Two Kinds of Righteousness

Technically speaking, there are three types of  righteousness listed in scripture.  And these three could be classed as: Imputed Righteousness, Personal Righteousness, and Self-Righteousness.  We all know much about the self-righteousness aspect of scripture, so we will not belabor this particular point in this article; as we wish to focus our attention on the first two.  And I believe most have a clear understanding on the first one (Imputed Righteousness), as there is much teaching and even volumes of books written about this first one. 

[For those of you who do desire a few verses to establish the fact of self-righteousness; I would refer you to Job 32:1 which says,  “So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.” Or Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…”  Or 2 Timothy 3:2, “For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud…”  Or the one that we’re all familiar with in Luke 18, “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector…’”]

But as I stated earlier, it is not our intent to teach on the latter point of self-righteousness, because we all are aware of it in ourselves, and are hopefully overcoming the self-life by just simply denying it and its desire to reign, rule, and live; for the seeds and the roots of self-righteousness are found in the fertile field of the self-life.

Concerning the first point of “Imputed Righteousness” I would like to reference a few verses to establish the fact that our initial righteousness that we receive is at salvation and is freely bestowed upon us by God the Father. 

  • He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (Christ).  2 Cor. 5:21
  • That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”  Romans 4:22
  • And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. James 2:23
  • And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.  Phil. 3:9

And of course the one that we are all familiar with:

  • He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify (make righteous) many; for He shall bear their iniquities.  Isaiah 53:11

So then, we understand that the righteousness that we have received (positionally speaking) was given to us, or imputed (which is a better word, because it means that something was credited to our account because of another) to us by God. 

So then we could safely say that we all agree with the fact that God has made us righteous in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ…because of what Christ has done in His living, His obedience, His suffering (in every way that a man could suffer in this life – and on the other side), and in His death.  His death was truly vicarious in every sense of the word.  Paul brought this fact home when he explained how that when Christ suffered, we suffered with Him; that when Christ died, we died; that when Christ was baptized, we were baptized; that when Christ arose, we also arose with Him, etc. 

But this imputed righteousness has to lead us somewhere.   In other words, it didn’t just happen to us for no reason.  Christ died for a reason.  And without a working knowledge of this reason, many of us are perishing, and will perish.  Because I have news for you today…the truth will make (or set) no one free.  But some would say, “Brother Hammond, the bible says that the truth will make you free.”  And to that I would say, “No, it doesn’t say that anywhere.”  And then they would misquote John 8:32 by saying, “John 8:32 says ‘and the truth shall make you free.’”  To which I would say to them, “John 8:32 actually says, ‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”

I say it all the time: The truth will set no one free!!  Because Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…”  If He is the Truth (which He is), then the whole world should be free, because Jesus came, lived, died, and arose for the whole world.  Isn’t this what many scriptures in the New Testament bear out?  Sure it is.  Then why isn’t the whole world free?  For goodness sakes, why aren’t people who proclaim the name of Christ free!!?  Because the first part of John 8:32 says, And you shall know the truth.  We cannot be free in any area of our living until we first have a working knowledge of the truth in that particular area.  When someone has a knowledge of something, this changes everything.  Einstein didn’t just have the theory of E=MC2 (Energy is equivalent to Mass {X, times…or multiplied by} the Speed of Light – squared), but he had the knowledge of what it would do.  And what did this knowledge of his do?  It ended WWII in one day.  Hosea 4:6 says that God’s people (His very own) perish for a lack of knowledge.  But it is willful ignorance…without a doubt. 

No one else can be blamed for our being ignorant in any area of spiritual growth.  And why is this some might ask?  Because each man is held accountable to get the truth for themselves from God’s Word.  Not from some other preacher/teacher/pastor…but from God’s unchanging Word.

Now remember that I said that this imputed righteousness has to lead us somewhere.   A few analogies may be helpful here at this juncture of the article.  You will notice that the first three chapters of Ephesians are doctrinal, whereas the last three chapters are experiential.  In other words the first three chapters give you the doctrine of how to live and walk out the last three chapters.  Again, in other words, the Christian life is becoming (in your experience) what you already are (in your position in Christ). This divine order is clearly seen in Ephesians, Colossians, and Romans amongst others. In the book of Ephesians please take note of all that God has done for you and that which you are called to do yourself.  So to sum up…the first three chapters are positional and the last three chapters are experiential (meaning how you are actually living and applying the truths of Ephesians 1,2, and 3).

