1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 15
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|Wisdom, to me, is the right use of truth. You see, man without God is stumbling in the truth all the time. He finds the truth of laws of gravity, etc. He stumbles into truth. But when he does stumble into it, he doesn’t have the wisdom of knowing how to use it. Therefore, he never relates it back to God. Now wisdom is not just the truth, it is the right use of truth.|
I Corinthians 1:30-31
- 1 The Wisdom of Boasting in the Lord
- 2 Wisdom Is the Ability to Perceive the Reality of Something
- 3 Wisdom Is the Ability to Discern Between the Trivial and the Eternal
- 4 Wisdom Is the Ability to Harmonize Truth and Love
- 5 In Christ Jesus We Have Wisdom
- 6 In Christ We Have Righteousness
- 7 In Christ We Have Sanctification
- 8 In Christ We Have Redemption
The Wisdom of Boasting in the Lord
I want to focus on verses 30 and 31 as we talk about “The Wisdom of Boasting in the Lord.” Now the word “wisdom” is found 18 times in 15 verses in 1 Corinthians. The first time it is found is in verse 19. That is when Paul quotes from the Old Testament of what God is going to do with the wisdom of men. It says in verse 19, “For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.’”
If you will look carefully at that verse, automatically you will understand there are two kinds of wisdom. He calls man’s wisdom the wisdom of the wise. There is God’s wisdom and then what he calls the wisdom of the wise. And he says, “I am going to destroy the wisdom of the wise.”
Look over in 2 Corinthians 1:12. You find that word “wisdom” again and you understand that there are two kinds of wisdom, that which comes from man and that which comes from God. You have got to be able to make a distinction between the two. Second Corinthians 1:12 says, “For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity [now watch], not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.”
Look over in James 3:15. Again we find that there are two kinds of wisdom; there is God’s wisdom and then there is another kind of wisdom. Verse 15 of James 3 says, “This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, and demonic.” So there is another kind of wisdom.
Now you may ask, “Why in the world would Paul bring up this thing about wisdom?” Well, you may remember the people of Corinth had heard a message from several ones. They had heard it from Paul, the first pastor of the church. They had heard it from Apollos. They had heard it from Cephas, that is, Simon Peter. Some of them had even said they heard it right from Christ. That is the group that is hard to deal with. They had the right person and the right message but the wrong motive in their heart. They had attached themselves to the messenger and not the one who is the originator of that message. You see, they were attaching themselves to men.
Do you think people do that today? Are you kidding? The moment you attach yourself to man you must remember something. And this is what Paul is talking about. Paul said, “Don’t ever attach yourself to men. If they have the right message, it is guaranteed that it didn’t come from them. And guaranteed, they don’t have it all and they don’t have it all together. Don’t ever put yourself in touch with man, put yourself in touch with God. Attach yourself to Him.”
That was the problem in Corinth. They would exclude others who weren’t like themselves. “I am of John MacArthur.” “I am of Chuck Swindoll.” “I am of John Calvin.” And what happens is, you become exclusive and forget man is not the originator of the message. God is the originator of the message and man’s wisdom compared to God’s wisdom, well, there is not any comparison. Man’s wisdom is foolishness when compared to God’s. Paul is horrified that they put him in the lineup. He didn’t even mention Apollos. He didn’t mention Cephas. He just speaks of himself. He said, “Man, I wasn’t crucified for you. You were baptized into my name. Don’t attach yourself to me.” Oh, the difference between man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom.
What is this word “wisdom?” The word is sophia. We really haven’t spent that much time on it. To put it simply, here is my definition of it. Now you may like it or not like it, but here is my definition of it. Wisdom, to me, is the right use of truth. You see, man without God is stumbling in the truth all the time. He finds the truth of laws of gravity, etc. He stumbles into truth. But when he does stumble into it, he doesn’t have the wisdom of knowing how to use it. Therefore, he never relates it back to God. Now wisdom is not just the truth, it is the right use of truth.
