Articles by - Mike Muzzerall

Relative Righteousness

February 2021

Man has a history of going to great lengths to appear righteous. Adam’s immediate reaction to the effect of sin was to sew fig leaves together. This was a clear attempt at a cover up. He quickly found out that God sees through our flimsy attempts to appear righteous. Many today try to appear righteous through good works. Others attempt to redefine sin so as to remove their offence from the list of divine prohibitions. Still others attempt to appear righteous through what is called relative righteousness.

What is Relative Righteousness?
Relative righteousness is the act of determining your level of righteousness through comparing your accomplishments and failures to others. If you accomplish more or have sinned less than others you consider yourself righteous. Of course, you can always find someone who is lower on the hierarchy of righteousness. If you really want to validate your righteousness, then it is necessary that you compare yourself to Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus was the righteousness of God manifested in the flesh. He is the standard by which all others are measured. You may as well quit trying to convince others that you are righteous. Stop comparing your deeds and failures to society’s downcast. It doesn’t fool God and it rarely fools man.

Entrance into Heaven
Entrance into heaven can never be determined by comparing your righteousness to others. It isn’t the top twenty-five percent of society’s best behaved who are ushered into glory. In fact, those who trust in their own works can never be granted access. Likewise, those who point to the sins of others in an attempt to downplay their own sins will not be granted access. In other words, relative righteousness cannot meet God’s requirements to be granted access into heaven.

A Prepared Place for a Prepared Heart
Jesus told His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3).

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared heart. Imagine, the Son of God is preparing a place for you and for me. There are two ways of looking at this: First, Jesus prepared the means by which we could go to heaven. Access could only be granted after the debt of sin was paid on the cross. Those who place their faith in the completed work of Calvary will be granted access into heaven. Second, to those who accept the precious gift of salvation by faith, there is a dwelling place being prepared for them on the other side of glory.

Imputed Righteousness
It is clear in Scripture that we cannot produce our own righteousness. Isaiah describes God’s view of our own righteousness: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags…” (Isa. 64:6).

This is why we cannot produce our own righteousness, or have it bestowed upon us through the actions of another man or woman; they are in the same sad state of affairs as we are. But all is not lost. The day we accepted Christ’s atoning sacrifice as our payment for sin, we were given His righteousness. It was the deal of a lifetime! We gave Him our sins, and He gave us His righteousness. This is imputed righteousness. “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23).

Abraham believed in the revelation of God and righteousness was imputed to him. Only through God’s righteousness given to us can we be righteous. It is not through comparing ourselves to others. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).


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