Robert Morris — Amazing Righteousness
Alright, I want you to turn in your Bibles to Romans 4. It's the only passage I'm going to ask you to turn to today. And we're in a series called "Amazing Grace". What I want to know is, are you still amazed by grace? Because it's that good. Because the enemy tries to get us as believers to move in the works. You know, we start serving in the church, we start reading our Bible, we start praying, we stopped cussing and smoking, and we don't chew anymore. We don't go with girls who do. You know, we kind of — we get a little better and we don't sin nearly as much as we used to. And so, maybe, we don't need grace now quite as much as we did 20 years ago.
Well, I want you to be just as amazed as you were with saving grace, I want you to be that amazed with sustaining grace. And let me just say, sustaining grace is just as good as saving grace. It's all grace. So, this week, we're going to talk about amazing righteousness. And you may not be amazed yet about righteousness. But, hopefully in a few minutes you will be. Romans 4:1, "What then shall we say that Abraham, our father, has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God".
Now, remember we talked about this last weekend. No one's going to boast in heaven. Let me put that in Texan. There ain't going to be no bragging in heaven. Verse 3, "For what is the Scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was accounted to Him for righteousness. Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace, but as debt. But to him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness".
Think about it. If you go out on the street, and to a mall or sports game or something and you just interviewed some people that don't go to church, that have never been taught the Bible, and you said to them, "What do you have to do to go to heaven"? What are you going to hear? What's the answer you're going to hear? Be good. Be a good person. Right. And some will say it like this, "Do more good than bad. Hopefully, at the end of your life you have more good in your account than you do bad and then you get to go to heaven". Well, the only problem with that is, is that God's standard is not good, it's perfect.
So, how am I ever going to get to heaven? Let me ask you this. I know when I know no one will raise their hands on this first question, I'll ask you, too, but no one'll raise your hands on your first one. I know that because, is there anyone here that has broken every law? Every law. Well, let me read you a Scripture. And I'm going to read it out of The Living Bible. I know this is a paraphrase. The guy wrote it for his children to be able to understand the Bible. But I think it helps us understand this Scripture a little bit. I like the way the wording is. James 2:10 says, "And the person who keeps every law of God, but makes one little slip is just as guilty as the person who has broken every law that there is".
OK. Here's the second question. See if anyone raises your hands. How many of you have made at least one little slip? OK, that's kind of like the death rate. About 100%. And actually, I'm a little shocked, you bunch of sinners. Got a church full of sinners, Pastor David. New King James says it the same way, "Whoever shall keep the whole law, yet stumble in one point, he's guilty of all". OK. So, if God's standard is perfect and none of us have been perfect, how do we get to go to heaven? It's really simple. It's real simple. We believe in the Perfect One. The One who did keep the whole law, Jesus Christ.
Now, look back at Verse 3, because we want to key in on this Scripture for the whole message, alright. It says, "For what does the Scripture say, Abraham believed God". That's one part that I want to talk about. You know how I am. I like three points. So, that'll be one of the points. "Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him". There's the second part that we're going to talk about. "For righteousness". And that's the third part that we're going to talk about. But I want to flip them. I want to start with righteousness and work backward. Alright?
So, here's point number one, what is righteousness? What is righteousness? Well, if I said to you, "That person is a righteous person". And you assume that means he lives to the best of his ability righteously. OK, that's a correct assumption. It's just not the only assumption. And let me say it to you this way to get us to think about grace and works. Is he righteous because he does righteous things? Or does he do righteous things because he's righteous? That's the whole difference between grace and works right there. The way you understand grace will affect the way you see God and relate to God. It affects the way you see others and the way you relate to others. And it affects, mainly, the way you see yourself and the way you actually relate to yourself when you stumble in one little point or make a mistake.
So, righteousness is, let me explain, and I asked the question, what is righteousness? Righteousness is right standing with God. OK. That's the easiest definition of righteousness. Righteousness is the state of being right with God. Right standing with God. OK. Now, can a righteous man do an unrighteous deed? Well, if you have any wonderment about that, look in the mirror. Because you've done a lot of unrighteous things, right? Even since you've believed in Jesus. OK. So, a righteous person can do unrighteous things. Can an unrighteous person do a righteous deed? Yeah. Yeah. An unrighteous person, who hasn't been saved yet, can do right things.