Wisdom Is the Ability to Perceive the Reality of Something
In my study of wisdom, there are three elements to wisdom that man does not have which completely separates him from what God’s wisdom would be all about. We are talking about wisdom, not the truth but wisdom. When it comes to the ability, wisdom is the ability to perceive the reality of something, to understand what really is going on, what forces are involved, what striving them, what is happening here.
Remember Habakkuk? Habakkuk looked around and saw all the sinfulness of Israel. He was a prophet. He said, “God, why do you make me to see iniquity?” In his limited understanding he saw the truth around him but did not understand how to perceive what was really going on. Then he says, “God, will you never answer me?” God did answer him, didn’t He? God said, “Hey, I am raising the Chaldeans to power.” Finally Habakkuk comes to his senses and you can see the wisdom of God coming into his life. He says, “Now I see, they are being raised up to chastise and purify your people.” At first he did not have that ability to perceive the reality of what was going on. But when he got in touch with God, God gave him the understanding. Then he says, “Now I see what is really going on. I see all the forces that are involved. I can see what is happening.”
So to me there is an element of wisdom that gives us that ability to perceive the reality of something, what is really happening here. And only God has that. Man does not have that.
Wisdom Is the Ability to Discern Between the Trivial and the Eternal
Secondly, it is the ability to discern what is trivial and what is eternal. That is wisdom. A wise man knows how to make that kind of difference: the difference between that which is trivial and that which is eternal. To be able to evaluate what is worth something, to be able to distinguish between those things that like I said are trivial or those things that are eternal.
I think a little bit of that is seen in Romans 16:19. The ability to discern what is righteous and what is evil is something that wisdom gives you. Man does not have this, but God gives us that. This is where God’s wisdom comes in. In Romans 16:19 he says, “For the report of your obedience has reached to all [as Paul wrote the church there in Rome]; therefore, I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil.” The ability to make that discernment, that which is trivial, that which is evil and that which is eternally good. man does not have that on his own.
It is amazing to me. You can have good parents, I mean good in the world’s eyes. They can raise their children to know the difference in right and wrong, and they think they have just done the greatest job. They send them off to the university, and as soon as they get to the university, they find out that the mores of that university, they say, “Oh no, it is not wrong here to do that.” They changed the standard. And so what was right and wrong at home isn’t right and wrong at the university. But wisdom teaches us the ability to know between good and evil and there is huge difference. What is good and evil at home is good and evil at the university. What is good and evil today is good and evil tomorrow. Only wisdom gives us the ability to discern between the two. Man does not have that. Obviously, he does not have that.
Wisdom Is the Ability to Harmonize Truth and Love
Thirdly, wisdom is the ability to harmonize two essentials of human life: truth and love. Make them balance out together. People can have the truth and not know how to deliver it in love. They don’t know how to do that. They don’t know how to be honest with somebody and yet patient with them. They don’t know how to be both frank and gracious. Only God gives a man that kind of wisdom.
To me, these are three essential elements in wisdom. And you may argue that there are more, but those are three that I have come up with. One, the ability to perceive what really is going on. Think about it. You get up in the morning, have your quiet time and say, “Oh, that is going to make my day. It will just turn out beautiful.” Two hours later, you are thinking you are not even saved because the world caves in on you. Do you have wisdom from God to be able to perceive in that situation what is really going on beyond what the eye can see and what the mind can comprehend? Only God can give that to you. And do you have the ability to perceive the difference in that which is trivial and evil and that which is good and righteous and eternal that God is doing? Do you see through that? Do you have that ability to balance truth and love? Those three things are at least three essential elements of wisdom that immediately show you that man does not have this.
