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RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PERFECTION
Have you ever heard someone say that no one is righteous? Perhaps they quoted Rom 3:10-11….. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” As we have studied in a previous lesson, we learned that righteousness is a part of salvation, but do we really understand what it means to be righteous? How many times have you heard people say, “nobody’s perfect”? Theses statement may be true, but you must not jump to the conclusion that that we cannot be righteous or that God does not expect us to be perfect. Before you disagree with these ideas, let’s look at the lesson.
Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines righteousness as “Holy and upright living, in accordance with God's standard.” Nelson defines perfection as “Without flaw or error; a state of completion or fulfillment.”
We see various scriptures that mention righteousness. We see in fact that various people in the Bible were considered righteous. Read the following scriptures and name the people who were considered righteous.
1. Gen 6:9-10
2. Luke 2:25
3. Mark 6:19-20
4. Rom 4:13
5. James 2:25-26
All mankind is in need of righteousness and Jesus gives us righteousness and a freedom from sin. God gives us this gift by his grace, and we accept it by our faith.
1. Rom 3:22-24…... This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
a. We see in this scripture that we are indeed righteous since Paul tells us that we received our righteousness from God.
b. Explain Paul’s apparent contradiction between Romans 3:22-24 and Romans 3:10-11.
2. John 8:34-36…... Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
3. Rom 6:18…... You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness
We all can be righteous. We are not only called to be righteous, but we are to be slaves to righteousness. Not in the absolute sense, but in the sense that we meet God’s minimum standards. This righteousness does not exist until it is given to us by God. In the New Testament we are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ.
1. We are told in Rom 1:17 that the "The righteous will live by faith."
2. James 5:16 tells us that “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
3. Read I Jn 3:4-8
a. We are told not to believe anyone who tells us that we keep on sinning after we are saved.
b. The sinning mentioned in this scripture is not sinning in an absolute sense but sinning in the sense that we are out of control and still under the influence of Satin. Many people condone their own sin by believing that they are still under the power of sin after being saved and can never be righteous. To believe this is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit.
4. Rom 2:13…... For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.
We are all called to be perfect. To be as perfect as God himself is the standard to which we are called. How do we explain the following scriptures?
1. Matt 5:48
2. Heb 10:14
3. Col 1:28
4. Heb 12:23
5. Col 1:22
We see in the above scriptures that “righteousness” is God’s minimum standard, but his maximum standard is “perfection” just as the Father is perfect. God knows we cannot be perfect in the literal sense, but he must certainly maintain that standard.
All mankind is in need of righteousness. Only the unsaved are considered not righteous, and that is the context of Romans 3:10. The fact that we become saved from the power of sin means that we become righteous. God gives us righteousness by his grace through faith and salvation. We are called to be absolutely perfect, just as God is perfect. God, however, considers us perfect in a figurative sense that we have become righteous and meet his minimum standard. Think about it. How many times have you said “perfect!” (Meaning that the task is acceptable)? You did not mean that the task cannot be done better. What you did mean is that the task has been done in a satisfactory manner. Long story short: God’s standard is absolute perfection but being righteous is “just perfect” in God’s eyes.
1. Discuss some of your favorite people in the Bible who were righteous. Then mention how they sinned but came back to righteousness by asking for forgiveness.
2. In what sense was Noah “blameless”?
3. Many of the scriptures in this lesson speak of perfection in a relative way. Discuss how each scripture refers to perfection.
4. Not being perfect has an infinite context. Even a mass murderer could say. “Well, nobody’s perfect.” Explain how some people use the idea of not being perfect as an excuse to sin.
5. How would you explain righteousness and perfection to a person who does not understand the concepts?
6. We have often heard people accuse people of being self-righteous. Usually, this term is used incorrectly. What do you believe is the true meaning of being “self-righteous”?
7. Discuss how Rahab the prostitute was considered righteous. Doesn’t James 2:26 tell us the importance of good deeds?
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