But, does the righteous deed that the unrighteous person does make him righteous? Does the righteous deed that the unrighteous man does, does that make him righteous? Does that make him in right standing with God? Does it? Because he does something right? No. He's got to accept Jesus Christ. Now listen to me, though. Does the unrighteous deed that the righteous man does, does that make him unrighteous? No. Because I'm righteous by my position, not by my performance. Now, it's wrong to do those things and I'll suffer consequences from doing those things and I can go down a road to where I could actually destroy my life if I allow anger to stay in my life or something. You see what I'm saying? But, I'm put in right standing with God by the blood of Jesus. We have to know that. OK.
So, that's what righteousness is. Here's question number two. Did Abraham earn it? Did he earn it? Well, when you go back to Romans 4:2 says, "If Abraham was justified by works he has something to boast about, but not before God," for what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God and it was accounted," now we're going to talk about this, "to Him for righteousness. Now, to him who works the wages are not counted as grace, but as debt". And this word counted, accounted means to keep records of credits and debits. It's accounting. It's the class you did not like in college. OK. Some of you did, but, you know, not many. OK. All right. So, that's what it means, keeping records of debits and credits. All right?
So, here's what it says. "Now, to him who works it's not counted as grace, but as debt". It's saying, if Abraham had done works, then God would have owed him. It would have been a debt to God. God would have owed him payment for his good works. In other words, like if someone came and did a job at your house, landscaping or something like that, after they do the job, you owe them. You owe them. It's a debt to you. You owe them for what they did. So, what he says is, "God didn't owe Abraham". He did not owe him and God doesn't owe anyone. So, it's all about this accounting.
Let me draw this out for you, alright. Let's do three containers. OK? Three containers. And these three containers are going to be like accounts. Alright? And what we're going to do is were going to do three different people here. We'll actually put names on them, alright? What we're going to do is we're going to do the account of a bad person, the account of a good person, and the account of a perfect person. Obviously, this is going to be Jesus. Because He's the only one that lived a perfect life. So, this is His account. Alright?
So, now I want to do an account of a bad person. I'm talking about before He meets Jesus, before he believes. I'm going to put a name on it. OK. Alright, I got one. I know this guy. He's really, he was really bad. OK. Alright. Just a random name. Just a random name I came up with. But this is a guy I know who was a bad person. Obviously, I'm talking about me. OK. So, a good person, and again, just a random name. No one in particular. Not trying to earn points or anything like that. So, just random. Random. OK. Alright. So, a bad guy before he got saved. I didn't get saved until I was 19. I got saved in a motel room. Debbie got saved at nine. Nine, OK. I got saved at 19. I was delivered from drugs. She was delivered from bubble gum, you know. And she's free. She's totally free. She's free.
So, OK. So, what did my account look like before I got saved? Now, let's come up with a code "S" is going to stand for sin, "R" is going to stand for righteous, like righteous deeds. Alright? Good deeds, right deeds, doing the right thing. OK? So, before I got saved, this is what my account looked like. OK? OK, you get the picture? OK. But, I did a few right things. I did. I went to my church, church with my parents. So, I had a few "R's" in my account. I did a few — no, that one wasn't righteous. OK. Alright?
Debbie's account, on the other hand, really, looked like this. I mean, her parents told her to do something, she obeyed. She had a whole bunch of righteous deeds in her account before she got saved. But, because she's a human, she had a few, you know, a few little sins in her account. OK. So, how are we going to go to heaven? Here's something else I want you to understand. Even Debbie's righteousness, isn't like Jesus'. What would Jesus' account look like? He's just righteous, right? But even Debbie's righteousness — remember this Scripture, Isaiah 64:6, "All our righteousnesses," plural, all our individual acts of righteousness, "are like filthy rags". So, actually this "R" could stand for rags. OK. So, here's our accounts. OK.
So, if God looks at my account He sees all this sin and He sees filthy rags. And He looks at Debbie's account and he sees sin, because everyone sins, but He sees filthy rags. He does not see righteousness, right standing with God. So, what's He going to do? How am I going to go to heaven when I have sin in my account, Debbie had sin in her account, Abraham had sin in his account, and you have sin in your account? How am I going to go to heaven? And Jesus has righteousness in his account. Well, here's what happened 2.000 years ago. God took the righteousness out of His own Son's account and God put the sins of the whole world in His Son's account. And that's why His Son was condemned to death. Because the Bible says, "God took the One who knew no sin and made Him sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God".
