What do we really mean when we call someone a “brave man”?
Does it mean his bravery is a trait that is genetically coded in his DNA and he can never go against his own genes to act in a less-than-courageous manner under any circumstances?
Obviously the answer is no. It would be more accurate to describe him as one who has “performed an act of bravery ” rather than a “brave man”.
Likewise, when the Bible calls someone a “righteous person” it is never about what he has done.
A sinner will remain a sinner even if he rescue a toddler from a burning building or gives all his money to a homeless old man. He would just be a sinner who did good deeds.
We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
(Isaiah 64:6 NLT)
For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
(Romans 3:20 NLT)
No one is righteous—
not even one. No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God. All have turned away;
all have become useless. No one does good,
not a single one.
…For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
(Romans 3:10-12-23 NLT)
Thus I was totally unimpressed when I saw an article posted by an ex-church member showing a lady doing a good deed and captioned “This is Righteousness” (it was apparent from the context of his post that he meant righteousness in the biblical sense) when the Bible clearly says true righteousness is a free gift that cannot be earned and a position that we cannot be dislodged from:
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
(Romans 3:22 NLT)
But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
(Romans 5:17 NLT)
This IS righteousness.