Sermon #7 Series: The Names of God
Title: Jehovah-Tsidkenu: The Lord our Righteousness
Text: Jeremiah 23:6
Subject: Christ the Believer’s Only Righteousness
Date: Tuesday Evening, December 1, 1987
Tape #: I-4
Among all the names by which our Savior is revealed in Holy Scripture none is more sweet, comforting, assuring, delightful and precious than that which is found in Jeremiah 23:6. “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is the name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Savior divine, we know Thy name,
And in that name we trust;
Thou are the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,
Thou are Thine Israel’s boast.
This blessed name of our dear Savior is my subject for tonight: JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. My purpose in preaching this message is to show you this one glorious gospel truth: The Lord Jesus Christ alone is the righteousness of his people. We have no righteousness but Christ. We want no righteousness but Christ. And we will own no righteousness but Christ.
We sustained a very great loss in the matter of righteousness by the sin and fall of our father Adam. By Adam’s transgression, we suffered the loss of a righteous nature and the loss of all legal righteousness in the sight of God. Man sinned. He was therefore no longer innocent of the transgression. Man did not keep the commandment of God. He was therefore guilty of the sin of omission. In that which he committed and in that which he omitted, man’s original character of uprightness was completely wrecked.
Our Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to undo the mischief of the fall and restore that which he took not away. So far as our sin and transgression of God’s law is concerned, our breach of God’s commandment, it is removed by the shedding of Christ’s precious blood. His agony and his death have completely removed from his people all sin and all the consequences of sin, in so far as the law and justice of God is concerned. Christ Jesus, by his one great sacrifice for sin, has satisfied the penalty of the law against sin in his flesh. He, his own self, bare our sins in his own body on the tree. He died the Just for the unjust to put away our sins. By the sacrifice of himself, our sins have been forever put away! Through the blood of Christ, all our sins have been washed away! Because Christ died in our place, we are completely pardoned and forgiven of all sin! Being pardoned by the blood of Christ, we are without sin in the sight of God. “He was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin” (I John 3:5). But that is not enough.
Atonement alone is not enough to give us acceptance before the holy God. It is required of man that he keep the whole law, and keep it perfectly. It is not enough not to break the commandment, or to be regarded through the blood of Christ as though we did not break it. God requires of man a perfect righteousness, a perfect obedience. He must continue in all things written in the book of the law to do them.
How can this necessity be supplied? Man must have perfect righteousness, or God will not and cannot accept him. Man must have a perfect obedience to the law and will of God, or the holy character of the Almighty will not allow him to be rewarded with eternal life. God cannot accept anything less than perfection. Suppose that God were to give heaven to a soul that has not perfectly kept his holy law. That would be giving the reward where service is not rendered. The universe would mock justice. God’s righteous and holy character would be ridiculed. Where then is the righteousness with which the pardoned sinner may be completely covered, so that God can justly regard him as having perfectly kept the law and reward him for doing so?
Surely, we are sensible enough of our own sinful condition that we realize there is no possibility of our accomplishing this righteousness for ourselves. “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Rom. 3:20). If righteousness must be produced by us, we are full of dispair. Hell must be our eternal portion. We sin everyday, every moment! All that we do is marred by sin. The law of God is too high, too holy, too pure, too perfect. We cannot attain its requirement. We cannot keep its precepts. Though we have passed from death to life, old Adam still struggles for dominion within us. By force of our lusts, we are still held in the captivity of sin in our members. The good we would do, we do not. The evil we hate, that we often perform. If anything is plain in the Word of God and the experience of God’s saints, it is this: there is nothing good or righteous in any man of himself (Rom. 7:14-24). If we would be righteous, we must have the righteousness of another.
Many are of the opinion that the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification gives us a righteousness by which we may stand before God. I would say nothing to minimize the work of God the Holy Spirit. He is Divine, one with the Father and the Son in the holy Trinity. But I hold it to be a cardinal point of Christian doctrine that the work of the Holy Spirit was never meant to supplement the work of the Son. We dare not depreciate the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ in order to exalt the office of the Holy Spirit. Those who teach that the Holy Spirit enables the believer to keep the law, and that God will accept this, are woefully mistaken. In sanctification the Holy Spirit does not conform us to the law, but to the Son. He does not teach us to follow the law, but to follow Christ. He never points the believer to Sinai, but always to Calvary.
