Chapter 10

Righteousness

If you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ and have called upon him for salvation, receiving him into your heart and life as Lord and Savior, then you are righteous. Your righteousness is more than just being forgiven of your sins. It is more than just being considered by God as someone who has never done anything wrong. You have the righteousness of someone who has also done everything right, someone who has done all of God's will, has kept all of his law, and has done it all to perfection. That is the righteousness of Christ, that is his perfect standing with the Father, and that is what you have through faith in him. Jesus' relationship to the Father is the definition of righteousness. There is no other kind. That is what you have and you have it now.

Your righteousness was a free gift from God. It was freely given without reservation. It was given by grace alone without any works or deeds on your part whatsoever. It was paid for by the shed blood of Jesus. You received it by faith. It is perfect righteousness. It is the right standing that Jesus Christ has with the Father. It causes the Father to treat you the same as Jesus. It includes all the benefits and privileges of Jesus' relationship to the Father. If it didn't it wouldn't be his righteousness. You have the privilege of accepting it or rejecting it but you do not have the privilege of changing any of its terms or features.

Your righteousness is more than a legal declaration. It is real. It has substance. The message of Paul's epistles is that we have been made to be the actual righteousness of God through Jesus Christ.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor. 5:21)
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Eph. 4:24)

That is the mystery of the gospel, how a man with a sinful nature can be spiritually reborn with the righteous nature of Jesus Christ. It is the story of identification and substitution. Jesus identified with us by first becoming a man and then by bearing our sin, our separation from God, and our curse in order to redeem us. He died a substitutionary death on the cross. He was there in our place.

Jesus was made alive and raised up from the realm of death and eternal judgement when our redemption had been accomplished. He was restored again to perfect standing with the Father, seated at his right hand. Salvation is an exchange. Our old identity and spiritual nature are crucified and put to death with Christ on the cross and we receive his resurrection nature and identity in exchange. By that we also receive his relationship to the Father.

Jesus revealed the mystery to Paul the apostle and inspired him to write it in his epistles. By the power of the Holy Spirit we can understand it and walk in it.

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: (1 Cor. 2:7)
How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) (Eph. 3:3, 4)

The mystery begins with our spiritual union with Jesus Christ.

For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. …This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:30, 32)
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: …which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Col. 1:26, 27)

Everything that Jesus did at the cross was for us. His death, burial, and resurrection was an eternal event that was accomplished in the spirit realm, free from the limits of time and space. By the work of the Holy Spirit, any man who calls upon the Lord Jesus is supernaturally included with him in that event so that he may receive the results of what God was doing there for all mankind.

We are spiritually immersed into the being of Christ by the Holy Spirit. That is the meaning of baptism. Water baptism is an outward demonstration of what happens in the spiritual realm when a person is placed into Christ.

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, …and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:13)
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Gal. 3:27)
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. (1 Cor. 6:17)

Our spiritual union with Christ began at the cross. It was there that he made the ultimate identification with us in our sin.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? (Rom. 6:3)

In every subsequent step of the redemptive process, we were included with Christ through the spiritual mystery of our union with him. We received the transforming effects of everything that God was doing in Christ as our substitute. Paul records each aspect as it was revealed to him by Jesus: crucifixion, death, burial, being made alive, being raised up, and being seated at the Father's right hand.

Crucified with Christ

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Rom. 6:6)
I am crucified with Christ: (Gal. 2:20a)
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Gal. 6:14)

Dead with Christ

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (2 Cor. 5:14)
Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: (Rom. 6:8)
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ (Col. 2:20a)
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Col. 3:3)
It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: (2 Tim. 2:11)

Buried with Christ

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Rom. 6:4)
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: (Rom 6:5)
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Col. 2:12)

Made alive with Christ

Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Eph 2:5)
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (Col. 2:13)

Raised with Christ

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Eph. 2:6)
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Col. 2:12)
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (Col. 3:1)

Seated with Christ

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,…And you…(Eph 1:19, 20; 2:1a)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Eph. 2:6)

Our spiritual union with Christ and participation with him in every step of his redemptive work is the mystery behind Jesus' statement that we must be born again. Our spirits are re-created and reborn through the process of being made alive with Christ in his resurrection. We are not just covered with a robe of righteousness or merely considered to be righteous. We have been re-created with a righteous new nature and reborn into a new spiritual realm and relationship with God.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. (Gal. 6:15)
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus… (Eph. 2:10a)
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Eph. 4:24)

Knowing that you have that kind of righteousness, that you are accepted and approved by God and his favor is upon you the same as it is upon Jesus, will affect your life in ways that are beyond comprehension.

