The path of the righteous is faith. It is not walked by good intentions, self-will, or performance, but by steps of faith. The righteous become righteous because of faith. The righteous live by faith. And the righteous walk by faith.
To be righteous means to be in right-standing with God. The Bible teaches us that regardless of how good our intentions are or how perfectly we try to live from this day forward, we will never find right-standing with God outside of faith.
The Righteousness of Performance
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20 ESV
The scribes and Pharisees devoted their lives to living godly, to the greatest extremes imaginable. Jesus said that they trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others who were not living up to their standard (Luk. 18:9). He also declared that their efforts were not sufficient.
The righteousness of the Pharisees was based on performance which relied on their own abilities. They boasted in themselves, thinking that their carnal attempts at godliness would put them in right-standing with God.
The Righteousness of Faith
“But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law” Romans 3:21-28 NLT
“But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” Romans 4:5 NLT
The righteous are those who live by faith, and it is their steps that are ordered by the Lord (Psa. 37:23). Sometimes they know what steps to take beforehand and sometimes they don’t. Either way, the righteous find themselves in the center of God’s will.
They please God by faith. In return, He causes them to desire the things that He desires, gives them the ability to follow Him, and guides them along their way (Phi. 2:13; Isa. 30:21). They find themselves pursuing His plans for their lives because they allow Him to move their hearts and trust that it is indeed God doing so.
The Path to Undeserved Privilege
The deception of performances-based righteousness is that you are trusting yourself to guide your life. You’re following a path based on your own ability to understanding and perform. Anytime you think you are successful, you will find yourself full of pride and arrogance, without right-standing with God. Anytime you know you are failing, it will leave you frustrated, hurting, angry, and feeling hopeless. It’s an ever-narrowing path of impossibility.
If your life with God is based on your performance, you are not walking on the right path. If you begin on the path of faith and then try to continue on from there by performance, you will also suffer in vain (Gal. 3:3-4). Your steps will become futile and unfruitful as you wander away from the path of faith, pursuing your own carnal ideas of what is right.
When you are walking by faith in Christ’s work in your place and in expectation that God is guiding your life, you will find that your steps are being ordered by God. The pieces of the path of your life today will soon begin to fit perfectly into a much larger map that you were unaware of. Walking the path of faith proves God to be your God in reality instead of in theory.
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:1-2 NLT
Jeremy Caris is the founder and president of Caris Ministries. Since he is called as a prophet and gifted as a teacher, much of his focus involves equipping believers to hear, know, and follow God in their own daily experience. He teaches the foundational truth of the Word with simple clarity, while revealing deep things of the spirit in practical ways. He has the unique ability to demystify the supernatural side of real relationship with a living God and make it an embraceable and accessible reality for all believers. Jeremy has been married to his best friend, Mandy Caris, for twenty years, and is the proud father of two boys.