Lord, who may abide in Your Tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
If someone’s walk changes, can their works remain the same?
It’s a great question. If your walk changes, can your works remain unchanged? The answer is no. If your walk changes, your works will change. Maturity, development, and growth automatically affect our behavioral patterns.
Likewise, the person who abides in God will produce works of righteousness. It is the person who abides in God that God will produce works of righteousness, just as abiding in the branch produces fruit in season. One is the outgrowth of the other.
The outgrowth of the root or the tree produces and causes fruit to be manifested. Psalm 15:1-2 says, “Lord, who may abide in your Tabernacle? Lord, who may dwell in your Holy Hill?” And He answers, “He who walks uprightly and works righteousness.”
This tells us that we must be involved in the works of righteousness if we want to be in God’s presence continually.
Relationship between Walk and Works
You cannot be involved in the works of righteousness and think it will not qualify you to remain in His presence. However, if you do not get involved in the works of righteousness, you will never be able to dwell in God’s presence.
I need you to understand this. This passage in Psalm cannot mean that you produce righteousness because there is nothing you can do to produce righteousness.
Not leading souls to Christ, not getting them filled with the Holy Ghost, not laying hands on the sick and seeing them recover, not singing in the worship team, teaching classes, preaching from this pulpit, or reaching the nations. There is absolutely nothing you can do to produce righteousness for yourself.
However, the problem is that almost all organized religion functions and believes the premise that what you do makes you righteous before God. But that premise and belief are not true in the word of God.
Therefore, you have to understand that working will never make you spiritual. But if you are truly spiritual, you will be involved in His works of righteousness. It is not the works that you do that produce righteousness but the righteousness of your newfound relationship and your born-again experience with God.
Now let me summarize my point using the scriptural foundation in Romans 3:10. Only God is righteous, which means you and I are unrighteous and without hope of being righteous. Many Christians believe their actions can make them acceptable and righteous before God, but this is untrue. Religious organizations have set up rules and regulations to make people righteous, but it will never happen because only God is righteous.
God is interested in relationships, not religion. No system of works can make you righteous in God’s sight. However, the good news is that Christ is our righteousness. He resides within us through the Holy Spirit, and we have been introduced into the Kingdom of God on Earth, which is defined as righteousness, peace, and joy.
While we cannot produce righteousness ourselves, we can be practitioners of righteousness. God has imparted a measure of righteousness to us through the new birth, and it must be developed and matured in our lives.
We must understand that God has given us the factors and formula for righteousness in His Word, but we are responsible for working out this in our daily lives. This involves multiplication, addition, subtraction, and even division as we navigate different situations. It is a continuous process of seeking solutions and working on our deliverance and salvation.
Abiding in God and Producing Works of Righteousness
The early Christians were charged to build themselves up in the Most Holy Faith, teach and admonish one another, and comfort one another with Psalms and hymns. Even Jesus went through a spiritual process of growth and increased wisdom and favor with God and man. Therefore, we must also work out our salvation and strive for righteousness.
You need to understand that it’s not enough to be born again and receive righteousness at your new birth. God commands you to continually strive to develop that righteousness at higher and higher levels. This is crucial.
You must take the potential that God has placed within you and continually elevate it. We see this principle in various aspects of life. For instance, some people may have an extraordinary talent given by God, but if they want to achieve greatness, they must consistently work at higher levels.
Similarly, in the church, some individuals have a calling from God but haven’t disciplined themselves to develop their gifts. It’s essential to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Like in marriage, having an extraordinary relationship takes effort, understanding, and communication. Applying the three principles of work is essential for a successful marriage. Likewise, working out your salvation is a continuous process requiring constant effort.
Our relationship with God is compared to a husband and wife relationship, which demands great adaptations to make it work. While Jesus remains unchanged, we are the ones who need to change and allow the righteousness of God to work in us at higher and higher levels.
Something is amiss if you haven’t experienced growth in your relationship with the Lord over the years. Many people are unaware that higher and higher levels of righteousness need to be matured.
In 1 Corinthians 3, there are three levels of service. The first level involves doing things for God, such as plowing, planting, and watering the field. However, it is God who ultimately brings the increase. This level can be considered as the outer Court Ministry. At this level, everything done is in response to God’s precepts and on His behalf, even though we do it for Him.
