105Your word is a (A)lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
106I have (B)sworn and I will confirm it,
That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.
107I am exceedingly (C)afflicted;
(D)Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.
108O accept the (E)freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD,
And (F)teach me Your ordinances.
109My (G)life is continually [a]in my hand,
Yet I do not (H)forget Your law.
110The wicked have (I)laid a snare for me,
Yet I have not (J)gone astray from Your precepts.
111I have (K)inherited Your testimonies forever,
For they are the (L)joy of my heart.
112I have (M)inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even (N)to the end. (Psalm 119:105-112)
Why do we need the light from God’s lamp? Because we live in a land of darkness, the path of our journey is narrow, and without his light we could not find our way to his city.
God calls us who truly seek his light sojourners and pilgrims throughout his word. He makes it clear that this world in its present fallen condition is not our eternal home. In fact it is the place of our “affliction,” the place where God “chisels” us into this image. This world, this earth, is actually God’s quarry, the place where he mines and hews his sons. He intends to transform us through this afflicting pressure from mere dust to gems of the highest quality. Then, once his jewels have been perfected, he will place them one by one into the foundation of this eternal city.
And the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, carnelian; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprase; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. (Revelation 21:19-20)
Each jewel listed here represents some aspect of the glory of the LORD. God, of course, does not mean to turn any of us literally into a gemstone. Neither will the foundations of New Jerusalem be adorned with overcomers who have literally become precious jewels. These descriptions, like many stories and representations in Scripture, convey word pictures or parables of a future spiritual reality. Paul expresses it one place like this, “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
The description of the foundation of New Jerusalem as gemstones reveals the beautiful glory that God’s overcoming sons add to his city. Overcomers make up part of the foundation of God’s city because they will be instrumental in bringing others also into the city. They will rule the earth with a rod of iron (God’s Law) and administer God’s justice with mercy. Their example and teaching will draw the nations into the Kingdom. The final transformation into God’s image will happen at the time of the first resurrection when all of God’s overcomers become glorified.
1Therefore, since we have this (A)ministry, as we (B)received mercy, we (C)do not lose heart, 2but we have renounced the (D)things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or (E)adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth(F)commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our (G)gospel is (H)veiled, it is veiled to (I)those who are perishing, 4in whose case (J)the god of (K)this world has (L)blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the (M)light of the gospel of the (N)glory of Christ, who is the(O)image of God. 5For we (P)do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who said, “(Q)Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has (R)shone in our hearts to give the (S)Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7But we have this treasure in (T)earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of(U)the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8we are (V)afflicted in every way, but not (W)crushed; (X)perplexed, but not despairing; 9(Y)persecuted, but not (Z)forsaken; (AA)struck down, but not destroyed; 10(AB)always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that (AC)the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
11For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12So death works in us, but life in you. 13But having the same (AD)spirit of faith, according to what is written, “(AE)I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, 14knowing that He who (AF)raised the Lord Jesus (AG)will raise us also with Jesus and will (AH)present us with you. 15For all things are (AI)for your sakes, so that the grace which is (AJ)spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 16Therefore we (AK)do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our(AL)inner man is (AM)being renewed day by day.
17For momentary, (AN)light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18while we (AO)look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4)
This explains why each overcomer can proclaim, “111I have (K)inherited Your testimonies forever, For they are the (L)joy of my heart.
112I have (M)inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even (N)to the end. (Psalm 119:111-112)
THE SPIRT AND THE BRIDE SAY “COME!”
God’s elohim, the sons of God, those who make up the stones of God’s Temple, New Jerusalem, are about to be anointed for their work in the world. These are the already dead saints and living overcomers who will take part in the first resurrection prophesied by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15.
We live in the beginning of a new age, a post-Christian age, in which God will do another new work, a work even greater than we have seen over the past two thousand years that was called the New Covenant. I do not say this to disparage Christians, for I am one, but I do say that Christianity has failed. Christianity failed to convert the world and where it once ruled, perversion reigns in secular, godless governments.
Today most Christians fail to uphold even the simplest of God’s commands, i.e., that women should dress modestly. Many Christians have given themselves to abominable carnal practices and teach others to do the same. Theirs is a false grace which will bring its own reward. Faithful Christians today band into small groups, attempting to stave the onslaughts of an evil time, attempting to keep some power of righteousness alive in their midst.
