Instruction In Righteousness

by Jay Massingill

“In the beginning God said, “Let Us make man in our image, according to our likeness, let them have dominion – – – over all the earth,” (Gen. 1:26).

The scriptures may not offer an exact definition of that image and likeness with which man was created but we can look at our own children and grandchildren and see our image and likeness in them.  When they exhibit some character trait or disposition that we are not pleased with, dad may say to mom and mom likewise to dad, “your son” or “your daughter”, however, if they exhibit our likeness in some way that we are pleased with, then we proudly say, “my son” or “my daughter”, thus we are honored when they do well.  We rejoice with them.  But we grieve when they go astray.  True also, our heavenly Father grieves when we go astray, yet His love for us remains constant.  We as parents have the responsibility of raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, (Eph. 6:4).  Our love for our children is a reflection of that divine image in us.

When we examine the Greek words translated nurture and admonition, we are made to realize that God has raised up sons and daughters in His image and likeness, restoring the dominion of His divine nature through His word.

“strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”(Eph.3:15-19).

The key word in this passage is “comprehend.“  When God told Abraham;

“Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you…” (Gen.22:1-14)

It wasn’t that God might know, but that WE might comprehend His love for us; Jn.3:12-21). Truly, “we are His workmanship,…”(Eph.2:10) through His word “…which effectively works in you who believe” (1Thess.2:13-14). “The word of God is living and powerful…“ (Heb. 4:12).  The apostle Paul wrote Timothy,

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the holy scriptures which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”. (2Tim 3:14-15)

Paul is speaking of what we call the Old Testament scriptures. The New Testament scriptures were still being revealed.  (However all scripture and prophecy was complete by A.D. seventy. Dan.9:24; 1Cor.13:9-10)  Paul continues:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness , that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2Tim. 3:14-17).

To know what is pleasing to the Father, we must diligently seek the whole counsel of God, the whole bible, all scripture inspired of God.

The words “instruction” and “nurture” are translated from the Greek word “paideia”. Paideia is defined as education, training, or discipline.  You will recognize “paideia” in the word “encyclopedia”, which is taken from two Greek words “enkyklios” and “paideia” combined to say general education.

The word translated admonition is from the Greek noun, “nouthesia”.  It is “putting in mind” with words of instruction or warning with emphasis on instruction.  Paideia and nouthesia are synonymous words used interchangeably in the Greek scriptures.

A third word we should be aware of is the Greek word “aistheteria” [G145, senses], which relates to our sense or feeling faculties of perception.  [The same word is used in the Grk. Septuigent, to say, “…I am pained in the sensitive powers of my heart…”(Jer.4:19)].  The English word “aesthetic” is rooted in “aistheteria”, and denotes an appreciation of things beautiful, while the Hebrew writer speaks of “…have their senses exercised, to discern both good and evil”(Heb. 5:14).  Thus one trained in righteousness can discern and appreciate the beauty of righteousness and holiness in Christ and in his brethren also.  It has been said, “The aesthetic education of man produces a union between duty and desire.”  Perhaps it is in this sense that Jeremiah prophesies the writing of the new covenant on the hearts of Gods people, (Jer. 31:33).

By revealing the mind of God, the Holy Spirit has revealed spiritual mysteries and divine instruction, while through the manifestation of Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, men have seen the Father, (1cor.2:6-13; Jn.14:6-7).  Without God revealing Himself through Christ, man would have been unable to access the Father, much less know Him. However, through the inspired word, faith is created in the good and honest heart. Jesus illustrates this seed–faith principle in the parable of the sower (Lk. 8:4-15).  Likewise , Paul explains, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” thus “with the heart one believes unto righteousness” (Ro. 10:8-17).

By following the Holy Spirit revealed instruction in righteousness, one is born again of the incorruptible word, (1Pet. 1:22-23). The idea of being born again, conveys the necessity of the death , burial, and resurrection of one seeking to follow Jesus (Ro. 6:1-11).  It is by faith in the working of God, that one is baptized into Christ,(Col. 2:11-13; Gal.3:26-27).  The scriptures do not require our physical death because Jesus died in our place, but they do require our mortifying the old fleshly nature enabling us to receive the new spiritual nature of Christ thus we become a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away,(2Cor. 5:17).  One interesting and significant element of Gods creating the earth was its being immersed in water, so also was Noahs world, but he was given sanctuary in the Ark that he built following Gods instruction.  Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord,(Gen.6:8).  By faith in the working of God Noah entered the Ark and “was saved through water” but remember, Noah was saved by grace,(Gen.6:8; 1Pet.18-22).   Peter declares our immersion in water (into Christ as our sanctuary) is the antitype “which now saves us.”  It is God who does the saving. Our part is to submit to His will revealed by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said,

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”(Matt.28:19-20).

Our heavenly Father is by nature righteous and holy and by imprinting His righteousness on the hearts of men, He seeks to recreate His divine nature within His people.  In doing so, His people are ruled by a divine nature from the heart, to desire those things that are pleasing to the Father.  That is the pattern we are given from Genesis to the ultimate Revelations of Jesus Christ so that we may know and love and do by nature what is pleasing to the Father of spirits who created us.  We are to imitate Jesus as His disciples, and He said, “…I always do those things that please the Father”(Jn.8:29).  We are not in bondage to a legalistic pattern theology under the new covenant.  In Christ we have liberty,(Ro.2:14-15,26-29;8:1-2; James. 1:25; Gal.3:21,26-29).  The apostle Peter writes;

“To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue , to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self control, to self control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. – – – if you do these things you will never stumble ; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.”(2Pet.1:1-11).

Now, isn’t that what the apostle John said in far less words,

“Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God,”(1Jn.3:9).

Paul, in writing to the church at Philippi, wrote that love abounds in knowledge and all discernment ,

”And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge,[1922, epignosis] , and all discernment,[144,aisthesis], that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God,(Phil.1:6,9-11).

The Greek word “epignosis”, denotes a fuller knowledge which generates love, participation, discernment and the fruits of righteousness.  We must recognize the generating power of the inspired word.  For example, Paul remembers the Thessalonians, “…work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope”(1Thess.1:3).  Comprehending the love of Christ generates the fullness of God in us(Eph.3:19).  We love Him because He first loved us! So what does love not do? And what does love do?

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, (surmise?) ,does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails… And now abide faith, hope, and love, these three but the greatest of these is love.”  (1 Cor 13:4-13)

Paul writes to the Christians in Rome;

“Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” (Rom.15:14).

For the one who has been made alive in Christ, spiritual knowledge generates goodness.  Gods plan before the foundation of the world was for mans reconciliation and restoration to His family,(Eph. 1:4; 2Cor.5:17-19).

Jesus sent Paul, “to open their eyes, in order to turn them (Jews and Gentiles) from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ,(Acts26:17-18).  It is by the renewing of our mind through His divine instruction in righteousness that we are enabled to resist being conformed to this world and thus be transformed into the likeness and image of His Son,(Rom 8:29;12:1-2).

How awesome was our heavenly Fathers plan for our redemption and restored fellowship with Him.  Through Christ we are born again of the incorruptible Word.  We are made a new creation in Christ.  Abiding in Christ, we live and move and have our being, for He has made us sons of God!