If good works can’t make a sinner righteous, can ‘bad’ works make a saint unrighteous?

26 Jul

This question rattles the very core of our belief system.  Our religious response to the first part is solid and automatic (we’ve preached it hard and heavy), but because of our culture, experience and emotions we may feel unable or unsure as to how to answer the latter part. But it boils down to this: If we couldn’t get good enough to even COME to God, how could do we ever think that our goodness could KEEP us in God?  So the short version of this great news is: Our righteous status with God is not based on our merit… it’s on Jesus merit… His righteousness alone.

Scripture goes so far as to say that “we ARE the righteousness of God in Christ” (see II Cor 5:21).  I wonder if my head and heart really heard this astounding news… my righteousness is the same as God’s.  It’s not something that we can ever earn.  It’s called the “righteousness of God” because Jesus is the One who kept the law and He gave us His righteousness.  This is so liberating, so easy and so light!

Let’s see how Grace is afforded to us.

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, (Rms 5:1, 2)

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.)  18 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.  19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.  20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:  21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Rms 5:17-21)

Did you notice that we have been declared righteous?  We didn’t get just a little bit of righteousness… that we could somehow lose if we aren’t very careful.  And we didn’t get just a little bit more righteous.   Rather, in the same manner that a judge gives the verdict and declares a person innocent, so God has declared us righteous based on Jesus’ obedience and merit alone.  My mind has trouble with this (because I’ve been so sin and law conscious) but now I believe that God’s heart is so good… even better than I now know, so I choose to let my heart feast on this finest of fare.

This is the crux of the message of Grace.  It’s obviously not a license to sin (see Rms 6:1); rather, the Grace message gives permission to take a radical leap into the incomparable love of God.  This liberating revelation will propel us into the glorious adventure of becoming kings on this earth. No more insecure ‘beggar type’ Christians hoping to not make God mad at us… and hoping to extract another morsel from Him.  No way!  Now we’re confidently exploring the expanses of His love and the stunning destiny awaiting us.

So take a ride on the ‘wild side’… just take God at His Word.  He’s never lied before and this is what He says, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed… even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference.” (see Rms 3:21-22).  If you in Christ, you ARE righteous!

More on this topic: Rms 10:3, Phil 3:9, Rms 5:17, Eph 2:8



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