How many have worked for God? Show me your hands. How many have served God? When you work for God, it’s always a response to a command. What does that mean? Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). In response, we are all to do what Christ has commanded us to do for him.
Acts 1:8 tells us we shall be witnesses for Jesus, so we witness. We share our testimony, hand out tracks, and spread the Gospel’s good news. It’s all in response to a command where Jesus tells us to go and share the gospel, preach the gospel of Christ, and give the good news.
It’s about obediently responding to what God tells us to do in His word. It teaches us obedience, and obedience is better than sacrifice. It breaks the inertia of inactivity and sets the stage for divine guidance.
The Inability to Produce Righteousness Through Works
However, I want to suggest that working for God has two significant weaknesses.
First, most Christians must understand that when working for God, the focus should not be on personal needs. Jesus always prioritized doing what the Father desired, listening to His instructions, observing His actions, and speaking His words. Jesus did not cater to the masses’ demands but followed the Father’s will.
For instance, when Jesus went to the pool of Bethesda, He chose to heal only one man, specifically selected by the Father, instead of attending to the multitude of people seeking healing. Jesus did come to heal, but His mission was not to eliminate all suffering.
Jesus tells the disciples in Mark 14 that the poor will always be with them. When the needs of others control us, we are out of control. Working for God can become legalistic and harsh as we project our requirements onto others.
We must realize that God has created diverse ministries; not everyone is called to the same work. The lowest level of service is doing works of righteousness for God without dwelling in His presence. Many Christians mistakenly believe that this is the highest level of service and become judgmental.
The second level is working with God as partners or co-workers. Moving to this higher level requires a shift from following precepts to ministry with the Holy Spirit. Instead of always seeking instructions, we should embrace the invitation to learn how to be laborers together with God.
Imagine a Jew in Jesus’s time who was bound by their religious rituals and practices. Jesus speaks these powerful words in Matthew 11:28-30, which are often overlooked. He invites all who are laboring and burdened to come to Him for rest. How is it possible to find rest when we are yoked with Jesus, who is associated with work?
Yokes are for working, not for resting. However, Jesus does not equate rest with inactivity. He equates rest with directed activity, where less human energy is expended, and more divine power is utilized. We tap into His divine energy and find rest by laboring effectively in His service.
This higher level of service involves learning from Him, not just learning about Him. God desires us to be yoked with Jesus, our burden-bearer, and to move beyond the outer court of learning about Him to the inner court of learning from Him. Unfortunately, many Christians never reach this elevated level of righteousness.
When you take the yoke of God, please write these things down. They are very simple but profound. The first lesson you’ll learn when you take His yoke is that it’s too big for you because you’re dealing with God and His righteousness. This will require you to walk in faith. No other kind of walk will allow you to fit the yoke.
Secondly, you’ll learn the wisdom of moving with Jesus when He moves. If you resist, you’ll be plowed under the ground. Thirdly, when He stops, you must stop. No matter how strong you are, pushing forward will only result in sore muscles. This is a difficult lesson for Christians to grasp.
Fourth, when you are yoked with the Lord Jesus, you must eat and drink when He does. You can’t force Him to eat or drink. The best time to pray, read, and apply the Word is when the Holy Spirit desires it.
Fifth, you must not turn in the opposite direction when He turns. This is rebellion against God and will lead to misery.
Sixth, let Him choose the implement for the day. Be led by the Spirit.
Lastly, understand that His pace varies. Sometimes, He stops and takes in the scenery. Other times, He hastens His pace, and sometimes, He walks slowly. It’s important to keep up with His pace. When learned through being yoked with Him, these basic truths can be life-changing.
Moving Beyond Following Precepts to Ministry with the Holy Spirit
Have you ever been in a season where God seems inactive? Did you learn anything, or just feel frustrated? If you want to move to another season, you need to learn to be comfortable with Him, whether He’s doing something or nothing.
You should be as comfortable with stillness as you are with working hard. Let me explain it this way: He is the trainer, and you are the trainee. He is the instructor, and you are the student.
When you work for God based on rules, you constantly worry about how much work you’ve done and condemn yourself. But when you work with God at a higher level, your response is to a partner, not rules.
The responsibility for what you do is not yours alone; it belongs to Him. He is your partner, your co-worker. In Acts 4:13, it is said that people could tell that the Apostles had been with Jesus. They were working with Him, being with Him.
