To live the story that is the Bible means much more than just being a faithful church member. According to the great commission, Jesus’ command to the apostles (Matt. 28:18-20) was that they were to “make disciples” from among “all nations.” Then these people who became disciples were to be taught – “discipled.” That is the idea of “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
- “…teaching them … implying that Christian instruction is to be a continuous process, not subordinate to and preparing for baptism, but continuing after baptism with a view to enabling disciples to walk worthily of their vocation.—τηρεῖν: the teaching is with a view not to gnosis (knowledge) but to practice; the aim not orthodox opinion but right living.” (Expositor’s Greek Testament, W. Robertson Nicoll).
- “Our work begins where God’s grace has laid the foundation; we are not to save souls, but to disciple them. Salvation and sanctification are the work of God’s sovereign grace; our work as His disciples is to disciple lives until they are completely yielded and surrendered to God. One life wholly yielded to God is of more value to God than 100 lives simply awakened by His Spirit. God brings us to a standard of life by His grace, and we are responsible for reproducing that standard in others.” (Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost for His Highest”).
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Tit 2:11-13 ESV).
Paul maintains this same thought in 2 Cor. 9:8 …
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”
This is not self-sufficiency or self-righteousness. “Self-righteous” means doing things because of your own pride and not for the glory of God alone. Self-sufficiency is having the means and ability within one’s self so as to not have to depend on something or someone outside ourselves. As a new creation of Christ and in Christ, we are provided both the ability (gifts) and the discipling to fulfill our purpose. The grace of God is said to “train” us for the life we are intended to live and for the service (work) we are intended to do.
In Tit 2:11-13 the word rendered “upright” is in the KJV and other versions “righteously” i.e., in a righteous manner. We are made righteous through the grace of God, not on account of our own earned standing. When the penitent believer yields himself in obedience to God and is baptized he is pronounced “righteous” (just, without guilt) or as having right standing before God the judge. From this time forward that one is expected to live a righteous life – a life that is befitting his standing before God. It is that same grace that teaches, trains, disciplines us to live as instruments for righteousness. But it is to be done through the agency of those who have themselves been “gifted” by God to do this work of grace. Paul said these people, “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers” were to…
“…equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
- “To make a disciple requires teaching, mentoring, and modeling the lifestyle of Jesus. It is not just the informing of facts; it is the imparting of life. We must “rub shoulders” with those we disciple.” (Making Disciples).
That training is done through the instrumentality of other disciples – those who have been themselves discipled. These righteous ones are to live “righteously among men, giving to every man his due, and dealing with all according to the rules of equity and justice; as being made new men, created unto righteousness and true holiness” (John Gill; Exposition of the Bible; eSword).
This training is not just to “do religion” or religious things. It is training for life. The life we were created to live. It is the life of one’s made righteous through the redemption that is through the blood of Jesus, the righteous. It is life that is lived in love and in the expression of love in all the things we do.
But what does righteousness do? What does it look like in action? How do we know we are living righteously?
“Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Romans 6:13).
Remember now, we are a new creation. For the Christian this means going back to the beginning of the new creation of which we are a part. The model of the life we are to live is Jesus who is himself the perfect representation of God. The life he lived is the kind of life we were created for. John refers to Jesus as “the righteous” (one, mr). The righteous life he lived by nature we live by discipleship – by training.
To live righteously means …
- “Rendering to every man his due, injuring no person in his body, mind, reputation, or property; doing unto all as we would they should do to us; and filling up the duties of the particular stations in which it has pleased God to fix us, committing no sin, omitting no duty.” (Adam Clarke; eSword).
- “Righteousness means acting in a just and upright manner. A person chooses to do what is right and virtuous because of his or her love and obedience to the One Holy, Almighty God and for God’s Glory alone… Any word, action, thought or emotion that you have done in the attitude that agrees with the Living and Holy God’s Will and desire for your life shows righteousness.” (Righteousness).
Abraham lived righteously …
“For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:19).
What did Abraham’s righteousness look like?
After coming into the land God had promised him and after his and his nephew Lot’s herds had grown so large there wasn’t enough pasture for all in the hills, Abraham gave Lot the choice of the fertile valley of the Jordan in the region of the northern end of the Dead Sea or the mountains where they were. When Lot chose the valley, Abraham did not complain or object. He simply built an altar to the Lord (Genesis 13).
Later when the city of Sodom is attacked and Lot is captured by Chedorlaomer and other warlike kings Abraham and his servants along with others rescue Lot and retake the stolen property from Sodom, the king of Sodom offers Abraham the merchandise if he will only let the people go free. Abraham told the king that he…
“would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me.” (Gen. 14:23-24).
He would accept nothing from the king of Sodom, except for the support and fair wage of those who had gone to the battle with him.
One time as he sat at the door of his tent, three men appeared to him. These were angels sent to warn him of what the Lord was going to do to the wicked city of Sodom where his nephew Lot lived. Abraham hurried to show them hospitality, providing them water to wash their feet and preparing them a meal.
When Sarah died, Abraham was offered the cave of Machpelah in which to bury her. The owner offered it and the adjacent field as a gift. Abraham insisted on paying the fair price for the land. (Genesis 23).
When a dispute between Abraham and the Philistine, Abimelech, arose over the well Abraham had dug at Beershebah, Abraham settled it peacefully, offering “seven ewe lambs” to seal the treaty.
Abraham wasn’t perfect. He made some serious mistakes in his life, but the examples cited above indicate that he was a man who never sought to take advantage of another person. He always insisted on being fair and equitable in all his dealings. These were the deeds of a good and righteous man.
God has always insisted on fairness, honesty and integrity in man’s dealings with man.
“Thus says the Lord God: Enough, O princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression, and execute justice and righteousness. Cease your evictions of my people, declares the Lord God.
“You shall have just balances, a just ephah, and a just bath [weights and measures] (Ezekiel 45:9-10).