God says, “I am going to put an end to the wisdom of the wise with the wisdom that I have that comes from above.” You say, “If we don’t have this wisdom and God has it, how do we get it?” We get it in the Lord Jesus Christ. Look over in verse 30 again. Now we have come right out of where he uses the foolish things of the world, the base things, etc., to shame the wisdom of man. He talks about how when Jesus came He was the perfect example of that. He came humbly into this world. He came into poor circumstances. He rode a donkey on His triumphal entry and died on a cruel cross. Man looks at that and says, “That is foolish,” without wisdom enough to perceive what was really going on, without wisdom enough to realize that this was the greatest, most righteous thing that had ever happened on this earth. No wisdom to discern that, you see.
In verse 30 Paul says, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God.” Where do we find this wisdom? We only find it in Christ Jesus. Now keep the context in your mind. If you lose the context, this whole book just becomes fragmented. What is he talking about? Don’t attach yourself to man. Attach yourself to Christ. In Him is the embodiment of wisdom. You can find a man who has been made wise, but you don’t want his wisdom. You want to find the source of that wisdom. You attach yourself to Christ and that is where you find wisdom for yourself, the ability to supernaturally live in this world.
He says, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God.” It is only in Christ that we find the ability to perceive the reality of something, only in Christ. It is only in Christ that we find the ability to distinguish between that which is trivial and that which is eternal. It is only in Christ we find the ability to harmonize truth and love. He gives us the grace and the empowerment to say what is needed to be said, but to say it in a love that is produced by His Spirit. Only in Christ can we find that kind of wisdom.
The bottom line is it is only in Christ that we find the ability to properly and rightly appropriate truth. You can know it. You can sit in a Bible study for years and hear it and hear it and hear it and even tell other people about it. But when it comes to appropriating it and living it, that is wisdom that only comes from Christ. It does not come from mankind. If man has his wisdom with truth, he will take it and use it to abuse people, not to lead them to understand the wisdom that God has for them.
The problem in Corinth was they were looking to everybody but Christ for this wisdom that they said they wanted. They were looking to Paul, to Apollos and to Cephas, but they weren’t looking to the originator, the source, the origin of all wisdom which is Christ Himself. Paul wants them to know that our entire state of salvation is found in Christ. There is not one thing that we are looking for when it comes to eternal things that are not found in Jesus Christ.
“Don’t ever attach yourself to men. Don’t be divided,” he says. “You come back to Christ. He is the source of your unity that can draw you back together, who can solve your disagreements, who can bring peace back into the body. But don’t attach yourself to men. Men have nothing to do with our salvation. Christ is the embodiment of it all.”
Verses 30-31 read again, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” I want to make sure you understand that phrase, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus.” You must understand this. Man’s wisdom comes up with a plan called religion. He comes up with his own furniture. You know, religious works are nothing more than furniture in a dead man’s house. Man wants God to bless it but God can’t because it came right out of a dead man’s house. You see, religion won’t get you there.
Man’s wisdom has many ways of being saved. The Gnostics said that it didn’t even mean Christ. All you had to have was a mystic understanding of things and a wisdom. And the religionist says, “Oh, no. It is by keeping the law.” And it goes on and on and on. It is by His doing that we are in Christ, not by man’s. That is why man can never take credit for anything. If he is wise at all it is because it comes from Christ. It is by His doing, not by any work that man can do.
The little word ek is used there. Translators picked up on it and said “by His doing.” It is really “out of Him you are in Christ.” It is because of Him that you are in Christ. When we look at this verse on salvation and what we have in Jesus Christ, we begin to see the wisdom of boasting only in God. We don’t ever want to boast again in man because we realize now that in Him is all the aspects of our salvation found, in Christ Jesus. We are in Him, not by our own doing. It is by God’s plan and by God’s grace and by what God has done for us. Don’t ever attach yourself to man. A cult is always centered around a man or a person.
