Let us consider four ways you and I can fall into the same condition as the man in the wedding parable of Matthew 22. He thought he was right, but he was wrong. There are three things that we must guard against.
How do You Measure Yourself?
1 Many professed Christians are falling right here: “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12.
You will notice, at the outset of this text, Paul talks about these people as commending themselves. They commend themselves based on what they see in others. They are measuring themselves with a totally different measuring device than God has given them. There are two things by which the true Christian should measure his life: The Law of God and the life of Jesus.
In the life of Jesus you see a revelation of the Law of God. But if we are measuring ourselves among ourselves, we are opening ourselves up to possible deception, believing that we are better than we are, that we are right, when in fact, by the very act, we are wrong. If we are going to measure up to the full stature of a man or of a woman in Christ Jesus, we had better use the measuring rule by which God is measuring us.
We will not come short of the measure, if we follow His rule and the Law of God, if we pattern our lives after the life of Jesus Christ.
2 In Romans 10:2, Paul is talking to and about Israel, and he says, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” Knowledge is essential to be ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb—a rightknowledge, the knowledge that is found in God’s Word, the knowledge that is rightly interpreted to us by the Holy Spirit, which we receive when we have a willingness to do God’s will. We do not receive God’s Spirit apart from a willingness to do God’s Will.
Without God’s Spirit we will be misled; we will wrest the Scriptures unto our own destruction. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Romans 10:3.
They have a zeal; they are working for God, but they are not working with God. There is a distinct difference, brothers and sisters. There are many people working for God but not with God. If you have a question about that, all you have to do is turn to Matthew 7:21–23, and you will find there a group described who work for God but not with God.
Establishing Our Own Righteousness
3 Paul, in Romans 10:3, identifies a group as “being ignorant of God’s righteousness.” What did they do? They established their own righteousness. Brothers and sisters, this should alarm us. This is speaking of the professed people of God, those within His house of worship who are taking His righteousness and twisting it this way and bending it that way and making it their own righteousness. How do you do that? How do we establish our own righteousness within the sanctuary of God’s righteousness?
We compromise His righteousness. What God tells us to do, we only go part way with Him, and that is our own righteousness, because God’s righteousness is perfect and whole and complete. Anything short of that is ours. You can even add to God’s righteousness, and it becomes your own righteousness. Many churches that profess to be Christian are doing that today. They are adding to what God has said. Rome is foremost in this, but many churches are following her lead.
What righteousness will they have when they get to the marriage supper of the Lamb? They will have their own, and their own is not enough. They will be cast out. You can add to the righteousness of God, or you can subtract from the righteousness of God; either way, or both, what you have left is your own righteousness and a profession of godliness.
Satan is concerned about us. He wants us to be derailed from a full readiness to enter into that marriage supper some day. He wants to derail us, and he can, brothers and sisters, if he can get us measuring ourselves among ourselves or by compromising the righteousness of God by adding or subtracting from it.
We Are Not Saved by being in the Right Place
4 “Trust ye not in lying words.” This is God Himself speaking through Jeremiah. “Thus saith the Lord…Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these.…Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?” Jeremiah 7:34, 8–10.
We can be deceived, brothers and sisters, by believing that we are right, just because we are in the right place. You see, we are not saved by being in the right place alone. We are saved, and will be saved, by being in the right place, doing the right things, for the right reasons. No mere physical connection with the truth will save us, whether that connection is in the church or with the Word of God itself.
Merely memorizing the Word of God is not salvation. Salvation is righteousness, God’s righteousness within us. It is having this Word taken by God’s Spirit and put upon our hearts. There is salvation. I can memorize the Word; I can know it from Genesis to Revelation and be lost. No mere physical connection will save us, and we should never trust in such things.
Our anchor, our security, is in the Lamb of God, the Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world. He is able to make us worthy. He is able to get us ready. He is able, if we are willing. Oh, God has made all things ready, and all we have to do is cooperate with Him, and He will make us ready too.
You may be wondering, just what is the wedding garment? We have already alluded to it, but it is a wonderful thing to see it in the Word of God. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10.
Without His Righteousness
There it is. The wedding garment is two in one: it is the garment of salvation; it is the garment of righteousness. Whose righteousness? Jesus’ righteousness. And I want you to note, you cannot possess the one without the other. You cannot have salvation without His righteousness. They go together.
There are some people who believe that you can have salvation without His righteousness. Believe—that is what we hear. Only believe! God says, “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:20. It is the work of His righteousness that He wants to see in us. It comes by way of faith. So the garment is a robe of righteousness.
Now what is righteousness? If you were to define righteousness, what would you say? It is doing what is right. We have a God Who created us; Who does everything right, at the right time, in the right way, for the right reason. As His creation, He wants us to be right.
Jesus echoed these thoughts in Matthew 6:33 in the Sermon on the Mount, when He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” They go together, brothers and sisters, you cannot go into the kingdom of God without His righteousness.
He Wants YOU There
We saw a man who tried to circumvent the rules in the parable in Matthew 22. He tried to get into the kingdom of God with his own righteousness. It does not work. God is up front with us. He is telling us all the facts, because He wants us there at the marriage supper. He wants to put a place setting right there for you and for me. There may even be a little plaque there with our names. It is going to happen as verily as we are here, because what God says will happen, will happen.
