Jesus’s Witness from the Cross

Pastor Gregory Swift

July 21, 2019 

Sermon: The Great Exchange: Sin for Righteousness

Isaiah 64:5-6 Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:17-20

Our culture is fascinated by watching good movies as it stirs our emotions and gives us, many things to ponder and contemplate on. Most of the time what we see in movies the “great exchange” for moving from a state of conflict to a state of change. For example,In watching Disney movies with Andrew, in the story of Aladdin he is a petty thief, who’s life is changed after meeting the princess Jasmine.  He will have to endure trail, after trial, yet overtime he will defeat Jafar, whose plot is to rule the land, and Aladdin become the Prince and rule the land, (The Great Exchange). In the Bible we see a nameless woman, whom we have come to know as Mary, pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ head to prepare him for burial. The disciples were indignant with the woman for wasting the perfume, but Jesus said she would be remembered throughout history for her gracious and beautiful act toward the Lord.

Indignation for exultation! (The Great Exchange).

Step 1: The Great Exchange Our Sin for the Gift of Righteousness

So what’s the problem? How do we get this righteousness? Matthew 5:20 says,  

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

So it is not just a outward conformity of the law, which characterized the Righteousness of the Pharisees, but to an obedience of both outward and inward conformity. Obeying the law is not just about killing people, or committing adultery, But it is about not getting so angry with your brother or sister, not lusting in your heart, or making insincere oaths. So what do we do? How do we make things right with God to live in righteousness that exceeds the Pharisees?

Our righteousness begins with understanding that we are not pleasing to God because of our sins.

Our righteousness on its own is not enough as Isaiah 64:6 says,

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Our sin requires a redeemer who can justify us and cover our sins with His Holy Righteousness.

Let’s look now at the “Good News” in 2 Corinthians 5:21 as it says,

For our sake, God made him who had no sin to be sin, for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

What are we trusting Jesus Christ for?

Trusting Him for this Great Exchange.

The Bible is clear about 2 main characters 1 being humanity and one being Jesus Christ. The Bible says that humanity is full of sin, full of imperfection, and full of immorality, Whereas Jesus is pure , blameless, sinless, perfection, and moral. So what this verse is saying is, that when we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior,  We are trusting in a transaction to take place between us and Jesus to do away with our sins, so we can be reunited back with our Father. So the first part of the transaction is that we need Jesus to take away the punishment That is rightly due to us, as we are sinners. That is the first part of the transaction. Then He becomes full of our sins and Jesus takes this to the cross, Then He cancels all the sins out, and someone who trust in Jesus, this is what is happening that He take on our sins In the other part of the transaction, we need something in return from Him, and will exchange our sin for His righteousness or He gives the only thing He can give, his blameless guilt free presence, a clean record.

Practical application in todays World:

Through Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross our true identity is restored. We do not merely find our identity in Christ; He is our identity! Through repentance and faith we are a new creation in Christ. We no longer belong to sin, or the devil, but rather we belong to Christ, And as such we now reflect this identity. With new identity comes new affections and attitudes. Why is this?

Because He gave His life to free us of every kind of sin! A strong identity in the Lord means a very secure sense of self in the midst of struggles.

Step 2: Embracing Jesus’ Righteousness:

So it is important to receive Jesus’ righteousness, after that it is up to us to keep working on it, desiring holiness and pursuing Christ-like behavior.We need to embrace the righteousness that Jesus transfers over to us, as we are cleanse from our sins. We let go of our past mistakes, our past guilt, and the shame from our past. Romans 5:17 says,

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

Death is an enemy, as the first man Adam brought death into the world. God’s heart must have broke when man sinned. God’s abundance of grace, and His gift of righteousness, Is God’s 100 percent love for you and free gift to you, The gift righteousness is on you, as everyday you have temptations, Everyday guard your righteousness, stay connected to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Be established in righteousness. How are you righteous today?

You are righteousness…………. apart from your performance. God loves you apart from your performance. God blesses you like you are His precious child. Are we leading our lives under Adam or we living for Christ? Are we living under God’s obedience or under our own obedience? Its so easy to get caught up in our own thoughts and our own feelings. We need to put our eyes on Jesus’ obedience and not our own obedience. Do we have more faith in sin or the King of Righteousness or do we have more faith in ourselves and living by your own desires?

Illustration: There is a story about a person traveling through a Small village in Basutoland, (Ba-soo-toe-land) in South Africa, and he noticed some chickens with red ribbons fastened to their backs between their wings. The local people said, “They use the red ribbon to protect the chickens From the many vicious hawk attacks as the hawks are afraid of the red ribbon. Neither blue, green, or any other color would halt the attack of the hawk.

For us as Christians, we are eternally tied by the red ribbon of His atoning blood. We are clothed in His righteousness and not our own.

Let’s review the principle of exchange:  In the “The Great Exchange,” 

if I asked my someone to give me these dirty, filthy rags and then in exchange that I would give you a valuable treasure in its place. 

Of course, the better deal is taking the treasure! I explained to you that we just exchanged something and that an exchange is anytime you give something away to receive something in return.

In the Bible then,  

Let’s equate then the dirty filthy rags to our sin, and the valuable treasure with Christ’s righteousness.  When Jesus died on the cross, He took our sin from us and bore it in our place. Then, our sin is “exchanged” for Jesus’ perfect life (life without sin). If we repent and believe in Jesus, this exchange takes place and God (Holy God) sees Jesus’ perfect life when He looks upon us. That is how we are able to stand before God as sinners. This is how we enter into heaven to stand before God.

Step 3: Stay on the Right Course of Righteousness; Pursue It!

Christ is our model to stay on the right course. We have to be devoted to Christ and righteousness. It is quite easy to get off course with all the distractions of culture and sin. Illustration: In a recent NCAA cross-country championship held in Riverside, 123 out of the 128 runners missed a turn and strayed off the course. One competitor, Mike Delcavo, stayed on the 10,000 meter course and Waved for his fellow runners to follow him. Only 4 choose to follow him. The others who did not follow Mike and the correct route thought what Mike was doing was funny. As Christians our goal is to run correctly with right living or righteousness, To finish the race marked out by Christ.  We can rejoice over those who have courage to follow the Lord, Ignoring the cheering of the crowd. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 says,

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

We pursue righteousness by seeking out His presence.

The Bible say, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. We have to show up everyday by reading His Word, and spending time talking with Him in prayer. No doubt, we all have been told this many times yet it bears repeating. We have to invite wisdom into our lives. God places great value on wisdom, so much so, that he wants us to specially to ask for it. Godly wisdom provides a better understanding of what is right and what is wrong. James 3:13 says,

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

Just ask God for wisdom as it is there for the taking.

Don’t Give Up!

Pursuing righteousness is an ongoing journey. Encourage ourselves daily in the Lord and keep our eyes on Him. Reading the Word, praying and asking for wisdom, and making purposeful efforts to walk in the Spirit. Pursue your righteousness on this side of heaven, and never give up, As the Lord blesses those who seek Him. (Lamentations 3:25)

In conclusion:

Let us declare our righteousness, I declare my righteousness that is in Christ Jesus, My life has been made right before God. God accepts me. I am safe in His hands. My identity is secure in Him.