Article from Christian Today:
Copyright © 2009 Christian Today. All rights reserved.
3 things to remember when you're struggling to live a righteous life
Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 15:00 (IST)
"God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." – 2 Corinthians 5:21 (MEV)
Those who truly believe in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ have been made righteous by the Father through the Son (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). This new identity – being righteous through Christ – is something we are told to live out in our lives daily, something we must grow in our lives.
Living as a righteous person, however, presents a challenge to many, if not all, Christians. We all were unrighteous before Christ saved us, and it takes a lot of help from the Holy Spirit to live the righteous life that we are supposed to live out.
Are you struggling to live a righteous life that honors and glorifies God? Here are some things to remember:
1) We are made righteous by the grace of God through Christ, not by what we do
Friends, let us not forget that the righteousness we are told to live out is something that came from Christ. We humans have this tendency to be self-righteous, a people who want to prove our own innate righteousness and innocence, a futile attempt at denying our sins. This is plain wrong.
First John 1:8 tells us, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." It's a fact that we are not righteous. We deserve death because of our sins (see Romans 3:23), but because of God's righteous mercy He sent Christ to be the propitiation for our sins.
Just take refuge in the fact and truth that we are made righteous by what Christ has done, not by what we do.
2) God is more committed than us to making us righteous
Many of us struggle with living a righteous life. Some of us are too hard on ourselves, thinking that when we fail to live a righteous life, God will hate us. No, He loved us so much that He sent His Son to redeem us and make us righteous.
The truth is that God has been, is, and will always be committed to making us righteous. First John 1:9 tells us that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." He is faithful and just to make us righteous through and through, and for starters all we need to do is to submit our unrighteousness to Him.
3) God knows the real condition of our hearts
Righteousness is a matter of the heart, not external actions. In Matthew 6:1, Jesus warns us to be careful against external righteousness:
"Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." (NIV)
Righteousness is a matter of the heart. A man can do charitable things but still be wicked in his heart. We need to bare our hearts before the Lord, being honest with Him. First John 1:10 tells us, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us."
Let us not forget that He sees what we hide inside our hearts and minds, and that He is committed to making us righteous from the inside out. Don't worry – God's grace will help us live it out (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).