Righteousness as Commonly Understood is in Error

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Considering that the LORD God is a God of order, wisdom, understanding and judgment, it would be strange if He chose to define righteousness, which is one of His central qualities, in such unreasonable, circular terms as we are given above. Rather, like the physical world He created, it would be easier to believe that righteousness is absolute and objectively testable. After all, if we are to be held to a standard, and that standard is of the LORD God, the Creator of all things, it would hold to reason that the standard by which we all are measured would be unchangeable, objective, and visible so that we may know where we are in relation to it.

Instead, what we are led to believe by the teaching, commonly accepted definitions, and examples given by those who claim to know is much like the following statement given by one gentleman in his attempt to explain that God is righteous, and that we can know He is righteous:

“We know that God is perfectly holy, and that whatsoever He does determines what is good; and that God Himself cannot sin.”

The error of this thinking lies in the fact that this is pure circular logic. What makes the statement above circular logic is the following phrase “whatsoever He does determines what is good” which is to say, without any other factor or qualification, if “God” does it, it must be right. While that is true when we address the LORD God, the I AM, that is likely not true for the “God” who we do not know, and are only guessing at his person, character, and nature. Without realizing it, the gentleman gave witness that if “God” determines something is good, then it is good, regardless of any other factor – even if it is iniquity. This is obviously not the kind of thinking the LORD God wants people to engage in, as He makes clear in His word that man is to both reason and prove what is and what is not true:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (I Thessalonians 5:21)

It ought to be clear that what John Piper and many others conceive as righteousness is not what the LORD God is testifying to in His word. On the strength of the two passages above, and the many others which speak of the LORD God as a God of equity, truth and judgment, we can categorically state that these gentlemen must be mistaken. There is no reasoning in circular logic, blind belief, believing without any evidence whatsoever, or “if God does it, it must be righteous.” Rather, those are the thoughts and ideas of the unreasoning and superstitious, and are more akin to witchcraft than the true faith granted by the LORD God to anyone who hears and considers His word. Many of those who claim Christ seem to forget that the LORD is well able to hold to a published standard of righteousness1 and incurs no harm when He sets forth a standard which His creatures are able to perceive and evaluate.

There are reasons why men don’t want to perceive this standard, but prefer to cling to the circular logic espoused in virtually all of Christendom and/or the “in accordance with Divine law” idea. One of these reasons is the belief in the heart that man has a hope and prayer of being righteous outside of Christ.2 In sum, the common ideas about righteousness promote works religion and self-justification. After all, multitudes claim that they are moral and ethical, and that they follow the Divine law or the Ten Commandments, which (as they claim) proves them “righteous.” However, when righteousness is perceived as an absolute, verifiable and testable standard, that which is commonly put forth as righteousness, which is entirely circular and subjective, fails in comparison. When we actually define righteousness accurately, it becomes crystal clear that we can never, of our own efforts, become righteous.

By way of understanding the weakness of righteousness as it is commonly taught and understood, we would do well to ask the following questions of ourselves and consider the answers:

  1. How do you know God is perfectly holy?
    1. After all, if you are going to make the statement, shouldn’t you have some concrete, solid basis upon which to make it? Mere assertion that “the Bible says so” is not going to work.
  2. What standard or test did you use to determine that?
    1. Using circular logic or self-justifying statements is not a standard. If it is, then mere opinions are elevated to facts, simply because we assert them.
  3. What differentiates “God” as you perceive him from Allah?
    1. If you cannot determine what the LORD God’s righteousness consists of, how can you determine where Allah’s righteousness is in any way different?
  4. How do you know God “cannot sin?”
    1. Sin is defined as “missing the mark.” If there is no objective, concrete, testable standard, how can you ever determine when you have “missed the mark?” Subjective, self-justifying standards, and opinion-based standards constantly change. Hence, where the mark or the boundary is, can and does change constantly. Hence, what may be “missing the mark” today, may be dead on-target tomorrow.
  5. Again, what test did you use to determine that “whatsoever God does is righteous?”
    1. Without some sort of objective standard, is there any way to find a conclusive, affirmative answer to any or all the previous questions?

It should be clear by this point that righteousness as it is commonly understood engenders more questions than answers, generates more angst than comfort, and generally leaves the individual at an uncomfortable loose end. It simply leaves us with an “I don’t know” for an answer.

The Scriptural Case Against Abortion – Table of Contents Appendix A: Righteousness – Table of Contents A Different Analysis
  1. It does seem to escape many that the LORD God is righteousness, just like it seems to escape them that He is love.
  2. How much of “Christendom” holds to the idea that grace itself is not sufficient, either for salvation or to maintain salvation? Even though the Scriptures repeatedly make it crystal clear that the grace of Christ alone is effective for salvation, completely without works, men still insist on adding to that grace their own works. Somewhere between 95% and 98% of all who claim Christ do so on the basis of something other than the grace of Christ alone.
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