Summary: Ask yourself, “Am I righteous?” Few people would answer with an unqualified “yes.” But if your answer is “yes,” and you believe that you are righteous through unblemished right living, I hope to show you righteousness lies elsewhere.
Note: I have a short set of very simple PowerPoint slides that I will be happy to provide on request. They're very plain and have only the two equations mentioned plus a few of the major points in the sermon. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: Righteous By Faith slides if you're interested and I'll email them directly to you.
RIGHTEOUS BY FAITH
Ask yourself, “Am I righteous?”
Few people would answer with an unqualified “yes.”
But if your answer is “yes,” and you believe that you are righteous through unblemished right living, I hope to convince you to the contrary.
It’s hard to answer “yes” because:
• We don’t want to appear self-righteous
• If we’re honest, we recognize our faults and failings.
If these thoughts compel you to answer “no,” the next question is, “Am I capable of being righteous?”
Some of you may be mentally fast-forwarding to where you know I’m going with these questions; but even if you are, I hope to offer some thoughts to make your time well-spent, for many of us harbor lingering doubts, and are haunted by fears, knowing that people who mean well and strive to be righteous sometimes “go off the rails.”
1. These are important questions.
Your eternal destiny depends on it. Jesus told a parable of sheep and goats.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
The sheep represent the righteous as those who minister to the lonely, hurting, and needy, for he says:
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' (vs 37-39)
He sends those on his left--who did not minister to others in need--to eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, and says (v46)
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
Jesus parable teaches us righteousness is essential to entering heaven, and fastens righteousness to our actions.
Our problem is that unrighteousness is also attached to our actions.
Not only must we be righteous, but our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees. As Jesus told the multitude, Matthew 5:20:
… I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
To get into heaven, one must have exceeding righteousness. It must go beyond that of the leading religious figures of the time.
How is it possible to exceed that standard? (For we must, to have a saving righteousness.)
2. The next question: “Who is righteous?”
as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
3. The equation:
Fact: The righteous will be saved
Fact: No one is righteous
Inference: No one will be saved
Is this equation a true way of looking at these scriptures? If not, what are we misunderstanding?
4. Can anyone be saved?
This equation causes us to stew and fret about our salvation.
1 Peter 4:18 And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"
5. The Bible speaks about some who were righteous.
It is evident that even though Paul quoted the scriptures, “None is righteous, no not one,” the scriptures do speak of some righteous people.
a. We know Abraham was not sinless, for he lied more than once and went in to his wife’s servant Hagar, doubting God’s promises.
Yet Abraham was counted righteous because of a powerful, active faith.
Think of what God required Abraham to do (Sacrifice Isaac the child of promise-Gen 22).
Even in spite of his missteps, Abraham held God in reverence and sought to please him, at extreme pain and loss to himself.
b. Noah – Gen 6:9 ... Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
2 Pet 2:7-8 ... if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard)...