Reading time: about 8 minutes.

Inside this blogpost

  • Ginika’s story
  • A premise on righteousness
  • What righteousness is and what it isn’t
  • Two reasons we must answer this question well.

 

 

“Are you righteous? Ginika!”

“You, righteous!” her neighbour smirked. Later, you’ll clutch unto the bible and scurry off to church like you’re a saint.  Are you born again after what you’ve done?

Everyone liked Ginika, before. Gini as she was fondly called, was a 17-year-old high school girl. A gentle girl who didn’t talk much. She’d rather let you win than quarrel with you.  She carried an air of dignity and grace that attracted her classmates to her. Gini was not only liked for her looks, but also admired for her down-to-earth attitude.

Ginika was the perfect picturesque of a well-groomed girl as mothers applauded her to their daughters. As she strolled the Nnetu dirt road returning from school, aged men and women in her neighbourhood pronounced blessings on her for her warm heart; Young girls admired her and called her aunty; children ran up to her embrace with fondness.

Adjectives like well-behaved, disciplined, brilliant, church girl, and sweet, were words that echoed her praises. “You’re different, Ginika” some will say. Ginika will modestly reply “ Oh, It’s Jesus! He is the one making me a better person’’ Gini saw herself as an ambassador for Christ and was conscious of living her life for Him.

All these changed when in the last year of high school, a rumor spread quickly that Ginika was pregnant. It was hard to believe at first, but as months passed, the rumour cemented itself. It was true.

Everything changed overnight. There were 1001 taunting eyeballs everywhere —jeering friends, accusing fingers, scoffing neighbors, and children standing aloof, staring in wonder.   Mothers’ infatuation with Gini suddenly morphed into loathing. It wasn’t just people’s words like ‘pretender, slow poison, fake Christian’ that tore Ginika’s heart; it was the relentless accusation in her own mind that wouldn’t go away: you have failed yourself; you have failed others and you have failed God.

Church attendance became spotty. Ginika has asked for forgiveness repeatedly. But the guilt and fear of what others think, make her wonder if God still hears her. When she manages to go to church, she dares not raise her hands in worship. Her strong confidence in God all blew away with the wind of teenage pregnancy.

“You! Are you righteous?” Her neighbor’s sneer plays back at her…

Whether it is a sin that would later dance out in public like Ginika’s, or a secret sin that’s tucked away in a secluded corner of your life, a Christian will be asked this question someday, just like Ginika.  And whether it’s a sin only your children and spouse know or the one you and your colleagues share. The question remains, are you righteous?

Are you righteous when you, a born-again Christian sin against God, your friends, or yourself? Are you righteous when you kept quiet in times you should have spoken up; when you lied to your boss that you were held up in traffic but skipped to mention that you woke up late? Should you still freely raise up your hands in church? What would you say to someone who saw you in the act? Are you still righteous?

After What You’ve Done?  

This question is one fundamental topic every Christian must engage in and find the correct answer to. Answering this question well, significantly affects our response toward God, people, negative thoughts, and accusations.

To examine this question, let’s lay down an important premise.

Premise: There is a distinction between righteousness and right living.

What is Righteousness?

1. Righteousness is a gift. It is not a reward.

Righteousness is defined as the quality of being morally right and justifiable. For Romans 10:3 says

“For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with Himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.  For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given.  As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.”

We see here that righteousness is a gift that is given to everyone who believes in Jesus Christ. If righteousness is a gift, then we do not grow in righteousness. Whoever accepts Jesus as Lord and saviour automatically inherits (gets imputed) the righteousness of God regardless of how long they have known the Lord.  It is a gift. You do not attain it and do not work to get it. This is God’s way of making people righteous.

Also, 2 Corinthians 5:21 says,

He made Christ who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

In other words, Christ’s righteousness is the instant gift we receive that makes us stand before God in the same favour that Jesus enjoys. Once you believe that Jesus is the son of God, your saviour, and henceforth your master and Lord.  You are made right instantly, with or without any external or physical proof.

