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Whose Obedience Makes You Righteous (Romans 5:19)?

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Obedience matters to salvation, but maybe not in the way you think.

Do you want to be righteous before God? Do you want Him to see you as good—as really good? Do you want God’s approval so you can be certain your heavenly Father does not just love you reluctantly but wholeheartedly?

How can you get that approval?

The bad news is that no matter what you do or how you live, all your actions will be a mixture of good and bad, tainted by conflicting motives, less-than-perfect intentions, and producing uncertain results. And even if you somehow managed to merit God’s approval now, there would be no guarantee that you could keep up your performance to keep on meriting it later.

So how can you ever be truly righteous before God?

Listen to Paul’s good news:

For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous (Rom 5:19, emphasis added).

How are you made righteous?

Is it through your lifelong effort to be holy, by limiting your sinning, and by maximizing doing good?


It turns out it’s not through your obedience at all!

Obedience does play a role, but it’s not yours. You’re made righteous through one man’s obedience, namely, Jesus.

The Lord Jesus kept the law perfectly for all those who failed to keep it. His perfect life qualified Him to die a substitutionary death, which then enabled Him to give believers a righteousness they never earned, apart from the law they failed to keep.

Through one man’s obedience—through Jesus’ obedience—God makes you righteous. All you need to do is believe, and you can stand in your Father’s presence without fear of condemnation because the Father is well-pleased with His Son.

Thought for the day: Righteousness depends on obedience—just not your own.


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