“Pastor, I know a man who does good things for people yet he’s not born again. Do you think his good works will take him to heaven?”
One of the criterias for seeing the kingdom of heaven is righteousness; and contrary to what many people have believed, righteousness is not something we get because of our good works. No, not at all.
Dr Isaiah Wealth defined righteousness as the nature of justification that makes it right for a man to speak with God and speak from God as though God were speaking, and yet get the necessary compliance and obedience from creation.
We see a lucid example of righteousness in Adam before the fall. While he had the nature, he could do anything as God. When he named the animals, God didn’t have any objections. When he named the woman, God didn’t have any reason to change it. Whatever name Adam called them became their name. Adam didn’t suffer any form of resistance from God’s creation, they responded to him as though God was speaking to them.
When he sinned against God, he lost the nature of righteousness. He could no longer speak to God without a sense of guilt. When God came to fellowship with Him in the Garden of Eden, he hid himself. From that time till Moses, man tried to meet God’s standard of righteousness by works. And according to scriptures, this was impossible. God actually partnered with them by giving them over six hundred laws. Yet, scripture tells us that each time they violated one of those laws, they automatically violated all the others. Just a little lie you told was considered a great sin before God. And for that, you’d need to go through cleansing before you could approach God again.
The idea of righteousness is to grant us unhindered access to God, sin or not. Back then, you couldn’t enter God’s presence without cleansing, but with the nature of righteousness, you can enter God’s presence even before you seek forgiveness. If you notice the pattern of prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, forgiveness of sin wasn’t a priority on the list. Please note that I’m not saying that forgiveness of sin isn’t important, but rather sin does not hinder us from God’s presence. However, just because it doesn’t hinder us from God’s presence doesn’t mean it can’t hinder us from receiving the benefits from God’s presence.
The reason why knowing this is important is because some people run away from God when they sin, just as Adam hid himself from God. That’s a wrong approach, you don’t have to hide yourself from God, you can repent before Him.
So the nature of righteousness is what is given to a believer at salvation, not because of anything he has done right, but because he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. If you have willfully accepted Jesus as Lord for the price He paid on the cross for your sins, then you are righteous. Lets see how scriptures put it:
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Did you see that? The condition for acquiring the nature of righteousness is to believe God, or in our case, believe in the sacrifice of Christ. Righteousness is not a deed; it has nothing to do with what you did, rather it is a nature. Just like a man cannot be more man or less man. If he is a man, he is a man. Likewise, you cannot be more righteous or less righteous. If you believe Christ, you are righteous!
Let me quickly remark that righteousness is not holiness. While righteousness is imparted into a believer’s spirit at the point of salvation, holiness is the effect of that nature. Let’s see how scripture paints it:
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
You cannot be holy if you are not righteous, and that’s because holiness is the good we do from our righteous nature. That is why good works can never make a man holy no matter how much of it he does. The works may be good, but without the nature of righteousness, it is not God. Or rather, God won’t take glory in it. And God despises anything that doesn’t give Him glory.
As far as humanity is concerned, the glory that God receives must be channeled through Christ. And that’s because Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. A good man that doesn’t recognize the place of Jesus cannot give glory to God, even if he shouts “Glory to God” publicly. As a matter of fact, it’s mockery unto God for an unrighteous man to give glory to Him, he doesn’t have what it takes to do so. This is why you should be careful with people who call God’s name publicly yet don’t know Jesus.
As I conclude, I’m sure you’d like to know if a righteous man can go to hell. Certainly! If he sins and doesn’t repent of that sin, he won’t miss hell if he dies. As far as a righteous man is concerned, there’s no sin that God cannot forgive, but there’s also no sin that God will forgive without repentance. So if you’re reading this and you know you’ve sinned against God, quickly approach Him and repent of them. Stop trying to use your good works to erase sin, the only thing that can erase sin is the blood of Jesus.
I hope this has brought enlightenment to someone.
Remain ever blessed, in Jesus precious name!