The Right Definition of Righteousness

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Galatians 2:21 KJV

What has a right understanding of your righteousness got to do with expecting good to happen to you today? Everything!

Many believers associate righteousness with a list of things that they have to do, and if they fulfill this list, they feel "righteous." Conversely, when they fail in terms of their behavior, they feel “unrighteous.” But this is the wrong definition and understanding of righteousness.

Let’s go back to what the Bible has to say. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:21: "For He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him [Jesus Christ].” We are not righteous because we do right. We became righteous because of what Jesus did for us at the cross.

“Righteousness,” therefore, is not based on our right doing. It is based entirely on Jesus’ right doing. Christianity is not about doing right to become righteous. It is all about believing right in Jesus to become righteous.

Do you realize that we have been conditioned to associate being blessed with doing right? Most belief systems are based on a system of merit whereby you need to fulfill certain requirements—give to the poor, do good to others and care for the underprivileged—to attain a certain state of righteousness. It all sounds very noble, self-sacrificial, and appealing to our flesh, which likes to feel that our good works have earned us our righteousness.

But God is not looking at your nobility, sacrifices, or good works to justify you. He is only interested in Jesus’ humility at the cross. He looks at His Son's perfect sacrifice at Calvary to justify you and make you righteous!

Attempting to be justified by your good works and trying your best to keep the Ten Commandments to become righteous is to negate the cross of Jesus Christ. It is as good as saying, “The cross is not enough to justify me. I need to depend on my good works to make myself clean and righteous before God.”

The apostle Paul said, “I do not frustrate the grace [unmerited favor] of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” My friend, consider carefully what Paul is saying here. He is effectively saying that if you are depending on your good works, your doing, and your ability to keep perfectly the Ten Commandments to become righteous, then Jesus died for nothing! That’s what “in vain” means—for nothing!

So don’t frustrate the grace of God by depending on your good works to make yourself righteous and put God on your side. Jesus' sacrifice is more than enough to justify you! And when you know that you are justified, you can be confident that the unmerited favor of God is on your side and expect good to happen to you today!

This devotional is taken from the book 100 Days of Favor—Daily Readings from Unmerited Favor.

If you or a loved one are facing a health issue, know that we are praying for you. We would also like to encourage you to read "How do I walk in faith and wisdom as I look to the Lord for healing?" to help you build your faith as you wait for your breakthrough.

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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version ®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.