Now behold as the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end and elohim come forth.
Psalms 82:1-8 <<A Psalm of Asaph.>> God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods (elohim). How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said, Ye are gods (elohim); and all of you are children of the most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.
Check out the categories called Elohim and Gospel to learn more about this important idea of man being made in God’s image, for this is indeed the great mystery of the Gospel, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory!
In the just ended age the barren bride did not bring salvation to the earth. She had been chosen, espoused, by her Creator, but the marriage was not then consummated. She had not been glorified.
Like a woman with child, that draws near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and cries out in her pangs; so have we been in your sight, O LORD. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were given birth to wind; we have not accomplished any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. (Isaiah 26:17-18 KJ2000)
Do not be misled by the pictures of Scripture. They seek to explain in words of flesh that which can only be known in the Spirit. Thus the world does not understand, for
He [Yeshua, Jesus] said, “Go, and tell this people, Hear you indeed, but understand not; and see you indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people dull, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities are wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land is utterly desolate, And the LORD has removed men far away, and there are many forsaken places in the midst of the land.” (Isaiah 6:9-12 KJ2000)
The Old Covenant age, that which just passed, did not bring salvation to the earth. The New Covenant age, that which has been preached since Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected with power, will bring the salvation much longed for. It is in this age, the Day of the LORD, when Jesus glorifies his Bride and empowers her to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Until that day, like Paul, we say,
For if the dead are not raised, neither hath Christ been raised: and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also that are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitiable. (1 Corinthians 15:16-19 ASV)
But I believe the dead will be raised and that soon. Now we remain barren. Paul says,
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my tone; for I stand in doubt of you. Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from mount Sinai, which brings forth to bondage, which is Hagar. For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, you barren that bear not; break forth and cry, you that travail not: for the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what says the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. (Galatians 4:19-31 KJ2000)
Until today the children of Jerusalam from above have been persecuted by the children of natural Jerusalem. The children of New Jerusalem are the overcomers Christ speaks to in Revelation 2-3. The children of natural Jerusalem represent carnal religious believers (regardless of the religion) who never learned to live by the Spirit. In fact they hated, persecuted, and killed the chosen of God. Thus Hebrews says,
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. … And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:13, 36-40 KJ2000)
Throughout the previous age the Bride remained barren, but she did bear fruit. She learned to follow the Spirit, to lean not upon her own understanding, and did not depend upon the power of her flesh to please God. She learned to walk as Paul teaches,
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would. But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, impurity, licentiousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, strife, jealousy, wrath, selfishness, divisions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of which I tell you beforehand, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, self-control: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:16-26 KJ2000)
Because she learned to walk in the Spirit, forsaking the flesh and all the flesh could gain for her, she allowed Him to work deep within her soul. She endured this baptism of fire, this burning which purified her dross, bringing forth pure gold. She endured the pressure of men and powers. When she manifests, then we will see the perfect jewel she has become!
For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until its righteousness goes forth as brightness, and its salvation as a lamp that burns. And the Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory: and you shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. (Isaiah 62:1-3)
When one reads and re-reads the Scripture, when one meditates upon the word of God for years, when one eats the manna (truth) of the LORD, mulling it over and over as the clean beasts do their cud and making it a part of their being, then one begins to see amazing things in the Bible. For example, one will begin to really notice the parallel meanings and prophecies of the Books of Isaiah and Revelation.
A consistent theme of Scripture is “many are called, but few are chosen.” God gives this theme many names including Israel, Gideon’s 300, the remnant, the rod (branch), elohim, sons of God, Bride of Christ, overcomers, Zion, Jerusalem, and New Jerusalem. Many chapters in the books of Isaiah and Revelation relate directly to this theme. Some verses from each book actually parallel and explain verses from the other. Concerning the above passage from Isaiah notice these few facts: 1) the prophecy concerns Zion, which is also called Jerusalem here (this means that the attributes here are ascribed to Zion, not to God), 2) God works on and with Zion for he cannot rest or be at peace until 3) her righteousness goes forth and 4) her salvation burns as a lamp; 5) When this happens, i.e. when she is perfected, then the nations (gentiles) shall see her righteousness; 6) at this time Zion shall be glorified for then all kings of earth shall see her glory; 7) at this time she shall also be called by a new name, a 8) name which the LORD himself will give her; 9) she shall also be a “crown of glory” in the hand of God and 10) a “royal diadem” in his hand.