The righteousness of Christ comes in two parts, but it makes up one whole. The robe is in two pieces, but it is in one. Let me explain. The righteousness of Christ is first imputed to us through the righteousness that Jesus lived out in the flesh in this world. He lived a perfect life. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. He imputes that righteousness on us, when we confess our sins and receive the invitation of the Gospel. We confess our sins; we forsake all that we know is wrong before Him, then He imputes His righteousness upon us.
Now, where do we stand in the sight of God when we have that experience? We are perfect, perfect in Jesus’ righteousness. But now God wants to do something more for us than merely forgive us, because He knows that we must continue to walk in and grow in the Gospel truth. So God has a part of His righteousness that is called the imparted righteousness. That imparted righteousness makes us whole.
The imputed and the imparted cannot be separated. There are some people who are trying to separate those two. You cannot do it. It is like the garment of salvation and the garment of the robe of righteousness. They go together. It is like seeking the kingdom of God first and His righteousness. You cannot separate the kingdom and His righteousness. You cannot separate salvation and His righteousness.
If you have imputed righteousness, you have imparted righteousness, or access to imparted righteousness. And thereby you and I, by the grace of God and the power of His Spirit, are able to maintain justification. That is how He keeps us justified, through the sanctifying influence of His Spirit and His Word and our cooperation with it.
Righteousness Within Is Manifested Outwardly
“Righteousness within is testified to by righteousness without. He who is righteous within is not hard-hearted and unsympathetic, but day by day he grows into the image of Christ, going on from strength to strength. He who is being sanctified by the truth will be self-controlled, and will follow in the footsteps of Christ until grace is lost in glory. The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven.” Messages to Young People, 35.
You see, God wants to take us beyond the title; He wants to give us the fitness. He wants to take us beyond saving us from the penalty of sin, into the area of saving us from the power of sin. God wants a people who shine in this world, and we are only going to shine if we have on the full garment. It is an inward/outward experience. It can never go outward/inward. If you have the true experience, it is an inward/outward experience.
It is an experience that takes us beyond the right day to worship, to keeping it in the right way. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Paul said it this way: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13, 14.
You see, God helps us forget the past, when He imputes His righteousness unto us. When we confess our sins and, by His grace, forsake them, then the impartation of His righteousness gives us power to maintain that condition.
I want to make it clear how we are to be ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb. In Zechariah 3:3-4, is an illustration on how Christ’s righteousness becomes our righteousness. “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.” [This is how you and I stand before God without His righteousness. All our righteousness is as filthy rags.] “And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And unto him he said, ‘Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, [This is justification by faith in action.] and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.’”
Praise the Lord! Whose work is this? It is God’s work. It is our submission, our choice to cooperate. God says, I will do the work, be submissive, be obedient and I will clothe thee with a change of raiment. Behold, all things become new. This is the righteousness of Christ that becomes our righteousness through a transaction.
What did Joshua give? His own righteousness which was filthy rags. You see, not only unrighteousness, but all my righteousness I need to give God, and He will give me His righteousness. It is an exchange; it is a transaction. Jesus alludes to it very strongly in the message to Laodicea in Revelation.
I Counsel Thee, Laodicea
Laodicea is the last period of Christian experience on the face of this earth. It is the last church, the last remnant of time for God’s people just before Jesus comes. There are some problems in Laodicea, to say the least, but Jesus says to Laodicea, “I counsel thee, [Here is the invitation.] to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Revelation 3:18.
Do you see the transaction? He wants us to buy of Him. That means that there is an exchange occurring. We just saw in Zechariah 3, that exchange is the exchange of our righteousness for His righteousness. Do you see that? Now notice what is going to enable us to make that transaction. He says, “Buy of Me gold tried in the fire.” What is gold tried in the fire? It is faith that works by love under fire.
You see, only God can give you that kind of faith. It is a faith that works by love in the fire of temptation; in the fire of trial, it will be victorious. That kind of love, that kind of faith, God gives to us. When we are motivated with the kind of faith that comes by looking at Calvary and seeing what Christ did for us, it warms our hearts, so now we are motivated with that kind of faith. We are able to receive the white raiment; we are able to make that exchange.
When we receive that righteousness, it anoints our eyes with eyesalve, so we can see spiritual things for what they are. There are very few professed Christians, even in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who have anointed eyes, who have spiritual eyesight to see the true issues that are transpiring today in this world.
If we never have that anointing of our eyes, we will never be able to see spiritual things. We will never put on His robe of righteousness fully and completely unless we have a faith that works by love in the midst of the fire. We are almost at the expected end.
Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Revelation 3:20. Is that an invitation? That is what I do colporteuring. I knock at the doors, and what I am basically doing is inviting those who come to the door to have the Word of God. That is all that God is doing with you and me. He is knocking. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” There is the qualifying factor for getting ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb. If we are going to sup with Him some day at His table and be served by Him, we must sup with Him now. We do that by being a laborer, together with God, in the salvation of our souls first, then in the souls of others. Paul said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12. Face to face with Jesus! We can be there, because He made it possible.