Meditation on Proverbs 4:25-27

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil” (Proverbs 4:25-27).

As I ponder this, I’m reminded of the way in which sin always seems to work. It always starts off as just a little swerve. You start off completely focused on the things of the Lord, yet something that attracts your flesh catches your attention. You say to yourself, “just a little swerve to the left won’t hurt.” And before you know it you’ve crashed into a ditch. James explains this experience in James 1:14-15: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

What then is this path you need to walk? What do your need to gaze your eyes upon? What should fill your thoughts?

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalms 16:11).

The path you must walk is the path to life. The glory of God is what you must gaze upon. True, eternal, lasting pleasure, is what you must be convinced of to fight the lies of the temporary pleasures of this world. Those who walk this path are those who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and it’s these same ones who enter into the gates of righteousness.

“Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord :  This gate of the Lord , into which the righteous shall enter” (Psalm 118:19-20).

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:   Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

The wide path is the path of lust, the path of selfish desire, the path of the lie of temporary pleasure. It’s the easy path, the path of the world, the path of human autonomy, the path of death. Yet for the few, for the righteous, for those who walk the difficult path, who gaze straight at the narrow gate, is life everlasting and true pleasures for evermore.

Mike Murrell

Luther on the Christian Life (7)

In chapter seven, Trueman deals with Luther’s view of righteousness in the Christian life. This question is one of the most important questions for the Christian life. How is a person righteous before God? What is the Christian’s righteousness? Basic to Luther’s understanding of righteousness is the distinction between alien and proper righteousness. Alien righteousness is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is called alien because it is not the believer’s own righteousness; it is Christ’s. God gives this righteousness of Christ to the believer by imputation (reckoning) so that the believer is judged innocent, as it were, it God’s court of law. Proper righteousness is the righteousness that becomes manifest in the believer’s life as a result of the believer’s Spirit empowered efforts to mortify the old man and do good works to the glory of God. In other words, it is the fruit of sanctification. Both kinds of righteousness are necessary for the Christian life.

The significant question for the Christian life is how these two kinds of righteousness are related. Luther’s answer is that Christ’s alien righteousness comes first. If he is to live well, the Christian must know that he is righteous in the sight of God. Recognition of Christ’s alien righteousness reckoned to the sinner is the antidote both for despair and for works righteousness. The believer who knows that he is clothed in Christ’s own perfect righteousness will not fear for his salvation, even when he beholds his own imperfection. Likewise, the believer will not strive to make himself righteous in God’s eyes by performing good works. He already understands that God has declared him righteous, and that nothing can be added to the righteousness of Christ. This understanding allows the Christian to live with assurance and to direct his life good works toward its proper goal: not earning salvation, but showing gratitude for salvation freely given. That is where proper righteousness fits. Living in the assurance of Christ’s righteousness, the Christian labors in love for God to do good works and keep God’s commandments.  The Christian does this to show His gratitude to God. Luther did not think that holiness in the Christian life could be reduced to the Christian’s ever-increasing sense of dependence upon Christ’s imputed righteousness. No, in the Christian life there is a genuine beginning of true holiness. The Christian makes progress in holiness as the Spirit sanctifies him. In this present life the Christian is always at once both righteous and a sinner.

Justin Smidstra