How to Become Righteous
Do you remember the Bible story of Jesus coming back to separate people from each other like a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-)? At the first glimpse it looks like the reason why some are saved is based on their works when Jesus reveals ‘I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ (Matthew 25:35-36)
This used to puzzle me. I know we are told to feed the hungry and help the needy. But we fail so very often. Lord, have mercy! And that’s the use of the Law. To drive us (back) to God. But still our works won’t save us. And that is revealed to us in this gospel text, too, if we read it carefully.
“Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ (Matthew 25: 37-39, CEB)
Did you get it? Those who are righteous were selected even though even them failed to do the law. How did they become righteous?
However, we know that a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law but rather through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We ourselves believed in Christ Jesus so that we could be made righteous by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the Law—because no one will be made righteous by the works of the Law. (Gal 2:16, CEB)
When we are in Christ, when we have been made right with God through Christ, we are righteous indeed. And when we are righteous there is no condemnation to us. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all who believe in Jesus are treated as righteous as him.
God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before, during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous. (Romans 3:22-26, CEB)
We are told to “do” good things. But we should never forget that all is “done” for us. We should rest in grace, celebrate that all is done. But we should also live in grace and let the Holy Spirit do things through us. This is what balancing the law and the gospel in our lives means. We need both the law and the gospel. The law will drive us to God for the gospel. But God’s grace does not stop there. Grace always sends us to share the good news with others. Love always sends us to treat others the way we’ve been treated. Because captives don’t need to stay captive. The ransom has been paid. We are redeemed. We are free. Alleluia!
We are in awe of you.
You truly sent your own righteous Son
to die for our sake.
You truly redeemed us by grace.
You truly made us righteous.
Be praised forever and ever!
Enable us to always live in your grace.
Equip us to always share your grace.
In Jesus’ name,
Q4U: Do you have trouble finding balance between the Law and the Gospel?
Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you boldly live out your faith in Christ and serve Him with everything you’ve got!
Image, “The Last Judgment by Fra Angelico”, courtesy of Wikimedia . Linking up today with Thought-Provoking Thursdays.
8 thoughts on “How to Become Righteous”
You’ve made me think here about law and grace and responding in love. I have a hard situation with a friend who left her husband and wants to tell her children she is a lesbian and I am reading your words through that lense. Thank you for helping me think about it in that context.
Thanks, Shelly, for sharing. It is wonderful when the Holy Spirit speaks to us through something we read/hear. Glad I was able to be part of that. May God be with you as you minister in love!
Amen! He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake. Psalm 23: 3
What a perfect psalm to this post! Thanks so much for sharing, Jay! Big, bold blessings to you & yours!
Now this is a fresh perspective I have never considered. It’s interesting b/c as many times as I’ve read that passage it never crossed my mind that the people asking that question were the “righteous”!! WOW. I love how God constantly brings forth new things from passages we may think we’ve already got down pat! That is why His Word is Living and active!! Always teaching me something new. thank you!!
Thank YOU so much for getting the point! 🙂 It was a WOW moment to me, too! How wonderful it is to have a wild and active God who speaks to us through His Living Word! Such a privilege! Thanks for sharing this joy with me. May God continue to bless your faith journey!
Thank you. My on-line Bible study group read John 8 about Jesus not condemning the woman caught in adultery, and today our reading was 1John 1:8 about deceiving ourselves I’d we say we have no sin. Your words were right on. I stand sinful yet uncondemned by Jesus. Seeing my sin, I run to my Savior. Striving is done, grace abounds!
YES! Well said, Gail! Thank you for sharing. May God continue bless you and keep you in his sweet grace!