Creflo Dollar - The Contrast: Righteousness and Condemnation
All right, so I'm just getting ready to talk to you right now, okay? Me and you. And I appreciate it because I remember the first time I heard this, I thought, "What"? All right, so here's the deal, I started going to church and when I got to church, I got a list of rules that I had to do in order be qualified as a Christian and as a righteous person. You know, don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, don't kill. And then I took the rules and I tried to do it to the best of my ability, but when I would break 'em, then I'd come back to church and I will feel bad, and sad, and condemned, and full of shame and full of guilt.
And then I even question, am I going to heaven? 'Cause it don't seem like I can keep all of this. And the more I tried, I'd really try hard with willpower, with everything, and I kept failing. I didn't know what was going on. And then one day I realized, wait a minute, the law was given to increase sin in my life. Nobody told me that. I said, "Well, Lord, how am I supposed to ever be holy and live holy"? He says, "I'm the key". He says, "If you'll believe in me, then what I'm going to do now, is you're going to be righteous because I'm righteous. You're going to be holy because I'm holy. You're going to be delivered because, you know, I gave you redemption. Not because of you".
And so, I started just believing him. As I started believing him, the Holy Spirit started working in me and he started taking away the old "want to's" and started giving new "want to's", and all of a sudden, when I would fall again, I would think, "Oh man, I must not be saved". And he said, "Remember, it's not what you do. It's what I did". And I started believing what he did. And then, he started taking away the old "want to's". So where I failed the last time, I found I didn't fall that time because I didn't have the want to because he had already taken it away.
And I realized, "Oh man, if I'll just start believing him, he'll start working in me to give me the desires to please God 'cause nothing's gonna ever change in your behavior until you have a desire to do so, but the Holy Spirit accepted the responsibility to come and change me from the inside and give the desire". And he said to me, "You will be righteous from now on because I am your righteousness".
Do you understand now, baby? You got it. Lord have mercy. See this reminds, this reminds me of me. This reminds me of me. I didn't understand it and I just talked up through the whole process, and she'd been living a life of condemnation trying to be saved and came to church today and got free. That's what it's about. That's what it's about. So that's why I can't come out here with a set sermon and, "Well, you done mess my sermon up. I would explain it to you but I'm right at the good part". No, my job is to minister to minister to people so they can understand it. That one, where that one young lady right there made it worth me coming here today. I can go home and have me some Cheerios 'cause she got it.
Somebody shout, "I'm the righteousness of God". All right, my question, can you sin away your righteousness? Why? What did you do to become righteous? You did one thing. What? You believe God, right? So if you didn't do nothing to become righteous, what is it that you gon' do to lose something you didn't get by doing something? Amen. And most people say, "You can't tell people that or they're just going to keep saying it". No, no, no, no, not if they really believe, 'cause if they really believe then Jesus comes in now.
And see, that's the part you forgot about. The Holy Ghost now comes in and he now does successfully what you have been unsuccessful. We got to trust in the God that we believe in to come in and change our lives from the inside out. But we keep going around, "And it shall be our righteousness only if we do this, only if we do that," and get beat up from the, you know, condemnation, you know where condemnation comes from the most? From church. "I'll tell you one thing, you going to hell by 12, boy". And I love how we rate sin. "Oh, you lied? Well, that's a two. No big deal". You committed adultery. "You committed adultery? That's a 425".
No, all sin has the same measure, and the same Jesus that took care of your sin and rate it number 2, has also taken care of the sin rated 425, but will you believe it enough to stand up and believe I'm righteous after the 425 so that he can take that desire away from you, and then you don't find yourself sleeping around no more because Jesus came and took the desire, and it wasn't your effort, and your self-effort and your willpower that did it. It was Jesus.
So when people ask you how did you get delivered, you can tell them. "Jesus set me free". Amen? So that was before the cross. Before the cross, the condition to righteousness was what you did. You had to keep the commandments, but now let's look at it after the cross. After the cross, what is the requirement for righteousness after the cross? Look at Romans 5:17. Romans 5:17 after the cross. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah. That's what our church is here, and all you're getting to get what? Yeah. Verse 17, "For if by one man's offence death reigned". So that one man that calls death to reign or to rule was Adam. "Much more they which receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness".
So in the new covenant, righteousness is a gift. He says, "They shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ". Righteousness is a gift. Righteousness is a gift. Question: can you earn a gift? Can you work for a gift? Can you strive for a gift? It wouldn't be a gift, would it? If you can do any of those things, then it is something that is owed you, something that you earned, something that you worked for. A gift is something that you get and you may not even deserve it. In fact, I'm sure you didn't deserve it, but you got it anyway. How many of you gave some relatives some gifts during Christmas, and you thought, "They don't even deserve this. They got on my nerves so much I ought to keep this shirt". Some of ya kept it, didn't ya?
