The Bare Soul - December 5, 2010
Our Rights in Jesus

Job 34:5-6 - For Job has said, ' I am righteous, but God has taken away my right ...'

Have we allowed God to take away our rights? This has nothing to do with being righteous through justification. To lose ones rights as a Christian is to lose the luxury of vindicating ourselves in any manner or fashion. It means that we have surrendered our lives to God in such a way that removes any doubt that we are totally Christ's when the world assails us. The Lord never yielded in any way to the opinions of man regarding His life or His ministry. Jesus lived overtly in all of life's expressions to do only the will of His Father. Therefore, He was continually offending those who put their faith in what they believed to be "right", according to the law. Right living to Jesus meant fulfilling the law but also going beyond those rules and regulations handed down through Moses. Throughout the Gospels, the Lord was quick to show us how the law was incomplete without the key ingredient -- LOVE. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ tells us that he did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). Not only would he fulfill the letter of the law perfectly, but of higher importance the intent of the same.

Five times in Matthew the fifth chapter, Jesus reminds the crowd of what they had heard many times through the reading of the Talmud in their synagogues. Five times he uses the expression "you have heard". Christ was not denying that his audience had heard and understood the law as it was read. However, He now was interjecting a whole new dynamic into the commandments which they had likely never considered. In Matthew 5:21-22, the Lord states:

You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

Jesus had moved beyond the written commandment and added a new dimension to the ancient law. Not only were they now not to murder, but the very act of anger was a premeditated act of aggression equal to that of killing someone. The Lord had removed any rights the individual thought he might have to be angry and yet to sin not. Jesus Christ made it very clear that if the heart was allowed to function on anything less than love then it had become merely a heartless act of murder disguised as an outward act of obedience. The Lord was exposing hearts and motives which strip away any right to ourselves, no matter how much others might try to hide the intent. Jesus continues throughout the remaining chapter likewise dealing with adultery or lust (Matthew 5:27-32), fidelity toward God (Matthew 5:33-37), vengeance or retribution (Matthew 5:38-42), and finally love for one's fellow man (Matthew 5:42-48). With each of these commandments, Jesus declared that the external fulfillment of these laws fell far short of what God required. In fundamentally simple terms, Jesus was proclaiming that from now on, all individual rights had been abolished. No longer did someone have the "right" to look at a woman with lust, as long as he didn't touch her. No longer was a man to plot his own revenge against his enemy, but he was to love him with the same love that he loved his neighbor. The Lord was stating simply that in order to "be perfect as His Father in Heaven is perfect", that one must give themselves up totally and fulfill every commandment, both externally AND with the intent of the heart. (The startling realization of the impossibility of Christ's injunction must have staggered the crowds as they listened with bewilderment regarding what to do next!)

Of course, Christ knew that it was impossible to fulfill the law as only He could. No one could live perfectly as God, save only the Perfect Man, Christ Jesus. Through the revelation of Himself as the spotless Lamb that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:36), Jesus was able to first allow others to become the righteousness of God in Christ (II Corinthians 5:21). Through His righteousness, THEN we are allowed the privilege of laying down all rights to ourselves. At this juncture, we are allowed to grow up into His likeness as we lay down all bitterness toward others, all vindication, or the "right" to view inappropriate images whether in the flesh or on the internet or TV. Not only have we come to a point as David where he would put no worthless things in front of his eyes (Psalm 101:3), but we have made a covenant with our heart not to indulge in even its desire. We have come to a place of surrender where we lay everything at the feet of Jesus and say only He has the "right" to do with us as He wishes. We desire no other way of life but that of fulfilling the commandments of God, guided by the spirit of that Lovely Man, Jesus Christ, from within.

Giving up our rights has nothing to do with our standing before God in righteousness. However, Godly denial of self is impossible without His righteousness that empowers us from within. It is beyond human ability to forgive someone for despitefully using us if we don't have the love of the Father living within us. Imagine if someone slugs you in the face and dislodges two of your teeth! If your reaction is that you want to throw your arms around them and love them unconditionally (rather than strike back in any way), then know that God has taken away the right of retaliation and has done a work of love in you. In the same way, Christ was maligned and mistreated by those who wickedly beat and crucified Him. How much more should we react if the Son of God is living within? We should settle for nothing less, but insist that no longer is it we who live, but Christ who lives within (Galatians 2:20). Beloved, may we lay our lives down daily if we call ourselves Christians. We no longer have any right to ourselves. Our only remaining "right" is to completely surrender to Jesus Christ and to allow Him to fulfill His perfect law through us. Let it be so even today!

Heavenly Father, we can never fulfill your will left to ourselves. We thank You for the Man, Christ Jesus, who lives within to empower us to deny ourselves and to live "right" with You. Show us if we have any "rights" that we continue to hang on to stubbornly. Give us a spirit of surrender to Your will. We thank You, In Jesus Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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