Devotion – July 16, 2015 – Counted to Us as Righteousness

romans4_3For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
– Romans 4:3-5

We are often tempted to think of our good deeds (or lack of evil deeds) as righteousness.  These good works deserve to be rewarded by God right?  However, we read something different in the Scriptures.  Using Abraham as an example, Paul points out that Abraham was not counted as righteous because of what he had done.  If so, his righteousness would be paid to him as a wage for his good works.  However, in Genesis 15:6 (what is quoted there in Romans) we are told that Abraham’s righteousness was “counted to him” as a gift.  Why?  Because he believed God.

This promise is not only for Abraham.  It is for you as well!

But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
-Romans 4:23-25

Sure we can and should do good works for each other, but before God, our righteousness is based solely on faith in Jesus.  In Philippians we read:

I consider them [good works] garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
-Philippians 3:8b-9

Dear Jesus,

Thank you that my righteousness before you is not based on my own feeble and often corrupted good works.  For if it was, I would not be considered righteous.  Thank you that, instead, you have given me a righteousness through faith, apart from works.  Help me to live out that faith by doing good things for others, not for my own righteousness or gain, but that others may glorify my father in heaven.

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