Several years ago, I was counseling a distraught young wife whose husband demanded that she do everything his way. Being a newlywed, she tried hard to please him, but it seemed like it was never enough. By the time she came in to see me, she was exhausted and felt very rejected. I asked her if her husband would come with her for a couples appointment. Reluctantly, he agreed.
When they sat down, we shared a few pleasantries, but very quickly, his body language and facial expressions shouted, “I don’t want to be here, and I’m never coming back!” I knew I had one shot with this guy to help him to see what he was blind to. He was living in legalism and was putting his wife under his laws, i.e., his ideas of what was the “right way” to live. He used Scripture to back this up, too.
As often happens in our counseling at GLI, the Holy Spirit gives you insight into what to share. After they both took turns describing their marriage, I responded to him. “I understand that you are trying to be the spiritual leader in your marriage, but I think there is something for you to consider. ‘How righteous are you?'”
He looked at the ceiling, thinking and formulating his answer. Then he replied, “It depends on the day.” I asked him to explain. He said, “When I obey the Lord, I feel more righteous than the days I don’t.” His response is a common false belief many Christians toil under about being righteous.
There is another one that is just as prevalent. It is the idea that we will not be righteous until we get to heaven. They sometimes use Romans 5:19 to prove this. For just as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man, the many will be made righteous.
The phrase “will be made righteous” is future tense as a conditional promise that is only valid for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior. In other words, this Scripture compares and contrasts what happened to us when Adam sinned and what happened to us when Jesus Christ obeyed on the cross. In Adam, every person is born a sinner. In Christ, everyone who believes is born again, becoming righteous!
Another misunderstanding is whether or not the righteousness we have in Christ is “imputed” or “infused.” Imputed means our righteousness from God is put on our account. Infused means our righteousness is who we are now. This is not an either-or but a both-and. Our union with Christ has given us God’s righteousness before him because we have become righteous in our identity in Christ. Scripture is clear on this in 2 Corinthians 5:21. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Do you see this amazing truth? In Christ, we have become somebody we were not before! We have become the righteousness of God! It reads “might” because it’s only valid for those who believe, just as in Romans 5:19.
If you believe your righteousness before God depends on your obedience or will only be true when you go to heaven, exchange those lies for the truth today! Thank your Father that you are the righteousness of God in Christ now, whether you sin or obey! What amazing grace!
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© Mark Maulding (But feel free to share this.)