The Deception of Righteousness – 1 John 2:26-29

“I’m basically a good person.”

Number 1 answer given for the question, “Why do you think you should be allowed in heaven?”  The belief that doing good things is enough for salvation is probably one of Satan’s biggest attempts to keep us from Christ.  Strange, isn’t it?  Satan doesn’t want you to be bad…he wants you to be good, so long as that is what you rely on for salvation.  Then he has you.

In reading part of today’s section, it could almost be argued that doing good indicates you have been saved and have gotten your proverbial ticket punched.  Take a look at it:

If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

Sounds to me like he’s saying that those who practice righteousness are born of God.  Cool.  That’s easy enough, right?  Not so fast.  Remember that John has said that he is “writing these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.” [v.26] There are plenty of people (including entire religions and denominations) that will tell you that being good is enough.  But looking at the entire context, we understand that when the Holy Spirit indwells us, we need not listen to the musings of various theologies and philosophies because He, Himself, will reveal Truth to us, which is why John emphasizes the need to abide in Him; stay close; stay in the Word of Truth.

Let’s briefly look, though, at this idea of “righteousness” talked about in John 2.  What does he really mean by connecting righteousness with being born of Jesus?

First, it seems that verse 29 must be talking about those who practice righteousness IN HIS NAME.  It can’t be that just by doing good deeds one is considered justified.  Of course, secondly, it’s also important to identify what is intended by the use of the word “RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  I think of 2 Corinthians 5:21 that says since Christ became sin on our behalf, we became that righteousness of God.  In other words, since we became the righteousness of God, the righteousness that we act out on is not our own, but Christ living and moving through us.  So there is something tied very closely into placing total faith in Christ which results in righteousness (and salvation!), not based on our own merit, to this passage.

Today, it is my desire to live a righteous life.  But I must understand the source from which the righteousness is derived and if I am having to work to manufacture “good works” rather than it over-flowing naturally from what Christ is doing within me, then it’s time I do a heart-check because “righteousness” can be very deceptive.