To move from working for God in the outer court, following rules, to the inner court, led by the Holy Spirit, you need to teach and instruct others. This is where you work with Him, and He trains you to see and know what to do. If you don’t take this step, you will only know Him but never honestly know Him.
We will never learn about Him if we don’t tell people to take His yoke upon ourselves. You will never know Him or have Him revealed to you. As a result, you can’t reveal Him and His ways to those in the world because you have yet to learn about him since you haven’t partnered with him.
The first level of service is to work. The second level of service is to work. The third level of service is explained in 1 Corinthians 3:16. Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that the Holy Spirit dwells in you?
Now, let’s stop. This is easy to understand. It is absolutely impossible to think of a temple without thinking about worship because worship is the purpose of a temple. The main purpose of every temple is to worship God, no matter who you believe God is.
You can’t think of a temple without thinking about worship. So, the purpose of a temple is ministry, not for Him or with Him, but now it is ministry unto Him. The highest level is for Him, with Him, and unto Him.
It is always ministry unto God. Never ministry unto the people. Let me say it again: when you work unto him, it’s always ministry to Him, never to people.
The highest level of righteous works is crucial. The first level is ministering for God by responding to His precepts. The second level is partnering with Him in our work. The third level is performing righteous works for Him. The highest level is ministering to Him personally.
As you understand the person of God, you can minister to Him directly. This is different from representing Him or working for Him. Ambassadors and diplomats may receive orders from the government without directly interacting with higher officials. They work for the government, but ministering to a person is on a different level.
To minister to God personally, you need to comprehend this distinction. You must learn to minister to Him directly. There are three levels of ministry: the outer, inner, and holies of holies. The holies of holies is the highest level because it is dedicated solely to God. Everything in the holies of holies is an act of worship and is done for His glory. It is all in response to His needs, not ours.
Worship as the Ultimate Form of Service
God wants us to learn to minister unto him. When we minister unto him, we can easily take his yoke upon us and learn from him. We should work for him and do what he wants us to do rather than just responding to precepts. As temples of the Most High God, we are both the place of worship and the performer of worship. Worship differs from praise and can only occur in our spirits through a revelation of who God is. Worship lifts us to the level of the worshiped.
To minister unto God is the highest level of righteousness. In heaven, every being continuously worships God loudly. The Apostle Paul was a worshiper, always ministering unto God. When we abide in His presence, we should focus on ministering to Him, not just receiving from Him.
God searches for worshipers who can meet His needs. Worship is the highest form of righteous works. It is about bringing something to God, not just getting something from Him. God desires worshipers who can minister to Him in the holies of holies. He needs worship.
Holiness, righteousness, justice, and mercy are attributes of God’s nature that cannot be learned in a classroom or from a textbook. They must be caught, not taught. You can only know God through revelation and by understanding that you must rise to the level of what you worship. As we worship Him in spirit, we have a revelation of who He is. Through Scripture, God reveals His character and behavior. This truth must be implanted in us to move to a higher level of worship, where He reveals more of Himself. He is a spirit, love, and light. Expect these revelations to flood your soul.
I believe in public praise and corporate praise. However, when we minister unto God, our praise has to reach a level that takes us as far as it can go. Praise alone does not have the power to thrust us into ministry unto God. It lacks the ability to bring us into intimacy with Him.
Worship, on the other hand, is a personal act. It is where individuals can worship God for themselves. No one can worship God on your behalf. While people can praise God for you, worship must come from within, from your spirit.
The corporate expression of worship moves to a different level. It is something that must be caught, not taught. Many Christians fail to understand the connection between righteousness and justice and how it relates to our work for God.
When I respond to a precept in the word and do it, I am merely working for God. But when I move to a higher level, it is because I have taken His yoke upon me, and I am personally learning from God Himself. He is my trainer, and I am the trainee. It becomes a partnership.
Moving into the holies of the highest level of service, many fail to grasp that worship is the ultimate form of service we can offer to God. Worship goes beyond responding to commands and precepts. It is about responding to God as a person entering intimacy with Him. It is about knowing Him on a deeper level.
In worship, we touch power and revelation. In worship, authority and the kingdom’s keys are distributed. So let us all say amen!
Embark on the transformative journey from religious works to intimate worship, discovering the power and revelation that come from ministering unto God with authenticity and reverence. Watch the full sermon “What Are the Works of Righteousness?” here.
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