A key to understanding this passage lies in the phrase “called by a new name.” This phrase also occurs in Revelation 2:17. This verse contains the promise to overcomers in the Church of Pergamum. Pergamum represents the place where “Satan’s throne is,” and thus represents the whole earth, for at this time Satan is the god of this world. All Christians, then, belong to this church and could qualify for the prize revealed in verse 17.
He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except him who receives it. (Revelation 2:17)
Jesus promises the world overcomer three things: 1) hidden manna to eat, 2) a white stone, and 3) a new name written on that white stone which no one knows except the individual overcomer himself or herself.
Hidden manna represents God’s word, God’s truth, which he speaks only to the overcomer. Even today God reveals some of this hidden manna to his overcomers and they, in turn, share it with others of like mind.
The white stone represents the most valuable and precious jewel of all, the highly refined, hardened, and polished diamond. This is the wedding stone given by the bridegroom to his bride at the time of her betrothal, her manifestation, her glorification. I believe this speaks of the glorified state of the overcomer at the time of his resurrection when he has become a perfect jewel before God (in a spiritual sense, not literal of course).
Finally, each overcomer receives a new name known only to him. I believe this speaks of each overcomer’s special calling and gifting in the next age or ages. I think many overcomers have some idea of what this new name may be, but many may well be surprised.
Now, when we compare this passage with Isaiah we see that the white stone dovetails with the crown of glory in God’s hand. When we think of a monarch’s crown, we think of a rim of gold encrusted with fine jewels. Throughout Scripture we see glorified man represented both ways, as gold and as jewels. Thus the crown in God’s right hand typifies all overcomers. We first gain a glimpse of this prophetic picture in that great prophesy given to Moses 3500 years ago:
And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in your hand: and they sat down at your feet; everyone shall receive of your words. (Deuteronomy 33:2-3)
So, in God’s right hand we now see 1) a crown of glory which contains the white stone, 2) a royal diadem, 3) a fiery law, and 4) all of God’s saints. These all picture the overcomer, each representing a different aspect of his spiritual reality when he is glorified.
Just before Jesus appeared in ministry upon the earth, John the Baptist preached saying, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2 KJ2000) John himself was that prophetic voice which Isaiah foretold when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matthew 3:3 KJ2000) Then, upon John’s arrest and the beginning of Jesus’ ministry He Himself proclaimed, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17 KJ2000)
These two men, John, the greatest man who had lived until the time of Jesus, and Jesus, who is God Himself, both told us how to prepare for the coming Kingdom of God. They said we must repent. These two men preached to Israel, a nation that knew the Law, God’s specific commands for living within his kingdom. They preached to men who thus knew the definition of sin and what to repent of. Paul, on the other hand, wrote to Romans who he called “Gentiles.” These were men of other nations than Israel or the Jews.
As Paul begins his discourse on repentance he starts with a short summary of common sins, acts which God’s Law forbids. He says,
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient, Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful. Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:18-32, KJV)
Before we move on, please notice verse 32. Paul makes it clear that those who practice any of the sins listed before this “commit such things [as] are worthy of death.” Modern day Christianity has white-washed sin by declaring that many of these declared acts simply are not sins. Neither Paul nor any other true prophet of God ever teaches that God’s defined sins are not sins. We only hear such nonsense from leaders of Christian denominations who sold their birthright to Mystery Babylon. Such Christians and those who listen to them fail to repent because they believe they have nothing to repent of. These can never be accounted overcomers with God in this condition. They will not be allowed to enter New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God, until they learn repentance.
The salvation of man’s spirit is the “first” salvation. It comes before any other salvation, of which there are two more, the salvation of the soul and the salvation of the body. No area of Christian theology remains so misunderstood as the salvation of the soul. Virtually every popular Christian preacher, theologian, and writer believes the many Scriptures relating to the salvation of soul actually deal with the salvation of the spirit. Such is not the case. Let’s first look at a few Scriptures dealing with the salvation of the spirit.
Scripture renders spiritual salvation as our “new birth,” being “born again,” or “begotten of God.” This is the first thing Jesus tells Nicodemus when he says, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 Nicodemus answers in unbelief and Jesus continues with even a more mysterious word.
