Sons Leave; Daughters are Given – Genesis 2:24

In identity formation, which honors two genders (male and female), a happy mother and father will delight in early expressions without being threatened. One morning our grandson wanted to go to school with his sisters, which was a cause for delight. He was ready to leave, and came out all ready for school before his time.

Although God is His own interpreter, this beautiful act prompted in me both a smile and a thought. Boys sense from early on that they must separate and differentiate from mamma bear, especially when they receive well-being from her. Ruth H. Barton has written on gender formation, and found evidence from Carol Gilligan’s studies.

Gilligan observes that mothers are the ones who, for the most part, are the primary caretakers of young children; therefore issues of identity formation are different for boys than they are for girls. Barton writes: “Female identity formation takes place in the context of an ongoing relationship in which a girl can continue to think of herself as like her mother. Boys, on the other hand, recognize from early on that they must separate or differentiate from their primary caretaker if they are to define themselves as masculine. Their father, the person with whom they could identify strongly while continuing to develop their gender identity, is usually not as accessible to them. Thus, separation and individuation are critically tied to gender identity for boys, while for girls and women, issues of feminine identity do not depend on the achievement of separation from the mother or on the process of individuation.” Barton quotes Gilligan:  “Since masculinity is defined through separation while femininity is defined through attachment, male gender identity is threatened by intimacy while female gender identity is threatened by separation.”

 

Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982), p. 17. 5Ibid., pp. 7-8. 6Ibid., p. 173.

Ruth Haley Barton. Equal to the Task: Men and Women in Partnership (Kindle Locations 1236-1242). Kindle Edition.

Acceptance (Part Two)

The Gospel is our best ammunition against Satan’s lies and condemning accusations, but religion still seems to remain many Christians weapon of choice. This is because our default mode, like a computer printer, will execute religion unless we disobey the impulsive urge of religion and select the Gospel mode of operational living. Frankly, I do not see this happening without memorizing a short definition of justification – justification by grace through faith in Christ alone.

If the pastor asked a large congregation of Christians on any given Sunday what does justification mean, very few (if any) hands would be raised to answer the question. Why was Abraham credited righteous when he was a sinner? Why was Joshua the high priest in filthy rags and accused by Satan as such covered with white garments? Why did Jesus come to seek not the righteous, but the unrighteous? Why did the apostle Paul take so much time arguing for justification by faith in Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians?

What is this vital doctrine? Martin Luther said it is “the article upon which the church stands or falls” (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae).[1] John Calvin asserted that justification is “the principal hinge” upon which Christianity is supported, “For unless you understand first of all what your position is before God, and what the judgment [is] which He passes upon you, you have no foundation on which your salvation can be laid, or on which your godly approach can be reared.”[2]

The teaching of scripture tells us who we are in Christ. When we trust Christ for our justification, we trust that (1) we are pardoned of all our sins; (2) accepted as righteous in God’s sight; (3) but only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

When Jesus Christ lived thirty-three years of perfect righteousness that active righteousness was what was imputed or credited to the Christian. The Christian’s imperfect self-righteousness, which is as filthy rags, and unrighteousness were taken upon Jesus on the cross. So that He suffered the penalty our self-righteousness and unrighteousness deserves, and we receive and become the righteousness of God in Christ. (I always want to write this in all capitals and add exclamation marks.)

Scriptural Support abounds with this Gospel truth. Abraham was credited as righteous when he believed God’s promise (Genesis 15:6). Paul taught that all have fallen short of God’s righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness alone is our basis for acceptance with God as righteous (Romans 3:22-28; 4:5; 5:1; Acts 13:38-39; Galatians 2:14-16; Philippians 3:8-9). “For our sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin,” Paul explains, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).” God declares the ungodly, who believe the Gospel, as righteous in His sight, but only for the righteous life of Jesus and his sacrificial death, He became for us when He was crucified. There is no more need to establish a righteousness of our own. There is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). There is no more need for justifying ourselves before God and others.

Memorize This Prayer as Your Daily Bread:

“Father,

I am pardoned of all my sins and accepted as righteous in His sight,

but only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to me and received

by faith alone. Amen.”[3]

 

[1] Martin Luther, What Luther Says: An Anthology, ed. Ewald M. Plass, 3 vols. (St Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing, 1959), Vol. 2, p. 704 n5.

[2] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vols., trans. Henry Beverage (1845; reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964), Vol. 2, p. 37 (3.11.1).

[3] This is based on The Westminster Confession of Faith, Shorter Catechism Question/Answer #33, (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 1989), p. 74.

Acceptance

Acceptance

Christians never stop needing to hear the Gospel, and central to the Gospel is personally embracing the good news that the announcement we preach to ourselves; namely, “I am justified.”

There is nothing more foolish, yet common, than for a Christian to seek to establish a righteousness of his own (Romans 10:3). Since Jesus established a perfect righteousness for the Christian, there is no need for this. A Christian must ask God to deliver us from our sinful nature’s desire for acceptance with God. Saint Augustine prayed: “Oh Lord, deliver me from the lust of always having to vindicate myself!”

I have sought to establish my righteousness before others. For example, I attempted to gain house, lawn, and car maintenance righteousness before my father in law came to visit us. Anything we work at can become a way we seek to establish our righteousness before God and others –health, environment, etc. It gives a false righteousness, a self-righteousness, to attempt to stand on to make God pleased with us, to divide the world between the good and the bad, and to put ourselves above others.

The Protestant Reformation was a revival of the Gospel after centuries of the darkness and oppression of religion. Religion, posing as true as true Christianity, functions in three ways: (1) to put our good works before God in order to make Him owe us something; (2) to divide the world in half between the good people and the bad people; and (3) to look down on the bad people as a good person (Luke 18:9-14).

Father in Heaven,

I am pardoned of all my sins and accepted as righteous in His sight,

but only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to me and received

by faith alone. Amen.