WHY IS RIGHTEOUSNESS BY WORKS TAUGHT IN ALMOST EVERY CHURCH TODAY?

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Edward O’Hara Mon 4/20/2020 2:07 PM…

Have you ever heard someone say becoming a Christian is to be “clothed with the righteousness of Christ”. I’ve heard that taught in regard to what happens when we are saved for as long as I can remember. But, what does that really mean? And more importantly does the Bible ever even actually say that? And even more importantly, What does this mean to you? In today’s message I will answer why is it so critically important that we understand this correctly.

If you think it means that you are clothed with a righteousness that comes from Christ being the only one who was able to keep the law perfectly while living as a man on earth you are not alone. Because this is exactly what many in the pulpits teach. Even though any objective reading of Luke1:5,6 will prove to you that Jesus was not the only man who ever kept the law blamelessly. But, still we see men in the pulpit who have come to believe that this in fact is how we are made righteous. Here’s an example of this from what R C Sproul taught. He said,

A Biblical Theology of Clothing - Place for Truth

“We’ve seen that in the work of redemption God didn’t send Jesus to earth on Good Friday and say, “Die for the sins of your people and that will take care of it.” No. Jesus not only had to die for our sins, but He had to live for our righteousness.” If all Jesus did was die for your sins, that would remove all of your guilt, and that would leave you sinless in the sight of God, but not righteous. You would be innocent, but not righteous because you haven’t done anything to obey the Law of God which is what righteousness requires.” 

Did you hear what he just said? He said that the righteousness that we gain that makes us righteous was attained by Jesus keeping the law perfectly in our place. This is also why so many wrongly believe that Jesus died in our place. Rather than as Heb.2:14 teaches that He joined with us in our death. And sadly he is not alone in this understanding. But, is that what the Bible really teaches? He goes on to say,

“The active obedience (of Christ) refers to His whole life of obeying the Law of God whereby He qualifies to be the Savior. He qualifies to be the Lamb without blemish.” See why it’s so important that we understand what righteousness the Bible is saying we have that makes us righteous before God for eternal life? According to Sproul and so many others it is the righteousness that comes through perfect law keeping that makes men right with God. But, Paul taught it is the righteousness that is of faith that makes men right with God, and that no flesh shall be righteous by the works of the law. As he continues we see the completely false doctrine known as legalism that comes from this misunderstanding of Paul’s doctrine. He continues saying, 

“He qualifies for the song, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,” through His total righteousness. He fulfills the Law’s demands, and if you remember the covenant with Moses, everybody who fulfills the Law receives the blessing, those who disobey the Law receive the curse.” 

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ ...

Here he shows another aspect to his immensely false theology. Because he shows that he believes all men are under the law by the blessing that it says men receive from keeping it. Or in this case by Jesus keeping it in our place. But, Paul disagrees with Sproul saying that “we are not under the law but under grace” in Rom.6:14. And in Rom.11:5,6 Paul makes it very clear that grace and works of the law can not mix for righteousness unto eternal life. The righteousness that Sproul and so many others speak of as being “imputed to us” is a righteousness that is of works and not of faith. Sadly this thinking leaves those who believe in this righteousness further from Jesus than they were before they heard this false teaching. Because now they have been deceived to believe in righteousness by works rather than the “faith of Christ” as Paul taught.

Another name you might be familiar with that teaches this is Hal Lyndsey. He also teaches this error by saying things in many of his television broadcasts as incredibly unBiblical as; “If we could keep the law perfectly then we would not need Jesus”. 

So to him as well it means that God takes from Christ’s righteousness that He attained through perfect law keeping, which is works, and gives it to those who believe in Jesus to be clothed with. So in essence they are teaching that when we believe in Jesus He clothes us with His works of the law. His perfect works of the law that makes us to God by imputation perfect law keepers. To them this is what is necessary to make us acceptable to God. 

Now before I get to the main scripture for the message today I just want to say that contrary to what many like Sproul and Lindsey believe there is no scripture that says that we are “clothed in the righteousness of Christ”. Not one. So to believe that this is what happens when we are saved is unscriptural right from the start. And since works and grace for salvation can not mix the righteousness that these speak of can not be the righteousness unto eternal life. The closest the scripture comes to saying anything even remotely like this is when Paul writes “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” in Rom.13:14. And in Gal.3:27 when he writes “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” So we see the scripture never says that the believer is clothed with the righteousness of Christ. But, only that we are righteous in the same way Christ was when we believe in Him as He believed the Father. So it is truly by faith without works just as Paul said in Eph.2:8,9. Now that that is clear we will proceed to our main passage from Gal.2:16 for more evidence of just exactly what the righteousness that saves us is, and how it comes to us. 

