TODAY’S READING: ROMANS 4-7
“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
What is an instrument for righteousness?
How do I know if I am an instrument for righteousness?
First, we have to know what righteousness is.
The word righteousness sounds like being right. Therefore, we tend to get it in our minds that righteousness is behaving rightly or correctly according to some set of rules, laws, or moral code. Conversely, if we break one of those rules or law, if we violate our moral code, then we are unrighteous.
But, this is not what righteousness is, at least according to God.
In “What Is the Righteousness of God and Its Effect?“, I showed that the righteousness of God was manifested at an appointed time. This time was the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Paul wrote that the scriptures – the law and the prophets – bear witness to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as the righteousness of God.
This is the very thing that Jesus taught the disciples. Luke 24:44-46 says, “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead.'”
Romans 5:18 says, “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.”
The one act of righteousness is the suffering and rising from the dead of Jesus. That one act, which is the righteousness of God, justifies and gives life to all men.
Therefore, the righteousness of God is suffering and dying for others at the expense of oneself while trusting God to raise you from the dead to life. That sounds a lot like love and how we know love according to 1 John 4.
Consequently, unrighteousness is seeking my own advantage, benefit, blessing, comfort, contentment, ease, favor, and pleasure at the expense of others while becoming death. That sounds a lot like living in fear, which is the opposite of love according to 1 John 4.
On the one hand Paul says to present our members to God as instruments for righteousness. But, on the other hand, Paul says to not present our members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness. It’s a direct contrast that Paul is making.
Except Paul tells us to present ourselves, not just our members, to God “as from death to life” (that’s the literal Greek).
What does Paul mean?
He means that we should present ourselves, our whole beings, to God just as Jesus did. To truly present ourselves to God we must know that it is necessary to suffer so that we can be raised to life. We cannot be raised to life without suffering.
And, if we do that, then we can present our members to God as instruments for righteousness.
Just what is an instrument for righteousness?
It means that we suffer to be raised to life for others.
But, the Greek more literally translates as weapons of righteousness.
To present our members to God as instruments for righteousness is to to present our bodies as weapons of suffering and rising to life for others.
Do you get that?
We are to be weapons of suffering.
This is how we fight in God’s war against evil.
We present our bodies as weapons of suffering.
We do not fight in God’s war against evil by trying to perfectly live up to rules, laws, or a moral code.
We fight in God’s war as weapons of suffering.
We love our enemies.
We bless those that persecute us.
We return evil with good.
As Paul says in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
In Romans 12:10-19, Paul says, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves.”
If you do those things, then you be a weapon of suffering.
In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
The Greek word for weapons in verse 4 is the same Greek word that Paul uses in saying we are to presents our members to God as “instruments for righteousness.”
So, what are “the weapons of our warfare?”
The righteousness of God.
Suffering, dying, being raised to life.
It is out suffering in the very face and onslaught of evil that has divine power to destroy the strongholds in the mind of the evil doer. It is our suffering in the face of persecution that destroys evil and wicked thoughts against the true knowledge of God.
Is this not what Christ demonstrated on the cross in his one act of righteousness?
Is this not what Jesus said all of the scriptures testify to?
Look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:2-7.
“Behold, now is the favorable time; behold now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons [same Greek word] of righteousness for the right hand and for the left.”
Weapons of righteousness.
Weapons of suffering.
In the right hand and the left hand.
Where was Christ nailed to the cross? Where were Jesus’ weapons of suffering?
Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
The Greek word for “whole armor” has the same root as the word Paul has been using for weapons of righteousness. We can truly stand against Satan and his schemes when we present our members to God as weapons of suffering. When we do that we cannot be deceived by Satan’s schemes to act in our own self interest. This is how we war “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2)
Peter makes the direct comparison that since Christ suffered for others then we should think the same way. When Peter says to arm ourselves, the Greek word for arm has the same root as the word for weapons and instruments.
So, to be an instrument of righteousness is to be a weapon of suffering. We need to have the same mind as Jesus – the necessity of suffering to be raised to life.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)