You’re Probably Deceived About Your Righteousness

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

That’s 1 John 3:7, a verse in your Bible.

There’s a reason John warns us not to be deceived on this issue. It’s because he knows we’re going to be deceived on this issue.

The issue is that righteousness is real. If you are righteous, you will do righteous things. In fact, doing righteous things is what makes you qualified to be called “righteous.”

Don’t be deceived into thinking you can live in sin and yet call yourself “righteous.”

Yet living in sin and calling yourself “righteous” is fairly standard Evangelical Christian doctrine at this point.

We’ve been taught, and our flesh has desperately grabbed onto, the lie that we are righteous in Jesus Christ, therefore I can still sin and it’s no big deal.

We are deceived into thinking that God only sees Christ; He doesn’t see me.

The official doctrinal name for this teaching is Imputed Righteousness:

Christ obeyed the law. His law-keeping is added to my account, so even though I don’t keep the law, Jesus did for me. When God sees me; He sees the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

This is standard evangelical doctrine.

It is also insane.

Seriously, insanity is thinking things are one way when they are clearly another.

The idea that you can borrow someone else’s righteousness is never taught anywhere in Scripture, and, in fact, is explicitly refuted in Scripture (read Ezekiel 14 for one).

The Bible is also clear that we are not saved by works of the Law. Not by your works of the Law, nor even Christ’s! Think about it: if I’m saved by Christ’s law keeping added to my account, then I am saved by deeds of the law and Christ died in vain! A teaching the Bible repeatedly shoots down.

Calling someone righteous only happens if that someone is actually righteous.

To call someone who is unrighteous “righteous” would be lying. Deceit. Be not deceived.

Yet explaining this to people now, after hundreds of years of having it drummed into our heads, does not go over well. I will be the heretic for maintaining this very obvious, Scriptural, and common sensical idea.

It is explicitly stated in 1 John 3:7. It can’t be said any clearer.

So, instead of taking those clear words, we come up with reasons to explain why we don’t have to listen to John, or how John was talking about some other such doctrinal thing that way more educated people can confuse you about.

Nope. John, one of the best authors in Scripture at keeping things simple, is simply telling you that only righteous people alone are actually, get this, righteous.

None of us are naturally righteous. We are sinners. Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again to bring deliverance from sin. We, as placed into the Body of Christ, are now servants of righteousness. We do righteousness. A thing we never did before salvation.

The ability and power to do righteousness is a gift of the Gospel. God grants that power and His Spirit indwells us to mortify the deeds of the body and wake us up to an active, real righteousness in our lives.

If this new righteousness has not shown up in your life; you are not saved. You are not righteous.

You are not saved by working righteousness out of your own power. You are saved by working out the righteousness that Christ has worked in you through the power of the Gospel.

If that righteousness does not show up; you are not righteous and Christ is not in you and you are not in Christ.

We have reached the age where saying this is the oddball, heretical thing.

The deception is real. It’s already at work. Don’t fall for it. Wake up. Hear the clear words of Scripture. The Judgment is coming.

6 thoughts on “You’re Probably Deceived About Your Righteousness”

  1. Where do the last verses of Romans 4 fit in?

    And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
    Romans 4:22‭-‬25 KJV

  2. The imputed righteousness of Romans 4 is not what people mean when they talk about Imputed Righteousness. Abraham was credited with righteousness because he believed that God would fulfill His promise of giving him and his old wife a son. This does not mean Abraham was given the law-keeping righteousness of Jesus Christ on his behalf.

    Phineas stuck a guy and a woman having sex with a spear and it was counted to him for righteousness (Psalm 106:30-31).

    Both Abraham and Phineas took God’s word seriously, they believed it to be true. Their faith was counted as righteous.

    In the New Covenant, we don’t spear adulterers, nor do we believe God will give old women babies, we believe that Jesus Christ was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification.

    IF we truly believe that, it is counted as a righteous thing. The Gospel rebirths us, we become children of righteousness, people who yield our bodies as instruments of righteousness. Romans 4, if you’ll note, is followed by Romans 5-8. All of that goes together. Having a faith that is viewed as legit, results in faithful obedience. If that faithful obedience does not come, then your faith was not counted as righteous because it was not legit.

    The idea today that we say a prayer or get baptized and God says “OK cool, you guys are in” is just silly. The resulting life shows the reality of the faith, whether it is real or not. This does not mean that a believer never sins. It means righteousness begins to take over, there’s sanctification, growth, and a process whereby sin is defeated and righteous deeds follow. Nor does it mean we have to work our way into righteousness before God saves us.

    True faith acknowledges our sin, desires deliverance from that sin, not just after we’re dead, but right now in this life. True faith doesn’t just want out of hell, true faith wants to live a new life, the new life that Christ offers. If a person wants this, Christ provides it. Believe that He provides it through His Gospel, and then get going living the new life that we so desperately desired.

    The problem is that most people don’t want a new life. They want to keep sinning and feel better about it. We’ve convinced people that salvation is about what happens after you die. We leave out the “take up the cross, deny yourself, and follow me” bit for “hey, don’t you want to go to heaven and not hell after you die?”

    Do people really want deliverance from their sin now? Most don’t. So we play religion and pretend we are righteous when we and everyone who knows us knows it’s not true, but we smile and pat each other on the back all the way to hell.

  3. Time for me to reread Romans. God’s salvation is too wonderful for me to understand. Sometimes I think I choose to twist it into something I can deal with and prefer rather than what is written. Thanks!

    (I wondered about the Phineas passage.)

  4. God’s salvation is indeed wonderful and their are definitely mind-blowing aspects of it, but it can be understood. I think we more fear what we do understand than we are lost in not understanding it. Deal with what is written. I have more coming in the next few days, which will hopefully help.

  5. I gotta say that I never smelled sulfur in church before I came to RBC. “Getting saved” isn’t the phrase I would have heard before, but it certainly is harder that I thought it would be. It isn’t just agreement with facts or saying a prayer. Hopefully you’ll explain more about that, too. Thanks.

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