People come to me sometimes and ask if certain denominations are cults? I say the only thing I know to say, “Who are they attached to? Are they attached to Christ or are they attached to some man?” If you center it in on a man, that is a cult. You don’t ever want to do that because when you center yourself in on man and make him the embodiment of wisdom, what happens is, you have become deluded as to what you really have in Jesus Christ. You don’t want to ever do that. Continually live unto Him, unto Him, unto Him, and every aspect of salvation is found in Him.
In Christ Jesus We Have Wisdom
That is what we are going to look at in verse 30. Why it is so wise to boast only in Him, not in us, not in man but in God for what He has done for us? First of all, in Christ Jesus we have wisdom. We have talked about that; now let’s look at it in verse 30. “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God.” Now I want to tell you, folks, it is one thing to know about the Christian life, it is another thing to know how to live it, to take the truth that we have learned and bring it down to where we live every day. You have got to have that. It is not there if you are not walking with Him in a surrendered relationship every day. You are not living in His wisdom. You may know His truth, but you don’t know how to appropriate it and apply it in your life.
Look over in Colossians 1:9. I love the prayers of Paul. There must be a book written on them. I have often thought that would be a great book to write, just on the prayers of Paul. Because in his prayers you see such substance of what he is talking about, especially in Colossians 1:9. Wisdom. Do you need wisdom? I guarantee you, you are desperate for it like I am. It is only found one place – in Christ. Verse 9 of Colossians 1 says, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will [Isn’t it good that he didn’t stop right there, because you can be filled with the knowledge of His will just by coming to the Word of God and as God speaks what He wants you to do to your heart. But now look] in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” In other words, when God speaks the truth, He gives you the wisdom on rightly using the truth in your life. You have got to have the two together. Knowledge won’t cut it. You can know it, but you have got to have the wisdom to know how to appropriate it.
The well of wisdom that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ is absolutely unsearchable. Whatever you are facing in life, whether it be a trauma of a circumstance in your life, whether it be something physical you are dealing with, whether it be something else, God’s Word has something to say to you. He will give you His wisdom accompanying His will that will help you to know how to rightly use the truth that you have already discerned.
Look in Romans 11:33. Paul has been speaking for 11 chapters on the grace and the mercy of God and what God has done for us. I love this. He speaks of the riches of this wisdom. You may not have a dime in your pocket, but if you have Jesus Christ living in you, you have tapped into the well of God’s wisdom that has no bottom to it. And the more you come to it, the more is there of how to take truth and rightly use it in your life. Verse 33 of Romans 11 says, “Oh, the depth.”
You know, we read that callously. It is kind of like when I was down in the Caribbean one year. I had gone down with some missionaries there. I was down in the Caribbean on the island of Bon Aire and we were swimming. The water was about 30 feet deep. You could see down to the bottom. It was wonderful. I asked the missionary, “What is that out there where it gets real dark?” He said, “Why don’t you swim out there and see.” I thought it was some kind of plant, some green plant that was growing out there or something. When I swam out there, it was a drop off. I guess it was the ship channel. When it dropped off, folks, I don’t know how far it went down, but there was a strange feeling that went through me, because when you got out there, those sun rays went down hundreds of feet below you and it just turned dark and you didn’t see a thing. It just kept right on going down, down, down, down.
I could say, “Oh, the depth of that ocean down there.” And you would say, “Oh, big deal.” You haven’t been there! You haven’t seen it! That little “Oh, the depth” is not quite enough to explain what he is saying here. I mean, it is unsearchable! You can’t ever begin to see the bottom. It just continues to go on and on and on. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
Man, the wisdom of God that we have in Christ Jesus. He has become unto us wisdom. You have just tapped into it when you receive Him into your heart.
Look in Colossians 2:2-3. It talks about the wisdom that is hidden in the Lord Jesus Christ. I just want to make sure you understand who lives in you and what you have access to. It is all the wisdom of God is in Christ Jesus. Colossians 2, I’m going to pick right up at verse 2: “that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in which [speaking of Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
You know, every now and then I like to listen to something on an AM radio station. And you know, it is funny, I got to thinking about that the other day. Sometimes when you turn on an AM station and you are out of town, you can’t find anything. It will go forever and ever and ever. There is not much on an AM station. But when you flip it over to FM, I mean there is one every two or three digits there.