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For some context we see in Gal.2 Paul is addressing Israelites who were having trouble understanding the righteousness of faith in this New Covenant in contrast to the righteousness of works they understood after having been enslaved to sin for so long in the Old Covenant as Paul plainly says they were in 1Cor.15:56 when he writes, “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” And in Rom.6:14 saying “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” These Israelites were having difficulty that it wasn’t still necessary for them to be circumcised to be saved. Similar to those in Acts15 who believed it was necessary for them to keep the commandments and be circumcised along with their belief in Jesus as Messiah to be saved. 

So Paul begins to show them the contrast between the two Covenants by saying; “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Gal.2:16-21. 

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Here Paul is telling of the time he withstood Peter to his face for joining himself once again to Israelites who believed that circumcision was necessary for salvation, after having “destroyed” that so that he could be joined with Christ. And how by doing this one becomes a transgressor. Meaning that Paul withstood Peter because by joining himself to the Judaizers he was building again a relationship to the Old Covenant that had been destroyed by the sacrifice of the body of Christ that gave power to the New Covenant. 

As a reminder, If this being dead to the Old Covenant sounds familiar it’s because this is exactly what Paul was teaching Israelites that were of the same wrong thinking in Rom.6:23-ff. For in it he begins by telling them that under the Old Covenant “the wages of sin is death”. But, that under the New Covenant “the gift of God is eternal life”. And that the way to come into the New Covenant is to “be dead to the law by the body of Christ”. Because it is by the body of Christ that represents His death, the sacrifice of His body, that ended the Old Covenant and gave power to the New Covenant as we read in Heb.9:15 when the writer says, “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

So the righteousness of Christ has nothing to do with our having imputed to us the keeping of the law, whether by Jesus or anyone else, as Sproul and Lindsey and so many others have falsely believed. But, our righteousness unto eternal life has only to do with the faith that Jesus expressed when He chose to submit His will to the Father’s will as we see Him doing in Luke22:42 when He said “Nevertheless not my will but thine be done”. It is in this relationship with the Father that Jesus showed us what the righteousness of faith is that saves us. And that it is a righteousness by which we are made righteous when we trust in Jesus as He trusted in the Father. This is what Jesus was telling the disciples when He said concerning His having to leave so that the Holy Spirit could come, that righteousness is “I go to the Father and you see me no more” in John16:10. In this Jesus shows that His being joined with the Father again in the loving relationship they had always had from eternity past, after joining with mankind in our death by the cross and raising from the dead, is this righteousness. 

So we see that it is our relationship that we have with Jesus, the same relationship Jesus has with the Father, that is our righteousness, as it was His righteousness. And that righteousness unto eternal life has nothing to do with an imputation of His perfect law keeping. Our relationship with Jesus is what makes men righteous even as Jesus relationship with the Father is what made Him righteous. This is why Paul taught that righteousness is of faith, our trusting in and clinging to relationship with God, and not by the works of the law. Which is why Paul said “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified”. 

So the notion that we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ is not only never found written in the Bible. It is not even inferred by what is written. Because the righteousness that Christ had is a righteousness that comes from knowing and trusting the Father. And Paul says that the righteousness that we have is the same kind of righteousness. A righteousness that is our trusting in and knowing Jesus. It is not His perfect law keeping “placed to our account” or imputed to us as so many falsely teach. Because the true righteousness that saves us is a righteousness that comes to us from knowing and trusting in Jesus just as He trusted in the Father. This is why Paul said “the just(those who are righteous) shall live by faith” in Rom.1:16. 

Righteous shall live by his faith | The Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower

So Jesus showed each of us by His example how to be righteous by faith. And that it was not done by clothing us in His righteousness. Whether it was from His perfect law keeping, which is really just a righteousness of works that Paul plainly taught can save no one. Nor is it a righteousness that comes from His righteousness being somehow placed to our account as some teach Rom.4:22-24 means. Which is just one of the other false teachings about what it means to be righteous that is out there because they do not understand the difference between imputed and reckoned. For which I give a more detailed explanation of what that means in my video at  https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=8kzF1ZJQf08. But, for now suffice it to say that the righteousness that truly saves is a righteousness that each can only attain by their free will answer when they hear the call of God as He calls all men to be saved. It is not imputed from someone else’s righteousness as if we are made righteous by someone else’s righteousness. We are reckoned righteous because of our free will decision to say yes to God’s call. God has no grandchildren. 

