“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.