MEASURING YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20 KJV) Many folks when asked if they are Christians, they reply that they are trying. Others say they are Christians but are not living as they should. Still others say that they hope so. These comments are not uncommon; multitudes of people, whether church goers or not answer in a similar manner. Another question with similar answers is, “when you die are you sure you will go to Heaven?”. You hear the answers, “I hope so”; or “I’m trying”; or “I don‘t know.”
The key to understanding the Scripture verse, above is the phrase, your righteousness . People who try to be righteous by their own efforts will never satisfy the wrath of God’s judgment for unforgiven sin. We hear from teachers and preachers, and from Bible lesson books how we must try to correct our sinful ways so that our lives will be pleasing to God and be a witness to others. The evil idea that we can in any way correct our sins will lead us into a program of self righteousness where we are constantly judging ourselves and others around us according to man’s standards. The truth is that Jesus died for our sin, and if we sin after we have been saved, we confess the sins and he is faithful to forgive us of our sins, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 KJV)
Many in our churches today concede that they truly are sinners, but rather than taking their sins to the Lord, they try to overcome them on their own with advice and helps from friends and Pastors. The danger is that if the person is not saved, his end will be a burning Hell. His condition is that of the tares, appearing as one of those who say they are still sinners after they have been saved, as described in Matthew 13: “The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:38-43 KJV)
The righteous that will “shine forth” are those who do not deny the righteousness of Christ in their lives, as do those who say they are sinners regardless of their standing in Christ. This is to deny the power of God as the Word of God teaches us: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7 KJV)
Of course, it is not expected that sinners will obey God’s Word, nor to be a witness of His love and grace. So, God’s sons and daughters by saying they are sinners relieves them of the requirements of the Body of Christ to “go into all the world and preach His Gospel.” as well as other commandments. This is living in denial of Christ and His atoning work, a most dangerous manner of life. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33 KJV)
If Christ has not made us righteous, He died in vain and there is no such thing as salvation, rebirth, nor Heaver or Hell; there is no such thing as holiness, healing or justice. But, the fact is, we are righteous in Him through faith in His shed blood, and His righteousness is our breastplate. Wearing our own “righteousness” is like wearing a filthy rag.
We will never know how many lost persons are in this condition because they have been told that they are as good as the rest and that everyone is a sinner, and as long as we try to do the best we can, no one can condemn us. They do not understand that they are condemned already by God’s law they cannot keep, nor could the Jews or any legalist for that matter, Saul of Tarsus included.
If you confess to being a sinner, it is time for you to repent of your sins, acknowledge God’s righteousness freely given by the faith of Christ, and rejoice for your position in the Body, a lively stone fit for the building of the New Jerusalem. Remember that God does not hear sinners and that He is separate from sinners. So, learn that sin is the transgression of the law, and that you are no longer under the Law, but under grace if you are truly born again into the Kingdom and walking in the Spirit of God.
Know that man’s measure of what is righteous falls far short of what God expects, and that only the blood of Christ has the power to provide that measure of righteousness. And it is your believing faith in that blood and the evidence of a new life that you have that blessed assurance that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.