The way I look at it is, when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ who has become to us wisdom, God has taken our little feeble, human brains, devoid of all eternal wisdom and has flipped us over to FM. If we will just fine tune the station, all that is resident in Him, the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge become ours. You see, I want to tell you something, folks, counseling would flip over and become almost extinct if people would tap into the wisdom that is theirs in Jesus Christ. People get so upset when you mention counseling. Listen, the greatest counselor who ever lived is Jesus Christ. And the only counselor who is worth his salt is a person who takes your hand and puts it in the hand of God so that you can get in touch with the Mighty Counselor because He is the only resource of wisdom that man is so desperate to have. When you tap into it, folks, that is the way it is.
In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom. Not just truth. Yes, He is the embodiment of truth. For God is truth. But not only that, He is also the wisdom of how to rightly use truth.
To the degree we are willing to surrender to Christ daily and embrace the cross, which has been the message of chapter 1, we can now participate in that wisdom which He has come to us because of salvation. In other words, we must die to self daily, live dead to self and reckon self to be dead, which happened at the cross. The old man is dead. Reckon that dead and daily say yes to Him and yes to His Word. By doing that we tap into the resources of His wisdom.
Look over in 1 Corinthians 3:18. We literally have to profess ourselves foolish in order to tap into what he calls His wisdom. First Corinthians 3:18 says, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish that he may become wise.” To the degree that I am willing to set aside my own wisdom and surrender to what His Word and His wisdom says to me can I tap into that which is hidden in Christ Jesus. Not only can we know truth, but we know Christ who has become to us wisdom, the ability to rightly use truth in our life.
You know, one of the most prevalent things to all of us is when we enter into a trial. Turn over to James 1:2 and let’s just remind ourselves of this. We talk about the wisdom that we now have in Christ Jesus. If you have any struggles in your heart and life, I promise you, you may be able to find the truth of the matter, but you will not find the way to rightly use that truth until you come to Christ. Christ then, through His Word and through His power, can give you the wisdom to do what you need to do and the grace to empower you. I love these verses. James 1:2 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren [notice the wording here] when you encounter various trials.” That is multi-colored trials. I want you to know that your trials are multi-colored. They are color coded. Peter talks about the multi-colored grace of God, but Ephesians talks about the multi-colored wisdom of God. “Oh, you mean to tell me my trials are color coded, but God’s grace which gives me the enablement to deal with them is also color coded? And He even gives the wisdom that is color coded to go with it?” That is right.
To put it so simply that nobody can misunderstand it, if you are going through a red trial, God gives you red grace. But not only does He give you red grace, He gives you red wisdom to go through it. Exact wisdom, which you could not have come up with in a hundred phone calls to the best friends you have who have a quiet time every day. God gives you the red wisdom. He gives you the exact wisdom to walk through those trials. Your trials are multi-colored, but so is His wisdom and so is His grace.
Look at verse 3: “Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” There is a marvelous perspective now on why you go through trials.
Look at verse 5. So often we read verses 24 and forget verse 5. They are tied together. He says, “But [that is a conjunction there] if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.” When do you feel the most devoid of wisdom? It is while going through a trial. It is when the storm moves in on you. All of a sudden you find out what you owe on income tax or you are overwhelmed by something else and you don’t know what you are going to do. And in the midst of that, you see, you cry out to God and say, “God, I lack wisdom.”
You know, the first key to getting into this wisdom is to profess yourself foolish, as he says in Corinthians, so that you might become wise. We have to admit what we don’t know so God can tell us what He does know. Verse 5 says, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” God is right there. Christ has become to us wisdom. But understand, once you have Him in your heart, it doesn’t mean that you automatically have it. You must profess yourself foolish to tap into it and to the degree you are surrendering to Him will be to the degree you tap into the unsearchable well that has no bottom of the wisdom of God. In Christ we have wisdom.
