1. Can we lose our righteousness through sinful actions?
A Christian once asked me this question – ” If we sin, are we still considered righteous?? How should we feel/ behave when we sin (if guilt is not really the right response)?” Underlying this question is the assumption that we can lose our righteousness through the action of sinning. Is this a correct assumption? Did we receive our righteousness through our right behaviour? If we did not receive our righteousness through right behaviour, how can we lose it through wrong behaviour (sinful action)?
2. Righteousness is given and not earned
Righteousness is given to you by God’s grace and not earned through your right action. Righteousness is a position given to you and not the result of an action done by you. Righteousness means you are right with God because of your faith in Jesus’ death on the cross. You have been saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). It has nothing to do with your right action. You are right with God because in God’s eyes, Jesus was your rightful payment for the sin debt you owed God. Jesus paid a debt He never owed because you owed a debt which you could never pay. He paid for your salvation and you got the benefits.
Take the example of a father who paid for his family’s hotel stay which includes buffet breakfast. Since the father has made payment to the hotel, his 7-year-old boy has the right to enter the hotel’s restaurant and feast at the buffet table. As he walks around to enjoy the food, he didn’t pay for it. His father paid for it and now he has the rightful position to be in the restaurant to partake of the food. He may be small, weak and appear undeserving to be in such a restaurant. Yet, no one can drive this little boy away from the restaurant. If he misses the mark (sin) by not eating all the food on offer or by making a mess of himself , he still has the right to be in the restaurant as his right was not due to him but due to the payment made by his father.
4. Righteousness is lost in our minds and not through our actions
Similarly, your Heavenly Father sent Jesus to pay your sinful debt. You are therefore made right with God and your sin can’t remove your rightful position before God because it has nothing to do with how good you are but how good Jesus’ sacrifice for you is. Righteousness is lost in our minds and not through our actions. When we can’t believe in our minds that Jesus’ death on the cross is effective for our righteousness, we deprive ourselves of the joy of salvation and give the devil the chance to condemn us.
5. Confess and move on
This is the conclusion – when we sin, we remain righteous. However, it is natural to feel that we have hurt God. What we then do is to approach His throne of grace and agree with Him(confess) that what we did was wrong and trust Him to forgive us as He has promised in His Word (1 John 1:9). We move on with our lives after our confession and not allow the devil to flood us with the condemnation of guilt. The battle for righteousness is fought in the mind. When you believe that you are righteous and that no sin can take that rightful position from you; you have won and the devil has lost.
6. Don’t partner the devil
Some Christians partner the devil by accepting his condemnation and doubting their salvation. If you choose to partner someone, I would urge you to partner the Holy Spirit instead. He is here to convince you of your righteousness (John 16:8) and not like the devil who is here to condemn you for your sinfulness. Don’t be sin conscious. Be righteous conscious as you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21)