“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
Many Christians, and religious people in general, will spend their lives working to achieve what they consider to be the right behavior. Often, this comes down to a list of do’s and do not’s that make a nice tidy list to accomplish. Common items on the list are don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t lie, don’t cheat, etc. If these are accomplished, at least for the most part, then we can call ourselves a good person.
At least, that’s what seems to be the prevalent theology of our culture.
Paul has a different equation for righteousness, though. He says that the gospel of Jesus reveals the righteousness of a godly person – faith. He says that the righteousness of God is “a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.” That pretty much nullifies the theology of rule following doesn’t it? And praise God for that!
You and I both know that we’re not perfect, and no matter how hard we try, we’ve never been able to perfectly follow everything that we know is right. Sometimes, we don’t even know what’s right! That’s why God, who is rich in mercy, doesn’t require our perfection, simply our faith. The issue that so many people have is that they try to follow rules in order to be righteous enough to get closer to God when in reality, the process works the opposite way. When we have faith, when we believe in the sacrifice of Jesus and the mercy of God, our behavior changes by the work of the Holy Spirit. But it is only by coming close to God in the first place that righteousness can ever be attained.
Thank you for righteousness by faith. Thank you that I’m not doomed to earning my own righteousness, because I know I could never earn it. Father, help me grow in my faith and let your Spirit mold my behavior to be more like you.
In Jesus’ Name,