I made some really bad mistakes in my early years as a pastor. I have made some big ones since then, but maybe not quite as frequently. One night there was a man from Holland visiting our church. Somebody walked up and said, “Hey, why don’t you let this man share his testimony? Some great things are going on in his life.” It was after the service and I said, “Sure.” The man walked up and said, “Oh, thank you, thank you for letting me come up to the pulpit.” He said, “I just recently got the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
Now, if you know where I stand, that is not where I am. I believe the baptism with or by the means of is our salvation. We are baptized into Christ by the means of the Holy Spirit of God. I do not see a secondary experience. We don’t teach that. You say, “Well, Wayne, you are wrong.” Well, pray for me, but we don’t teach that. I don’t believe that. I believe that in Him you have everything according to your salvation as Corinthians is telling us right here.
I want to tell you something, that man was my brother in Jesus Christ. We do not agree doctrinally, but I am not going to exclude him. Now that doctrine may separate. That is why you have denominations in America. But it was not me trying to exclude him.
How am I going to handle that? The truth of the matter is, I want to make sure I keep the doctrine straight that I believe that we stand for, but at the same I love the man as my brother in Christ. How am I going to handle that situation? I just quickly cried out. I said, “Oh, God, help. I don’t know what to do.” As I walked to the pulpit, God overwhelmed me. I never will forget it. It was one of those things that came right back to me when I was studying it. When I walked to the pulpit I said, “You know, isn’t it wonderful that when you get saved you have the same Holy Spirit of God. Now we may not agree as according to how He works, but it is the same Spirit and that Spirit will unite us and our brother right here and we can just all give him a hand for the fact that he is our brother in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
It was amazing. When I walked away from church I am thinking, “Where did that come from?” It was like God said, “Pssst. It didn’t come from you.” The wisdom to be able to do and balance truth and balance love. That is wisdom. And we can fit it in any area of those things we talked about. Only God can give it to you and only when you profess yourself to be foolish can you tap into the wisdom of God. If a man is going to make himself wise as a Christian, he will walk right away from the very things that he could have had and does have, but he is not going to experience it because of his hardheadedness and his unwillingness to surrender to Christ.
Potentially it is there. It is a well with no bottom. If you have a problem and there is a sin in your life that you won’t deal with, I promise you, you are not going to tap into His wisdom until you are willing to deal with that sin and come to the cross, embrace it and understand that apart from Him you are nothing. Say, “God, whatever you want.” That is when you are going to tap into His wisdom, and it will blow you away.
I love what Paul says in Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto Him, which is [and I love how the New American Standard puts it] your reasonable service of worship.” It is not reasonable until you have presented your body and then it becomes very reasonable and you have tapped into the wisdom of God.
In Christ We Have Righteousness
The second thing we want to look at is that in Christ we have righteousness. This is what Paul is saying. “Why do you want to attach yourself to a man? He can’t give you these things. Attach yourself to Christ. Don’t ever attach yourself to the message. Attach yourself to Christ who is the messenger.”
Verse 30 reads, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness.” Now, man in his wisdom seeks to work up righteousness in his own power. He has a plan. It is called church or religion or whatever you want to call it. He has a plan. Do enough good things and boy, God lifts up those things. No, God doesn’t accept those things. The term righteousness is dikaiosune. We saw that word in Romans when we studied Romans. Dikaiosune is the actual deed itself. To have righteousness, good deeds, that God sees as righteous implies the fact that first of all you have to become righteous. You can’t have righteousness if you haven’t been made righteous which means in right standing with God.
The prophet Isaiah said of the righteousness of Israel in Isaiah 64:6, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” So man in all his wisdom and plans cannot work up righteousness. He cannot come up with deeds good enough that God would accept. But in Christ, He has become our righteousness.
