Robert Morris - The Robe Of Righteousness
So, we're going to begin a three week series. I'll be here all three weeks, and I'm calling the series, "Sons, not Servants". And, I'm taking it from the story in Luke 15 of the Prodigal Son, in that he wanted to be treated like a servant because his behavior had been bad, but the father still treated him like a son. And so, I know that we do serve the Lord. I know that most of the apostles began their epistles with, "Servant of Jesus Christ, Servant of God". I know we're servants, and I know we serve. But, I've got to clarify some things about that, and here's the main thing. We're not sons because we serve. We serve because we're sons. But we're sons because of birthright, not because of behavior. I want to say that one more time. We're sons and daughters because of birthright, not behavior, and we're going to look at this in the Scripture here. But when the son returns, the Prodigal Son returns, the father gives him three gifts.
So, we're going to take the next three weeks and look at these three gifts, and the first is, "The Robe of Righteousness". He gives him a robe, a ring, and shoes. And so, we're going to talk about, "The Robe of Righteousness", and what that means, all right? But, just notice - we're going to read a little bit of Luke 15. Notice how many times you'll see the word, "son", or you'll see the word, "servant", all right? And I'm going to show you some things out of all of my years of preaching, and especially on Luke 15, that I've never seen before. The Word is so amazing. You can open the Word up and see something you've never seen.
So, Luke 15, look at Verse 17. It says, "But when he came to himself". You know, that's the Prodigal Son and when he realized he'd been an idiot, that's what it means in the Greek. "He said, 'How many of my father's hired servants'" - I just want you to notice the word, "hired", because he's talking about employees here, okay? He's not talking about slaves. He's talking about employees, or people who aren't enslaved. He's talking about employees. Hired, they get paid for what they do. "How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread". I just simply want to remind you. We've talked about, "The Blessed Life" and "Beyond Blessed". That doesn't mean the car we drive, or the house we live in, or anything like that. It means we have more than enough. It means we have enough to provide for our family, and more to help others.
So, he's saying even my father's employees have more than enough. "More than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger". Remember, he's in a pig pen right now. "I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you'". Now, we're going to come back to this phrase, but watch this. "I am no longer worthy to be called your son". There's the word, "son". We've already seen the word, "servants". "Treat me as one of your hired servants". I'm not worthy to be called a son, treat me like a servant. Now, try to remember that, because you're going to see in a moment that he's worked up his speech and the father doesn't let him finish it. I'm no longer worthy to be called a son, treat me as a servant. I'm not good enough to be a son, treat me as a servant.
All right. "And he arose and came to his father, but while he was still a long way off", that means the Father is always looking for prodigals to come home, "his father saw him, felt compassion", that's how He feels about prodigals, "and ran", that means God'll come to you if you'll start coming to Him, "and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him", remember his speech, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. But", but, "the father said", notice he didn't let him finish, "'treat me like a servant'. But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand'". All three of these things represent something in the Scripture that we'll look at. "'And shoes on his feet. And bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate, for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found'. And they began to celebrate". Notice he doesn't get to finish his speech.
Now, here's the first thing you need to know about these gifts, and we'll get to point one in a moment, but I just want to explain a little about the servants and sons, is that every gift that he gave him was a gift you gave a son, not a servant. Every one of them, I'll show you in Scripture, it's what you took away from servants, but you gave only to sons - the robe, the ring, and the shoes. And I want you to also notice several times Jesus makes statements like this, John 8:35, "And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever". Galatians 4, "Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son". By the way, John 8 is talking about a slave to sin, Galatians 4 is talking about a slave to the law. And then, John 15:15, Jesus said, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing".
So, what's the robe represent again? It's the robe of righteousness. I'm going to show you several Scriptures throughout the message, but let me show you one. Isaiah 61:10, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. My soul shall be joyful in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation. He has covered me with the robe of righteousness". The robe of righteousness. So, let me remind you, what does righteousness mean? It means right standing with God. Right standing with God, but we're going to talk about it. Remember, I always like three points. Here's number one - earned or a gift? Because, this will change everything in your life, and you can't imagine how many of you will give the answer, it's a gift, but you act like it's earned. This changes everything about the way you see God, everything about the way you see yourself, everything about the way you see your behavior and your performance, everything about the way you see others, everything about the way you treat yourself, everything about the way you treat others, everything about the way you treat God.
You can't imagine how, if I could flip this switch in you, that it is 100% a gift, and 0% earned. Tell me what the Prodigal Son had done to earn these three gifts. He'd been a prodigal - wasteful living, living without restraint is what a prodigal means, and especially in the area of sex, promiscuity, and drinking. That's the definition of being a prodigal, okay? So, what had he done to earn these gifts? Nothing. They were gifts. And I want you to notice what he says. This is the part, out of all of the times I've read this and preached on this passage, I'd never seen this. Verse 19, "I am no longer worthy to be called your son". "I am no longer worthy to be called your son". Okay, listen. You know what that tells me? That means at some point, he thought he was worthy. Think about it. In other words, he wouldn't have said, "I'm not worthy to be called your son". He said, "I'm no longer worthy". I was. When I stayed at home and when I did the right things, I was worthy. But when I did the wrong thing, then I wasn't worthy.
