When God first saves us, He does an incredible work in our lives, a deep change. His calling upon our lives comes with many blessings, many gifts – and God is so rich! But these changes and blessings are not the primary thing that has happened to us at that particular time. The Bible tells us exactly what happens at the moment of salvation.
The most important thing that happens at the moment of our salvation, the Bible says, is that God is imputing His righteousness upon us. Not our righteousness, but His. This “imputing of righteousness” is something that God does Himself; it is the single thing where He absolutely does not require us to do anything in order to receive it. In fact, if we do anything to try and receive this righteousness it nullifies God’s righteousness in our lives. The righteousness that we receive by faith is a gift from God; it is something that cannot come from man nor from any good we do.
Even the faith to believe comes from God. It is a gift. You cannot say you had the faith to believe in Jesus; no, it was God who gave you that faith. This is an incredible revelation, and we ought to be always thankful.
This is the revelation that Abraham received and it was by grasping this revelation that he pleased God so much that God made and fulfilled all those promises to him. Amongst other things Abraham is also the father of them that believe. We already established these things in an earlier post, but there is no harm in repeating them here.
My teaching today is how this revelation humbles the man who comes into its realization. Once again, we will use the example of Abraham.
The Bible says in Genesis 13:7-9: “And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.
And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.
Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.”
Many of us take the words that Abraham spoke here for granted. Many of us even know them by heart. But I assure you, these are spiritual words. They are not the words of a man who has run out of options. Abraham had all the rights to that land, but he surrendered them. The words he spoke are words that come from a man who realizes that he owns nothing, though all be his. He acknowledges that all he has is given to him by God.
Abraham, understanding the righteousness that comes by faith, and not by works, was so humble he could surrender his legal rights to Lot. Lot does not come out as a very appreciative person but that did not faze Abraham in the least.
Abraham made it abundantly clear to Lot that he was willing to bend whichever way Lot wanted him to bend.
God goes very far with a man such as Abraham, and He certainly did. Today, many thousands of years after, Abraham is still bearing seed in the Spirit.
One of the things that stymies me is a proud Christian. I wonder, Where did he get that from? Believe me, I have seen many proud men within the Body of Christ; but the even sadder fact is that most of these are preachers of the gospel. One African preacher I know of – long dead now, unfortunately – would demand to be sent an airplane ticket, first class, before he could commit himself to go preach anywhere. He was much in demand during the charismatic era.
The world probably wouldn’t be enough to write in the list of ‘pride sins’ committed by Christians. They range from things that would make your ears to literally “tingle” to the tiniest thought that we carry in our hearts. They include the many small –and big! – turf wars that we wage over, literally, nothing.
But pride in a Christian’s life is a result of considering the faith one has as though it were by works, and not by grace. He feels he deserves whatever he is fighting for. He cannot surrender because he feels that somehow he has worked for it, and that he has earned it. That kind of attitude is un-Christian. We as born-again believers can earn nothing, we have nothing, we know nothing, we are nothing.
Abraham surrendered because he understood what the Apostle Paul comes to explain long after:
“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:6-8)
This understanding of the righteousness that comes by faith was what made God to call Abraham His friend. God is a friend of those who walk in the revelation of His Word, for they learn to humble themselves.
[Below, Dar es Salaam: “MUNGU IBARIKI KAZI YA MIKONO YANGU” – GOD BLESS THE LABOR OF MY HANDS.]