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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 61

The Crowning (continued)

The Crown of Righteousness

Now, you see these three things. First of all, righteousness - the crown of righteousness. What we have been saying in earlier meditations is that righteousness is the battleground of this great cosmic conflict between the two kingdoms. And what is righteousness? Well, after all, it is a matter of God having His rights. Those rights of God to absolute Lordship were disputed or challenged long ago - before this present world creation was brought about. Failing in heaven, the challenge followed in the earth. A great betrayal of God by Adam put this world and its race into the hands of satan. Self in all its forms of pride - self-interest, self-realization, the satanic "I will" - reared itself up in Adam against God; and that is unrighteousness. And righteousness, we have been seeing, is just the reverse of that - no longer "I" but the Lord, the changing of the center of things from the self-center to the God-center. That is the battleground, and we know that that is not outside of ourselves but inside; and when we are told that He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor.5:21), we know that provision was  thereby made for us to enjoy a change of disposition. Righteousness is a disposition that God shall be all in all, that everything shall be centered in God and be unto Him. Unrighteousness is a disposition that we shall be the center, and everything unto us; and that is satanic!

Now if you look at it, you will see that that is just what Paul was referring to. He is the great Apostle of righteousness. That goes without saying. When we look to see what Paul meant by righteousness, and what it meant to him, how constantly are we confronted with the Cross, and the Cross in relation to the man! We are so familiar with those chapters in his letter to the Romans, notably chapter 6. We know Galatians 2:20, and many other passages like it, such as 2 Corinthians 5:14 - "One died for all, therefore all died." He did not regard righteousness as something abstract. Righteousness with him was a matter of one man being displaced by another - of Adam altogether put out of court and Christ put in his place. That is what the Apostle meant by righteousness. It was focused and centered in the Cross, where not only the secondary effects of the fall - sins - are dealt with, but also the primary effect - sin. Sin is the dethroning of God from His true place. Righteousness is the bringing of God back into His place, His rights and His rightful position; and the Cross did that. Paul was the great champion of the righteousness which is established by the death and burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and it is to that fight he refers. In effect, he is saying, 'I became committed to the great fight that God should have His place utterly and absolutely. I became involved in a course, the end of which was that God should be all in all. That was the trust deposited with me - to secure for God His rights through the Cross of the Lord Jesus. My life has been poured out for that; that has been the fight.'

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 62)

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