Each Person in the blessed Trinity has a branch of salvation which he performs. And each of the sacred Persons carries out that work to perfection. We were chosen by God the Father. We are regenerated and called by God the Holy Spirit. But the work of our redemption and justification is that which is accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ. We are accepted in the Beloved. Our acceptance therefore must be by something that the Beloved has done. If we are justified in Christ, then our justification must not be the work of the Holy Spirit, but of Christ. That righteousness by which the saints are clothed, through which we are accepted, with which we are made meet to inherit eternal life is the work of Jesus Christ alone. We firmly believe, according to the testimony of Holy Scripture, that the life of Christ constitutes the righteousness with which his people are clothed. His death washed away our sins; and his life covers us from head to foot. His death was his sacrifice to God for atonement; and his life is his gift to man by which we satisfy the demands of the law.
Only in this way was it possible for the law of God to be honored and magnified in making us accepted as the objects of his love and grace. I find that many, who are perfectly clear about the merits of Christ’s death, seem to understand nothing of the merits of his life. The fact is that, from the moment that the child Jesus drew his first breath until that hour when he “bowed his head and gave up the ghost,” he was at work for his people. From the moment that he laid down his life for us, Christ was performing the work of our salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ completed the work of his obedience in his life and said, to the Father, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4). Then he finished the work of his obedience in his sin atoning death, and knowing that all things were then accomplished, he cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Both were necessary for our salvation. Throughout his earthly life our Savior was spinning the fabric of our royal garment; and in his death he dipped that garment in his blood. In his life he was gathering the precious gold; and in his death he hammered it out to make for us a garment of wrought gold. Child of God, you have as much to be thankful for in the life of Christ as you do in his death. In his life, Christ Jesus rendered perfect obedience to the law of God as our Representative. In his death he satisfied the claims of the law as our Surety. Therefore Jeremiah declares, “this is the name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Here is the lesson set before us by the prophet: The Lord Jesus Christ is the only righteousness of his people; and it is our joy to confess him as such.
As I look at this text, I realize the impossibility of expounding it. It is bursting with the most blessed truths of our dear Savior, JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. May it please God the Holy Spirit to flood our souls with the fullness of grace revealed in this name. When I am done, I hope that we may all be able to call Christ Jesus, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. I will give you my message in three parts:
1. I will explain this blessed name by which our Redeemer is called.
2. I will encourage you to call Christ Jesus by this name.
3. I will lead you in the praise of Christ by this name.
I. I WILL EXPLAIN THIS BLESSED NAME BY WHICH OUR REDEEMER IS CALLED: “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Today, we attach very little meaning to names. But in earlier days, a man’s name revealed something about him (Illustrations: Smith, Taylor). And all the names by which our Lord Jesus Christ is revealed in the Scriptures tell us something about his Person, his work, his offices, or his relation to his people. Look now at this name by which the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of God is called: JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
A. The first thing that strikes me as I read this text is the fact that JESUS CHRIST IS JEHOVAH.
1. Hear me well. Either Jesus Christ is the Lord Jehovah, or the Word of God is false and there is no hope for sinners.
Let the atheist, the Socinian, and the Arian say what they will, Jesus Christ is himself God Almighty. I will make no effort to prove the divinity of Christ. I simply declare to you what God has plainly revealed both in the Scriptures and in my own experience.
a. I want you to see that the Scriptures do most plainly declare that Jesus Christ is God. He is not a creature of God, or some kind of secondary god. He is the second Person of the triune Godhead. This is not a mere point of systematic theology. It is not a mere logical deduction. It is a plain, undeniable assertion of inspired Scripture!
In Psalm 110:1 David says, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” Both Peter and Paul tell us that David was speaking of Christ. Isaiah tells us that that One who was born of the virgin is himself “The Mighty God” (9:6). And the writers of the New Testament constantly refer to Christ as God. They did not prove, or defend the doctrine, as though it were debatable. They simply stated it as a fact known and believed by all Christians. Paul tells us that the church was purchased with the blood of One who is God (Acts 20:28). John tells us that God laid down his life for us (I John 3:16). Again, Paul wrote to the Romans of Christ, the Messiah, who sprang out of Judah, saying that he is “over all, God blessed forever” (9:5). He tells us that “God was manifest in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16), and that our hope is in “the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13).
b. Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified by the Jews because he claimed sovereign authority as God (John 5:18; 10:33).
We fully believe that that One who bare our sins in his own body upon the tree, though he was a real man, was and is the eternal God! Being astounded by this fact, we sing,
Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in,
When God the mighty Maker died,
For man, the creature’s sin!
2. The whole of creation attest the deity of Christ (John 1:3).
3. Providence proclaims the deity of Christ. He is before all things. And by him all things consist. He sits upon the throne of sovereign supremacy “upholding all things by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3).