Man, to be capable of righteousness means that you have to understand that you were tried in God’s legal court and found guilty. This is why the Greek would never accept the gospel, the cross. He didn’t want to see himself as guilty. “Of what? I didn’t do anything!” It is not what you do, it is what you are. You are born into Adam with the virus of sin and you are unrighteous. And in God’s legal court you are declared guilty. God has separated you from Himself for all of eternity because of sin. Once you understand that, then you realize that Jesus came and this is God’s grace extended to man that man does not deserve. Jesus came to do what? He came as a man. And what was required of man that man could not produce, Jesus came as the Godman and produced it. He didn’t come to destroy the law. He came to fulfill the law. And when we put our faith into Him then what He did is written to our account. That statement of guilt is erased and now we have been acquitted, not because of what we did, but because of what He did. He has become our righteousness. I am not righteous in myself. I am righteous in Him and for what He has done for me.
The position of being made righteous happened when I put my faith into Christ Jesus, justified, acquitted of guilt. But now, to live righteously goes back again to embracing that cross, to the extent that I am willing to surrender to Him and to walk with Him is to the extent that I will participate in the righteous life that He wants to produce through me. Hebrews 9:22 says, “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Jesus had to die on the cross for us. You see, the condition for a man to ever produce righteousness and to tap into His righteousness is to admit to himself that he is unrighteous and that he is desperate for Jesus and what He has done for him on the cross. When we accept Christ’s payment for our sin, then we are justified and made righteous, acquitted.
Romans 3:24 tells you how it happens. It says, “Being justified as a gift by His grace.” Man’s religious wisdom? No, no, no. “You have to come to church every Sunday morning and every Sunday night. You have to have your quiet time. You have to give your tithe. Until you do all these things you cannot be made righteous.” No, it says, “As a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”
How many times have I mentioned this song? I love that song, “Be ye glad, oh, be ye glad. Every debt that you ever had has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord. Be ye glad, be ye glad, be ye glad.”
Christ has become to us our righteousness. He is the very source of it. He is not only the source of our righteous position with God which is in right standing, but He is the source of our every day righteous living. It doesn’t come from what I can do for Him, it comes from what He now can do through me. He is the righteous one who empowers me to live righteously. Romans 1:17, says, “For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” Then he quotes out of Habakkuk 4 and listen to what he says, “As it is written, ‘But the righteous man [the one who has already been made righteous now] shall live by faith.”
You cannot separate faith from obedience. If you want to tap into Him, who is righteous in you, who has made you righteous with the Father because He lives in you, and if you want to live righteously, you have got to learn to surrender and bow before Him. There is no other way. There is no other way. You have to walk by faith. His Word has to be so in your life that you are surrendered to it at all times. And when you are that way, what comes out of that is righteous living, the good works that were predestined before the foundation of the world.
All the wisdom of man couldn’t come up with that. They can come up with a plan to become good, but they can’t become righteous, so they can never produce righteousness. And whatever they call righteousness is filthy rags in God’s eyes. But Christ has become to us wisdom and righteousness. He is the source of it. Why in the world would you follow after a man, because a man can only lead you down the wrong path of unrighteousness. But Christ in you and through you is the embodiment of righteousness.
In Christ We Have Sanctification
The third thing is in Christ we have sanctification. Verse 30 continues, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification.” Now that is the same word we have seen several times in chapter 1. The word “sanctification” has that idea of being set apart. It is the word we have already understood back in verse 2. It says, “We have been sanctified.” That means cleansed and set apart for His purpose.
That is why we are called “saints,” by the way. I hope you remember this now. It is still tied into what chapter 1 is all about. When you get up in the morning say, “Hello, Saint.” It will remind you of your purpose – to live separate unto Him who has set you apart. You set yourself apart unto Him. You positionally have been set apart unto God by His Spirit coming to live in you and now experientially daily you tap into that and you live apart unto Him as you separate yourself unto Him.
