by David J. Stewart | October 2006 | Updated June 2016
“But seek ye
first the kingdom of God, and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS;
and all these things shall be added unto you.” —Matthew 6:33
Please notice carefully that Matthew 6:33 does NOT say, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and OUR righteousness...” Rather, the Bible says ... seek HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. We are to seek Jesus' righteousness. 2nd Corinthians 5:21 states, “For He (God the Father) hath made Him (God the Son) to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Amen!
This speaks of God's IMPUTED righteousness (i.e., our sins are placed upon Christ's record, and His righteousness is placed upon our record at the moment of salvation). I love the word “IMPUTATION.” Romans 4:5-6, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” The Greek word for “COUNTED” is the exact same word for “IMPUTED.” It means “to take an inventory”; that is, our sins are listed on one side of the inventory, and Christ's righteousness is listed on the other side. God the Father transferred mankind's sins upon Christ on Calvary's cross to pay for them. The moment that we believe the Gospel, God transfers Christ's righteousness to us. What a great deal!
You see my friend, we have no righteousness of our own to offer God. Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and ALL OUR RIGHTEOUSNESSES ARE AS FILTHY RAGS; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” No amount of good works on your part can undo, or make up for, the sins you've committed throughout your life. Even one sin can send a person to Hell forever (James 2:10). That's why we all need HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, i.e., the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” That is beautiful. We are saved solely through faith in Jesus Christ, believing that He died on the cross for our sins and was raised up bodily the third day (i.e., the Gospel). We are saved by GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS through faith in Christ, and not by any self-righteousness or goodness of our own.
We are JUSTIFIED in the eyes of God by faith, just-if-I'd never sinned. The precious literal blood of Jesus (sprinkled on the heavenly Mercy Seat) takes our sins away forever (1st Peter 1:18,19; Hebrews 9:12,24). This is true righteousness, and it is found ONLY in Christ Jesus! We are commanded to seek HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS if we want to enter into the Kingdom of God. “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and RIGHTEOUSNESS, and sanctification, and redemption” (1st Corinthians 1:30). The Lord Jesus Christ is our righteousness through faith in Him!!!
Here are the doctrinally sound words of the mighty preacher, Harry Ironside (1876-1951) . . .
“The Gospel is not a call to repentance, or to amendment of our ways, to make restitution for past sins, or to promise to do better in the future. These things are proper in their place, but they do not constitute the Gospel; for the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, it is good news to be believed. Do not make the mistake then of thinking that the Gospel is a call to duty or a call to reformation, a call to better your condition, to behave yourself in a more perfect way than you have been doing in the past …
Nor is the Gospel a demand that you give up the world, that you give up your sins, that you break off bad habits, and try to cultivate good ones. You may do all these things, and yet never believe the Gospel and consequently never be saved at all.”
SOURCE: Pastor Harry A. Ironside, from the sermon: What Is The Gospel?
So many people today are seeking to establish their OWN righteousness. There is a popular heresy in many churches today, called “Lordship Salvation,” which says believing the Gospel is not enough to be saved; but also, a person must change their ways, commit to follow Jesus, forsake the sinful world and surrender control of one's life to Jesus as “Lord.” This is a form of salvation by works. Instead of repentance being a simple “change of mind” as the Bible teaches, proponents of the heresy of Lordship Salvation redefine repentance to mean “a change of behavior and lifestyle.” It is a false plan of salvation, which places the burden of sin upon the sinner; but Christ bore the full weight of our sins upon the cross of Calvary. The Bible tells us to simply BELIEVE THE GOSPEL (Romans 1:16; 1st Corinthians 1:21).