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. ” John 3:5
Jesus first tells Nicodemus that one must be born of the Spirit before he can even see the Kingdom of God. This means that one cannot even become aware of the reality of God’s Kingdom unless he becomes born of the Spirit. The word “born” here means “begotten of God.” This occurs when a man believes in the LORD Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins and for his reconciliation with God. It is at this point that one receives the earnest of the Holy Spirit. This occurs when the “seed” of the Word impregnates our spiritual egg (so to speak) and brings new spiritual life to us. This spiritual event Jesus calls being born again or begotten of God.
Becoming born of God has nothing to do with man’s own will. God sovereignly brings new life to whom he will when he will. This is why Paul says,
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
God gives men the gift of faith by his grace (grace means “unmerited favor” or “unmerited gift”). Men cannot muster up enough faith to bring their own salvation. God must somehow bring this faith to a man. Thus faith and spiritual salvation has nothing to do with man’s own works.
Some people attempt to move on in God before their new birth even occurs, but this is not possible. This is what Paul means when he says,
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 2 Corinthians 13:5
Paul says that Jesus Christ dwells in believers, but he does not dwell in unbelievers, the reprobate. These few Scriptures introduce us to the salvation of the Spirit. Jesus’ second answer to Nicodemus first introduces the salvation of the soul. Remember, he said, “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
It is one thing to see something and quite another to enter into it. I see my house before I enter it. I see a city before I come into it. I view the mountain before I climb it. Likewise, one must see the Kingdom of God before he can enter it. The salvation of the soul is all about entering the celestial city, the Kingdom of God, the New Jerusalem. Now we will begin to learn how to do it…
But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power therefore. From these also turn away. For of these are they that creep into houses, and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7 ASV)
The passage clearly describes the days in which we live. Examples? Men and women living in Biblically defined sin, yet “ordained” and appointed to leadership roles in churches and seminaries. Whole churches laughing hysterically or clucking like chickens and claiming that it is the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Entire denominations supporting public education even though that education undermines its faith and makes whores of their daughters and homosexuals of their sons. Christian counselors who became millionaires supposedly teaching parents how to raise their children, yet never advised them to leave these public schools. And, why not? Because money was more important than truth to them. These serve mammon instead of God.
I, and others like me, have been sounding this warning for over twenty-five years. Sadly, some of those who helped awaken me to the truth have now become seduced by the spirit of this age, the spirit of lies. They have desired the acclaim of this world more than the acclaim of the Spirit of Truth. What is this truth?
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” said Jesus. Jesus is the I AM of Scripture. He embodies truth and righteousness, justice and mercy. The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever.(Psalms 119:160 ASV) We cannot take just one verse from Scripture and say, “Ah ha! This is the truth!” For example, I cannot take the Levitical sacrificial laws and begin sacrificing lambs and bullocks and think that I will be accepted by God. I have to read the book of Hebrews and understand that Jesus fulfilled these sacrificial laws. Then I understand that my faith in his sacrifice for my sins brings me into God’s presence instead of my performance of a literal animal sacrifice.
You see, the “sum” of God’s Word is truth, the totality of God’s Word. Denominations began because someone gleaned a new aspect of God’s truth. Others agreed, found it compelling, left their old church, and started a new church with God’s newly anointed pastor, prophet, or teacher. Then that new church formed a committee, wrote down what they thought the Bible taught, and said, “this is God’s truth. Join us if you believe it!” So, you and I joined this or that church. Then we who continued seeking God found that God had even more truth to reveal. When we tried to share it with the “head” pastor or teacher, we were often rebuked or cast aside for disturbing the peace of the church. Finally, most of us simply left the church made with men’s hands. We are seeking the City of God, New Jerusalem, where all the stones have been prepared by God prior to even being put into their place. We have sought the knowledge of the truth by continually abiding in Christ’s Word and we have found indeed that “the truth shall set you free.”
The book of 1 John is the key book for understanding this term “practicing righteousness.” In chapter 1, verse 6 he calls it “practicing the truth.” In 2:29, 3:7, and 3:10 he calls it “practicing righteousness.” In 3:4 John tells us that anyone who “makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness” and that “sin is lawlessness.” In 3:8 he says that anyone who makes a practice of sinning is of the devil. Verse nine teaches us that “no one born of God makes a practice of sinning.” Finally, in verse ten he say, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10 ESV)
Here John teaches us that we know the children of God by two attributes, they 1) practice righteousness and, 2) they love their brother. This statement actually reiterates the two great commands given by Christ, 1) love God with all your heart soul and mind and, 2) love your neighbor as yourself.