Well, that's what a gift is. It's not because you deserve it. And most of the time, when you give people a gift, they say, "Oh, I don't deserve that". Well, that's why we call it a gift. That's why we call it... I didn't give it to you because you deserved it. And see, what we've done, so much under the law, that's even messed up our gift giving. We start, we are now giving gifts because we giving it to people who think deserve it. It's really not a gift. If you can go and say, "Well, I'mma give them a gift 'cause they really earned this gift". That's not a gift. That's not a gift. That's not a gift.
You know, it's kind of like you buy somebody a car and you give it to 'em a car. They've been walking for 15 years, you got 'em a car, and then they get in the car talking about, "You didn't get the CD player? Didn't they have white seats instead of these brown ones. I don't like brown". Now, how many of you know, the book of cussing is rising up on the inside of you? You know, you thought you buried it but all of sudden you remember where it was and it's like, "Are you kidding me? You ungrateful".
But you got to understand that you're not giving a gift for any other reason except, you know, you decided to do so. And if they decided to act, you know, I gave somebody something, they called me up and they said, "Is it all right if I sell 'em"? I'm like, "You don't have to ask me, it's yours. It's yours". You have to also learn how to receive something as a gift as well as give it as a gift. I mean if you gon' give me something and it's a gift, that's mine. Don't ask for it back.
I was a little boy in Sunday school. Mr. Freeman was my Sunday school teacher and we had some kind of little Sunday school contest, and the prize was an old silver dollar. And they gave it to me and they said, "This is your silver dollar". That was, it was, I probably could have a got a lot of it. It was like 1700 on it, something like that, but across the street from the church there was a little convenience store and they sold cookies. You remember that? Ms. Thomas, I think, had that silver dollar. And so, she gave it to me, so I went and bought me a dollar worth of cookies.
So later on, she said, "I need the silver dollar back". I said, "I thought you gave it to me. I won. That was my silver dollar". She found out I spent that silver dollar on some cookies, she got so mad. And I'm thinking, "Well you shouldn't have gave it to me". What I'm supposed to do? Just keep it? I'm a kid. I'm going to keep it and just look at it all year long? This thing don't mean nothing to me unless I can spend it. And I spent it on butter cookies. Mr. Mack, you said it was a penny a cookie, right? Two cookies for a penny? God to mighty, know we were living good then. Two butter cookies for a penny and they used to put 'em in them brown paper sack. You was having them, them big jar next to the pickled pig feet. Y'all remember.
Come on, now. Millennials like, "Aw, that's nasty". And you a kid, and you can walk away with 50 butter cookies with some orange soda. And then stop by Ms. Whatever her name house and get a freezy cup for a dime. And you know how you eat them freezy cup, you work it up a little bit, working 'em till you can flip it over. Shut your mouth up, boy. But it was a gift, and when it is a gift, it is yours, not because you earned it, not because you deserve it. When you believe that Jesus had been made righteous, he gave you the gift of righteousness, not because you deserved it, not because you were really good, not because you talked in tongues, not because you prayed for five hours, but you simply believed. And the day you believed, heaven said, "You're righteous". It is your gift. Amen.
Now, why it is so important for us to receive this gift of righteousness? Righteousness will cause a man to mature. It takes maturity to know you're righteous even though you haven't been living right. I might as well go ahead and say it. I keep calling it mistakes, you're righteous even though you sin. I know that goes... here's the deception. You think that's deception, the real deception is in the pulpit when people told you, you were not righteous if you sin. That's deception. That's big deception. And then you believed that. Under the law that was true but it's not true under grace.
So you grew up all your life thinking you could sin away your righteousness. I don't care how bad it is, how ugly it is, how nasty it is, if you just hold on to who you are in Christ, that will change. That will be transformed. The day you believe you're righteous, that's the day your transformation starts.
So what the enemy's going to do is, "Okay, well, they think they're flawless and so I'm just going to get 'em to sin, and then they'll turn loose their righteousness and then I'll stop this whole process from going". That's when you have to have tears in your eyes, and grit your teeth and in the middle of everything screaming out that you're not righteous, you got to say, "I am still the righteousness of God. I am not righteous because of what I do. I'm righteous because of who I believe". Somebody shout that for me. "I am still the righteousness of God".
Now, of course, you know once you get born again, you are, you know. And righteousness is available for those who receive Jesus. Amen? Now, this is so important here. I want to read this Scripture because I want to show you that maturity comes through righteousness. Let's look at Hebrew 5:12 through 13. Understanding righteousness causes us to be mature, and it takes a mature Christian to know that he is still righteous, even though he didn't do right. It takes a mature Christian to know that he is still righteous, even though he doesn't do right.
