A Voice in the
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*** PORTIONS ***

Re: According to my righteousness

"Jehovah rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me." (2Sa22:21)

If we read this in the context of the preceding Portion many questions may arise. These words are from a song David speaks to Jehovah. (vs1) But, was it not David who confesses, "Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done evil in Your sight" (Ps51:4) So, if David sinned, how can he be speaking of God's 'rewards' for his 'righteousness'?

First of all, let us understand that there's two kinds of "righteousness". If in seeking to be holy servants of the Lord in word and deed, a person proclaims to "show you my faith from my works" (Ja2:18b); there are those who will object to such teaching as allegedly being "works-based faith", as they quote "not of works". (Eph2:9) These people will propound lengthy treatises that begin to sound Calvinistic regarding God's 'sovereignty' apart from man's God-given (through which He implores the sinner) "choice". (De30:19, Jos24:15, Ezk33:11, etc) Their take on Eternal Security also includes the notion that a person's behavior after conversion doesn't matter; that he cannot 'lose' his salvation by sinning.

Well...
There's two kinds of righteousness: 1) positional, and 2) compensatory. And the two are inextricably linked.

I'm sure the above-mentioned theologians will readily agree with #1; I don't know if #2 exists in theological nomenclature, but it comes closest in my mind (me, not being a famous/published 'theologian') to what we would like to observe in this lesson.

Positionally, we are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God...and "not of works" (Eph2:8-9) Yes, we were "without strength", without the ability to save ourselves, when Christ died for us. (Rom5:6) Thus, we were not even capable of sufficient faith for salvation; thus the N.T. speaks often of the "faith -OF- Christ". (Ga2:16, Php3:9, Eph3:12) The faith by which we "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ac16:31) is God's "gift" to us, as we respond to His "drawing" of us. (Jn6:44) And the guarantee of our salvation is not of our own abilities, either; it is the Holy Spirit who "seals" us, and is the "earnest" of the "promise" of the "inheritance" of our faith. (Eph1:13-14) We, presently, are yet in corruption and are not able to "inherit the kingdom of God" (1Co15:50), thus, as we "all die" (1Co15:22) "once" (Heb9:27) we don't yet possess Eternal Life. But it is our promised "hope" (Tit1:2, 3:7) A lot more details could be enumerated, but that's it, in a nutshell.

How secure is that promised hope? There is NOTHING that can separate us from the love of Christ. (Rom8:35-39) Please look up that passage and read it, if you are not already familiar with it. It is likely the #1 passage on what is often called: Eternal Security.

Thus, positionally, we have been -declared- (accounted) righteous. (Romans ch4) By definition, we -ARE- "the righteousness of God" in Christ. (2Co5:21) It is not our righteousness, but the "righteousness of God" that is imputed to us (Rom3:22), God made us and not we ourselves (Ps100:3), and crafted us into His "workmanship..in Christ..unto good works" (Eph2:10) It is not our faith, and it is not our righteousness; both come from God and are given to us as that "gift of God". We receive them when we receive Christ. (Jn1:12) Our salvation is based on the character of God.

Thus, our positional righteousness is not "on account of our righteousness, but because of [God's] great mercies" (Dan9:18) "Through Jehovahs kindness we are not consumed, because His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." (Lam3:22-23)

Because....
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I Jehovah search the heart, I examine the soul, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." (Jer17:9-10)

Notice how the 'heart/soul' goes, within the context, to the 'ways' and the 'fruit of his doings'; they are connected; one is not without the other. Thus, we slide over into #2) Compensatory Righteousness

The word "righteous" comes from the root, "right". That which conforms to law, morality, reason, truth; that which is fitting, proper, pure and good. This word has to do with 'behavior'. The opposite of "wrong". Israel has monuments and trees in memory of those it calls "righteous", due to the behavior of various people in history, who helped Jews when they were being persecuted and killed; many, perhaps, who will be considered as "sheep" at the kingdom? (Mt25:31-46)

When a person is "in Christ" they are a "new creation". (2Co5:17) Instead of 'the devil made me do it', we can now claim that we have "Christ in" us. (Col1:27) We have "renewed" minds. (Rom12:2) We have the "mind of Christ". (1Co2:16) If by their nature dogs bark, and ducks quack; then, those who -are- (positionally) 'righteous' will by the new nature -do- (compensatorily) 'righteous' deeds. We are saved "unto good works". (Eph2:10) Contrary to today's (doctrinal "walls come down") theology, we are NOT 'saved', only to remain "just as we are". God does NOT "accept us just as we are". When He gives us -His- nature, we are to 'live' according to that new nature; 'changed' from what we used to be.

