James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
This is a justly famous verse, but when we read, “a righteous man,” we tend to eliminate ourselves from the category, and thus feel our prayers aren’t powerful. What we fail to realize is that when we confess our sins and put them under the blood of Christ, from that moment we are righteous. John wrote about it very clearly. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7-9) Particularly the last part of that gets quoted a lot, but we act like we don’t believe it. When we don’t grasp that we have been made righteous by the blood of Christ, we don’t act righteous. That’s why Peter wrote, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” (2 Peter 1:8-9) That follows a list of qualities you would expect in a righteous person. Self-generated righteousness is no righteousness at all, as Isaiah pointed out. (Isaiah 64:6) Our standing before God, our righteousness, isn’t on the basis of what we have done, for God or for anyone else, but on the basis of what Christ did for us on the cross. When we grasp that and walk in it, then we will have assurance as we pray and God’s power will be manifested.
I don’t know when I first started to realize this, but I know clearly when it really struck home. I had been struggling with a particular sin and couldn’t seem to get free of it, and then the passage from 2 Peter came up, and I had a revelation in my spirit. In that moment I knew that in my flesh I was indeed weak, but that didn’t define me because I was a redeemed child of God, cleansed by the blood of Christ. The release was immediate and marvelous. Frankly, I’m still weak, just as John points out, but I trip up far less, and cleansing is never more than a prayer away. As a pastor I seek to communicate this marvelous truth to others. It’s an essential part of the Gospel! It is when God’s children realize who and what they are in Christ that God’s power operates freely through them, for the destruction of the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and the glory of God.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the freedom and joy of righteousness by faith in Christ. Help me communicate that more and more effectively to more and more people, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!