As I was studying unbelief and prayer, I ran into the subject of a man being “righteous” and thought I knew what makes a man or woman “righteous” in the sight of God. It’s pretty simple really, I thought. Faith, being a good person, praying, reading the Bible, etc. means one is righteous. Thinking I was going to find support for my thoughts, I dug in. Instead I found beautifully phrased scripture that tells us a righteous person is one who is the fragrance of Messiah, because he/she has (strives to have) the mind of Christ and is (strives to be) the image of Christ! While it is true we must have faith, simply repeating the “sinner’s prayer” after the preacher does not equal the faith that makes one righteous.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (CJB)
14 But thanks be to God, who in the Messiah constantly leads us in a triumphal procession and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of what it means to know him!
15 For to God we are the aroma of the Messiah, both among those being saved and among those being lost;
16 to the latter, we are the smell of death leading only to more death; but to the former, we are the sweet smell of life leading to more life. Who is equal to such a task?
HOW? We know it is NOT by the works of the Law…
Ephesians 5:1-2 (AENT)
1 So imitate God, as his dear children;
2 and live a life of love, just as also the Messiah loved us, indeed, on our behalf gave himself up as an offering, as a slaughtered sacrifice to God with a pleasing fragrance.
In order to be a sweet-smelling savour/fragrance we are to “imitate God” and have the attitude of Philippians 2:5 (CJB) “And think you so in yourselves, as Y’shua the Mashiyach also thought;” (Fragrance = “savour” in the KJV, and obedience through faith is actually the “sweet savour”.) This is known as having the mind of Christ in the KJV. How can we imitate Christ? We would need to study not only Christ’s character but also what God’s Word tells us about our character and what is acceptable and what is not.
Christians are going about their lives saying we are followers/disciples/bride of Christ, etc. living as we think Christians should, but not really looking into how our Messiah lived so as to “imitate” Him. We apply what we assume is a good way to live without actually knowing – or even wanting to know – what God really actually tells us. I am reminded of the WWJD we often see on jewelry and clothing –we interpret that to be saying we should be kind to others and other simple, basic stuff. But why do we think it means only that one area of life? Does it not pertain to that “little white lie” we told yesterday to keep ourselves from looking bad, or the juicy bit of gossip we allowed our neighbor to tell us about someone else in the neighborhood, or the ignoring of God’s holy days in preference for those man has established?
In the Old Testament sacrifices, the “sweet savour” is what was burnt up. When the flesh is destroyed, what is created (by means of transformation, i.e. chemical reaction - as flesh becomes ash when burned). We (flesh) die daily and pick up our cross daily to follow Christ – when we are the spiritual temple as scripture says in 1 Corinthians 3:16 (CJB): “Don't you know that you people are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?”
This is the way it is supposed to work.
DIRECTIVE: Matthew 28:18-20
18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe ALL that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
SO: 2 Corinthians 3:3 “You make it clear that you are a letter from the Messiah placed in our care, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on human hearts.”
People are supposed to be able to see something in Christians that makes them want the same thing we have. Our demeanor and character is, as 2 Corinthians 3:3 says, an open letter to the entire world – every single person we come in contact with every single day – inviting them to become a disciple of Christ. And it does work when we also follow all of the instructions God has given us. Just imagine if every person who professes to be a Christian had the character we are supposed to have…what a wonderful world this would be!
This is not necessarily the same as refusing to learn, although I have witnessed that way of thinking many times, it is a faulty mindset of not “craving” Christ’s ways. How often we have heard Matthew 11:28-30 quoted from the KJV! “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” This is one of the many comforting passages of scripture, but there is more we are meant to see in these two verses.