So I ask you, what will you do by your own free will when God calls you? Will you believe in Him for the gift of eternal life Jesus offers you simply because He has chosen to love you? Will you receive this gift Jesus died to provide you with? Will you be born of His Spirit so you too can inherit eternal life? The fleshly birth only prepared you for this natural world where death reigns. Will you too be born again by being born of His Spirit? So that as His child you will now have for your inheritance His kingdom that is eternal where there is no death? 

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If you are reading this God is calling you. He loves you and wants you to know Him. Because knowing Him is this eternal life that provides you with the spirit that makes you God’s child.John17:3. Because while all men are created by God, not all men are born of His Spirit so that they are children of God. It is only those who have come to know Him that are spiritual because knowing Him is to be born of His Spirit. So if you do not know Him, but have now believed that He is Lord and that He has raised from the dead to conquer death for you, then please take the time right now to talk to Him and confess to Jesus that He is Lord of your life. And believe that He has raised from the dead to conquer death for you. If you do believe in Him then tell Him something like this and you will have eternal life: 

Dear Jesus, I believe you. Thank you for joining with me in death so that by conquering death by your resurrection I could join with you in eternal life. Thank you that you raised from the dead so that I could raise from the dead too by trusting in, clinging to, and relying solely on you. Thank you for giving me a new spirit now Lord so that I can live with you in your kingdom forever. In Jesus’ name, amen. 


By praying a prayer similar to this one and really meaning it from your heart you have been saved from death to life. From sin to righteousness. And from wrath to peace with God. And now as you begin reading the Bible and believing what it plainly says it will begin to change the way you think and believe. Because when you trust in Jesus you leave the old life behind where you were only able to relate to and trust in what has been made. And now will be equipped for God’s kingdom because you are no longer only natural flesh and blood, but are a new creature made a spiritual being ready to inherit God’s spiritual kingdom. It is because of Jesus’ resurrection that He is the only WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. Because only Jesus has broken through the wall of death that the flesh and blood natural body can never get through. And only by the new birth are we made ready to receive the spiritual body that can go through the wall of death as Jesus’ did first so we could follow Him in the way He has prepared for us. 

God Bless you in your new life in Christ.  

And if you prayed that prayer for eternal life please leave a comment in the stream below so we can celebrate with our new brother or sister in God’s family. 

This message can also be heard at Click here

StevieRay Hansen
Editor, the127.org

The 127 Faith Foundation understands the pain and sorrow associated with being a throwaway child, We push this throwaway child towards bettering their education, be it junior-college are going for a Masters’s degree. This program is about them because they determine by the grace of God if they’re going to be a pillar in the community or a burden on society. Some of the strongholds orphans deal with are: fear, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, apathy, unbelief, depression, anxiety, lust, anger, pride, and greed. Many of these strongholds do open the door to addiction. Please Help The 127

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The number of Orphans aging out of Child Protective Custody has grown at an alarming rate. The 127 Faith Foundation receives many requests each week to house them at our ranch. Our prayer is that the good people of our country will step up to the challenge and offer financial support for "the least among us." We need your help! StevieRay Hansen, Founder, The 127 Faith Foundation

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1 Comment

  1. MaxWebXperienZ on April 21, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    It’s about hearing from the Holy Spirit. The devil has to get us to believe just a few lies so that we cannot hear clearly from the Holy Spirit and he does that to every human. Jesus was protected from the devil and always heard clearly from the Holy Spirit right up until the moment on the cross when He cried out about how God had forsaken him. He felt forsaken because He had lost that vital communication that He was used to. I don’t really buy into the theology saying that we are born sinners. Some of us experience rejection even before we are born and lose our clear connection to the Holy Spirit and true, we are born with some genetic instructions formed by our parents that help us to adapt to the world the way they experienced it but I don’t see the need to declare everybody as born sinners. We are all born into a world where we cannot avoid believing some lies and thus becoming “sinners”, unable to hear clearly from the Holy Spirit.

    Jesus gives us generous amounts of belief while the devil gives us doses of unbelief. The key to having “more faith” is to have less unbelief. The way to have less unbelief is to catch all the lies we believe and to confess them. Some of us have few and some of us are overwhelmed by them but it’s just a matter of time to work through them, the Holy Spirit will uncover them from you, you will confess them and Jesus will separate the devil’s influences from you as far as the “East is from the West”, in other words: permanent separation, they will not return to you

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