Righteousness by Faith

By E. White 

Do not allow your minds to be diverted from the all-important theme of the righteousness of Christ by the study of theories.

The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, is a precious thought. The enemy of God and man is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken.

What Is Righteousness?

  What is righteousness? . . .Righteousness means being good and doing good. Righteousness is obedience to the law. Righteousness is right doing, and it is by their deeds that all will be judged.

Righteousness is holiness, likeness to God, and "God is love." 1 John 4:16. It is conformity to the law of God, for "all Thy commandments are righteousness" (Psalm 119:172), and "love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13:10).

He who enters heaven must have a character that is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Naught that defileth can ever enter there. In all the redeemed host not one defect will be seen.

The Ground Rules of Salvation

  Repentance has in it nothing of the nature of merit, but it prepares the heart for the acceptance of Christ as the only Saviour, the only hope of the lost sinner.

God has made the first advance. While you were in rebellion against Him, He went forth to seek you. With the tender heart of the shepherd He left the ninety and nine and went out into the wilderness to find that which was lost. . . .

In the parable of the lost sheep, Christ teaches that salvation does not come through our seeking after God but through God’s seeking after us.

Coming to Christ does not require severe mental effort and agony; it is simply accepting the terms of salvation that God has made plain in His Word. The blessing is free to all.

Jesus said unto him [the rich young ruler], "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." Here are conditions, and the Bible is full of conditions.

From a sense o thorough conviction, you can. . . testify to men of the immutable character of the law manifested by the death of Christ on the cross, the malignant nature of sin, and the righteousness of God in justifying the believer in Jesus, on condition of his future obedience to the statutes of God’ government in heaven and earth.

No man can cover his soul with the garments of Christ’s righteousness while practicing known sins, or neglecting known duties. God requires the entire surrender of the heart, before justification can take place . . . .In order for man to be justified by faith, faith must reach a point where it will control the affections and impulses of the heart.

Salvation is a gift offered to you free; on no other condition can you obtain it, only as a free gift. But co-operation on your part is essential for your salvation.

 Saving Faith

  Faith is trusting in God—believing that He loves us, and knows what is for our best good. Thus, instead of our own way, it leads us to choose His way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His wisdom; in place of our weakness, His strength; in place of our sinfulness, His righteousness. Our lives, ourselves, are already His; faith acknowledges His ownership, and accepts its blessing.

Faith looks beyond the difficulties, and lays hold of the unseen, even Omnipotence: therefore it cannot be baffled. Faith is the clasping of the hand of Christ in every emergency.

Where there is not only a belief in God’s Word, but also a submission of the will to Him; where the heart is yielded to Him, the affections fixed upon Him, there is faith—faith that works by love and purifies the soul.

Justification by Faith

  What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.

As the penitent sinner, contrite before God, discerns Christ’s atonement in his behalf, and accepts this atonement as his only hope in this life and the future life, his sins are pardoned. This is justification by faith.

The grace of Christ is freely to justify the sinner without merit or claim on his part. Justification is a full, complete pardon of sin. The moment a sinner accepts Christ by faith, that moment he is pardoned. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him, and he is no more to doubt God’s forgiving grace.

It is not God’s will that you should be distrustful, and torture your soul with the fear that God will not accept you because you are sinful and unworthy.

But, you say if I could only know that He is my Saviour! Well, what kind of evidence do you want? Do you want a special feeling or emotion to prove that Christ is yours? Is this more reliable than pure faith in God’s promises? . . .

There is not a friend in the world of whom you would require one-half the assurance that our heavenly Father has given you in His promises.

Those who accept Christ, and in their first confidence say, I am saved, are in danger of trusting to themselves. They lose sight of their own weakness and their constant need of divine strength. They are unprepared for Satan’s devices, and under temptation many, like Peter, fall into the very depths of sin. We are admonished, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." 1 Corinthians 10:12. Our only safety is in constant distrust of self, and dependence on Christ.

In order that we may have the righteousness of Christ, we need daily to be transformed by the influence of the Spirit, to be a partaker of the divine nature. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to elevate the taste, to sanctify the heart, to ennoble the whole man.

In order for man to retain justification, there must be continual obedience, through active, living faith that works by love and purifies the soul.

It is by continual surrender of the will, by continual obedience, that the blessing of justification is retained.

 Sanctification by Faith

  Our only ground of hope is in the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and in that wrought by His Spirit working in and through us.

The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven.

Both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ.

