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  • Love and Liberty

The Need For Righteousness

The Bible says: "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." The Bible also says that without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. No man can be saved through self-merit, or the works of the Mosaic Law, but we must have the righteousness that comes from faith in Jesus, an obedient faith, the faith that works by love. It is a righteousness that we “do”, but it is a righteousness that is a result of following Jesus, thus “his” righteousness becomes “our” righteousness as we follow him. Some people teach that we are righteous because Christ’s righteousness is imputed, or transferred, to our account when we believe in him, so how we live has no bearing on our salvation. The word impute does not mean to transfer, for one thing, and for another, the Bible teaches we are saved by God’s grace (divine influence upon the heart) and mercy (the forgiveness of sins), not that we are saved by the claims of justice because Christ’s obedience is transferred to “our account.” This is a theological construct of man, not the plain teaching of scripture. The Bible teaches imputation, but not the transfer of the righteousness of Christ. In the words of Albert Barnes: “It is not that his righteousness becomes ours. This is not true; and there is no intelligible sense in which that can be understood. But it is God’s plan for pardoning sin, and for treating us as if we had not committed it; that is, adopting us as his children, and admitting us to heaven, on the ground of what the Lord Jesus has done in our stead…the whole scope and design of the Psalm (Psalm 32) is to show the blessedness of the man who is forgiven, and those sins are not charged on him, but who is freed from the punishment due to his sins. Being thus pardoned, he is treated as a righteous man.”

God mercifully declares us forgiven, and counts us as righteous, and we are obligated to continue in the righteousness that is by faith. (Ezekiel 33:18-19, Romans 6:16, Colossians 1:23, etc.)

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