What Is a Righteous Person and What Is the Standard of Righteous People in God’s Eyes?
The Lord Jesus said, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43). These words tell us that only righteous people can enter God’s kingdom, and enjoy the blessings of the heavenly kingdom. So what kind of people are righteous? Most Christians reckon that as long as we accept the Lord Jesus’ salvation, persistently attend meetings, often pray and read the Bible, show others tolerance, patience and love, can suffer, work, trek and expend, we will then be righteous people in God’s eyes and be people after God’s heart. Is this view right? Does it accord with the Lord’s will? It’s necessary to fellowship about this topic, because only if we correctly understand the standard for being righteous people can we seek in accordance with God’s requirements and enter the kingdom of heaven in the end. Let’s fellowship about this issue.
We should first figure out what basis we have for believing that as long as we follow the Lord, accept the salvation of the cross, labor and sacrifice for the Lord, then we’ll be righteous people in God’s eyes. Did the Lord Jesus say this? Did the Holy Spirit testify to this? If the answers are both no, then does it please God’s heart if we pursue this way? Let’s look at what the Lord Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22–23). We can see from these words that for many of those who prophesy and cast out devils in the name of the Lord, labor for Him and have good behaviors, not only does the Lord not praise them, but instead brands them as evil-doers. Why is this so? Recalling 2,000 years ago, though the Pharisees traveled over sea and land spreading the gospel, worked hard for God, and appeared to do some good deeds, they didn’t know God while believing in Him and didn’t have a place for Him in their hearts at all. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus came to work, they didn’t seek or investigate in the slightest, but instead frantically condemned God’s work according to their notions and imaginings and obstructed believers from examining the true way. In the end, they even colluded with the Roman government to crucify the Lord Jesus to protect their positions and livelihoods, committing the most heinous of sins and thereby receiving God’s punishment and curse. From this, we can see that God’s measure of whether people are righteous or evil is not based on their outward dedication or good external behaviors. Let’s look at ourselves. When our life is going smoothly, we are grateful to God, but once we meet with adversities or difficulties, we are full of misunderstandings and complaints; we work and preach not simply to exalt God, testify to Him, or bring the brothers and sisters before Him, but to honor ourselves, make others exalt us by speaking letters and doctrines, competing with God for status; and so on. How can we receive God’s approval by simply making sacrifices and dedicating ourselves to Him in this way? Can such behaviors be considered to be righteous deeds?
In God’s eyes, what exactly are righteous people like? God’s words say, “‘Righteousness’ does not mean giving alms, it does not mean loving your neighbor as yourself, and it does not mean not fighting, arguing, robbing, or stealing. Righteousness means taking God’s commission as your duty and obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements as a heaven-sent vocation, regardless of the time or place, just like all that was done by the Lord Jesus. This is the very righteousness spoken of by God.” We understand from these words that God determines whether people are righteous or evil not based on how many superficial good deeds they have, but on whether they put God’s commission first and whether they can truly obey God, fear God and shun evil. Only if people have God’s heart as their own heart in everything, abandon their own interests when meeting with all manner of trials and refinements, and don’t misunderstand or complain about God, but follow God’s will, sincerely submit to Him and love Him, can they be compatible with God, be called righteous and praised by God. Take Noah for example. When God commanded him to build an ark, he absolutely believed in and obeyed God’s words, and acted according to God’s instructions and requirements. It took 120 years for him to build the ark, and during that period, though the people of the world mocked and slandered him, he still upheld God’s commission. When Noah finished building the ark, God began to destroy the world, and in the end only Noah’s family of eight received God’s protection and survived. God saw Noah’s pure obedience and so called him a righteous person. There was also Job. When all his possessions were taken away in an instant, he obeyed first and sought God’s will, and through that he realized that everything he had was bestowed by God, not obtained through his own labor. Whatever is conferred or taken away by God, a created being should not have any demands of God or complain against Him, which is the sense man should have. This is why Job said, “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). When he was covered with sores, he chose to rather curse the day of his own birth than complain and betray God, thereby bearing resounding witness for God. Because Job feared God and shunned evil, he was called a perfect man by God.
We are able to sufficiently understand from the above facts that though we do good deeds, we can still sin and resist God, which proves that we are still not truly righteous people. So, how can we become truly righteous people? As we all know, the Lord Jesus once promised, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). And another passage in the Bible says, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation” (Hebrews 9:28). From these prophecies, it can be seen that when the Lord returns, He will speak and express all truths to purify and change people, and allow us find the path to break away from sin. Only then can we get the chance to enter God’s kingdom.
Let’s take a look at two passages of God’s words, “The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within the corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation.” “When people cast off the filthy, corrupt things of Satan, they gain God’s salvation. But if they still do not divest themselves of filth and corruption, then they are still living under the domain of Satan. People’s conniving, deceitfulness, and crookedness are all things of Satan. Saving you is allowing you to escape from these things. God’s work cannot be wrong; it is all in order to save people from darkness. When you have believed to a certain point and can divest yourself of the corruption of the flesh, and are no longer enshackled by this corruption, will you not have been saved? When you live under Satan’s domain you are incapable of manifesting God, you are something filthy, and cannot receive God’s inheritance. Once you have been cleansed and made perfect, you will be holy, you will be a proper person, and you will be blessed by God and delightful to God.”
God’s words make it very clear that the Lord Jesus did the work of redemption to absolve mankind of sin, making us righteous through faith and saved through faith, but our internal sinful natures remain unresolved. As a result, we still often involuntarily commit many sins and resist God. For example, we frequently express satanic dispositions such as arrogance, cunning, deceit, selfishness, despicability, etc.; we often lie and engage in deception in pursuit of reputation and status; when confronted with natural and manmade disasters, or trials and tribulations, we misunderstand and complain about God, and even betray Him; though we may nominally believe in God, we still worship and follow people; we are unable to get along with others in a normal fashion, we fight openly and maneuver covertly and have jealous disputes with other co-workers, and so on. So, in the last days, according to our needs and based on the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, God does a higher and more thorough stage of work, which is the work of cleansing mankind through words. God uses the expression of the word to carry out the work of judgment and chastisement, and we should pursue and practice the truth in accordance with God’s words. When God’s words have become our life, we will no longer be controlled by satanic corrupt dispositions or bound and constrained by satanic nature. At that time, we will have achieved changes to our life disposition and become compatible with God, and then we will no longer resist or betray God but will truly worship and obey God, and be people who conform to God’s will. When we will no longer sin or resist God and have achieved purification, we will then be qualified to see God’s face and share in the good blessings of God. Therefore, accepting God’s work of judging and cleansing in the last days is the only path for us to become righteous people and gain complete salvation.
Brothers and sisters, through the above fellowshiping, we have some new understanding of what it is to be a truly righteous person. If we want to become a righteous person praised by God, it is crucial to accept God’s work of judgment in the last days. Only by accepting God’s work of judgment and attaining cleansing and salvation, can we become truly righteous people and enter God’s kingdom.