When through repentance and faith we accept Christ as our Saviour, the Lord pardons our sins, and remits the penalty prescribed for the transgression of the law. The sinner then stands before God as a just person; he is taken into favor with Heaven, and through the Spirit has fellowship with the Father and the Son. Then there is yet another work to be accomplished, and this is of a progressive nature. The soul is to be sanctified through the truth. And this also is accomplished through faith. For it is only by the grace of Christ, which we receive through faith, that the character can be transformed.

Those who would be saints in heaven, must first be saints upon the earth; for when we leave this earth, we shall take our character with us, and this will be simply taking with us some of the elements of heaven imparted to us through the righteousness of Christ.

The newly converted soul often has fierce conflicts with established habits or with some special form of temptation, and, being overcome by some master passion or tendency, he is guilty of indiscretion or actual wrong. . . .We must expect to meet with great imperfections in those who are young and inexperienced.

We have a correct record of the religious experiences of marked characters in Bible history. Men whom God favored, and to whom He entrusted great responsibilities, were sometimes overcome by temptation and committed sins, even as we of the present day strive, waver, and frequently fall into error. But it is encouraging to our desponding hearts to know that through God’s grace they could gain fresh vigor to again rise above their evil natures; and, remembering this, we are ready to renew the conflict ourselves.

 Sanctification’s Goal: A Christ-like Character

True sanctification is nothing more or less than to love God with all the heart, to walk in His commandments and ordinances blameless. Sanctification is not an emotion, but a heaven-born principle that brings all the passions and desires under the control of the Spirit of God; and this work is done through our Lord and Saviour.

When self is merged in Christ, love springs forth spontaneously. The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from within.

When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness.

 Total Victory a Reality

  We can overcome. Yes; fully, entirely. Jesus died to make a way of escape for us, that we might overcome every evil temper, every sin, every temptation, and sit down at last with Him.

If you will stand under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel, faithfully doing His service, you need never yield to temptation; for One stands by your side who is able to keep you from falling.

The strongest temptation is no excuse for sin. However great the pressure brought to bear upon the soul, transgression is our own act. It is not in the power of earth or hell to compel anyone to sin. The will must consent, the heart must yield, or passion can not overbear reason, nor iniquity triumph over righteousness.

If we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses.

Not even by a thought did He yield to temptation. So it may be with us.

Those only who through faith in Christ obey all of God’s commandments will reach the condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived before his transgression. They testify to their love of Christ by obeying all His precepts.

In every phase of your character-building you are to please God. This you may do; for Enoch pleased Him, though living in a degenerate age. And there are Enoch’s in this our day.

When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.

 We Need Not See All Points Alike

  Many commit the error of trying to define minutely the fine points of distinction between justification and sanctification. Into the definitions of these two terms they often bring their own ideas and speculations. Why try to be more minute than is Inspiration on the vital question of righteousness by faith? Why try to work out every minute point, as if the salvation of the soul depended upon all having exactly your understanding of this matter? All cannot see in the same line of vision.

It is not essential for you to know and tell others all the whys and wherefores as to what constitutes the new heart, or as to the position they can and must reach so as never to sin. You have no such work to do. All are not constituted alike. Conversions are not all alike.

 A Perfect Heart Is More Essential Than a Perfect Theology

  There is to be no dread of anyone being borne down even in a widespread apostasy, who has a living experience in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. If Jesus be formed within, the hope of glory, the illiterate as well as the educated can bear the testimony of our faith, saying, "I know in whom I have believed." Some will not, in argument, be able to show wherein their adversary is wrong, having never had any advantages that others have had, yet these are not overborne by the apostasy because they have the evidence in their own heart that they have the truth, and the most subtle reasoning and assaults of Satan cannot move them from their knowledge of the truth and they have not a doubt or fear that they are themselves in error.

"I want," says one, "to reason out this matter." Well, reason it out if you can. "The wind bloweth where it listeth," and you hear the sound thereof, but you cannot explain it. And no more can you explain the things of God upon the human heart. You cannot explain this faith that lays right hold upon the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour to bring Christ’s righteousness into your life. Clothed with the righteousness of Christ and not your own righteousness, you will not depend upon what you can do or what you will do.

He saves us because He said He would. Are we going to go into all the explanations as to how He can save us? Do we have the goodness in ourselves that will make us better and cleanse us from the spots and stains of sin, enabling us then to come to God? We simply cannot do it.

Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ ascended into the heavens, Christ coming again, should so soften, gladden, and fill the mind of the minister that he will present these truths to the people in love and deep earnestness.

I love Him! I love Him! I see in Jesus matchless charms. I see in Him everything to be desired by the children of men. Let us come to the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world." Let us, through His merits and righteousness, obtain a fitting up for heaven.