Creflo Dollar - The Gift
If you have your Bibles, go with me, I want to spend a little time here, Matthew chapter 1. Matthew chapter 1, verse 20 and 21. And he says, "But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins'".
He shall save his people from their sins. I call this Word today "The Gift". You know, there are traditional reasons that people celebrate, Christians, and we compare and contrast the real reasons to celebrate Christmas. I don't know about you, but after so many Christmases, you know, if you're not careful, you begin to focus on the trees. And nothing's wrong with the trees and the lights, and nothing's wrong with the lights. And you're focused on exchanging gifts, and nothing's wrong with that. And you're focused on some of the traditions you've created in your family, and those things are cool. But after so many years, if you're not careful, you'll find yourself not feeling what some people say the Christmas spirit.
But I got news for you, if you're born again, you ought to sense the Christmas spirit every day of your life because he lives on the inside of you. But what you don't want to happen is you don't want every year, you know, you have to go through this thing because, you know, you're just losing the excitement for the traditional things that you do. And yet the real reason to celebrate Christmas is the fact that we were all in bondage, destined to hell. Everybody was.
Laws were given, and it was inevitable that we were eventually not going to be able to keep the laws, even if we were to go 50 days keeping them right, even if we went 5, 10 months keeping them. All of a sudden, there would be a time that we would eventually break them. And the deal was when you chose to break the law, then the wages of sin would be death. And we would find ourselves in a burning hell and no one would be able to get out of this. And so one day, just because he decided to, God got inside of flesh, came to do us a favor, and through him we could be set free from that horrible destiny of a burning hell. He presented to us a gift.
And as I said to you before, a gift is not yours until you receive it. Even though it's available, if you don't take it, it's not yours. And so, we read in the book of Romans chapter 6 and verse 23, if you'll allow me to establish this foundation here, Romans 6:23. And he says in verse 23 very simply, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, and you get that through Jesus Christ our Lord". Now, he's not talking about the gift of God is living forever, although that will happen. But he says the gift of God is eternal life, the very life of God. In the Mirror translation, verse 23 says, "The reward of the law is death. The gift of grace is life". The bottom line is this. Sin employs you like a soldier for its cause and rewards you with death, but God gifts you with the highest quality of life all wrapped up in Christ Jesus our leader.
You see, Romans chapter 7 says, "For without the law, sin was dead". There is no sin without a law. There's no transgression of a speed limit if there's, first of all, not a law that gives you a limit, a speed limit. So, without the law, there is no sin. Without the law, sin will have no opportunity. And what many people think, they think Satan's trying to get you to sin, and Satan's trying to tempt you to do this or to do that wrong. No, no, all he's trying to get you to do is to keep the law. And if you'll keep the law, and with your own effort and with your own performance try to keep it in your own ability, you'll eventually sin because without the law, sin has no opportunity in your life. And then in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and verse 6, he says that the strength of the law or the strength of sin is the law. The strength of sin is the law.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, if the strength of sin is the law, then the strength of righteousness is grace. Amen. You see, I'm talking about receiving a gift. And what is that gift specifically? Well, he says that the reward of the law is death, but the gift of grace is life. But specifically, precisely what is this gift? Go to Romans chapter 5. And in Romans chapter 5, look at verse 14 and 17. Romans chapter 5, now watch this carefully. "Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift".
Everybody shout, "Free gift". "For if through the offence of one", that be Adam, "many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has increased or abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift, for the judgment was by one condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one", that's Adam, "much more they which receive", watch this, "the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by Jesus Christ". The abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness.
Well, what is a gift? I'm sure you understand it, but let me explain it to you again. When he used the word "gift" here in the book of Romans, it's translated in the Greek free gift. And this word "gift" stresses that it's unmerited. It stresses that it's undeserved. I mean, just by the character of the word, it says you don't earn it. By the character of the word, it says you don't deserve it. You see, if we deserve this gift, then it would be a reward. If we pay for this gift, then it would be no longer a gift. He has given us the gift of righteousness, not something that we worked for. Didn't give us righteousness because we deserved it. Didn't give us this gift of righteousness because we earned it. He gave us a gift, was free, unmerited, undeserved. And this gift of righteousness is something that has to be received.