Not to demean the KJV – just a difference in common usage of the English language from 1611 to now – “of” in the old English was used the same as “from” is today in America. Christ and His disciples spoke Aramaic and archeological evidence has surfaced to prove the gospels were written in Aramaic. So, to find an accurate translation I read this scripture in the newest version of the Aramaic English New Testament. It reads a little differently and has additional notes. “Come to me all who labor and bear burdens, and I will give you rest. Bear my yoke upon you and learn from me (emphasis mine). That I am tranquil and I am meek, and in my heart you will find tranquility in your souls*. For my yoke is pleasant and my burden is light.” *See Jeremiah 6:16
The attitude that we have no responsibility, no duty, no obligation to our Creator simply because we have “accepted Christ as our Savior,” has spread like wildfire because it teaches the false doctrine that nothing is required of us once we “get saved” – how convenient and easy to like. And it is because of misrepresentation of what the Bible teaches in verses like Matthew 11:29. Learning of Jesus Christ, as we are used to hearing it, isn’t hard. But to learn from Him, as the verse says translated directly from Aramaic to English (without the usual step in between in Greek) gives us a command to follow that requires much more from us.
If that “got my ticket punched” approach were correct, there would be no reason for the instructions given in the Bible. Here are a few of those instructions that pertain to everyday life taken from the CJB for easy understanding:
Colossians 3:12-17, 23 & 4:2, 5-6
12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with feelings of compassion and with kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
13 Bear with one another; if anyone has a complaint against someone else, forgive him. Indeed, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive.
14 Above all these, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together perfectly;
15 and let the shalom which comes from the Messiah be your heart's decision-maker, for this is why you were called to be part of a single Body. And be thankful –
16 let the Word of the Messiah, in all its richness, live in you, as you teach and counsel each other in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude to God in your hearts.
17 That is, everything you do or say, do in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
23 Whatever work you do, put yourself into it, as those who are serving not merely other people, but the Lord.
4:2 Keep persisting in prayer, staying alert in it and being thankful.
4:5-6 Behave wisely toward outsiders, making full use of every opportunity, let your conversation always be gracious and interesting, so that you will know how to respond to any particular individual.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 humility, self control. Nothing in the Torah stands against such things.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens - in this way you will be fulfilling the Torah's true meaning, which the Messiah upholds.
Romans 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but try to do what everyone regards as good.
1 Timothy 5:22 Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.
Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money; and be satisfied with what you have; for God himself has said, "I will never fail you or abandon you."
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 Also, make it your ambition to live quietly, to mind your own business and to earn your living by your own efforts - just as we told you.
12 Then your daily life will gain the respect of outsiders, and you will not be dependent on anyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore, encourage each other, and build each other up - just as you are doing.
Ephesians 4:2 Always be humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love,
Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
1 Corinthians 9:25 Now every athlete in training submits himself to strict discipline, and he does it just to win a laurel wreath that will soon wither away. But we do it to win a crown that will last forever.
Titus 2:14 He gave himself up on our behalf in order to free us from all violation of Torah and purify for himself a people who would be his own, eager to do good.
1 Peter 4:7-11 The accomplishing of the goal of all things is close at hand. Therefore, keep alert and self-controlled, so that you can pray.
8 More than anything, keep loving each other actively; because love covers many sins.
9 Welcome one another into your homes without grumbling.
10 As each one has received some spiritual gift, he should use it to serve others, like good managers of God's many-sided grace –
11 if someone speaks, let him speak God's words; if someone serves, let him do so out of strength that God supplies; so that in everything God may be glorified through Yeshua the Messiah - to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:5-6 Likewise, you who are less experienced, submit to leaders. Further, all of you should clothe yourselves in humility toward one another, because God opposes the arrogant, but to the humble he gives grace.
6 Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the right time he may lift you up.
James 3:17-18 But the wisdom from above is, first of all, pure, then peaceful, kind, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
18 And peacemakers who sow seed in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
In a nutshell, the conclusion of the matter was that to be imitators of our Savior makes us righteous.
“Therefore, pay careful attention to how you conduct your life - live wisely, not unwisely. Use your time well, for these are evil days. So don't be foolish, but try to understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17