Imagine if I handed you a blue $100 dollar bill with George Washington’s face on the middle of it. Would you believe it was legitimate or counterfeit? Most likely you would believe it is a counterfeit. Why? The image I described, doesn’t look close to the real thing. On the other hand, what if I offered you a $100 bill that looked like the picture above? Would you know if it was counterfeit or the real thing? It would be a lot more difficult to determine because the bill in the picture above looks like a real $100 bill.
I’m sharing this example to introduce one of the biggest deceptions in Christian circles today. This deception is hard to spot because it looks like something we are supposed to want and it looks very close to the real thing. What is the deception? Righteousness.
Before we go further, I’m not saying we aren’t supposed to be righteous. That part is true. The deception is how we achieve our righteous position in Christ. Unfortunately, many people believe the only way to be righteous is to do good works to earn favor with God. Others know their works can’t save them so they get saved, but then believe they have to maintain their right standing with God based on their performance. Anytime, we believe we must do something in addition to what Jesus has done for us, it is a form of self-righteousness.
While it is important to live a holy life and to not sin, our righteous position in Christ does not come from what we do. This deception comes through dead religion and is propagated by false shepherds who bring guilt, shame, and seek to control their sheep. Look at Jeremiah 23:1-2:
1 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the Lord.
The shepherds in Jeremiah 23 didn’t feed or care for the sheep. They destroyed them and they were scattered. This is ultimately what the law does to us. Look at 2 Corinthians 3:7:
7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones,
In this passage, Paul calls the 10 commandments which were written and engraven on stones a ministry of death. Legalistic teaching and preaching is a ministry of death and destruction because it doesn’t emphasize what Jesus did at the cross. Teaching the finished work of the cross is what provides life. Let’s look at Jeremiah 23:3-6:
3 “But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the Lord. 5 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 6 In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
These verses teach us how God restored the children of Israel to their land after the Babylonian captivity and then promise a new King. This King’s name is Jehovah-Tsidqenuw or The Lord Our Righteousness. These passages are prophetic of Jesus. According to 1 Corinthians 1:30, He is our righteousness and our righteousness comes from Him.
This sixth redemptive name from the Old Testament reveals an important aspect about God’s nature and also helps us learn how we are to relate to God. The aspect of His nature that is revealed is His love and compassion for each and every one of us. Jesus put Himself on the cross. He didn’t put us there. This means He is the one who paid the price to make us right. Our righteousness comes from Him. His love, compassion, and desire to have a relationship with us is beyond anything I can describe. He didn’t die for us out of obligation, He died for us out of love.
This means we can come boldly before Him when we sin or are tempted. He is the one who makes us righteous and He didn’t wait for us to get it together before He came. His nature is to reconcile so He wants to meet us at our point of need. This is important to understand when we struggle with shame which is a major way the enemy tries to introduce counterfeit religion or a works based righteousness. God’s nature is to reconcile and our righteousness comes from Him.
I hope this article on Jehovah-Tsidqenuw or The Lord Our Righteousness has encouraged you. It is the 7th article I have written in my series on Eternal Life. As a reminder, according to John 17:3, eternal life is about knowing God intimately and experientially. God wants you to take this truth and apply it so you can experience what guilt free living is all about. You can check out the rest of the article is my Eternal Life series here. Lastly, if you would like to learn more about how Jesus is Our Good Shepherd, check out this message I taught at Grace Life Church.