I recently read a devotion that stated, "Christians who are right with God find encouragement in the Scriptures."
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What does the phrase “right with God” mean? While the questioner says he read the phrase from a devotional, we can assign this phrase its scriptural context. The Bible mentions it in connection with people whose walk with God was approved of God. Under the Old Testament dispensation, justification was associated with obedience to the law. Deuteronomy 12:28 declares “Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.” We learn later in the New Testament that the Law was a pointer to Christ in whom its objects were fulfilled (Matthew 5:17). In the two Book of Kings, the writers would open the account of a king by indicating if the king did that which was right or evil in the sight of God. This preamble is useful in anticipating what sort of story would follow (cf. 1 Kings 15:11, 22:43; 2 Chronicles 14:2). Examples of good kings include David, Josiah, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah while evil kings were notably Ahab (1 Kings 16:28) and Manasseh (2 Kings 21:2), among others. In the context of the new covenant, a person is declared right in the eyes of God if they believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior whose shed blood was for the atonement of their sin and on account of which they are made the children of God (John 1:12). The person therefore accepts that without the sacrificial death of Christ, his fellowship with God would have been lost forever. This is the basis of righteousness in that God declares the believer as having a right standing with Him by virtue of Christ’s shed blood.. Romans 3:23-25 says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” Of course the believer must continue to walk right with God by leading a daily life of obedience to God and his word and by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them. This in no way suggests that the believer would be perfect in his walk but that his legal standing is complete in God’s eyes. Nothing else need be done because his redemption was completely transacted by Christ. There shall be no condemnation for this person who has chosen to take refuge in Christ and he is assured of eternal life (cf. Romans 8:1-3). This is the message that Jesus was trying to pass across to Nicodemus in John 3:1-21 and is the central message of the gospel of Christ which He has commanded us to teach and to observe till He returns. The Book of Romans deals in greater detail with the doctrine of justification and it would be useful to study this book in order to understand Paul’s message. Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” This justification is by faith in Christ’s atoning grace which is the basis of our right standing with God and is the assurance of our eternal hope in Him. This is what it means to be right with God. It is not about what we do or omit to do but about what Christ has done once and which motivates a true child of God to lead a life of obedience.
To be right with God is to be 'one' with Him in heart and mind. A good example of this is the story of Simon in Acts 8. Philip went to Samaria to preach Christ to them and it describes the miracles that were performed and many who were sick were healed. And a man called Simon was there who was a sorcerer. He 'believed and was baptised'. Later, Peter and John came laying their hands on the believers, and when Simon saw that through the apostles hands they received the Holy Spirit, "...he offered them money, saying 'Give me also this power that whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit'." Simons request of 'power' was a symptom of something greater that was eating away at his soul. For a long time he had the respect of the people by trying to impress them that he was 'some great one' using witchcraft. And when Philip, Peter and John came drawing the people away from himself, he became resentful. Peter said, "You have neither part nor portion in this matter for your heart is not right in the sight of God." Acts 8:21 It can be the same with us. We may have been baptised and from all outward show appear to be right with God, but... "For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity." Acts 8:23 Like Simon when our heart is poisoned by sin, it is building a roadblock, preventing us from 'seeing' God clearly and not being right with God. But God has given us the gift of repentance. When we cry out like David and say "Create in me a pure heart, O God and put a right spirit within me," Psalm 51:10, we know that we are being led by God, closer to His heart. Being right with Him again.
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