4. Certainly, you and I who have been saved by his grace can never doubt that Jesus Christ is anything less than God almighty, the infinite, omnipotent Jehovah! Who less than God could have put away our sins? Who less than God could have delivered us from the jaws of hell and brought us up from the pit of destruction, having found a ransom? Who less than God almighty could say, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world?” Who less than God could hear and answer all the prayers of his people? Let others scoff and mock as they will, Jesus Christ is God! We know that he is. The Scripture states it plainly. And we experience the very Godhead of our Savior daily.
B. But our text also tells us that Christ Jesus is JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
What does the Bible mean when it ascribes such a name as this to the Son of God?
1. For one thing, it means that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of righteousness.
Literally, Christ is the incarnation of the law, the will and the righteousness of God. In his life our Redeemer was so righteous that we may say of his whole life, “This is righteousness.” Understand what I say: Jesus Christ lived out the law of God perfectly, in thought, in heart, in word, and in deed. While we see God’s law written in stone at Sinai, we behold it embodied and living in the Person of his dear Son.
My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
I read my duty in Thy Word,
But in Thy life the law appears
Drawn out in living characters.
The Lord Jesus never offended the commandment of God in thought or in act. He loved God with all his heart. He loved his neighbor as himself. Among all that are born of woman, it can be said of Christ alone, “He is Righteousness.” We are made righteous by him. But he alone is Righteousness.
It is a blessed thing to know that Christ is Jehovah. And it is delightful to know that as a man he is Righteousness. But the great joy of our text lies in the fact that...
2. Christ is THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (I Cor. 1:30-31).
This is the precious doctrine of the Holy Scripture. The Lord Jesus Christ is our righteousness for justification. In the matter of justification Christ is all (Acts 13:38-39). His work, only his work, without any contribution whatsoever from us, makes us righteous in the sight of God.
a. God looks upon all who believe as thought the life which Christ lived had been lived by us.
God graciously accepts, blesses and rewards us as though all that Christ has done had been done by us, his believing people. God so perfectly imputes the righteousness of Christ to us that we are called by this very name (Jer. 33:15-16).
b. Divine imputation is the very foundation of the gospel.
We fell and became sinners by the imputation of Adam’s sin to us, without anything we had done personally. And it is only by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, apart from anything done by us, that we rise to the justification of life (Rom. 5:12-19).
Note: God deals with only two men, Adam and Christ. And he deals with all others only in those two.
C. This is the one true grounds of our acceptance with God, Christ Jesus, the Lord our Righteousness.
The Law-Giver has obeyed the law in our stead. And his obedience is sufficient for us. In his death our sin was imputed to Christ, our Substitute. And now, in his resurrection life, his righteousness is imputed to us. “He was delivered for our sins, and raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Christ is the Sun of Righteousness who has risen with healing beneath his wings for the healing of the nations. He finished the transgression. He made an end of sin. He made reconciliation for iniquity. He brought in an everlasting righteousness. He magnified the law and made it honorable. And he is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (II Cor. 5:21).
Child of God, look back upon your past sins, look upon your present infirmities, and look even upon your future errors, and weep with bitter tears of heartfelt repentance. But rejoice while you weep, that there is no fear of condemnation, because Christ is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS!”
My brother, my sister, today, if you truly trust Christ, you stand before God robed in the garments of his own dear Son. And I declare to you, with all the authority of God’s own Word, that in Christ you are right now as holy as your holy Redeemer!
With His spotless garments on,
Holy as the Holy One!
We have a better righteousness than Adam had in the garden. His was the created righteousness of innocent man. Ours is the earned, purchased, imputed righteousness of the perfect God-man. Christ’s righteousness is compared to fine linen, clean and white. If we wear it, then we are without spot before God. In this robe we are worthy to sit at the wedding feast of the great King. In the parable of the prodigal, it is called “the best robe.” It is a better robe than Adam wore. It is a better robe than the legalist, the ritualist, or the hypocrite wears. And it is a better robe than the holy angels wear. It is the robe that God’s own dear Son wears as our Mediator! And, blessed be God, this robe shall never be worn out!
3. Not only is Christ our righteousness for justification, He is our righteousness for sanctification too.
The apostle Paul tells us that God has made Christ unto us sanctification, and that “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” God our Father says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” not with whom, but “in whom I am well pleased,” satisfied and delighted. And, if we are in Christ, the Father is well pleased with us too.
a. Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us in justification.
b. His righteousness is imparted to us in sanctification (II Pet. 1:4).
