Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, “we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Righteousness is a gift that is given through faith in Christ. The only righteousness that is acceptable is the righteousness of God. The only way to be right with Him; is for Him to make us right. All religions offer us a way to make ourselves righteous, only grace gives us righteousness.
Being “made right” is different from feeling right, looking right, being right, and getting right. Being, “made right,” means that somebody else caused it to happen. This means that our righteousness was produced by someone besides ourselves; it was a result of the action, effort and behavior of another. Self-righteousness is religion, and its attempts by self to feel right, look right, be right and get right.
This is why we have so many different religious services today. We have the feel right assemblies that are high energy, focused on hype and emotionalism. We have the look right assemblies, focused on suits and city activism. We have the “be right” assemblies, that proclaim they are the only ones that “be right”. Then we have the get right assemblies, they proclaim everybody needs to get right or get left. All of these are just simply forms of self-righteousness.
The best word to describe righteousness is the word, “meet.” The Bible says, “That God has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints.” If then God has made us proper, fit, and suitable with Him why would we then struggle to be righteous. If Jesus Christ made us qualified to receive the promises of God, why then do we struggle under religious demands and requirements. God takes those who are “made wrong” by sin and makes them right by faith. There is nothing wrong with those that have placed their trust in Christ. It is belief that there something wrong with us, that leads us to the religious struggle of trying to, feel right, look right, be right and get right.
When we live in the land of, “feel right,” we are only righteous if we feel right. Oh course, we only feel right when we do everything right. It’s really easy to feel right when you do everything right. On the other hand it’s really hard to consider ourselves righteous, when we have made a mistake. If we fall short and that takes away our righteousness, it is proof that our righteous -ness is only self righteousness. Some people only feel right when they engage in spiritual activities. They can only feel right if they have spent hours seeking God, or doing stuff.
When we live in the land of “look right” we are only righteous if everything looks right. This is the most deceptive form of righteousness, because, everything appears fine on the outside. This kind of righteousness is only concerned about the externals. It is a good thing to meet together with other believers, read, pray, give etc. But, if these things are done only in an attempt to “look right,” then they are not of any value. Religiosity thrives on the externals; in fact Satan loves for people to do these things in order to look right. Jesus said, “hypocrites love to do all things to be seen by men.” When we are praised for these things, we think we are right, because, we look right and feel right.
When we live in the land of, “be right,” we are only righteous if we are right. To, “be right,” means everything we believe is correct. Nothing we believe can be challenged, because, our sense of righteousness comes from having all the correct doctrines. If someone proves us wrong, then we feel we are no longer right; this is proof that our righteousness come from our doctrine or denomination. This mentality seeks to prove everybody wrong, because, we are the only one that is right.
When we live in the land of, “get right” we are locked into a struggle to earn the favor of God. Those who are trying to, “get right,” believe that they are not right. Most preaching screams this message, “there is something wrong with you, and you need to make it right.” Every Sunday we go to a religious service to hear how wrong we are. Because we are not told that were made right, we seek to, feel right, look right, be right, and struggle to get right. Yet nobody tells us we no longer have to struggle to find His favor and be accepted by Him.
Grace is about knowing and experiencing the love of God, not keeping a bunch of rules in hopes that we can earn the favor of God. God’s way is for a believer to be, “made right.” Righteousness is a gift of God that cannot be earned. “Those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life.” Those who receive the abundance of religion and the rules to become righteous will be a slave.