Monday, October 17, 2022

Priority of Righteousness (Hosea 10)

"Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground" (Hos. 10:12).

Some criticize the doctrine of justification by faith alone saying its sole reliance on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness for justification leads to antinomianism. Such a criticism is simply untrue. Justification by faith alone means that we are declared righteous, not by any merit or righteousness within ourselves, but on the merit of Christ alone. The instrument used in obtaining that righteousness is faith, but faith has no merit in itself. All righteousness, all merit comes from Christ alone. When we say that righteousness is imputed to believers, we mean that it is given to our account. This is an objective, legal declaration and does not involve any change in our being—thus the charge of antinomianism.

Antinomianism says a person can be justified by God, but remain in a sinful, unchanged state, continuing to live in sin for the rest of his life. This is not the Reformation view of what happens in redemption. While justification is a specific part of our redemption—a legal part—it does not imply that God is not doing something in us to change us. This change is not in justification, but in regeneration. Regeneration involves a vital, spiritual change in the soul of a person, enabling that person to become actually righteous. Regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption all happen simultaneously, yet they are distinct. We distinguish between justification and regeneration, just as we distinguish justification and sanctification because we are not reconciled to God on any merit, within ourselves.

The error of the antinomians is that they do not consider the whole of redemption. They reject the biblical truth that when God changes a person’s heart, that person will grow in righteousness throughout his life. Those who have been justified will be sanctified because they have been regenerated. God expects His people to reflect holiness and to grow in righteousness—to do what is right in accordance with God’s ways. We must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Those who are not growing in righteousness cannot be counted among God’s people. God’s people will bear fruit, and that fruit is good, holy, and righteous.

In what ways can you sow righteousness in your life? Read 1 Corinthians 15:34. What must you do to become righteous? If you do not study God’s Word, how can you know what it means to be righteous? Commit to studying the Word every day with the intention of putting on righteousness.