In Luke 15, Jesus tells the story of a prodigal son. He had taken his inheritance, wandered off and wanted to come back home and just be a servant to his father. Yes, we serve the Lord, but we are not sons because we serve. We serve because we are sons. We as believers are sons and daughters of God because of birth-right, not because of behavior.
When the prodigal son returns, the father gives him three gifts. The first is the “Robe of Righteousness” and then he gives him a ring and shoes.
Luke 15:17 – “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough to spare, and I perish with hunger! (Verse 18) ‘I will arise and go to my father and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, (Verse 19) and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ‘ (The son had worked up his speech that he was going to tell his father that he was no longer worthy to be called his son.)
(Verse 20) “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. (Verse 21) “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
(Verse 22) “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. (Verse 23) ‘And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; (Verse 24) ‘for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” (Every gift that the father gave him, was a gift you give a son, not a servant.)
John 8:35 – “And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.” Galatians 4:2 – Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son. (slave to sin and the law) John 15:15 – No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing. (So the robe was the robe of righteousness.)
Isaiah 61:10 – I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garment of salvation. He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. (Keep in mind that righteousness means right standing with God.)
Earned or a gift?
If you understand this, it will change everything in a believer’s life. Too many believers will say it’s a gift but then act like its earned. This will change everything about the way we see God; everything about the way we see ourselves; everything about the way we see our behavior and performance; and everything about the way we see others. This “Righteousness” is 100% a gift!
Had the prodigal son done anything to earn these three gifts that the father gave him? No, he had been living without restraint, wasteful living. Notice what the prodigal son says: Luke 15:19 – “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” That tells me that at some point the son thought he was worthy. He said, “I’m no longer,” meaning he was at one time. When he stayed at home and was doing the right thing he thought he was worthy. However, when he left home and wasn’t doing right he felt as if he was no longer worthy to be called his son.
Considering what true righteousness is, this is what most Christians think: When I do what is right then I’m righteous, but when I do wrong, I am no longer righteous. The actual truth is that none of us are or were ever worthy of righteousness. But because of what Christ has done, He gave us right standing with God when we believe, righteousness through Him. What the prodigal son thought as most Christians do is “Performance mentality.” So is righteousness earned or is it “imputed?” Imputed is an accounting term and it means “to balance your account.”
Romans 4:6 – Just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works; to whom God balances their account of righteousness apart from works.
Romans 4:23 – Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, (Verse 24) but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,… Our righteousness is a gift, imputed to us through Jesus Christ.
Romans 4:3 – For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” When Abraham believed God, put his faith in God, God put righteousness in Abraham’s account! And the reason that God can do this is that He put Abraham’s sin into His Son’s account!
We serve God with a son or daughter mentality. Yes, we serve the Lord, but we got adopted when we believed which makes us sons and daughters. Our “Dad” will meet with us any time we need to meet with Him!
Don’t listen to the accuser.
This next Scripture is talking about Joshua the High Priest: Zechariah 3:1 – Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. (Verse 2) And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this (referring to Joshua) not a branch plucked from the fire?” (Verse 3) Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and was standing before the Angel. (Verse 4) Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him, He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.”
The filthy garments represent iniquities which are sins but it goes further than that. We think about iniquity only being evil but there were two trees in the garden. The tree of Life and the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. Our choices should be between Life and death instead of good and evil.
Now when we put the passage in Zechariah and Isaiah together: Isaiah 64:6 – All our righteousness are like filthy rags (filthy garments) Meaning, even the good things we’ve done don’t compare to God’s goodness. Not equal! So God removes Joshua’s iniquity and He rebukes his accuser. Where is Satan? At the right hand of Joshua ready to accuse.
Revelation 12:9 – So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Verse 10) Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” (past-tense) However, some wonder, when did this happen?
Romans 8:34 – Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. We don’t have an accuser anymore standing beside the brethren! We have an Intercessor at the right hand of God for us!
Jesus removes the iniquity, rebukes the accuser, and then He robes us. Remember in Zechariah, He said, “Not only am I going to remove your filthy garments, but I’m going to clothe you with rich robes.”
Revelation 3:18 – “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed;” Christ not only robes us in righteousness but He also takes away our shame from our past!
Live like sons and daughters.
We’re not sons because we serve, but we serve because we’re sons and daughters. Yes, righteousness is a gift, but we still should live righteously. Don’t go live in a “pig-pen.” Stay close to the Father in the Father’s house! We now have the power of the Holy Spirit to live righteously. This doesn’t mean we’re going to be perfect because we are going to make mistakes, but it does mean we ought to try to live righteously.
Revelation 19:18 – And to her, it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
There is a robe of righteousness we get when we accept Jesus as our Savior, but when we go to heaven there is fine linen that we’re clothed in and that’s our “acts” we did under the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are righteous because of the blood of Jesus! It’s what He did that makes us righteous before God!