Now, listen! We think this way. We come to church and if we've had a bad week, we think, "I'm not worthy this weekend to worship God, to lift my hands. I'm a hypocrite. Nobody knows what I did this week, or what I did last night. I'm no longer worthy to be called a son or a daughter". And then we have a good week, and we say, "Well, I read in the devotional five out of seven days. So, this week, I'm worthy". Well, let me just give you some good news, which is actually maybe bad news to you, but it's actually good news. You've never been worthy! You've never been worthy? If you do the devotional all seven days, you're not worthy! Okay, so let me show you a few verses. Now, I'm in Romans 4 and it's talking about Abraham, but it quotes some Old Testament Scriptures to back it up, and then it applies it to us, and I'll go back to the Scripture about Abraham, but I did want to start with that, then you'll see why in a moment, all right?
Romans 4:6 says, "Just as David also describes the blessedness", or "blessed" means happy, "the happiness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works". Let me say it another way. To whom God balances his account of righteousness, apart from works. Romans 4:23, "Now it was not written for his sake alone", now this is talking about Abraham, "that it was imputed to him, but also for us". It was written for us! "It shall be imputed to us; our accounts shall be balanced to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead". Is it earned, righteousness? No, it's imputed. It's a gift. It's free. So, you can't say, "I'm not worthy this week", 'cause I just want you to know, you weren't worthy last week, and you won't be worthy next week.
So, here's the Scripture where Romans 4 kind of puts all of this together, but I'm gonna show you a different word. In the English, it's the exact same Greek word for imputed. Okay, it's the same Greek word of the two I just read that are imputed, all right? Romans 4:3, "For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness". In other words, when Abraham believed God, put his faith in God, God put righteousness in Abraham's account. And the reason that He can do that is because He put Abraham's sin into His Son's account. The reason your account got balanced is because God took your debt out of your account and put His assets in your account. That's the reason your account got balanced. That's why.
Here's the second thing I want to tell you - don't listen to the accuser. In Zechariah, it's perfect. It's perfect about how God clothes us, removes our iniquity and gives us a robe of righteousness. It's talking about Joshua. There are two Joshuas in the Old Testament you need to know. One led the people into the Promised Land. He was Moses' successor. The other was the high priest that led the people of God back into the Promised Land after the exile. Okay? Those are the only two Joshuas in the Old Testament. "Joshua" means God saves, God is salvation. So, this is talking about Joshua, the high priest. Zechariah 3:1, "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord". When it says, "the Angel of the Lord", it's talking about Jesus. "And Satan standing at His right hand to oppose Him".
Notice where he's standing, at His right hand. "And the Lord said to Satan, 'The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this'", referring to Joshua, "not a brand plucked from the fire"? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, "Take away the filthy garments from him". And to him He said, "See, I have removed your iniquity", that's what filthy garments stands for. "I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes". I've removed your iniquity. Now, remember I told you a few months ago in a message, iniquity is from the root word, "inequity". In other words, what "iniquity" means is not equal. It's inequitable.
Here's what this means. None of us are equal with God. Put all of the good you've ever done, you'll never be equal with God. Okay? You can't be. The only way you can ever be equal with God is to invite Jesus into your life, who's equal with God, okay? But He said, I've removed your filthy garments. Now, here's what all of us think - that means his sins. And He said, "I have removed your iniquities". It is. It does mean his iniquities. But, I'd like to take that just a little bit further. There were two trees in the garden. There was the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. See, we think a lot about iniquity is only being evil, but what I want you to understand is even what you've done that's good, isn't God? You still hadn't got over to the Tree of Life yet. See, a lot of times we actually say, "Well, I'm trying to choose between what's good and bad here". No, you should be trying to choose between what's life and death. God is life. So, here's what I'm showing. He said, I have taken away your filthy garments.
Okay, a shocking Scripture when you put these together. Isaiah 64:6, "All our righteousnesses", plural, "are like filthy rags", filthy garments. Okay, here's what I'm trying to say. The best thing about me is not as good as the worst thing about God. Even the good things I've done are still inequitable with God. So, He removes his iniquity. That's one thing. Another thing He does is He rebukes his accuser. Remember, he said Satan's standing at the right hand and the Lord rebuked him. Standing at the right hand. This is good. If you can't figure out this is good, I don't know, your wood's wet or something, but this is good. Revelation 12 says, "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ has come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them'", accused, past-tense, "'before our God day and night, has been cast down'".
