Isaiah 51:1 ~ "“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug."
The reality of gaining righteousness is two-fold.
First, righteousness is a granted thing. God has granted us to be covered in the righteousness of Christ. We cannot earn a place in glory before God, there is no righteousness of our own that is remotely agreeable to God. We are told in Isaiah 64:6, "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." And we learn in Romans that there are none righteous, not even one (see Romans 3:10). So, having no righteousness of our own, we must be given the righteousness of another--and that is the righteousness of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Romans 10:4 says, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
God will impart to all who believe on the Lord Jesus, the very righteousness of Jesus. Jesus lived the life we could never live, pleasing His Father and walking in perfect obedience to the law. And now He provides for us the covering of His perfect righteousness which He purchased for us on the cross.
Second, righteousness is a pursuit. There is an active aspect of righteousness in a believer's life. There are those will come to Christ and have, afterward, a passive approach to their love for Jesus. In many other endeavors of life, they will aggressively chase after those desires and passions that rule their hearts--and Christ is mildly considered. But, reader, do you aggressively pursue a righteous life? In our text, there is a parallel pursuit which reflects our desire for righteousness, and that is to "seek the Lord." Both those pursuits happen at the same time. For you cannot have a life that is righteous outside of Christ, and you cannot find righteousness without Him. But the pursuit of righteousness is not a passive condition but an active one.
Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:11, "But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness." Again, the apostle reiterated it in 2 Timothy 2:22, "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."
It stands to reason that to go in pursuit of something, you also then have to flee something. And as we read in the text above, we flee youthful passions and we flee "these things." Hebrews 12:1-2 commands, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Beloved, let us do that very thing--laying aside the weights and entanglements of sin and pursue righteousness.
To give you an illustration, consider a person who says they are in pursuit of a healthier life. The talk about exercise, read about healthy foods, learn about the dispelling of bad habits--but all the time they never get off the sofa, while they eat down a entire box of chocolate candy. They have not set aside their sedentary life for an active one.
But the believer in Christ has something that the illustration above does not--the Christian has the Holy Spirit. Dwelling within, the third person of the Trinity who moves us to desire the righteousness of Christ will also empower us to pursue it with great fervor. Paul said that he metaphorically beat his body so that he would not be disqualified (see 1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
There is a righteousness given by Christ at salvation--but there is also a righteousness that is gained in pursuit of it. Let us, then, aggressively pursue that condition of life that is pleasing to God.
In His Grace,
From the Mountains to the Sea
Every step we take on this journey called life ought to be used for greater understanding. I've lived from the mountains to the sea, and this blog is my personal thoughts and observations with a desire for Biblical understanding. Welcome.