When we were born naturally, according to the flesh, we received the fallen, sinful nature of our father Adam. And when we were born again by the Spirit of God, we receive the holy, righteous nature of Christ, whose seed we are (I John 3:5-9). So long as we are in this world, in this body of flesh, we will have to struggle with sin (Rom. 7:14-24; Gal. 5:17). But even now God accepts our feeble efforts to serve and honor him through the merits of Christ our Righteousness (I Pet. 2:5). And soon we will drop this robe of flesh and enter into heaven’s glorious inheritance through the merits of Christ’s righteousness. Our only claim to heaven, the only claim we have and the only claim God will accept is, JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
This is what our text teaches us: Christ is the incarnation of righteousness; Christ is our righteousness for justification; and Christ is our righteousness and sanctification.
II NOW I WANT TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO CALL THE LORD JESUS CHRIST BY THIS NAME, “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Oh, may God enable you to hear me. You must have Christ for your righteousness, or you will perish forever! If you care for your soul, hear me now.
A. Is there a sinner here, a man or a woman, who is broken over sin, one who longs to be righteous before God? CHRIST ALONE CAN MAKE YOU RIGHTEOUS.
You know that God is pure, righteous and holy. He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. The heavens are not clean in his sight. He charges his angels with folly. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Now the only way that the holy God can receive you is if you are made to be perfectly righteous in his sight. Is there therefore no hope for you?
1. You are so far from being perfectly righteous that you have no righteousness at all (Isa. 64:6).
2. There is no possibility of you being made righteous by your own obedience to the law of God (Rom 10:4).
a. You cannot justify yourself by obeying the law.
b. You cannot sanctify yourself by obeying the law.
3. And there is no possibility of becoming righteous by works and acts of religion.
You can pray three times a day, memorize your Bible from cover to cover, be baptized by the most faithful minister in the world, receive the Lord’s table every week, attend only the most orthodox church, hear only the most biblical preaching, give generously and sacrificially, fast twice a week, and live in perfect outward conformity to the law of God, and yet perish in hell forever, a sinner and an enemy of God. You must be made righteous by faith in Christ, “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
4. Most people seem to think that God will accept sincerity in the place of righteousness; but he will not.
The priests of Baal were sincere. Those who committed suicide at Jonestown were sincere. Saul, the persecuting Pharisee, was sincere.
How then can a sinner be made righteous and just with God? Is all hope gone? All hope in self is gone. But there is hope set before us in the gospel.
5. You must have Christ as your righteousness. He must be made of God unto you righteousness. You must trust him as “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” And you must confess him as such. You must by faith call Christ, “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Rom. 3:24-28; 10:9-13).
B. Child of God, “This is the name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,” by you.
Let us call Immanuel by this name always. Let us live in constant dependence upon the righteousness of our Savior for our acceptance with God and for our confidence and assurance before him. There are special times when I would encourage you to call Christ by this name.
1. Whenever you sin, call him the Lord my righteousness (I John 2:1-2).
“In the teeth of all thy sins believe that he is thy righteousness still. Thy good works do not improve his righteousness. Thy bad deeds do not sully it. This is a robe which thy best deeds cannot mend and thy worst deeds cannot mar. Thou standest in him, not in thyself.” C.H. Spurgeon
2. Whenever you are enabled to do anything for the good of your brethren or the glory of your Lord, call Christ Jehovah my righteousness (I Cor. 4:7).
3. Whenever you ask anything from your heavenly Father call Christ Jesus by this name, “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” “Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.”
4. When you come to look death and judgment in the face, rejoice in the privilege of calling Christ “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Illustration: Rowland Hill’s Dream
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness,
My beauty are, my glorious dress:
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed
With joy shall I lift up my head:
Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay,
While through Thy blood absolved I am
From sin’s tremendous curse and blame?
III. NOW, I WANT TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO PRAISE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IN LOVING GRATITUDE, CALLING HIM BY THIS BLESSED NAME, “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Children of God, admire that wonderful, reigning grace which has led you to call the Savior by this name. “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
A. Look around you, my friends, at this band of believers.
We are living testimonies of the love and grace of God. It is a miracle of grace that you and I should call Jesus Christ “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” It would not be a greater wonder if God should cause the demons of hell to call Christ by this name.
Now subdued by sovereign grace,
My spirit longs for His embrace;
My beauty this, my glorious dress,
Jesus, the Lord our righteousness.
B. We call Christ “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” because we have experienced His righteousness--we have proved that it is true. He is “The Lord our righteousness.”
Because he is, what peace, joy and comfort flood our souls! What blessed hope and assurance! Because he is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,” we are the sons of God, we are reconciled to God, we have access to God, we shall enter into heaven’s eternal glory accepted of God!
Application: Isaiah 45:22-25.