I am a Christian. Am I Righteous?

Referencing Proverbs 15:29, James 5:16, and 1 Peter 3:12; am I righteous? Or, maybe a better way to put it, what makes me righteous?

I want my prayers to be “powerful and effective.” However, I am a sinful man. And, I assume like others, I wrestle with sin (Romans 7:14-24). Is righteousness akin to grace, and freely given, or is it attained somehow?

Thanks for your response.

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@Jmworks9113, thanks for sharing your convictions that mirrors my own. I feel as fellow Christians, we would agree with Paul in his assessment of the hopelessness of the sinful flesh:

Romans 3:10-12 NASB
[10] as it is written, “There IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; [11] THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; [12] ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”

Romans 7:15 NASB
[15] For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

Surely Jesus was aware of this. Even still, He expected much more out of us. His claim would have me to believe that some sort of righteousness would come from His followers if they were to do great things:

John 14:12-14 NASB
[12] Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. [13] Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. [14] If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

He then makes it clear where the source of this power comes from:

John 15:4-5 NASB
[4] Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. [5] I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Jesus further promised a helper—the Holy Spirit—who would come to help (Jn. 15:26, 16:7). The means of being effective workers of God’s will is within our grasp when we abide in Christ.

Romans 3:22-26 NASB
[22] even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; [23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [24] being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; [25] whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; [26] for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The righteousness of Jesus gracefully covers those who abide in Him. If we wish to be effective ministers of His will, we should always be mindful that it is being attached to the Vine that the power of Christ manifests itself in us, allowing us to be seen as “little Christs” as His light shines through us.

2 Corinthians 4:5-7 NASB
[5] For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. [6] For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. [7] But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;

Recently I have been reading excerpts from Romans as I’ve been feeling very inadequate, and the fruit of the Spirit does not seem great in my life right now. I pray for the two of us (and anyone currently feeling stuck in life’s doldrums) that we commit to memory these scriptures. I’m going to read through Romans to understand better in my heart where I stand, and pray that God gives me clear direction in this season. @Jmworks9113, please let me know if there is anything specific I can pray for you.

Thanks for this topic! It was timely and something I needed to hear. :slight_smile:
God bless, and may His glory and righteousness shine in your life.

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@Jmworks9113 If you’re a Christian you are not a sinner. You’re a saint. Not a holier than thou saint or an I’m better than you saint, but an I’m purchased by the blood of Jesus and not yet there but chasing after the righteousness He has declared over me saint. A saint who recognizes their own imperfection but longs for more of Jesus, more of holiness, more of obedience, more of the image of Christ in me - a saint who crucifies his flesh and opens his heart to the sanctifying grace of Jesus, yet does not judge others. A saint who obeys out of love because God has loved them and forgives others as they have been forgiven.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • the NT never, ever, calls Christians sinners - we are always called saints because we have been set apart unto God by the blood of Jesus. That does not mean we are perfect, but it does mean that we are hidden in Christ - He has covered us and is renewing us day by day - from glory to glory - let it be so!
  • I think your concern regarding prayer is partly answered in Hebrews, where it is clear that our confidence to come before the throne of God is not rooted in our own righteousness but in the righteousness of our great High Priest Jesus, who ever lives to intercede for us.
  • it is possible that there is some connection between the righteousness James described and walking in the Spirit - the NT is always urging us to walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh. And perhaps that is part of what it means to ‘live into’ the righteousness Jesus has already purchased for us.

Hebrews 4:14-16 - Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

I John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

“Just a sinner saved by grace” is only half the gospel. It’s true that in Christ, God has wiped the slate clean and has forgiven us our sins. But let’s make sure we don’t leave out the flip side – that not only does He forgive our sins, but He also regenerates us through the power of His Spirit. God is restoring our relationship to Him. He is living within us.

Romans 7 Not About Christians

If you read Romans 6,7 and 8 - do you notice any particular actor missing from Romans 7? God’s Spirit! A believer has the Spirit - as we see in Romans 8. The person described in Romans 7 is ‘sold to sin’s power’ and incapable of keeping the law of God. But, as Romans 8 says, we live by the Spirit! It does not mean we are perfect, but we are certainly not sold to sin’s power - Christ has set us free from that!

Romans 8:5-13 - Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Every Christian following the Lord recognizes the continuing battle with sin that will afflict us until the day of redemption (Gal. 5:16–18). We’re already saved, but we aren’t yet all we want to or need to be. We must continue confessing our sins daily, just as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6:12). Sin continues to bedevil us in thought, word, and deed until the day we die.

Yet that’s not what Romans 7:13–25 is talking about. Yes, we continue to struggle with sin. Yes, we fall short every day. But Romans 7:13–25 is talking about total defeat. As Paul says in verse 14, “I am of the flesh, sold under sin.” In other words, he is describing complete and total captivity to sin.

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Thanks for that. If you ask anyone in my church circles they would all say that they are sinners, of course they would follow that with “saved by grace”. I will be sure to bring this to their attention that they can call themselves saints. :grinning:

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@Jimmy_Sellers Yes - I am always challenged by Paul’s statement in Corinthians 3. He says that the Corinthians are behaving like ‘mere humans’. What else did he expect? He expected Spirit empowered believers living in obedience to God! The Corinthians got saved, but they never grew up. Sometimes people use the idea of ‘I’m just a sinner’ as an excuse for not growing up (or not really following Christ), but the Scripture is clear we are to walk in the Spirit in obedience to Christ.

It’s okay to start out the Christian life as a baby, but we can’t stay there… I once heard a sermon by a Romanian Pastor on the fact that no healthy child remains a child. It is not spiritually safe to remain an infant - we must grow in our faith.

1 Corinthians 3:1-4 - Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?

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Hi, @Jimmy_Sellers. Yes, we have a group that does that, as well. I think it is a mix-up, though, between “I still have sin in my life” and “I am a sinner.” We have a new identity in Christ, and yet we are not finished works. I think that is why they call themselves sinners–is because they know they are not yet perfect. However, I think that calling one’s self a sinner has effects that are unseen by the one that does that. I think it is simply yet undeveloped understanding. I recently sang a song that I wrote in a worship service for the particular group at our church that refer to themselves as sinners. It is called “Sinner’s Prayer,” and I had to explain the context of it and that I no longer refer to myself as a sinner and why (The song was about the time in my life that I turned to God; there are yet unsaved people constantly coming in among that group to see what the “Jesus stuff” is all about :slight_smile: ). God does not look at us and call us by our sin. He looks at us and sees His righteousness in Christ and calls us “children.” Such a beautiful truth and testimony to our transformation and new lives in Christ!

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