The first type of righteousness that we will look at is self righteousness or righteousness by works; by works of the law. This is about believing you have to perform to receive God’s favour, blessings or acceptance. It is about trying to be good and holy, and doing works in order to be right before God. It is about performing works to be righteous, and thinking that this is a requirement.
The Jews that we read about in many places in Word are perfect examples of this. They had the law and all the rules and regulations revolving around it. They felt that if they kept these rules and regulations they would be righteous. That’s a kind of simple explanation, but it will do for us for now.
They felt that if kept all statutes of the law you would be righteous before God. They had to do these works to be right before God. They felt that they had to perform for God to love them, bless them or accept them.
Romans 9 v 31 and 32 tells us this didn’t work…….
Rom 9:31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
Rom 9:32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
This piece of scripture is very clear and cannot be misunderstood. They tried to gain righteousness by their own works and they failed, that is written there in black and white.
It didn’t work for the Jews; they could not attain righteousness through their works and let me tell you now that it will not work for you!
You may now be saying but I don’t think like them. I don’t try to keep all the law and all the other statutes. Do you think you have to pray more and read Word more and tithe more and do more charity work for God to accept you?
Are you praying, reading Scripture, tithing or fasting so that God will accept you and bless you?
Do you ever say to yourself any of the following….
“What can I do to be right before God?”
“What do I need to do for God to love me or show His love to me?”
“What am I doing that means God is staying away from me and not revealing Himself to me?”
“I have to stop doing this or God will not bless me?”
“Lord, make me more righteous”
“Lord I need to be more righteous”
Have you ever thought or said or prayed things like that?
If you answered that question yes, then you are trying to achieve your own self righteousness through your own efforts or works. If you are saying those things and striving to be righteous you are wrong. What you are doing is not necessary. Indeed, what you are doing is anti-Christ.
Now, I am not saying that you should not pray, fast or read Word. I am saying that you do not need to do these things to gain God’s acceptance. I am saying that you do not need to do these things trying to achieve your righteousness. That is wrong thinking!
There is absolutely no point in trying to achieve your own self righteousness as you will fail. You will never do it!
The most zealous people in the world failed at this. Some of the most honest, God fearing, sincere people tried and failed at this. They failed to achieve self righteousness. We have already seen this in Romans 9 v 31 and 32.
Israel, the Jews, failed to achieve their own righteousness. They failed because they tried to achieve righteousness by their own works and not by faith. The Word tells us that, I’m not making this up. The Word of God says they failed trying to achieve righteousness by works.
Now I say this respectfully folks but I think it’s probably true. Those people were more God fearing and more zealous about God than any of us alive today. They put more effort into achieving righteousness than most of us; and even they failed!
You will not achieve righteousness by your works, or by trying to keeping the law. This requires perfection from you; it requires you to keep every single part of the law. If you fail on one little, single thing then you fail altogether (see James 2 v 10).
If you think in anger about a brother then you have committed murder. If you think lustfully about another person then you have committed adultery. You simply cannot achieve righteousness by your works. I’m sorry, but if you think this way then you are deluded. Only one man on this earth was ever perfect and kept all the law and stayed sinless. That was the Lord Jesus Christ, and you are not Him!
So we can never achieve righteousness by our works (Romans 9 v 31 and 32). But don’t worry; we do not have to achieve righteousness by our works. The good news is that there is another type of righteousness.
This is the righteousness for us as new covenant believers, and it is the righteousness which is of faith……..