Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I have heard many times that we are not to call anyone righteous, for, as Romans 3:10 clearly tells us, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”
Really? None righteous? What about my grandmother, my Sunday school teacher, or missionaries? Are there really none righteous? Let’s see what the Bible says on the subject.
Matthew 10:41 acknowledges the fact that righteous people do exist. This verse says, “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward (Matthew 13:17 speaks further of these righteous men).”
If there are none righteous, then how do we account for these righteous men?
Lest you think this passage in Matthew is speaking generally or figuratively, let me point out that II Peter 2:8 refers to Lot as being a righteous man. He was a real, righteous man. Not to mention that half of the book of Proverbs talks about righteous people.
Maybe the answer to this dilemma is found in the context of the Romans 3:10 passage. Instead of believing that there never has been and never will be any righteous people, let’s see what Paul was actually trying to convey here.
The book of Romans flows with such continuity that it is hard to preach a single verse from the book; the book needs to be preached as a whole (with regard to context) to get the right message across. The first three chapters of the book build the case for mankind’s guilt before God.
Just as Romans 3:10 says there is none righteous, so 3:23 says that all have sinned; this is part of the case that Paul is systematically building. But the story dramatically changes over the next few chapters, which is highlighted by 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
This means that through Jesus Christ our Lord we can find eternal life. But how can an unrighteous person have a home in heaven? The answer: he can’t.
Heaven is not for the unrighteous. That is why we have to become righteous ourselves. As Paul was building his case for mankind’s acquittal in the next section of Romans, he says these words in 5:19: “For as by one man's disobedience (Adam’s) many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Jesus) shall many be made righteous.”
There you have it. Jesus makes us righteous. Consider these words of Paul in 3:22—“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.”
All who believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation have the righteousness of God upon them. Some might think that it is arrogant to claim God’s righteousness for ourselves, but I John 3:7 speaks about this: “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” Don’t let anyone talk you out of God’s righteousness (“he that doeth righteousness” should refer to the saved, for what truly saved man will not do righteousness?).
So if you have put your trust in Jesus Christ, and you are now living a righteous life, then let me encourage you to never stop. Let John encourage you too: “He that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still (Revelation 22:11).”
If that is you, then you are righteous, and don’t let any self-righteous person talk you out of it.