August 7 I Sunday
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”
—2 Corinthians 8:9
Some of us may believe that God demands perfect obedience from us. Yet, as we study Scripture, we find the opposite to be true. If we go to the Beatitudes to help us understand the posture with which we enter into and grow in the Christian life, we are reminded that Jesus opens the Sermon on the Mount by saying “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). The Greek word for “poor in spirit” means, “poverty-stricken, bankrupt, destitute and broke.” We may reinterpret the verse as, “Blessed are those who bring absolutely nothing to the equation, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
The gospel of Jesus Christ says no matter who we are or what we have done, God can rescue us. Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount that unless our righteousness surpasses the Pharisees—the most devout of His day—we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. The truth is, our righteousness will never surpass the Pharisees; the righteousness that we have is a righteousness from Christ, imparted to us when we place our faith and trust in what He has done on our behalf. While all of humanity was captive to sin, Jesus Christ came and lived the perfect life that none of us could live and He died the death that we all deserve. He went to the cross as an atoning sacrifice to satisfy the justice and holiness of a righteous God. We stand before a holy God without blemish, not because of what we have done, but because of what He has done on our behalf. We are poor in spirit but we can stand before Him righteous because His righteousness is given to us. Altogether, His righteousness becomes our righteousness when we place our faith in His work on the cross.
Christ is our redemption. It is out of our being in Him that we are enabled to live for Him and produce good fruit. Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Did we notice that Paul called it “the fruit of the Spirit?” In other words, it is not your fruit or my fruit but the fruit of His righteousness, His Holy Spirit activated and enabled in our lives. The evidence that we have understood and embraced the gospel is that holy living is a by-product of our life because we are connected to the true vine—connected to Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross, taking away all my sins. The righteousness that I have is not my own, it is only through Christ that I am in right standing with You. Praise You!