The True Doctrine: Righteous Conduct & Character Required

April 8, 2013

There is a prevalent doctrine that teaches that no one is good and that consequently, even the best of men’s acts are filthy rags in God’s sight. However, if this is the case, then many Scriptures cannot be taken at face value, including these:

~~ “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (Jesus in John 5:29) If no one’s actions can be summed up as “good”, then no one can “rise to live” to inherit eternal life.

~~ “And if He [God] rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)– if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and hold the unrighteous for the day of judgement…” (2 Peter 2:7-9) Let’s note the many times words are used here to describe the actions, lifestyle, and character of men.

The above Scriptures show that it is both the actions and the person himself who is considered by God to be righteous or unrighteous before Him and therefore worthy or not worthy of salvation. In other words, God does grant us eternal life based upon our conduct and our character.

The True Doctrine informs us that obedient actions that come from our faith in Christ is what saves us. (Luke 9:23-25 & 14:27,33 // Ja. 2:17,22,24,26) The True Doctrine proclaims that these faith-actions will be done in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the will of the Father. (Matt. 7:21 // Acts 1:8 // 2 Peter 1:3) The True Doctrine declares that we are to “be pure and blameless until the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10), meaning, not only clothed with Christ and His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21), but “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:11) This “fruit of righteousness” absolutely does mean good conduct and character, and it will be in accordance with having both a right relationship to God and a lifestyle in obedience to Christ’s Gospel. (2 Th. 1:8) Anyone who is found to have fallen short of these requirements will be “punished with everlasting destruction.” (v. 9) For the True Doctrine does “call people… to the obedience that comes from faith.” (Rom. 1:5)

So is anyone righteous? God’s Word –in numerous passages, such as in Ps. 1:5, 5:12, 32:11, 37:17, 97:11, 125:4, and Luke 8:13– makes it clear that there are definitely people who are righteous (in heart and conduct) in God’s eyes. They are people whom the Lord considers pure (Pr. 15:26) and thus pleasing to Him (same verse) and therefore blessed to find Him. (Ps. 24:3-6 // Matt. 5:8 // Heb. 12:14) Some of these people were: David (1 Kings 3:6), Job (Job 1:8), Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5,6), Abel (Heb. 11:4), Enoch (v. 5), Noah (v. 7), Abraham (Ja. 2:21), Rahab (v. 25), and the 144,000 redeemed firstfruits. (Rev. 14:3-5)

So is anyone righteous in God’s sight? Yes, and they are righteous because of what they do –that is, that they behave right –that is, that they have quit sinning. As 1 John 3:6-8 says, “Everyone abiding in Him sins not; everyone sinning has not seen Him nor has known Him. Little children, let no man deceive you; the one doing right is righteous, as that One [Christ] is righteous; the one doing sin is of the devil.” Let’s take note of the word “doing” –doing right, or doing sin. This is definitely what God looks at and the scale with which He judges us. (Ec. 12:14 // Jer. 17:10 // John 5:29 // Rom. 2:5-11 // 2 Cor. 5:10 // Rev. 20:11-15)

So how should we interpret Rom. 3:10-18 which says, “There is no one righteous, not even one… there is no one who does good, not even one…”? Or Ps. 143:2 which states that “no one living is righteous before You [God]”? Well, are there some people who are righteous (good) before God? We just read from God’s Word that there are. So we see that we must interpret every Scripture against every other Scripture, look at their contexts, ask for the Spirit’s counsel, and in this way come to the Truth.

Doing this, we can see that Rom. 3:10-18 refers to the fact that all mankind has been “under sin” (v. 9); but we also know that God has had “mercy on them all.” (11:32) This too, though, we know means mercy for those who accept the Way of salvation. (John 14:6 // Act 4:12) We can also see that Ps. 143:2, along with verse 1, reveal that the psalmist is praying that God would relieve him of the judgement which his lack of righteousness would otherwise bring. So God has answered this prayer for everyone by sending Jesus. For He has not only covered, forgiven, and pardoned the sins of those who have abandoned their wicked lifestyles (Isa. 55:7), but has also taken their sins away (John 1:29 // 1 John 3:5), granting full deliverance and freedom from sin. (Rom. 6:18 // Rev. 1:5) This wonderful position, ability, and power is for all who have genuinely repented and believed the Good News (Mark 1:15 // Rom. 8:1-4) –that is, for those in whose spirit is no deceit. (Ps. 32:1,2)

In view of all this, when we look again at those “filthy” righteous acts spoken of in Isa. 64:6, we can easily see that they are attributed to those who keep sinning (v. 5b) and who thus cannot be saved (same verse) as they waste away in their sins. (v. 7b) Verse 7a says, “No one calls on Your name or strives to lay hold of You,” but we know that many do seek God, do call on the name of the Lord, and are saved. (Rom. 10:13) Isa. 64:5a says, “You [God] come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember Your ways.” Can we not recognize that the Word of God is revealing to us that only those who do right are acceptable to God? As Acts 10:34,35 says, “God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” This is the True Doctrine for it “is the Message God sent… telling the Good News of peace through Jesus Christ.” (v. 36) Unquestionably, we need to be careful to do as we have been commanded and interpret the Scriptures correctly so that we, and those we teach, may be saved, not condemned! (1 Tim. 4:16 // 2 Tim. 2:15 // 2 Peter 3:16)

So, the True Doctrine teaches that “God who justifies the wicked” (Rom. 4:5) credits the trusting one with righteousness. (same verse) But this is because that wicked one has been cleansed, is now a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and lives the rest of his life showing proof of that cleansing by doing righteous deeds (Acts 26:20 // 1 Peter 4:2) –which he does not do in his own power, but by “the gift of righteousness” (Rom. 5:17) which now reigns in him. (6:18) As Eph. 4:22-24 says, “You were taught… to put off your old self… to be made new… and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” The True Doctrine teaches that we are to be righteous and holy –just as God is– in all we do. (Matt. 5:48 // 1 Peter 1:14-16) Indeed, by obeying the Truth is how we purify ourselves (1 Peter 1:22) and receive the purification Christ gives. (1 John 1:6,7) This is the Message, the True Doctrine, which we must adhere to and declare. (v.5 & 2:3,4)

with love,

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