First Thessalonians 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification[ then look at what he says immediately after that], that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” He starts talking about how you set yourself apart to Him. Positionally we have already been set apart to God. He has His Spirit living in us which proves that, but daily we must live set apart unto Him, you see, to participate in all that it means in our life.
Verse 2 says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus.” Now as we choose to embrace the cross, the message that the world thinks is foolishness, then we will participate in this holy, separate living. That is what holiness is. It is not living perfect. It is living blameless and separated unto Him. That is what it means. Not sinless, but living separated unto Him because you are going to fail. All of us are. We still have bodies of flesh, but to participate in that is when we are willing to embrace the cross and to die to self and say yes to Him and to His Word.
Second Timothy 2:21 says, “Therefore it a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified.” So we have the idea of cleansing yourself. Not only have you been cleansed, cleanse yourself. Make some choices in your life. Second Corinthians 6:17, “‘Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you.’”
I found something in my study of that word sanctified that blessed me. Now most of us think about sanctifying ourselves and setting ourselves apart unto God. We can come up with 16 different laws and if we miss one of them, we put ourselves right back up under the law. We forget what this whole thing is all about. But listen to what Peter says. I like Peter anyway. He communicates with me. Look in 1 Peter 3:15. Look at what he says here. This blesses me. The emphasis is not so much on me but it is back on Him where it belongs. I love it when it is back on Him. I love this because to me it says something. Maybe it doesn’t to you, but I hope it will. It says something very special to my heart. First Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” He didn’t say set yourself apart unto Him. He says set Him apart in your heart to where you are going to obey Him.
Listen, when you sanctify Christ as the Lord in your heart, then the rest of it will take care of itself. The whole key is making sure that you acknowledge His Lordship in your life. Only in Christ do we find sanctification. Remember, from what we studied in chapter 1, sanctification involves eternal purpose and eternal fulfillment. If you want to tap into that sanctification situation, you are already positionally sanctified. But if you want to experientially walk in light of that, then it is to the degree you are willing to set Christ apart as the Lord of your heart and choose to obey Him and surrender to Him and the rest of it will take care of itself.
In Christ We Have Redemption
The final thing he says here is “In Christ we have redemption [verse 30], but by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”
The word “redemption” comes from two words, apo, away from, and lutrosis, which means to ransom, to ransom or to pay a price for something. To pay a price in order to release someone or something, to be set free because of the ransom of another. It is found ten times in the New Testament. Most of the time when our souls are ransomed from sin and when our body is ransomed from the grave, when we are in Christ Jesus, that means that the blood of Christ has been paid for us.
When you wake up tomorrow and say nobody ever cares about you, yes, sir, Jesus shed His precious blood for you. He redeemed you. Redemption is the means of our righteousness. If He hadn’t shed His blood, we would not have our righteousness. Redemption is the means of our sanctification, and redemption is the means of our glorification. In our righteousness, we are free from the penalty of sin, acquitted. In our sanctification, we live daily free from the power of sin, and in glorification, we are free from the presence of sin one day when God glorifies us and it is all because of redemption. He purchased us by the shedding of His own blood.
The world promises a lot of freedom but it is not freedom, folks, it is bondage. But this is freedom. When you realize that in Christ, when you don’t attach yourself to men but you attach yourself to Him, live under His Lordship and surrender yourself to Him, you participate in His wisdom, in His righteousness, in His sanctification and also in His redemption. This is all made possible because of what He has done for us, the wisdom of God.
Now folks, I want to tell you something. If you are not going to walk with Him, you are deluded. I promise you. You are being pulled away from the resource you have in Christ Jesus who has been made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Don’t attach yourself to a man, and don’t put that man on a pedestal. If that man’s message is right, thank God for it. It didn’t come from him, it came from God. Let that message lead you to Christ. That is the key, day by day.