I recently read an article about the righteousness of God. Since we are studying Romans, I had an extra interest in the topic and was excited to read it. Bear with me as I summarize because you'll definitely want to stick around to hear the end, the kicker, the part that I have serious doubts about. And I'd love for you to share your thoughts.
Starting in with how we receive righteousness...
"Some see Romans 3:25-26 as a declarative statement- that we are declared righteous. However as we look at verse 25, it is saying that rather than us being declared righteous, it is His righteousness that is being declared for the remission of sins that are past.
Another common understanding it that Christ's righeousness is transferred to us. This is dealt with in Romans 4."
He goes on to define impute, quote Romans 4:8 ("Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."), and 4:5 ("But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."). Then he moves on to Romans 5:1-2 ("Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.")
"Romans 5 goes on to explain our Lord's willingness to die for our sins, to justify us with His blood and offer us the gifts that pertain to righteousness. Do we see that the Lord is our righteousness because He takes our unrighteousness (sins) and '...his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree that we, being dead to sins, should live unto rightousness, by whose stripes ye were healed' (1 Peter 2:24)?
Thus far we have dealt mostly with beginnings, how we become righteous."
It's all good, right? You can agree, no? I could anyway. Here's the kicker, the part I wonder about-
"The Lord our righteousness has given us ways to maintain righteousness. "...he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous (1 John 3:7)."
He goes on to give three ways that a person can "maintain righteousness".
Confession is the first one. He quotes 1 John 1:9 ("If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.") and explains that a confession shows desire to repent and God can justly forgive us because of Christ's atoning blood.
"Prayer for the forgiveness of sins we see in others" is the second one and he immediately refers to 1 John 5:16-17 ("If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death, I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin and there is a sin not unto death.") The old language makes this hard for me to understand, so let's look at those verses in the Message. Again, 1 John 5: 16-17 ("For instance, if we see a Christian believer sinning (clearly I'm not talking about those who make a practice of sin in a way that is "fatal", leading to eternal death), we ask for God's help and he gladly gives it, gives life to the sinner whose sin is not fatal. There is such a thing as a fatal sin and I'm not urging you to pray about that. Everything we do wrong is sin, but not all sin is fatal.") Ok, those scriptures makes more sense now. But I don't understand where the authors second point comes from. I don't understand the connection to the topic. Unfortunately, he doesn't have much to say on this point. After referencing the scriptures in 1 John, he continues "We are there reminded that all unrighteousness is sin and that there are two types of sin. There is a sin not unto death that we should pray for. But there is a sin unto death; he does not say we should pray for it." And he ends the paragraph.
Communion service is the third way he gives that we can "maintain righteousness". He's very specific about the additional ordinances that should be observed during communion along with the traditional bread and wine. After briefly listing each ordinance he states "This renews His Righteousness in us...".
So what are your thoughts? I have a bunch, but don't want to taint yours so I'll give it a few days and then post mine. Do some extra reading this week on righteousness and let me know what you come up with. Email me if you want to see the entire article.
ps. I'm confident that the author has unspeakable amounts more knowledge of the bible than I. I have no desire to be a trigger for controversy, but I do believe that Christians everywhere should hold up any religious/spiritual material or commentary to the light of the pure word of God.