Now, some believe it happened before the fall of the world, some believe it happens at the second coming. Some believe this happened at the cross. But, I do want to show you. Remember, Satan was standing at the right hand? I want to just combine that with another Scripture, Romans 8:34. "Who is he who condemns"? In other words, who could condemn God's elect? "It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen", and just to make the point I'm gonna keep this word, "furthermore". "And furthermore who is even at the right hand of God, and furthermore who makes intercession for us". You don't only have not an accuser anymore, you now have an intercessor at the right hand of God! You used to have an accuser at the right hand of God. You now have an advocate at the right hand of God.
So, Jesus, He removes iniquities, He rebukes the accuser, and then He robes him. Because He doesn't leave him naked. Remember He says to Joshua, not only am I going to remove your filthy garments, I'm going to clothe you with rich robes. Rich robes. And by that "rich", if we went to Revelation, it talks about the richness that God has. Please hear me. Everyone talks about His gold streets. That's not what it is. If you want to look at it, read Ephesians 2. "Our God, who is rich in mercy". That's how rich He is. He's rich enough to forgive your sins. He's rich enough to pay the full penalty for you. He's rich enough that Jesus did a substitutionary - to use another big theological word, "propitiatory", blood-bought salvation. That's what Jesus did for you, completely. That's how rich God is. So, I got saved at 19, but for years I didn't understand about the robe of righteousness. I understood that God forgave me of all of my sin. What I didn't realize was that He took away my shame. And I walked in shame for years because of the sin I was involved in, until I understood that that robe was to take away, to cover me from my past. I didn't have to tell everybody what I'd done, because I had a robe.
Here's point number three - live like a son. Live like a son. Now, here's what I want to say. I said at the first, we're not sons because we serve, but we do serve because we're sons. So, don't go live in the pig pen. Don't leave the Father's house. Don't. There's no reason to do this. I'm talking about righteousness is a gift, but we still should live righteously. We now have the power of the Holy Spirit to live righteously. It doesn't mean we're gonna be perfect, but it does mean we ought to try to be righteous and to live righteously.
Revelation 19, when it talks about the bride, it says, "And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints". So, there's righteousness, a robe of righteousness that I get just because I accept Jesus as my Savior, but when I go to heaven, there's fine linen that I'm clothed with, which were my own righteous acts that I did under the power of the Holy Spirit. I'm righteous because of the blood of Jesus. I'm not righteous by my performance, I'm righteous by His performance, but I'm tempted to live unrighteously sometimes, and that's when I have to rely on the Holy Spirit.
So, I'll tell you a story and then we're finished. So, this was a long time ago, probably 35 years ago or so. We were having a couple over for dinner, and about 30 minutes before they got there, Debbie said, "I think that it's his birthday this week". And then she does like a lady has to do at some point, and she says, "You go to the grocery store and you get a birthday cake, and you get it quickly, so that you get back before they get here, because we don't want them to think we forgot, even though we forgot". So, I go to the grocery store, and there were, like seven or eight people waiting at the bakery department. And there was one lady trying to help everybody, and there was another lady sitting down, reading a magazine, and this is how long it was ago, smoking a cigarette - taking her break, you know? And I understand everybody needs a break, but all of these people, you know, were lined up, and I was getting more and more impatient, and unrighteous thoughts were coming to my mind. I mean, she's just sitting there, you know... And I'm just about to say...
Now, I know you've never thought anything like this, but I'm about to say, "Lady, I'll buy you a carton of cigarettes if you'll get off your fat", you know, all right? Let me just tell you, if you have thoughts like that, you're welcome at Gateway Church, okay? You're welcome, because every now and then, I've had some thoughts, all right? All right. So, I'm trying to think of how to say something, but not, you know, be too unrighteous, and I notice someone has moved up beside me. And you have to remember, now I'm Pastor Robert. People will see me in the store - "Pastor Robert". Back then I was an evangelist and I traveled and preached crusades, and people would get saved and things like that. And I noticed - I turned, and there's a man and his son standing there, and he says, "Are you Robert Morris"? And I said, "Yes, I am". And he said, "This is my son, Johnny, and he got saved at one of your crusades, and wanted to come over and meet you". This was right before I was about to... So, I'm righteous by the blood of Jesus, but I don't always live righteously, but I want to. I want to be a good example of our Lord.
I am so grateful that Jesus Christ has clothed me with the Robe of Righteousness. And remember, righteousness is right standing with God, and I don't earn right standing with God, it's a gift. Jesus Christ lived the perfect life. I could never live a perfect life, and you can't either. Jesus Christ bought my salvation and because of that when I put my faith in Jesus, I receive a robe of righteousness; a white robe, Revelation says. In other words, I receive right standing with God. And I'm so grateful for that right standing that is a gift and it's not earned. And I want to encourage you to walk in the righteousness that Jesus Christ died so you can have that righteousness, that right standing with God.