’m going to stop the self-righteousness. I’m going to stop all that stuff and rest on, receive from, and trust in you. Will you change my life that I may flourish in you because I believe right about who I now am?” Jesus, thank you for who you are and what you have done, that we are not only forgiven, but we have been made right in you. We love you Jesus, in your name we pray. Amen.