Christians cannot deny or ignore that the Bible teaches righteousness. We are to be holy. It is not an option. Well, I guess they can deny it, and they do, but they must ignore what the Bible says in order to do so.
(1 Peter 1:15-16 KJV) But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.This is not just an isolated, out of context proof-text. Peter is quoting from Leviticus. This is a recurring theme in scripture.
So now we come to one of those theological moments like the political moment we had when President Clinton said, “It depends what the meaning of ‘is,’ is.”
It all depends what you mean by “being righteous.” Here the theologians step in and start trying to rationalize away a clear teaching. Some say that this is “imputed righteousness” rather than “imparted righteousness.” What is the difference? And what difference does it make? It means both everything and nothing.
To impute means to declare something to be true or accurate. You attribute a quality. In an argument you might say, “Are you imputing that I am lying?” I realize you would not phrase it that way to modern, public school graduates, but years ago people would understand that word. You might not be lying but the charge stands. You are labeled a liar even if you are not. In this way some theologians, professional and pop, say that we are not really righteous, we are just called righteous. We are declared righteous but we all know it isn’t really true. There is something dishonest and tricky about that point of view to me. It is like we are saying God was just kidding.
Some say that it is impossible to actually be righteous. We are incapable of living without sin. In one sense that is true. We are not capable in our own power and discipline of living above sin. But these same people who claim we cannot live above sin believe that we can be forgiven of our sins? How does that happen? By grace and the power of God. We cannot earn our forgiveness, but we are forgiven. In the same way we cannot live above sin by our own power, it is through grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. Why is this such a big jump? Why does the sovereignty of God make it possible for us to be forgiven from sin but somehow it does He does not have the power to actually break the power of sin?
To be continued...
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