Part 3 - The Fall and the Restoration
Loving God With All One's Strength
"Thus says the Lord: '. . . Let not the mighty man glory in his might, . . . But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising . . . righteousness in the earth' " (Jer. 9:23-24).
A third exercise of God to glory in is His righteousness. Righteousness is primarily right actions one has toward others in relationships whereas godliness primarily refers to a person's character. God's actions toward others in relationships are perfect, just, and faithful to His covenants. God keeps His promises and does not fail. His omnipotence allows Him to exercise righteousness perfectly. Mankind is to glory in God's righteousness and His strength to perform it rather than in man's own strength and ability to do righteously in relationships.
On man's part, righteousness is both a right relationship with God and a right relationship with fellow mankind. In the Fall a right relationship with God was broken. The result is unrighteousness in mankind's dealings amongst himself. A right relationship between mankind begins with a right relationship to God.
Righteousness through faith
Romans 3:21-23 states, "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Beginning with the fall of Adam and Eve, mankind has fallen short of the glory of God in exercising righteousness. A separation from God removed mankind from abiding in God's strength which produced failure in relationships. The righteousness of God that is revealed is one that comes upon the one who puts faith in Jesus Christ.
The righteousness that is of the law is one that requires the keeping of the whole law. A failure in keeping any one point of the law results in one being considered to have fallen short and to be in the category of sinner. "For there is no difference; for all have sinned." Once a person is in the category of sinner, God accounts no difference between sinners. All have fallen short and are not righteous. Because the righteousness that God accepts is one of perfection, once a person has fallen short he will never be able to claim righteousness on the basis of his own doings.
Righteousness through Christ
Yahweh says, "But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising . . . righteousness in the earth." God's design for the place of mankind is one where all glorying is in God. The sinfulness of man once and for all takes away any glory in self-righteousness. God's place for mankind to dwell in is His mercy and grace. In this context God is willing to forgive sin and bestow upon the believer His grace. Under grace, God wishes to manifest His righteousness in and through the believer.
Jesus gives rest to the believer because He has perfectly fulfilled the righteousness of the law and has been accepted by the Father into heaven and is now seated on the Father's right hand. Those in Christ are considered to be seated with Christ. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to those who are in Christ by faith. There is no more struggle to attain to an acceptance by God. The acceptance of Jesus by the Father is the acceptance of the believer who is in Christ. This is a place of grace. This place is a gift from God to those who reject self-righteousness and accept His righteousness by faith.
Giving way to God's strength
Because self-righteousness stands in the way of receiving the righteousness of Christ, Jesus gave the meaning of the Fourth Commandment with the words, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your strength." This is a love that gives way to God. It is a love whereby the believer gives place to God's strength rather than one's own strength. The believer loves God with all his strength by laying down that strength at the cross and then glorying in God's strength. This is the removing of oneself from the self-exaltation of the fall of mankind and once again exalting God.
Part of the finished and sanctifying work of Christ is the consecration of the believer to the righteousness of right relationships with the lost, with God, with fellow believers, and with the Redeemer. The believer is called to righteousness despite his inability to perform it. Under grace the righteousness of Christ that is imputed to the believer is also worked out through the believer. The provision for this is God Himself, the Holy Spirit. The work of the Spirit is hindered by the exercise of self-righteousness. When one rests fully in Christ for his standing before God, God by grace can then exercise righteousness through the believer. The believer can then glory in God.
Glory in God's strength and righteousness
The fallen and rebellious nature of man causes him to desire the glory of being righteous by his own doing. But God designed mankind to cleave to Him and find all strength in Him. Apart from cleaving to God, man will fail in having a right relationship to both God and fellow man. The place of restoration through Christ is a place of rejecting self-glory and to glory in God's strength which brings righteousness in the earth.
Loving God and fellow man is the summary of the law. Loving God above all
else is the first commandment and is the place of restoration through Jesus
Christ. God is all in all in one's heart when one gives way to God in the
areas of the soul, mind, and strength. Jesus delivers one from a focus on
self to a focus on God. Love, peace, and joy result from adhering to God's
call: " 'But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and
knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and
righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the Lord" (Jer.