Friday, May 19, 2023

The Fruit of Righteousness (Proverbs 11:30; 13:6; 21:21)

"He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor" (Prov. 21:21).

“A person is saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” The Reformers coined this phrase to counter those who accused them of inventing a system of salvation that allows Christians to continue living profane and sinful lives. The Reformers understood a distinction that was lost to many of their contemporaries. While God declares sinners righteous because they are covered by the righteousness of Christ, He does not leave them in a state of sin. He changes their hearts and enables them to become actually righteous.

The righteous receive a foreign righteousness that is from above for the salvation of their souls, but they are also changed and enabled by the Spirit of Christ to become righteous. They are redeemed and saved on account of the righteousness of Christ that only comes through faith—a gift of God. But they are not left unchanged. A new day dawns in their souls, and the light that has come into their hearts grows with each passing day. As God dwells within our hearts, we grow in righteousness. We do not trust in this righteousness for our salvation, but we will not be saved without it. Those whom God saves and declares righteous will bear fruit for the kingdom of God. By His grace they will walk in the way of holiness and battle the remaining sin that hinders them. “The true evidence of divine grace on the heart is the practical influence upon the temper and conduct (Titus 3:8),” Bridges wrote. “Our Master’s example is our pattern. And he is a self-deceiving professor who does not labor intensely to follow after it.

“But this following after is not the toiling at a daily task; not a compulsory law, chaining the conscience against the inclinations of the will. It is delight, freedom, and enlargement; the rising flow of the heart with fearless love,” said Bridges. Those who persevere in this righteousness (and those declared righteous by Cod will persevere), will receive honor and glory not only in this life but in the life to come. “He that follows finds life—that which is the life of life—the treasure of the best happiness; fellowship with God; the sunshine of His face; the enjoyment of His love.… For ‘if any man serve Me’—saith our divine Master—‘him will My Father honor.’ ”

Do you think that because you’re saved by grace it doesn’t matter how you live? Read Matthew 7:15–29, then James 2:14–26. What do these passages say about the necessity of good works? Today, consider all the areas of your life, in your heart and actions, that are sinful. Repent of your sins and confess them to God.