Lordship Salvationists require people to forsake their sinful lifestyle to be saved. Jesus never asked us to give up anything to be saved, He simply told us to BELIEVE the Gospel! Jesus proclaimed in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Salvation is a “FREE GIFT” as Romans 5:15 and 5:18 teaches, paid for by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. “Repentance” in the Bible simply means “a change of mind.” It is a change of mind unto the Gospel itself. Just as a newborn physical baby must grow before being able to crawl, walk and run, so also must a new baby believer grow in the milk of the Word of God before they can be expected to run a spiritual marathon (1st Peter 2:2). Many Bible students confuse DISCIPLESHIP with SALVATION. A changed life is the result, or fruit, of genuine repentance, and not repentance itself. We don't go to Heaven because of what we are doing, but because of where we are looking... Look to Jesus!
Pentecostals and Charismatics
Those in the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement are seeking their own righteousness. They require people to maintain salvation through their OWN righteousness, or risk losing salvation. In sharp contrast, the Word of God declares that we can KNOW for certain that we are saved in 1st John 5:13. If my salvation depends upon my holy living and continuing in the faith (as the doctrinally corrupt Salvation Army teaches), then I can NEVER truly rest assure that I “KNOW” I'm saved. The truth is that Christians CAN KNOW 100%, beyond any shadow of a doubt that we are saved, because SALVATION IS BASED UPON THE PROMISE OF GOD, and not our earthly performance. Titus 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”
The Salvation Army also teaches the heresy that salvation is conditional upon continued obedient faith. May I say, salvation is not a state; but rather, a NEW BIRTH by the Holy Spirit of God through faith in the Gospel. Once you've been born spiritually into God's Kingdom, you can never lose your salvation. The new birth is irreversible. To teach that a person must continue in obedient faith to remain saved is a form of works salvation, and not God's plan of salvation. We are saved by God's imputed righteousness. This has absolutely nothing to do with our continued good behavior. If saved, always saved. If someone says they used to be a Christian, what they mean is that they once ascribed to the philosophies of Christianity, but they were never truly born-again at all.
Deuteronomy 33:27 reads, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms...” The spiritual birth (i.e., being born again) is as irreversible as the physical birth. Salvation is a free gift from God (Romans 6:23). Only a self-righteous heretic would dare say that God's salvation depends upon our own self-righteousness. Any person who claims to have been a Christian at one time; but no longer, is a LIAR. If you're not saved now, you never were!
Roman and Russian Orthodox Catholics
We read in Romans 10:3,4 ... “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” What a powerful passage of Scripture! This precisely describes the Catholic religion. Catholics openly admit that many of their doctrines aren't even found in the Bible, such as the "Assumption of Mary" (i.e., her bodily ascension into Heaven).
Another such false doctrine is the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. How ridiculous! We read in Luke 2:42,43 that Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem when He was 12 years old. Do you mean to tell me that Joseph and Mary were still living together 12 YEARS AFTER JESUS' BIRTH, but had never been intimate as husband and wife? If you believe that, you're messed up. There's not one Scripture even in the Catholic Bible that teaches the "Immaculate Conception" of Mary (i.e., that she was born without a sinful nature, and was immediately saved at birth).
Romans 3:23 is very clear ... “For ALL have sinned...” The only Person who never sinned was Jesus Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15). Here's a list of Catholicism's MANMADE doctrines over the centuries. Instead of seeking HIS righteousness, Roman and Orthodox Catholics have sought their OWN righteousness, “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness...” (Romans 10:3).
Seventh-Day Adventists are extremely deceitful, and are a false religion. They have not sought HIS righteousness. SDA's believe they CANNOT be saved by faith in Christ alone. Instead, SDA's teach that Jesus, through a process they term “investigative Judgment” decides who is “worthy” or not to enter into Heaven. The Bible already answers that question in Revelation 5:4, “And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book...” NO ONE is worthy, except Jesus (Revelation 5:9). We are all worthy of death (Romans 6:23). Therefore, SDA's are trusting in their own self-righteous efforts to maintain their salvation—hoping to merit salvation in the end. Don't be deceived by this cunning pack of wolves, they are infested with many Hidden Heresies. I have read much SDA literature, much of which pretends to align itself with the Biblical Gospel, but it is a falsehood (which is clearly evidenced by the writings of Ellen G. White, specifically, her book titled “Steps To Christ”).
