Righteousness Through Christ :: By Nathele Graham

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:10-11).

What is righteousness? It describes someone who is innocent and without fault. It’s used to describe a person who thinks, feels, and acts wholly to conform to the will of God. Does that describe you? I’d like it to describe me, but I fall short. The only one who ever was fully righteous was Jesus Christ. Only through Him can we sinners be righteous before God.

I’m sure that, at times, you have angry thoughts toward other people. I know I’m guilty of unreasonable anger on occasion. That’s only human, right? Should we condone our own thoughts and actions by comparing ourselves to other humans? No. Jesus is our example. He was fully human and tempted in every way that we are tempted, but He never sinned. He was also fully God; His blood was pure in order to take our sin away. His righteousness is imparted to believers by faith in spite of our failures.

In Chapters 1 and 2 of the letter to Romans, the Apostle Paul makes a strong point that nobody is righteous enough to stand before God. All of creation points to the fact that God exists and has rules to live by. Because mankind needed guidance, God gave us that guidance.

Abraham was told to circumcise all males. That established a covenant between the Jewish people and God but isn’t a means of salvation any more than being baptized is a means of salvation. Many years later, God gave the Law to Moses, which established rituals and works that never could bring salvation. Does this mean the Jewish people were more righteous than Gentiles? It means they were entrusted with the Law, which ultimately was fulfilled by the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.

“What advantage then hath the Jew? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1-2).

The Jewish people were chosen by God for a very special purpose. He called them out of the pagan culture around them and gave them the Law, which wasn’t humanly possible to keep perfectly. It provided a long list of dos and don’ts and sacrifices. It was a guide, but even if a person was able to keep it perfectly, it was works-based, and works can never bring salvation. Keeping the Law was based upon rites and religion. The proper rituals had to be done in the proper way. These laws helped to separate the Jewish people from the rest of the world, but only faith in the coming Messiah could bring salvation.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Chapter 11 of the letter to the Hebrews gives a “roll call” of Old Testament believers who acted on faith and accomplished great things because of their faith, not their works. It was through the Jewish people that the Messiah would be born. And today, salvation is offered to anyone who will believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

The Law was a schoolmaster, and Christians need to study it to understand what God deems as sin. By human standards, most of us are pretty good people. We might gossip about a friend, but doesn’t everybody? We all get angry, but our anger is always justified, right? Instead of judging our actions by how other people act, Jesus is our standard. Some things we accept today as “normal” were punishable by death according to the Law. For instance, sexual encounters outside of a one man/one woman marriage was a capital offense. Exodus chapter 18 and Deuteronomy chapter 22 tell of sexual sin and the penalty.

“But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:23-25).

God’s Law has never changed but was fulfilled by Jesus. By faith we are forgiven, but we aren’t to continue in sin.

The Law teaches that God values marriage. Jesus values marriage and attended a wedding. In the Gospel of John, we read that the scribes and Pharisees, men who pridefully kept the Law but who had no forgiveness, decided to use the Law to trap Jesus into condemning a woman.

“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” (John 8:3-5).

The Law did allow stoning in such a situation, but it also required that the man also be stoned. Where was he? These men only wanted Jesus to condemn the woman. Instead of condemnation, this woman found grace and mercy. Jesus showed love, compassion, and forgiveness. Jesus ignored her accusers, but they kept after Him to judge her.

“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7).

Right at that moment, the woman was probably the most thankful person on earth; her life had been spared. Jesus then stooped down and wrote on the ground, ignoring the accusations.

“And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” (John 8:9).

Those who accused her were convicted of their own sins. When we act like the Pharisees, wanting to condemn someone, we need to look at our own unrighteousness. When we are praying for mercy and forgiveness from Jesus for our sin, we need to see how Jesus spoke to the woman. Did Jesus say her sin was acceptable and pat her on the back and say ‘Keep doing what you’re doing’? Absolutely not.

“When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers: hath no man condemned thee? She said No man, Lord, And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:10-11).

Jesus showed grace and mercy that day, but He didn’t tell that woman to go ahead and keep sinning. He told her she wasn’t condemned but to stop her prostitution.

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2).

We’ve all been forgiven sins that are worthy of condemnation and death, but Jesus has forgiven us. Now we must go and sin no more.

It’s easy for us to sin. Like the forgiven prostitute, we have received grace and mercy from the Lord, but do we submit to Christ, the Master who has forgiven us, or do we submit to sin, which is of Satan?

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).

Our problem is that we don’t stop sinning. We cannot work to earn our salvation, and only a righteous person can stand before God without condemnation. The law was unable to impart righteousness.

“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law” (Galatians 3:21).

If we can’t earn our salvation and the law can’t bring salvation, how can we ever hope for eternal life? Righteousness is only through faith in Jesus Christ.

Although salvation is a free gift, it isn’t a cheap gift. It cost Jesus everything. No ritual, no works, no law is able to do what Christ did. He stepped out of Glory and into this sin-infested world. He left the worship of angels and complete oneness with God the Father to enter His creation. He became human to save humans. He did this knowing full well that He would be rejected and crucified.

Why would He do such a thing? He did it because He loves you and me. What a wonderful blessing to know that the Creator of the universe loves us.

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all the upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:21-26).

“Propitiation” means appeasement. So faith in the shed blood of Christ is the appeasement for our sin. We all sin, and no human being can be good enough to enter Heaven. Only by faith in the blood of Christ – His death, burial, and resurrection – can we be justified and made righteous. Not because we are so righteous, but because He is righteous.

What is it you seek in life? Fame, fortune, and carnal pleasures? It’s not wrong to want comforts in life; however, be sure you don’t gain the whole world but lose your own soul.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

Righteousness only comes through Jesus Christ. Once you’ve met Him, turn away from sin, and as Jesus told the prostitute, “…go, and sin no more” (John 8:11b).

We can’t earn our salvation, but we can thank Jesus for what He did for us by letting go of sin and drawing closer to Him.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

Our righteousness is not from our own perfection but only through Jesus. Let’s start now to conform to Him rather than the world.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham



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