For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. … Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Romans 5:17-18).
We don’t have to struggle through life, trying to get things right. We don’t have to fight and strive to have the love and faith of God, the righteousness of God, operating in our lives.
When Jesus died, all of our debts were paid, and we were given the righteousness of God: a new identity. We left the orphanage of sin and death, and entered the family of God, to become the children of God and His righteousness amongst mankind. He wants the world to see His love and faith on full display in our lives.
Righteousness, when fully understood and fully realized, takes us from being orphans to sons and daughters of God the Father. Only by studying and praying and worshipping these realities into our heart will we go from being prodigals to real sons and daughters. Only then will we experience the transformation we see in the life of the prodigal son. Our orphan hearts are healed and restored when we fully grasp the truth of righteousness.
Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’
“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. 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.’
“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. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry” (15:11-24).
The prodigal son lost his identity. So many people do not know who they are and try to fill their lives with money, power, sex, drugs, entertainment, careers, children, acceptance, and material things to fill the identity hole. But until they come to Him and find their new identity, they will be broken and lost.
With our heavenly Father, we are given robes of righteousness (Is. 61). We are given His signet ring (a sign of authority to carry out His will). We are given new sandals (our walk with Him is fixed and restored). And we are given the joy of returning home (there is always a party once we know who we are in God). God shows us who we are, the power we have, so He can tell us who we are made to be in Him.
We can now live in the Kingdom of God because “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). The Kingdom of God is made up of people who live in their right standing, right thinking, and right living before God their Father. It is made up of men and women that wear the breastplate of faith and love, of righteousness and live out their days with this identity front and center.