In fact, you cannot even relate to God without receiving this gift of righteousness. Until you receive the gift of righteousness, there's this gap between you and God. You'll be talking to God as an unrighteous, no good for nothing, trying to do your best to get it together person. And God's like, "I don't understand why you're carrying on like that when I gave you the gift to come to me as you ought to be". So, don't insult the giver of the gift. He gave you the gift of righteousness, don't insult him by not receiving it. Don't insult him by trying to earn something that he gave you for free. Don't insult him by trying to do something to deserve it.
You know, many people today will receive gifts that they don't deserve, and they'll have a hard time receiving it, and they'll spend most of the day saying, "I wish I'd have got you something". Why? Because you feel like you need to do something to qualify for the gift that was given to you. Let me tell you something, honey, whatever gifts you get today, just reach your hands out, take it, and say, "Thank you". We already know you didn't deserve it, so go ahead and take it. But don't do something other than the same thing when you're dealing with God's gift. He gave it to you, take it.
So, the gift of righteousness, what is this gift? The gift of being acceptable to God was free to us. You don't have to earn the right to be accepted by God. You don't have to work real hard and religious to be accepted by God. The gift of being acceptable to God is a free gift. And everybody in here can receive it. You don't have to go around and say, "I got to go to church for 20 times in order to be acceptable to God". If you'll just receive it, it's a gift. God will accept you if you'll receive it. Somebody asked me one time, "Well, how do you get this thing to work"? First of all, you got to become aware of what has been made available, then you got to get it on your mind. I'm aware that being acceptable to God is a free gift.
Now that I'm aware of that, let me go ahead and get it on my mind and accept it. And every time the devil comes to you and tell you that God's mad at you, that he doesn't accept you, that he rejects you, that he's upset because what you did, I want you to remind yourself, "Wait a minute, I am aware that to be acceptable to God is a free gift. I receive it. Don't have to earn it. Maybe made a bad decision to do something stupid, but God still accepts me". If you're working to be acceptable to God, you're sinning because you're insulting the giver of the gift.
Look what he said in Romans chapter 8 and verse 32, this is awesome. The gift of being acceptable to God, say out loud, "I'm acceptable to God". It was free to us. Think about it, it was free to us, but it cost him his Son. What we got for free cost God. I am righteous for free. You got to understand something, I didn't have to sing in a choir to be righteous, I didn't have to usher to be righteous, I didn't have to come to church on Christmas to be righteous. I was righteous for free. And like any gift, if you accept it, hallelujah, you can now live the life of benefit, but it cost God to give us something for free.
Listen to me carefully. The most gratifying response that you can give to God for this gift of righteousness is to reach out with your hands, take the gift as somebody that now owns it in possession and you possess it in ownership, and then just say, "Thank you". As a symbol of this, I want you to reach your hands out like this, and I want you to say out loud, "Lord, I receive this gift of righteousness. I receive it in ownership. I possess it now. I am righteous. Thank you".
So, if I'll take all of what I just said and I read Romans 5:17, here's the Creflo Dollar Amplified Mirror version. It would read like this, "Those who are continually receiving the abundance of undeserved favor and continually receiving the free gift of being cleared of all the record of guilt before God, you are as you ought to be because you've accepted this gift. You are acceptable to God, and you have authority by taking captive any thought or fiery dart of the enemy by using the power of our words and by resting in Christ on the throne of heaven. I am the righteousness of God".
Turn to two people and tell them, "I'm the righteousness of God". Now, as I see it this morning, not only do I have the gift of righteousness, but I got his grace. I couldn't work for it, I couldn't earn it. Somebody asked me, "What do I have to do to get this grace to work for me"? Be aware that it exists and get it on your mind. "But yeah, yeah, but what do I have to do to get the grace to work for me"? Be aware that it exists and get it on your mind. "Yeah, I know that, but how many times I got to pray in order to be righteous"?
No, no, no, be aware of the free gift and get it on your mind. And if the devil comes to try to put something else on your mind, use the power of your words. Use your authority and cast those words down. Use your authority and change your thoughts. Use your authority and rest in what Jesus has already finished. And when you don't even feel righteous, open your mouth up and say, "The gift of righteousness has been presented, I'm aware of it. I put it on my mind, and as I see it, I am the righteousness of God without having to do nothing that's right".
