1. WHY WE ALL NEED RIGHTEOUSNESS
a. What is righteousness and to whom will it be freely given? Matthew 5:6.
“Righteousness is holiness, likeness to God, and ‘God is love.’ 1 John 4:16. It is conformity to the law of God, for ‘all Thy commandments are righteousness’ (Psalm 119:172), and ‘love is the fulfilling of the law’ (Romans 13:10). Righteousness is love, and love is the light and the life of God. The righteousness of God is embodied in Christ. We receive righteousness by receiving Him.
“Not by painful struggles or wearisome toil, not by gift or sacrifice, is righteousness obtained; but it is freely given to every soul who hungers and thirsts to receive it.”—Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 18.
b. Where are we to look in order to find righteousness? Isaiah 45:22–25.
“In looking to ourselves for righteousness, by which to find acceptance with God, we look to the wrong place, ‘for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). We are to look to Jesus; for ‘we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18). You are to find your completeness by beholding the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”—Faith and Works, p. 108.
2. CHRIST TO BE OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
a. How can we make the righteousness of Christ our own? Romans 3:24–26.
“The grace of Christ is freely to justify the sinner without merit or claim on his part. Justification is a full, complete pardon of sin. The moment a sinner accepts Christ by faith, that moment he is pardoned. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him.”—SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1071.
“Christ looks at the spirit, and when He sees us carrying our burden with faith, His perfect holiness atones for our shortcomings. When we do our best, He becomes our righteousness.”—Faith and Works, p. 102.
b. Why is grace so important in accepting the righteousness of Christ? Why are works not the emphasis in justification? Romans 4:3–5.
“Without the grace of Christ, the sinner is in a hopeless condition; nothing can be done for him; but through divine grace, supernatural power is imparted to the man and works in mind and heart and character. It is through the impartation of the grace of Christ that sin is discerned in its hateful nature and finally driven from the soul temple. It is through grace that we are brought into fellowship with Christ, to be associated with Him in the work of salvation. Faith is the condition upon which God has seen fit to promise pardon to sinners; not that there is any virtue in faith whereby salvation is merited, but because faith can lay hold of the merits of Christ, the remedy provided for sin. Faith can present Christ’s perfect obedience instead of the sinner’s transgression and defection. When the sinner believes that Christ is his personal Saviour, then according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin and justifies him freely. The repentant soul realizes that his justification comes because Christ, as his Substitute and Surety, has died for him, is his atonement and righteousness.”—Ibid., pp.100, 101.
“The best efforts that man in his own strength can make are valueless to meet the holy and just law that he has transgressed; but through faith in Christ he may claim the righteousness of the Son of God as all-sufficient. . . .Genuine faith appropriates the righteousness of Christ, and the sinner is made an overcomer with Christ; for he is made a partaker of the divine nature, and thus divinity and humanity are combined.”—Ibid., pp.93, 94.
3. RIGHTEOUSNESS TO BE SEEN IN THE FAMILY
a. What is necessary before we can be a blessing in our homes? John 1:12.
“In the home those who have received Christ are to show what grace has done for them. ‘As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.’ A conscious authority pervades the true believer in Christ, that makes its influence felt throughout the home. This is favorable for the perfection of the characters of all in the home.”—The Adventist Home, p. 36.
b. What attitude should we have to those around us at home? Colossians 3:12,13.
“From every Christian home a holy light should shine forth. Love should be revealed in action. It should flow out in all home intercourse, showing itself in thoughtful kindness, in gentle, unselfish courtesy.”—Ibid., p.37.
“Mutual kindness and forbearance will make home a Paradise and attract holy angels into the family circle.”—Ibid., p.422.
“Cultivate sympathy for others. Let cheerfulness, kindness, and love pervade the home. This will increase a love for religious exercises, and duties large and small will be performed with a light heart.”—Ibid., p.433.
c. What is the aim for each of us as a member of the family? Matthew 5:14–16.
“The first work of Christians is to be united in the family. Then the work is to extend to their neighbors nigh and afar off. Those who have received light are to let the light shine forth in clear rays. Their words, fragrant with the love of Christ, are to be a savor of life unto life.
“The more closely the members of a family are united in their work in the home, the more uplifting and helpful will be the influence that father and mother and sons and daughters will exert outside the home.”—Ibid., p.37.
4. BEING CHRISTLIKE AT CHURCH
a. What attitude should we have toward others? Philippians 2:3. How does this attitude also affect our reliance upon Christ?
“It is not because we are righteous, but because we are dependent, faulty, erring, and helpless ourselves, that we must rely upon Christ’s righteousness, and not upon our own.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 23.
b. What special regard should we have for one another in the faith? Romans 12:10.
“As the members of a true family care for one another, ministering to the sick, supporting the weak, teaching the ignorant, training the inexperienced, so is ‘the household of faith’ to care for its needy and helpless ones. Upon no consideration are these to be passed by.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 201.
“We must obtain that measure of the grace of Christ that will enable us to dwell together in love and unity in this life, else we can never dwell together in the life to come.”—This Day with God, p. 372.
“The closer we come to Christ, the nearer we shall be to one another. God is glorified as His people unite in harmonious action.”—The Adventist Home, p. 179.
c. What is evidence of the fact that we as church members have accepted Christ and are being sanctified? Ezekiel 20:12. What happens when we fail to make the righteousness of Christ our own?
“No other institution which was committed to the Jews tended so fully to distinguish them from surrounding nations as did the Sabbath. God designed that its observance should designate them as His worshipers. It was to be a token of their separation from idolatry, and their connection with the true God. But in order to keep the Sabbath holy, men must themselves be holy. Through faith they must become partakers of the righteousness of Christ. . . .
“As the Jews departed from God, and failed to make the righteousness of Christ their own by faith, the Sabbath lost its significance to them.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 283.
5. BEING A TRUE MISSIONARY TO THE WORLD
a. How can we truly reflect Christ and His righteousness to those around us? John 15:4, 5.
“By our words and deeds we may reveal the power of the truth to transform the character. We may each reveal that we depend on Christ’s righteousness, not upon our own manufactured righteousness. We may abide in Christ as the branch abides in the vine, having such a living connection with Him that it is a pleasure to work as He worked, to be a help and blessing to our brethren. We can work the works of Christ, doing those things that are pleasing in His sight.”—Ellen White 1888 Materials, pp. 137, 138.
b. Which attribute of God should we seek to emulate in our dealings with others? Psalm 119:88; 69:16.
“We should be self-forgetful, ever looking out for opportunities, even in little things, to show gratitude for the favors we have received of others, and watching for opportunities to cheer others and lighten and relieve their sorrows and burdens by acts of tender kindness and little deeds of love. These thoughtful courtesies that, commencing in our families, extend outside the family circle help make up the sum of life’s happiness; and the neglect of these little things makes up the sum of life’s bitterness and sorrow. . . .
“It is impossible to be in union with Christ and yet be unkind to others and forgetful of their rights.”—The Adventist Home, p. 428.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Where are we to look for our acceptance with God?
2. How does Jesus pardon the sinner? How complete is this pardon?
3. Where are we to begin our work as Christians, and what does this involve?
4. If we fail to live in love and unity with our brethren here, what hope do we have for our future life? How should we treat one another?
5. How can we show the love of God toward others? If we are unkind to others, what does this reveal?