Here's the thing that's so deceiving, is some people hear this and say, "No, no, no. I disagree. If you sin, if you sin, you a sinner. You ain't still right". Well, that means you a sinner all the time. You say that as if you don't issues, and that becomes the problem. "Well, oh no, you can't be righteous. You a sinner". You too. You too. The fact of the matter is we are no longer sinners once we get born again. We are new creations being transformed from the software of sinner, because we no longer have sinner man in us.
We have new creation man in us the day you get born again. That's why it's important to get born again. But there's nobody on the planet that's without sin. You call it big sin, little sin, the Bible calls it whatever you doing out of faith is sin. The Bible says, "To know to do good and to do it not, is sin". That's everybody in here. So where did you get off thinking that none of this deals with you? You are missing the mark like everybody else. That's why you need a Savior. Everybody in here got some kind of weakness in their life. Oh, doggone it. Some of these people don't think they have it. Everybody in here has some kind of weakness in his life.
Let me break this thing down. Because you still thinking about the big ten. "I ain't got no weakness and the like. I don't cuss, I don't smoke. I've never slept with anybody that I'm not supposed to sleep with. I don't look at porn. I don't look at R rated movies. I do none of that stuff. I don't even look at my naked body when I get out of shower. I am holy". No, let me tell you what you are, you are self-righteous. You're righteous by your own criteria. You're self-righteous, and self-righteousness is unrighteousness.
We all have issues. Yeah. You don't do those things but you have an attitude issue. You're not respectful to people or to your parents. And I'm talking about you 45, still ain't learn how to be respectful to your parents. I mean the Bible, you know, Paul was saying, you know, "Children obey your parents for this is right". And you, you ain't even doing that. You're mean to waitresses and waiters when you go the restaurant. You come in there arrogant and mean and you look down at them, and they're there to try to work and to do a service, and you talk to 'em any kind of way.
"Let me see your manager," like you really got some power. Your problem is, is you got some emotional issues that's you feel the need to try to control somebody else because any time your emotions are out of control, you want to control other people, so you telling on yourself. And then you got the unmitigated gall to get up and not leave a tip, 'cause you don't think they earned it. Seriously? And then you come to church with this self-righteous attitude that there's no way what I'm saying could be right, and don't even look at your own self and how you treat people?
And you in here with a 25-year strife against somebody for something that was done when y'all were kids, and you ain't got no issues? And you ain't tipping out on your wife, but you sure thinking about somebody else more than her. You got issues but you don't call them issues, you call them little issues. You exaggerate; that's called lying. You don't smoke weed but you smoke them electric, little... what them thing they got out today, them little... yeah, y'all know what I'm talking about. You eat apple pie by yourself. You greedy or a glutton. How do you say you don't have issues? How do even begin to say you don't have issues.
Everybody, everybody in the house got issues. How you do figure? This church is not filled this morning with flawless, perfect people. This church, it just, it freaks me out when parents even get up and say, "Oh, my children are perfect". Ain't no way in the world. Ain't nobody got no perfect children. If children were perfect, you wouldn't need to parent 'em and mess them up. Ain't nobody got no perfect children. Ain't no perfect parent, ain't no perfect children, ain't no perfect dogs, cat. Ain't nothing in here flawless.
The only perfect person to walk the planet ever was Jesus Christ, and he don't need you but we sure need him. But if you think you don't need him because somehow deception has entered it in your mind that you don't have no issues, zero issues because you don't break the big ten, there's 613 laws. There are more laws on the inside of you that violate your conscious and you let mammon drive you every day. You come to church talking about you loving God, but if somebody offered you an extra thousand dollars, you'd be surprised how you would just not hear from God no more and follow the money.
How do you say you don't have issues? So what we've done, is we put all of these wonderful things we do on the side here to help us feel self-righteous, and then we leave all of the little sins down here and then we come to church and we compare ourselves with everybody else and we say, "You know I must be all right because at least I didn't do that". "Oh, man, let me compare myself. Oh, they did that. Mm, I must be really good 'cause I didn't do that". And with every comparison, you limit God. And with every comparison, you exalt the self-righteousness in your life, with every comparison. And how do you come to church, even me, even a preacher, even the preachers in the pulpit, how does a preacher get in the pulpit...
And some people ask me, well, you know, "I notice, Pastor, you don't hardly preach from the pulpit, why"? I got my reasons but. No, but seriously, we got this pulpit here and the preacher gets up here and it's like a picture of flawless. And if he buys that, that's the biggest deception he could buy. But that preacher gets in that pulpit and for some reason in his head he thinks he's flawless, he has no issues, he is the man of God, that's not true. How would you relate to people if you don't even know what they're going through?