“Hey, You: Talk to the Man on the Cross!” (On the Righteousness of Believers)

Phyllis Nissila

Wondering who the You I am addressing in the title is? Who (hint, hint) prowls around seeking whom he may devour? Who likes to snake upside a believer’s brain with Blame and Shame thus keeping the spiritual klieg light on us and our efforts to save ourselves (not good) and away from the righteousness imputed to us through Jesus Christ (good)? [1]

Satan.

Correct.

And the prize? More of that “peace that passes all understanding” promised by Jesus to those who put their faith in Him—the One Who died in our stead, His blood covering our sin, guilt and shame.

Sounds pretty simple, huh? Put the Devil in his place with some power-packed Scripture by claiming our righteousness in Jesus Christ and walk away easy.

But as usual, sigh, not so easy.

Why?

Well, for starters, what earnest, true believer has not looked at him/herself in the spiritual mirror and queried, down-hearted, “Oh, no! I said (or did or thought or wished) WHAT? And I’ve been walking with Jesus Christ ____ (fill in the blank) years, now?!”

And immediately, the Blame and Shame begin…

Not that we don’t deserve the B and S, to be sure. And even though we’ve heard the good word about that in the Good Word: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, NIV), it’s still hard.

The problem is, head knowledge doesn’t always filter down to emotional knowledge–you know, the place where we feel things, where we are wont to curl up in the spiritual fetal position and moan in regret because it seems we came up short. Again.

Even St. Paul had his moments in the mirror (Romans 7:13-20).

And, worse yet, for those of you (like me) reared in the Sacred Tradition of Works (one size fits all denominations), it might not even be the “seven deadlies,” the “frightful five,” or even the “nasty nine” (or whatever other list of sins we come up with) that trip us up and for which we assume the position.

We sweat even the small stuff, or the past stuff.

Something triggers a decidedly non-Christian word, thought, or deed from some unfortunate situation soon forgotten or long past, and we head for the corner where, trapped by the truth of us—and not yet remembering the Truth of Him (see above)—we marinate in misery.

And there (cue the Jaws theme), in the fertile valley of our self-made angst, You enters, locked and loaded with accusations.

“Oh, what a hypocrite are you,” he begins, smiling, I imagine, a nasty little snake smile. “And what are people going to think now! And how many people will turn away from The-One-I-Hate-and-Whose-Name-I-Refuse-to-Pronounce because of what you did!”

Or, worse, “You will NEVER EVER be able to overcome THIS sin!” (Emergency insert: “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…” Proverbs 24:1.)

Know what I mean?

Or maybe not. (In which case I think you would be a rare and especially blessed believer!)

But before I trigger too much spiritual trauma, here, let me encourage you with something I am now applying to the situation.

You know the expression, “Talk to the hand,” which means, to finish the statement, “because I’m not engaging with you anymore.”? Spiritually, I go one further.

“Talk to the Man on the cross,” I now say, when cornered with yet another failure in my “journey in progress,” “because my righteousness is not due to my works, but due to His.

Cheap grace?

One sometimes hears this claim in opposition. But in response to that I wonder if he/she who argues thus has ever really considered the full import of that bloody day on Calvary, the weight of prophecy regarding its full intent, the unimaginable suffering of the only Sacrificial Lamb Who alone, through His flawless sacrifice, has the power to reconcile us with a God Whose perfect love also requires perfect justice?

I often wonder that…

But back to the scene in front of the mirror of (potential) doom.

Just in case Whoever won’t listen and continues his prowl-about in your mind and heart, add the following to your response, at will, and repeat as needed:

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH (Romans 1:17, NASB).

 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith (Romans 4:13).

And my personal favorite:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

And we are also promised help in the process of improving our “spiritual best,” as it were: “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NASB).

NOTE: For those new to all this and who may just now wonder, but how do you get there from here? Yield to the salvation power of God’s call on your life. Acknowledge your sin and ask Jesus Christ to come into your life as Savior and Lord. In short: “for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (sozo, “rescued, delivered out of danger and into (God’s) provisions”) (Romans 10:13). Then get yourself into His Word ASAP for the road map. I’d start with the Gospel of John.

Oh, believers, one more thing.

For those really hard-to-eradicate blames and shames, this additional little reminder for that old Despicable You: It didn’t end at the cross of (our) guilt and sin. There is, you see, this empty tomb…in a garden…outside the old city of Jerusalem…

***

[1] “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB).

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One Response to “Hey, You: Talk to the Man on the Cross!” (On the Righteousness of Believers)

  1. Carl Gordon says:

    And this morning Jesus led me to read 2 Timothy 2:1 “You, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus…” after reading this along with your post on “Talk to the Man on the Cross” Jesus gave me a personal breakthrough today. So Grateful

    Like

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