Compensation is payment. If the "wages of sin is death" (Rom6:23), what is the reward for righteousness based on?

Deeds befitting the characterization of "gold, silver and precious stones" are given a "reward". (1Co3:12,14) The person who excels in the race receives a "prize". (1Co9:24)

Notice the 'context' of David's comments in the opening passage. He is talking about rewards. How has David conducted his life? That is how he has been "recompensed". (2Sam22:21)

If you will, this is David's testimony of his own record before God, putting the concepts of Jacob ch2 into practice; -displaying- his faith -by- his works. The relationship between a person's faithful life before God, and God's just compensation for that life.

While we might look at David's life and see all sorts of failings and weaknesses, because he was a man of "dust" (Ps103:14), according to God's records his life was entirely just... except in the matter of Bathsheba and her husband Uriah, whom David invited up to his bedroom, and then had her husband killed when it was reported that she was pregnant. (1Ki15:5) Otherwise we are told, "David had done what was right in the eyes of Jehovah, and had not turned aside from anything that He had commanded him all the days of his life..."

God's compensation to a person is based on their heart and deeds: "With the faithful You show Yourself kind; with a mighty man of integrity You show Yourself upright; with the pure You show Yourself pure; and with the perverse You show Yourself twisted." (2Sa22:26-27)

David was a man "after [God's] own heart" (1Sa13:14), and his life proved it with clean hands, in not turning aside from God's commands.

In the previous lesson we learned: "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have kept Your Word. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your Statutes." (Ps119:67,71) In this passage David says, "Your affliction has made me great" (vs36b)

We may fail the Lord from time to time, "for there is no one who does not sin" (1Ki8:46, 1Jn1:8); but when we submit to His discipline we reap the "peaceable fruit of RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Heb12:11) and as we live accordingly, we also experience the reward.

No! God does NOT accept us "just as we are". The Lord "[saves] the lowly people; but [His] eyes are upon the haughty, whom [He] brings down" (vs28)

For you who don't believe that our -behavior- is in any way related to our standing before God, please consider:

  • Ps37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by Jehovah, and he delights in His way.
  • Pr16:9 A mans heart devises his way, but Jehovah arranges his steps.
  • Pr20:24 Mans steps are of Jehovah; how then can a man understand his own way?
Notice the relationship between the 'heart' and the 'steps'.

And here's another:

  • Pr16:3 Roll your works upon Jehovah, and your thoughts will be established.
What happens when a person, who claims to love the Lord, in rebellion goes his own way? At what point does that person's heart, at the level of the "soul and spirit/joints and marrow" (Heb4:12) -become- what their steps/works have been? At what point has the person's heart become hard to where he declares of the things of God: "I have no pleasure in them" (Ec12:1) Where he starts out well, putting his hands to the plow, but then "looks back" (Lk9:62); where he starts out "living by faith" but then "draws back...to destruction". (Heb10:38-39) Where is that 'line' where a "righteous" person, due to his works... his mind and heart -become- what his works are?

It is Jesus, the Word of God, who knows the heart (Heb4:12-13) and puts it on trial. (Ps7:9, Pr17:3)

We are saved POSITIONALLY "not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time" (2Ti1:9, Tit3:5); but judgment is COMPENSATORY "according to their works" (Jer25:14, Mt23:3, Ro2:6, 2Co11:15, Re2:23,20:13)

QUESTION to PONDER:

    If a person makes "claims for Christ", claiming to be born "of the Spirit" (Jn3:8), and as such claims to be a "new creation" (2Co5:17) with its accompanying new "divine nature" (2Pe1:4), thus making claims to being -positionally- "in Christ"...

    BUT he "loves the world" (1Jn2:15), and is living "according to the course of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience" (Eph2:2)...

    What is such a person's -compensation-? What is his 'true' -position-? Do not his 'compensatory' works cloud a clear view, and in fact strongly suggest that his -position- is not truly "righteous"?

"You will know them from their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? ... Therefore from their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many works of power in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who work out lawlessness!" (Mt7:16-23)

A person claiming to be positionally righteous, deliberately turns from what he knows to be righteous and does wickedness, is he really truly even positionally righteous? In his heart? "But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the treachery of his unfaithfulness, and the sin which he has sinned, in them he shall die." (Ezk18:24)

David may have committed sins, but his -heart- of devotion to God led him to confess and repent of it (Ps51, 1Jn1:9); so he could honestly proclaim, "I was whole before Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity" (vs24)

Or as Paul could proclaim: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith ("kept": not turning his back on the Lord). Hereafter, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all the ones loving His appearing." (2Tim4:7-8)

Amen!