Right Believing vs Right Doing… which is righteousness?

For it is God’s will and intention that by doing right [your good and honest lives] should silence (muzzle, gag) the ignorant charges and ill-informed criticisms of foolish persons.
(1 Peter 2:15 AMP)

Make no mistake, we should do the right things.

After all, as the light and salt of the world, it is our responsibility to always present our faith in the best light. But it is presumptuous to think that our good works is righteousness.

Stumbled upon the FB page of an ex-church member (let’s call him Robert) recently, and it appears to me he is now making a career out of going against anything that my pastor preaches.

Frankly speaking, there is nothing wrong with that as long as he can back up his arguments with scriptures. But what I find wrong is the way he frequently cherry-pick verses or using irrelevant passages to support his point.

In one of his recent posts, he wrote (words capitalized by him):

This is righteousness.

1 John 2:5-6 NKJV
5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to WALK JUST AS HE WALKED.

1 John 2:28-29 NKJV
28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS is born of Him.

Notice his emphasis on actions (“walk just as He walked”… “practices righteousness”..). It is quite apparent from here he believes in righteousness by works.

Before I go back to those verses, let us first look at the book of Romans:

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)

A plain reading of the text (a pet phrase of Robert) would tell us we can only be “made right with God” by believing or placing faith in Jesus Christ.

 And in Romans 4, Paul wrote :

… Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God? If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.

When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it…
(Romans 4:1-6 NLT)

Again, as plainly written: Abraham was counted righteous by God not because of any good works he did  (in fact, Paul told us Abraham had nothing to boast about his good works), but because he “believed (having faith in) God”.

So was John wrong? Or was Paul wrong? Obviously the answer is neither. It was Robert’s interpretation that is wrong.

Good works are good for the reason that Peter mentioned, but… they are not righteousness.

*due to time constraints, I will try to touch on the verses in 1 John 2 in my next entry.*

to be continued

jer23-righteousness

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