What does all this have to do with tithing? The righteous, new-creation man in Christ is a different kind of person than ever existed before the resurrection. He lives in a new spiritual realm with a different relationship to God than anyone had before. He walks with God from the new perspective of spiritual union with Christ. The finished work of Christ is the foundation for everything he thinks and does. He lives and moves and has his being in Christ. He relates to everything from the position of being seated with Christ at God's right hand. No other person in the Bible is an accurate example of how the new-creation man in Christ should live and walk with God. The only true example is the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ and tithing is not part of his life, enthroned on high.

Salvation Is More Than Forgiveness

Salvation has not been understood for what it really is. That's why Christians think God's blessing and provision depend on tithing. They think salvation only includes our forgiveness and eternal destiny in heaven—that God's blessing, grace, and provision, for this present life, are based on things we do. That misunderstanding comes from an Old Covenant mentality. It isn't consistent with our new life in Christ and our relationship to God as sons.

Salvation is everything that God accomplished for our benefit on the cross. It includes everything we will ever receive from God, both now and in eternity. There is no blessing, grace, or provision that wasn't totally paid for at the cross. God has already given it all to us in Christ and we receive it all by faith.

God's work of salvation did not originate in the rational mind of man. No human mind could ever conceive something so wonderful. No reasonable person would dare ask God for the kind of grace that he extended to us through Christ. He gave us everything there was to give and there is nothing left to gain by tithing.

All of God's provision for this life as well as the life to come is only offered on his terms: pure grace through faith. He doesn't give us the option of creating our own hybrid doctrines of grace and works. He won't accommodate our religious systems, even if they are based on the story of someone in the Bible. We are now in the New Covenant and God has no pleasure in doctrines that seek to add to the finished work of Christ. He is pleased by faith that accepts his gift of righteousness and ceases from all personal efforts to achieve it.

The doctrine of tithing dilutes the message of perfect righteousness and complete salvation by free grace alone. It diminishes the goodness of God that has abundantly provided everything we need as a totally free gift with no requirement except faith. God has elevated our relationship with him to a place of honor such that we can now have the joy of living and doing everything from pure motives of love and gratitude, untainted by obligation, self-interest, or fear.

The doctrine of tithing also opens the door to our unseen spiritual enemy, Satan, who constantly seeks for an opportunity to work against us. Any church doctrine that diminishes the finished work of Christ on the cross, in any way, will be exploited by the devil to his greatest possible advantage. God's grace comes through faith. Putting just a little attention on our works is enough to stop it. That is why it only takes one wrong doctrine to nullify the power of Christ's resurrection. Galatians 5:9 says, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

Grace and Works Don't Mix

The Bible is emphatic that righteousness by grace cannot be mixed with righteousness by works. They are mutually exclusive. Each one must be all-or-nothing.

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (Rom. 11:6)

In Romans 4 Paul makes it clear that Abraham's righteousness and his receiving of God's promise were based on faith and were a demonstration of God's pure grace, without any works on Abraham's part whatsoever. God's blessing on Abraham had nothing to do with tithing.

For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Rom. 4:2”5)

All of God's promises to us today are obtained by faith through grace.

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all. (Rom. 4:16)

The book of Romans belabors the point that we are now righteous, that it is all through the work of Christ on the cross, and that it is a free gift. It leaves no room for the idea that tithing could be a requirement for receiving anything that God has provided through Jesus Christ. Romans 8:32 emphasizes the point that everything we receive from God is a free gift:

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Not only did God give his own son for us, he freely gave us every other thing that he had to give. He wasn't looking for anything from us but faith. God delights in faith. Faith pleases him in a way the natural mind cannot comprehend.

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (Heb. 10:38)

Faith is the key to everything we receive from God. And since everything we receive from him is by grace, it is no surprise that even our faith is a gift to us from God.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Eph. 2:8)

The doctrine of tithing cannot be held by people without affecting their whole understanding of life in Christ. It colors their view of every individual subject, such as righteousness, grace, salvation, and blessing. It distorts the message of the finished work of Christ. It neutralizes the power of the New Covenant. It detracts from the glory of being a son of God in Christ, seated with him at the Father's right hand, and reigning in life. It diminishes God's goodness, it is a hindrance to his working, and it is inferior to the relationship that he expects to have with his sons.

The Father has given everything to the Son, Jesus, withholding nothing. The entire universe, every natural and spiritual dimension, now belongs to Christ and together with him we were made joint heirs of it all. There is nothing left to gain by tithing. All that remains for us is to lay aside the old low-realm mentalities of life and to grow up into full stature in Christ and begin to live like mature sons of God.