Now, immediately that shocked you because you assumed I said you can do what's wrong, but what you don't understand is the day that you receive the gift, the gift will change your character and you ain't going to want to do what's wrong. That's why it's a gift. Once it's received, it's going to do something on the inside of you, praise God. Are you listening to me? Satan tells us that we're not righteous when we fail. How many of you know that? You can feel righteous today, and then tomorrow you don't feel righteous because you keep allowing your behavior to tell you whether you're righteous or not, and you keep forgetting it's a gift. It's a gift.
If this gift was based on what you do, it wouldn't be a gift. Listen, if this gift was based on all the goody goody things you did, it wouldn't be a gift. If this was based on all the bad things you did, it wouldn't be a gift. If this was based on all the church stuff you did, it wouldn't be a gift. You must understand me, it's not a gift if you got to do something to deserve it.
So, when I fail, am I still righteous? Some said yes, some said, "I don't know, that's why I'm here". When you fail, well, let me ask you this, when you were a sinner before you accepted the gift and you did something good, were you still a sinner? Yeah. If you was a sinner on your way to the club, sipping and dipping, wining and dining, getting high, doing all things you did as a sinner, and you stopped and did something good, the good deed did not change your status as a sinner. So likewise, once you've received the gift of righteousness, if you fail, it didn't change who you are. And if you'll keep the gift, it'll change what you do.
See, some want to see this as a license to sin. "Well, Brother Dollar, you've given us a license to sin". Uh-uh, I'm giving you a license not to sin because once you receive the gift, glory be to God, you ain't going to want to do what you used to do. It's hard to keep sinning realizing that he loved you so much, he gave you something that was going to make you better without you having to do anything to deserve it. Once you realize how much you've been forgiven of and how much you are greatly loved, then you ain't trying to sin no more.
When you look and see that he died for you, went to hell for you just to get a gift to you, then it going to blow your mind to say, "How could somebody treat me like this when I don't even use their name, when I don't even do nothing to deserve it"? Because he loves you. Something on the inside of you changes. All of your atoms begin to crash against all these molecules, and it just can't figure out this kind of love. This is what will change you. The Bible says, "The goodness of the Lord will change your mind". Turn to two people and say, "I'm righteous and it's a gift".
I'm going to say something radical here. We never lose this gift once we're born again. God is not someone that gives you something and takes it back. You never lose this gift once you're born again. You know how many years it's taken me to be this bold and say what I'm saying right now? Eight, ten years ago, I wouldn't dare stand in the pulpit and say this. You will never lose the gift of righteousness once you are born again. But our lives may not reflect that truth because when we believe the truth and the truth is grace, grace is the truth, when we believe the grace, it will set us free to receive the benefits of grace.
When you believe you're righteous, it will set you free to receive the benefits or righteousness. If you don't believe you're righteous, you'll never, you'll never display in your life the benefits of righteousness. It's all about right believing. When you believe right, you will live right. When you believe wrong, you're going to live wrong. And a lot of us are victims of wrong belief. We keep believing stuff that somebody said and what they said. Who is they? We don't even know sometimes where we got our belief. We just believe it 'cause we've always believed it.
But I'm telling you right now today, I want you to receive this gift of righteousness, and I want you walking out of here today believing no matter what, "I am the righteousness of God". I dare you the next time you miss the mark that you boldly stand up and say, "I'm still righteous". Now, you'll have other people pointing fingers at you because you're a Christian. You ain't supposed to do this. Where you get that talking about supposed to? How are you going to look at me and tell me what I'm supposed to be? What I'm supposed to do is maintain my identity even in the midst of bad behavior. And if I'll maintain my identity, my behavior will continue to change, hallelujah, because I benefit from what I know. I benefit from what I believe. Are you listening to me?
A gift is not yours until you receive it. You know, when our eyes are open to what Jesus has done for us, then we'll do as we believe, when our eyes are open to what Jesus has done for us. Someone asked me one time, "How do I get this grace to work for me"? You got to open your eyes to it. You got to awake to righteousness. The Bible says, "When you awake to righteousness, you'll sin no more". But when you don't know that, when you think that church and God is all about you doing this in order for him to do that, you have submitted yourself unto the law, and eventually you'll sin.
Haven't you figured out yet everything you try to do on your own, you fail at it? Everything you try to do with your own effort and your own performance, you know, pretending like you're doing it for God, you failed at it. Why? Because he never intended for you, he never intended for you to ever be concerned about good and evil. They ate off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but he never intended for them to eat that tree.