Where is this imputed righteousness leading us?  It is leading us to the second type of righteousness that I listed in the opening paragraph of this article: Personal Righteousness.  I will list a few verses here and then comment on them:

  • Blessed are those who keep justice, who practices righteousness at all times. Psalm 106:3
  • If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.  1 John 2:29
  • Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.  1 John 3:7

Are you seeing a pattern developing here?  Notice the same phrase in all three of these verses…“practices righteousness.”  In the Psalm 106:3 verse, my Barnes Notes on the Bible says concerning the words “keep justice” means: “The Hebrew is, ‘the keepers of judgment;’ that is, they who observe the rules of justice in their conduct.”  And just how often does this person “practice righteousness”?  At all times!!  And what is the outcome of this person who “practices righteousness”?  They are blessed.  That’s what the very first word in the verse says, doesn’t it?  Blessed is that particular person who does these things.

In the next verse I have listed, please notice that “everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” If you see a person practicing righteousness in their living (which is the outflow of their heart and their mind), then this person is a Christian according to the New Testament.  If you see a person not doing this (regardless of whether or not they call themselves a Christian), then you can be assured that they are not a Christian.  Because the Bible says, “Let every person who names  (calls themselves a Christian) the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”  But yet people wish to make every excuse imaginable to explain away their sin, sins, or sinning.  I’ve heard it said on more than one occasion that based upon our recent sins we wouldn’t be able to make it.  And these ones just can’t understand that we are talking about people who live and practice sin and unrighteousness…not those who sin, and then realize it and make confession according to 1 John 1:9

The Bible is very clear on this issue.  It is referring to those who are practicing (making a habit of) sin.  Please notice what it says in 1 John 3:4-8, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

So then, what are “the works of the devil?” Notice what it says in the second to the last verse…” the devil has been sinning…”  The “works of the devil” is…SINNING!!!  And whosoever practices sin, sins, or sinning is a child of the devil.  Jesus Himself said in John 8:34-35, “Most assuredly (“without a doubt” or “make no mistake about it”), I say unto you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house.”  WHAT HOUSE?…”In My Father’s house are many mansions (dwelling places).  The house is heaven, where God the Father is right now dwelling; and the house is also the body of Christ.  Peter brings out this truth twice in his first epistle.  So then…someone who is practicing sin is not dwelling in the body of Christ (mystically), and he will not dwell in the house of God (eternally).  

According to the 1 John 3:7 verse above, we have a responsibility to be practicing righteousness.  And if we’re not, well then we had better do a thorough examination of which father we are really serving.  The choice to be an overcomer is ours and ours alone.  Eight times in Revelation (seven of those to the churches {to the Christians} in Rev. 2-3) it is written, “To him who overcomes…”  This makes it very personal.  We have a huge responsibility upon us to fully obey His commandments and all the rest of His Word. 

So many people want to put the responsibility of their spiritual lives and their spiritual condition on the Lord.  But this is not what the Lord says in His Word.  This is not what any part of the New Testament teaches in any way, shape, form, or fashion.  He puts the responsibility of our condition upon us.  Consider these verses:

  • 2nd Corinthians 13:5  “Examine yourselves
  • 2nd Corinthians 13:5  “Prove yourselves
  • 1st Corinthians 11:28  “But let a man examine himself
  • 1st John 5:18  “but he who is born of God keeps himself“(the word keeps means “to guard”)
  • 1st Corinthians 11:31  “For if we would judge ourselves
  • 2nd Timothy 2:21  “Therefore if anyone purges himself
  • 2nd Corinthians 7:1  “let us cleanse ourselves
  • Revelation 7:14  “these are the ones…who washed their robes
  • Revelation 3:4  “who have not defiled their garments
  • Revelation 16:15  “Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments
  • Luke 21:19  “Possess your souls
  • 1st Thessalonians 4:4 “Possess your body
  • Revelation 22:7  “Behold, I am coming quickly!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

So we can surly come to the conclusion from just these 14 instances (14 of many, many, many more) that it is our responsibility alone to be doing these things.  And the full blessing of God, or the full punishment of God will rest upon us based upon which way we choose to live.  Do we live for the moment, or do we live to please Him eternally and make Him a proud Father?  

Notice in Revelation 22:11 (“Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”) that the full responsibility of these four things rest entirely upon us.  Did you notice the phrase “the one” in each instance? This makes it very personal.  John is writing to WHO in this book?  The church.  Hmmmmmmmm…

If the Lord permits, we will pick this subject up again next week.  In the meantime…“Awake to righteousness, and stop sinning! For some of you—I say this to your shame—don’t fully know God. 1 Cor. 15:34

For if you fully did know God, you would know what He said and did in Hebrews 3:17, “And with whom was He angry with for 40 years? Was it not with those who sinned and whose bodies fell dead in the wilderness?”

My, my, my…I pray someone reading this today will actually see just how serious this really is!!!  I am begging you by the mercies of God to see how eternally important this really is!!!

And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.”  Exodus 32:33

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Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Joel 2:1