Righteousness, Peace and Joy

Righteousness.  (Doing what is right)

Peace. (with peace in your heart)

Joy.  (and a smile on your face)

Lorne Sanny

     With the above words, Lorne addressed our group, reminding us that it is possible to know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.  The three key words he used were righteousness, peace and joy.

In the Old Testament, we see descriptions of the righteousness that is able to approach the Lord and do what is right.  In Psalm 24:3-4 we read the following.  “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?  Who may stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.”  In Micah 6:8 we see the Lord’s declaration of the righteousness that He requires.  “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  In the old covenant, however, with everything coming from man, it was impossible for man to fulfill this righteousness.  In Psalm 53:2-3 we see that “God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”  In the new covenant, with everything coming from God, we see a righteousness that is ours in Christ.  “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.”  (I Corinthians 1:30)  Alistair Begg once remarked that “our identity with Him is not an achieved identity, it is a received identity.”  We receive His righteousness moment by moment, manifested by the power of the Holy Spirit, to meet the demands of each situation we face every day.  We can experience His righteousness by faith as we look to Him to always do what is right.

The scriptures address peace in several different ways.  There is, first, the peace with God described in Romans 5:1.  “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  This peace comes through the work of Christ and declares that we are accepted in Him, adopted, and given the Holy Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance in Him.  We also see peace referred to in Philippians 4:6-7.  “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  This peace comes to us through the knowledge of Christ.  As we grow in our understanding of Him, we come to an increasing comprehension of the depth, the height, the length and the width of His love, to a conviction that His knowledge concerning us is perfect, and to a confidence that He, alone, controls everything that affects our lives.  There is, also, the peace that repeatedly is declared to us as coming “from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 1:2.  This peace comes, if you will, through our communion with Christ.  G. Campbell Morgan describes this peace as “the quietness that comes into the life when man knows that God is pleased.”  We are told in Colossians 3:15 to “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.”  Lorne related that this peace enabled us to know “when” we were to do what Christ would have us to do.  We see an example of how the Apostle Paul was directed by this lack of peace in II Corinthians 2:12-13.  “Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there.  So I said goodby to them and went on to Macedonia.”  It is this peace, together with God’s word, circumstances and the advice of others that the Lord uses to provide His direction in our lives.

Joy, Lorne describes, can be witnessed by others as “a smile on your face.”  This joy, of course, is not external in manifestation only, but comes, as does righteousness and peace, from the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It is of more than passing interest to discover that the Holy Spirit’s development of joy in our lives bears a marked resemblance to the Navigator wheel.  For those who are unfamiliar with the wheel illustration, it was used by Dawson Trotman to describe some of the key elements of the Christian life, with Christ being the center, or hub, from which we derive our direction and power, and the outer rim represents the obedient Christian in action.  The rim and the hub are connected by two vertical spokes, (the word and prayer) and two horizontal spokes. (fellowship and witnessing)  Joy comes from the word.  “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  (John 15:11)  It also comes as a result of prayer.  “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.  Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”  (John 16:24)  These two represent the vertical spokes of the wheel.  The horizontal spokes are seen in Psalm 126:6.  “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him,” and I John 1:3-4 “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us:  and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son jesus Christ.  And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”  (KJV)  The source of joy which is most needful and powerful in our lives comes, however, from what we describe as the hub of the wheel, Christ Himself.  As G. Campbell Morgan states in “The Westminster Pulpit,”  “Our joy is in proportion to our trust.  Our trust is in proportion to our knowledge of God.  To know Him is to trust Him.  To trust Him is to triumph and excel.  May we be led into fuller knowledge and so find fuller faith and so enter the fuller joy.”

We see the relationship of these three words in the following verse in Romans 14:17.  “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.”  May the Holy Spirit direct you in His righteousness, peace and joy so that you will be enabled to know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

In Christ, Richard Spann

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