We have been hearing a lot about the finished work of Christ and entering God’s rest. This is a very important message indeed. We are to cease from our independent efforts at righteousness and trust in Christ as our righteousness and salvation instead.
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His (Heb. 4:9-10).
But when we do this, God actively goes to work in manifesting His righteousness through us. There is a powerful prophetic passage in Isaiah where God says He will NOT rest when it comes to something. Here is how it reads in the AMP translation:
For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until her imputed righteousness and vindication go forth as brightness, and her salvation radiates as does a burning torch (Is. 62:1).
“Wait, that was for Israel”, one might think. But clearly we can see that there is a strong reference to the new creation in Christ, which Paul refers to as also being God’s Israel in Gal. 6:14-16. If we keep reading, it goes on to say:
And the nations shall see your righteousness and vindication [your rightness and justice—not your own, but His ascribed to you], and all kings shall behold your salvation and glory; and you shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name (vs. 2).
God’s righteousness ascribed to us… Being called by a new name… this sounds like the new birth to me. So this passage is God’s burning desire for His bride. He longs for the righteousness He has given us as a gift to be go forth as brightness and to be seen by the nations.
But what is righteousness exactly? I am in the process of writing a book which explores righteousness in detail. But for the time being, for practicality’s sake, I am defining it as God’s way of making things right and His way of living right. It is not so much a particular action, but a state of being where we live under the favor and influence of His kingdom.
We who have heard the grace message preached afresh in recent times know that righteousness is God putting us in right standing with Himself, not us trying to be and do right. So God makes us right. But it does not stop there at the root. It goes onto fruit as He then intends on manifesting His righteousness (His way of being and doing right) through us.
It is not as if He gives us a golden ticket that says “you are righteous” that we need to submit on the last day. He actively goes to work in the believer for the purpose of His righteousness being worked in us and through us. The good work He begins, he completes (Phil. 1:6). In fact, according to Isaiah, He does not rest until this happens.
The work is finished in the sense that there is no further sacrifice, no act of human performance, that could possibly make us more acceptable and perfect in God’s eyes. Now, God is actively working the finished work of Jesus in our lives. Rick Joyner once said that Jesus Christ IS the finished work that the Father is working in us (I am paraphrasing).
The idea that God simply gives us mercy and then does not empower us to live like Jesus and sin no more is anti-grace. I have heard throughout my life that Christians will always sin. When we do, we confess, repent and so on until we are back in “fellowship” with God who has to put up with such sorry “dual-natured” sinners as us. Let’s hope He does not get “buyer’s remorse” when it comes to the redeemed.
Grace is then relegated to God simply tolerating and pardoning us without transforming us. For those who believe such things, they probably don’t want to read the letter of 1 John as it will blow those ideas out of the water. In it, John gives us hope for IF we sin as believers, not WHEN we do (see 1 John 2).
I have seen people get furious when you start talking like this. “How dare you say that we can live without sinning! What arrogance!” But wait, how could John have said, “ He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked?” (see I John 2:6)
This is not a threat. “You better walk like Jesus or you ain’t saved, fool!” This is an amazing promise in a sense. In the next chapter of John’s letter, he gives us clarity as to how we can walk just like Jesus.
Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him (1 John 3:6).
When we abide in Him, His life becomes our life in a practical way. Since He does not sin, neither will we when we abide (stay) in Him.
God is intent on making this happen, having us fully abiding in Christ at all times. Likewise, we believers are to labor with Him in seeing Christ formed in men as we see in the same chapter of Isaiah:
I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, who will never hold their peace day or night; you who [are His servants and by your prayers] put the Lord in remembrance [of His promises], keep not silence,
And give Him no rest until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise in the earth (vs. 6-7).
God is at rest for the work has been done. Yet He will not rest until the reality of His salvation and our identity in Him are realized. We are at rest and complete in Christ, yet we look forward to increasing revelation and manifestation of our position in Christ. I believe this word to be burning in God’s heart for us in this time in the Body of Christ.
… as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Is. 62:5b).