Day 13 Devotional Before United Prayer: (about 1:35 minute reading)
Righteousness by Faith Alone
The great controversy has always been over Christ. We read in the book of Revelation about when the controversy first began in heaven (Revelation 12:7-10). Satan hates Christ and has always tried to replace Him (Isaiah 14:12-14).
The same controversy takes place in the lives of men and women today. Satan desires to reign on the throne of the heart. He wants mankind to follow his ways, not Christ’s ways. In the area of Christian living, he wants to replace Christ’s righteousness with man’s efforts. He wants them to look to their own efforts for righteousness rather than Christ and His righteousness. He wants them to look to themselves for obedience rather than to Christ manifesting His obedience in and through them.
The Protestant Reformation’s Theme
This issue was at the heart of the Protestant Reformation. The battle cry of the reformation was “sola fide,” “by faith alone.” This issue is at the heart of the gospel and the message of righteousness by faith.
The Bible is clear on the matter. Concerning the Christian’s walk with God, Paul wrote:
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. (Colossians 2:6)
The way we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior is by faith. We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God, died for our sins, forgives our sins, and gives us eternal life. We become Christians by faith in Christ. Works are not involved.
God does not require a lost sinner to begin doing good works before coming to Christ. The sinner does not have to “clean up” his life and try to make himself acceptable to God before receiving salvation. No, the sinner simply comes to Christ as he or she is and accepts Him by faith as His Savior.
Personal Reading for Discussion:
Once one is born again and begins seeking to live the Christian life the new Christian naturally focuses on his or her own efforts to obey God’s law. However, he or she soon discovers that this is impossible. Paul described this impossibility.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:21-23)
Paul had personally experienced the impossibility of obeying God’s law through his own efforts. He was forced to cry out:
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24)
He then gave the answer to his cry:
“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord . . .” (Romans 7:25)
- T. Jones understood this struggle when he wrote:
Everybody has experienced it,—longing to do the good that he would, yet doing only the evil that he hated; having ever a will to do better, but how to perform it, finding not; delighting in the law of God after the inward man, yet finding in his members another law, warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin which is in his members; and at last crying out. “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Lessons on Faith, 36-37)
The apostle Paul had learned that faith in Christ was the only way to victoriously live the Christian life:
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)
Commenting on these scriptures, Jones wrote:
Thank the Lord, there is deliverance. It is found in Christ Jesus and in the Spirit of our God. Rom. 7:25; 8:1, 2. And the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus having made you free from the law of sin and death, then ‘walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.’ There is not only deliverance from the bondage of corruption: there is also the glorious liberty of the children of God for every soul who receives the Spirit, and walks in the Spirit. (Lessons on Faith, 37)
In order to walk in the Spirit, we must daily experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit and choose to yield to the Spirit’s promptings. Once we make the choice to yield to the Spirit’s promptings we are to then look to Christ to live out His victory over the temptation in our lives.
Jones continued his description of the deliverance God offers the believer:
Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
See the list of the workings of the lust of the flesh: “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like.” None of these shall you fulfill, over all these things you have the victory, when you walk in the Spirit. It is the faithful word of God.
Is not that a most desirable prospect? Is not such a thing as that worth having? And when it is had for the asking and the taking, then is it not worth asking for and taking? (Ibid.)
- J. Waggoner also described the all too common experience of many Christians.
There are too many who try to live the Christian life on the strength of the faith which they exercised when they realized their need of pardon for the sins of their past life. They know that God alone can pardon sins, and that he does this through Christ; but they imagine that having once been started they must run the race in their own strength. We know that many have this idea, first because we have heard some say so, and second, because there are multitudes of professed Christians who show the working of no greater power that their own. (Ibid., 2)
Day 13 Prayer Focus: Pray for
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
- Revival for yourself and the church
- God to lead the church and you to understand and experience Christ’s righteous obedience in the life
- Those on your prayer list
Day 13 Going Deeper Discussion Questions: (based on pages 46 to 51 of “Righteousness by Faith” by Dennis Smith [pages 66 to 71 of the PDF version])
- Why is the same controversy taking place in the lives of men and women today?
- What issue is at the heart of the gospel message and of righteousness by faith?
- What does Romans 8: 3-4 tell us is the only way to fulfill the righteousness of the law?
- What did Jesus do so that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us?
- In whom is deliverance from sin found?
- What did Jesus say to us about walking in righteousness?
- How is Jesus’ righteous obedience available to us?
- How can we have Jesus abiding in us?
- How can we have Christ Righteousness manifested in our lives, or imparted to us?
Day 13 Heart preparation/challenge:
- Throughout the day ask God to remind you what He is speaking to you in today’s reading and going deeper discussions and to help you to apply them in your life.
- Read “Righteousness by Faith” by Dennis Smith pages 51 to 54 (pages 71 to 74 of the PDF file) in preparation for Day 14.
- Prayerfully answer Day 14 discussion questions in preparation to share on Day 14 Going Deeper segment of united prayer.