2. Righteousness is a nature (Spirit) of rightness.

One of the natures of the cat is to meow, the dog to bark, and the cow to moo. Similarly, the nature of human is to sin. However, when anyone receives Jesus Christ, there is a new — spiritual— nature that is awakened in that person. It’s like a feature in a phone that was previously disabled now becoming enabled. This spirit (nature) of righteousness in a Christian is borne by the Spirit of God according to John 1 :14.

A side point is that the sinful nature is not totally disabled in a born again Christian. Rather this new nature, this new kind, the Spirit of rightness coexists with the sin nature. This new nature works like a spiritual jump starter that awakens a person to the life of God. Leading them to will and desire to please God. Philippians 2:13

Right Living

Right living, on the other hand, is the product of righteousness.  It is the process-wise work of the Holy Spirit in those who daily trust in Jesus Christ. Right living is the inner change that occurs in a person as they continuously submit to the word of God.

The righteousness we inherit from Jesus Christ is the starting point to living right. So, until one is righteous they cannot live right. In the same way, a phone feature to receive calls must be enabled before their phones can receive calls.

The distinction, therefore, is that the gift of righteousness is instant while right living takes time, practice, and diligence. We cannot live right without the gift of righteousness. So a Christian who may not be living right can still be righteous ( more on this later).

Two Reasons We Must Answer this Question

1. Boldness and confidence before God

I can’t forget my friend, K T’s response when I asked her the above question. She asserted “Yes, I am. I need to know I am righteous to stand before God”

I couldn’t have said it any better. We need to know that we are righteous to stand before God because Romans 8:1 tells us this:

Therefore, there is now (not tomorrow) no condemnation (censure, blame) to those who

(i). Are in Christ Jesus and

(ii). Who walk (habitually) not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For the law (power) of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made them free from the law (the power) of sin that leads to death.

Knowing that we are not condemned when we fall into sin, (as opposed to living in sin), gives us the strength to pick up ourselves again. By the same token, Hebrew 4:16 admonishes us to come boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in times of need.

We need to know we are righteous to have confidence not only to ask for forgiveness; but also when we ask for our needs, healing, and other promises.

Therefore, Ginika, you and I can boldly come to God’s presence, and boldly lift our hands in worship because we come, wearing ( as a garment) the righteousness of Jesus Christ and not our good works.

2. To receive strength to bounce quickly back to faith

God’s Grace is that lifeline that pulls anyone from a drowning sin and restores them to the life of God. And the true measure of a person is how much they can bounce back after failure. If we’ll never sin why would we ever need grace and mercy?

I find that the confidence in returning to God, especially after a sin that was made public is a major issue for many Christians.  Many of us especially new Christians tend to ‘feel’ spiritual when ‘we’ve not sinned’ and ‘feel’ less confident (spiritual) when we do something wrong. But knowing that our righteousness ( acceptance) before God isn’t dependent on our own good works. This should give no place for our self-righteousness and also muffle out the accusing voices dissuading us from approaching God when we err. For Christianity is a walk of faith and not a walk of feelings. 2 Corinthians 5:7.

Imagine with me that I am dirty —mean, bad-mouthed, envious, backbites, or fornicates— this is the more reason I need to come to Jesus often to be washed. This is not the time to withdraw from the church, stop reading the bible, or stop fellowshipping with other believers.

How about people’s words and their eyes? You may ask! I would lock up myself and study my identity in Ephesians. Study until you know who you really are in Christ. Because as Joyce Meyer would say, we are not truly free until we are free from the fear of people.

Therefore, It is the consistent, personal, prayers and daily meditations in the word of God that help us bounce back in our faith and help us mature in living right. Yes, I am righteous. While on my way to maturity.

“But what about accountability?” Someone may ask, “Does that mean I am righteous regardless? So I can continue to sin?” This is the topic I hope to address in my next blog post.

God Bless you and stay tuned!

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