The past few articles have studied the concept of becoming righteous (justified) before God by faith. What does that kind of faith look like, though? Here are some statements made about Abraham, whose faith (not adherence to rules) resulted in God crediting him with righteousness:
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Romans 4:20-22 NIV
This is the faith that results in righteousness: Abraham’s faith held up (or he “grew strong in faith”, per NASB). He glorified God. And, he was convinced of God’s ability to deliver on His promises.
A commentator, after describing a drowning person who must relax and trust the lifeguard, says, “Likewise if we want to be saved, we must truly believe in God’s saving grace, which requires us to let go of our works and to rest in the certainty of his promises.” [Cottrell, p.305-306]
The next three verses in this chapter of Romans offer even better news:
The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Romans 4:23-25 NIV
This isn’t just a story about some ancient guy who was blessed by God because of faith. In addition to that, it is an offer that is available to us, as well. If we can believe in God – not just any god, but the God who raised Jesus from the dead – we can receive righteousness through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins.
So, how do we receive righteousness, then, if not through doing the right things? Considering all of Romans 4, I suggest the following summary:
- We have faith – knowing that God is real, and that God has promised us salvation.
- We trust God – being confident that God is able to keep that promise.
- And, we believe that God will keep His promises.
Faith, trust, and belief all kind of overlap. To be sure, faith, trust, and belief in false gods or things that can’t save us (including trying to earn righteousness before God through good works) are pointless. However, in the end, faith, trust and belief in the right things (Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, God’s faithfulness and power, etc. [ref. Cottrell]) result in our being pronounced righteous (or justified) before God. And, when we are justified, we can live forever with Him.
I don’t want to oversimplify, but it’s sort of like having credit card fraud protection. If you notice an incorrect charge on your credit card, you can call and get it straightened out. In my experience, the credit card company usually applies a credit to your account promptly. However, if you don’t let them know, you’re likely going to have to pay the bill.
Of course, there are several differences between a credit card and salvation, one of them being that we definitely owe the balance for our sins. Our sin debt isn’t fraud, since we have racked up that debt. God still applies a credit to our account, though, paid for by Jesus, for the cost of all of the unrighteousness that we accumulate. However, in order for our record to be cleared, we must accept that credit, through faith.
So, if you’re ready to clear the junk from your record (past, present, and future), learn more about what God offers to you through Jesus Christ, and accept and trust Him as your Savior. Give up trying to get God to like you by doing “good things”. Instead, let Him justify you (i.e., pronounce you righteous), and then spend the rest of your life (both here on earth, and for eternity) living up to that description He has given you, out of gratitude, love, trust, obedience, and faith.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for January 16, 2022
- The Lookout, January 16, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.
- The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.