The last post dealt with this first aspect. Now we move to the second. Who is my brother? If you read the parable of the “good Samaritan” you will understand that all men are our brothers. Then how do we love our brothers? Must we go out and take care of all their physical needs? No, but we must take care of their spiritual needs. How? We must do as Jesus did. We must cover their nakedness. (Isaiah 58:7) What? I thought that meant provide clothing for them! No, Jesus covered them with his blood spiritually. We cover them by confessing their sins as if they were our own and asking God to forgive them.
Remember, when Adam and Eve sinned they realized they were naked. They had been covered with the glory of God; sin caused that glory to leave. This left them naked. Immediately God clothed them with the skin of a beast. Since then men have been as the beast of the field and will remain so for “seven times.” The beast skin covered their natural nakedness, but not their spiritual nakedness. Only Christ’s blood can do that.
So if we truly practice rightousness what does that have to do with covering my neighbor’s nakedness? Now that we have learned how to practice righteousness we know how to love ourselves spiritually. We repent of every known sin, continue to learn the ways of God, and repent again when we fall short of God’s glory by missing the mark (by sinning). We love our neighbors by confessing their sins as if they were our own. We pray that God will forgive them “for they know not what they do,” just as Jesus did to those who tortured him. We see the same example in Daniel’s prayer, except that Daniel includes himself. Why? Because he knows that he is not perfect either. He wants to be perfect, just as Jesus says we must. Therefore he practices righteousness by repenting of all known and unknown sin for both himself and confessing the sins of his people. I am not saying that you have to confess every sin of every person. Just start praying for and confessing the sins of those you know or become aware of. Become an intercessor and ambassador of Christ! We can pray for others as exemplified in the following prayer:
Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.  I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,  we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.  We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.  To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you.  To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.  To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him
 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.  All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him.  He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem.  As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth.  Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice.  And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.  “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us.  Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate.  O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.  O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” (Daniel 9:3-19 ESV)
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.  No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.  Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.  No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4-10 ESV)
There exists no issue that stirs more anger and rancor amonst Christians than the issue of obeying God. I have been called legalistic and self-righteous for the entire 30+ years of my Christian walk. I will admit that in the beginning I was fairly legalistic. Now I understand that anyone who desires to walk with God will be, at least at first. This is why he revealed his law before he revealed his Spirit. The Law gives us a framework for living life with God. It reveals core characteristics of the One we are called to first serve and then become like. Revealing the Law first fits the Biblical principle of “first the natural, then the spiritual.”
But, why is the Law revealed first? Because if there is no law, there is no sin. If there is no sin, there is no such thing as wrong-doing and, hence, there could be no accountability for any of our actions. If no one does wrong, then no one needs to be forgiven for anything. If no ones needs to be forgiven for his actions, then Jesus did not need to die on the cross. If Jesus did not need to die on the cross, then all Christian doctrine is foolishness and our faith is in vain. Why would we need faith? We would have no need for Jesus because we have no sin.
Such notions, of course, are foolishness. Sin indeed exists. But, how do we know sin? Paul said, “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, `You shall not covet.‘” (Romans 7:7 ESV) The same is true for all sins. I would not have known that fornication or theft or murder or lying were all sins unless the law said, “Do not do that!” God reveals the Law first so that mankind realizes that he sins continually and that he, therefore, needs forgiveness for those sins in order to be reconciled to God. Why so? Because God is holy, clean, and light whereas sin is unholy, unclean, and dark.
Thus, Paul says, “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.  For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20 ESV) Paul says that because the Law brings the knowledge of sin to everyone it therefore makes every human being accountable to God. It is this fact and this fact alone that necessitates our need for forgiveness. Each of us has sinned before God; therefore each of us needs to be forgiven in order to become reconciled to him, in order to establish our relationship with him. This is why Jesus shed his blood and died on the cross for us. If Jesus did away with the Law by his death, then sin no longer exists, and no one would have needed to be forgiven for anything after his death. But, Jesus did not put away the Law. He fulfilled it. And he expects us to now fulfill it too. The question is, how? This is the teaching about righteousness, and now we will begin to learn how to actually practice righteousness. (Next)