So, when Jesus died for our sins — you have to understand, something happened very amazing. A lot of people don't realize this. Jesus shed His blood and the blood of Jesus erased our sins. Completely. And, not only our sins, listen, the blood of Jesus erased the sins of the whole world. A lot of people don't realize this. Jesus died for the world. It said, "God was in Jesus, reconciling the world to Himself," listen to this, "Not imputing," this is the same word for accounting, "not accounting," not counting, "their sins against them. God, took away the sin of the whole — I know you think, "Well, I don't understand that, then because I know some people aren't going to go to heaven". That's correct. Because God gave you a will and you have to choose whether you're going to receive what Jesus did for you or not. But, here, I'm going to make a shocking statement. People don't go to hell for sin, because Jesus already paid for their sin. They go to hell for unbelief. That's why they go to hell.
So, God put all of my sins in Jesus' account and He erased, He erased my account. No sin in my account. But there's also no righteousness. But, when I was 19, I believed in Jesus and God put righteousness in my account. When Debbie was 9, she believed in Jesus, God put righteousness in her account. When Abraham was 75, he believed and God put righteousness in his account. When did you believe? Have you believed? And, here's what James tells us about Abraham. It says, "Abraham put works to his faith". In other words, his faith was active because faith that's not active is dead, the Bible says. In other words, when God said, "Move," Abraham moved. He started obeying. So, it's not enough to believe with just your mind. Because there's a whole lot of people that do that. But they still do what they want to do. When you really believe, you start following Jesus Christ.
So, how did Abraham get it? Here's point number three, how did Abraham get it? What did Abraham have to do? What'd he have to do? He had to believe. John 6:28-29, "Then they said to Him, 'What shall we do that we may work the works'" notice plural, "'of God?' Jesus answered and said them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'" This is the only thing you have to do. You have to believe. But, it has to be in your heart, not just your head. OK.
But let me tell you something about this story that a lot of people don't get. We read about Abraham and we think Abraham was a really good guy and we read about people in the Bible and somehow we make them superhuman. They're not like we are. You know, they don't go through what we go through. And, you know, they were these super humans that God chose. Well, read your Bible a little closer. They were regular people. And they had "S's" in their accounts. And, to let you help you a little bit with Abraham, God shows up in Genesis 12, that's when God spoke to him, that's when Abraham believed, and righteousness was put in his account. But can I tell you about Abraham before Genesis 12? OK.
Abraham, now this is going to shock you, Abraham was a heathen. So, God shows up and in essence this is what He says to Abraham. "Abraham, this is going to be hard for you to believe. Considering what you've heard about me and what they write about me in the media and the secular papers, this is going to be hard for you to believe what I'm about to tell you. But, I did not come today to judge you. I didn't come to condemn you. I didn't come to clean your clock. And I could. I came today for one reason. I came to bless you". You read it. Genesis 12. "It's the only reason I came," God says. "I came to bless you". And Abraham believed. And when he believed, God took sin out of Abraham's account and put righteousness in his account. And Romans 4 says, "That's what's God does for you when you believe".
Now, you've heard my story, let me just give you a little bit of Debbie's story. The way Debbie got saved was that her grandmother planned a sleep over for a week during the summer for all the grand kids. And her grandmother was a real godly woman, but she planned it for a specific week. She had all the grand kids over her house. They played. They had fun. But, after dinner, she had all of them sit down and she turned the TV on because that was the week that the Billy Graham Crusade was on TV. And she planned it and all of them watched.
Now, I kind of hate to tell you this, because it dates me, but back then, this is going to be shocking to many of you, we only had three channels. You know, you couldn't go to something else. And then she said, at the end of the week, her grandmother gathered all the grand kids and she said to them, "I'm not going to be here forever, kids. I'm not going to be on this earth forever. And more than anything in the world, I want all of you to come to heaven so we can be together forever".
And about a year later she passed away from cancer. And Debbie remembered and she thought I want to be with my grandmother in heaven. And I believe what she told me. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He died on the cross for my sins. I believe it. And at nine-years-old, she gave her life to Jesus Christ. And the same grace that got me out of all the sin that I was in, kept my beautiful wife from ever going into that lifestyle.
You know, it really is amazing when you think about it. That God puts us in right standing with Him because we believe. Because we put our faith in Jesus Christ, all of our sins are forgiven and we can be in right standing with God. I want to encourage you, if you've never heard this before, right now, simply put your faith and your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. That Jesus died for your sins, was buried, rose from the grave on the third day and that you receive Him as your Lord and your Savior and God deposits righteousness in our account when we believe. Hey, I'm going to continue this series next week. So, I want you to watch as we continue, "Amazing Grace".