The idea of requiring a person to go through some type of sorrow, regret and forsaking of their sins to be saved is of the Devil. We are saved by BELIEVING THE GOSPEL. 1st Corinthians 1:21, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Galatians 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Many errant preachers these days are caught between grace and works (Romans 11:6). Salvation is solely by faith!
Other False Religions
There are literally hundreds-of-thousands of false religions in this world. I was recently reading something about Japan, which said that there are an estimated 173,000 cults in Japan alone. Less than 1 in 200 people claim to be a Christian in Japan, and 65% are professed atheists. False religion is everywhere, and to no surprise, for Satan is the god of this sinful fallen world (2nd Corinthians 4:4).
Judaism is a deadly religion, which is being crept into the churches in an attempt to replace Christianity. Beware of those in the Hebrew Roots movement who teach that the name of Jesus didn't exist until 500 years ago. Instead they claim that Yeshua is correct. This is wrong. Judaizers are attempting to replace Christianity with Judaism in the churches. Of course, Judaism vehemently rejects Jesus as the Messiah, horribly blaspheming Jesus in their unholy book, the Talmud. I love Jews, but they have been blinded.
Lutheranism seeks their OWN righteousness in Baptismal Regeneration. Martin Luther openly taught damnable heresies. No "Lutheran" can deny the teachings of Martin Luther while they associate themselves with his foul name. The Jehovah's Witnesses are of the Devil, seeking their OWN righteousness. JW's foolishly teach that Jesus was only Michael the archangel incarnate. The Mormons are of the Devil, seeking their OWN righteousness, teaching that Jesus is not God. The United Church of Christ is straight from Hell, with their homosexual priests, pro-abortion marches, and their homogenized God. You can basically believe whatever you want in their religion.
Thus, the UCOC attracts hordes of unsaved people who are just looking for a social club to hang out. They're about as “Christian” as the secular YMCA. 95% of everything that's labeled as “Christian” today is as heathen as can be. If you want to find a good church, look for an Independent Baptist Church, or an Independent Bible Church. Even some of those have a lot to be desired of them, but that's where I'd search. Baptists are NOT Protestants, and come closest to upholding the truth of God's Word and Christian living. I'd avoid ALL televangelists.
The Good Person
There are no good people, spiritually speaking. We are all less than perfect (Romans 3:23). There are good sinners, and there are bad sinners; but we are all sinners nonetheless. No amount of goodness can get a person into Heaven, sorry.
Perhaps more than any other group of people who will be cast into Hell, will be those deceived religious people who errantly and foolishly think that their good works will save them on Judgment Day. As I just quoted to you earlier from Isaiah 64:6, God is NOT impressed with our self-righteousness at all. The reason is because there's nothing we can do to atone for our own sins. Nothing! That's why we need a Savior. And thankfully, God the Father provided One, through the blood sacrifice of His only begotten dear Son, Jesus (John 3:16; Romans 5:9). Note that ALL Scriptures are quoted only from the trustworthy inspired King James Bible.
There are many people in this world who consider themselves “good” people; but they are not (Romans 3:10). It matters not if you're religious or non-religious—you have no self-righteousness that is acceptable to God. Romans 10:3-4 warns of those people who try to foolishly go about establishing their “OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Romans 10:3-4, “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Amen... Christ is the END OF THE LAW TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH!!! What a wonderful Savior!
The purpose of the Law is as a vehicle by which we are brought to the Savior to be saved. Once you BELIEVE THE GOSPEL the work of the Law is done. The Law has fulfilled its divine purpose of showing you and me our desperate need for the Savior. Galatians 3:24-26, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
Self Righteousness Will Send You to Hell Forever
Ezekiel 33:13, “When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.” So if you die in your sins and go to Hell, none of the good things you ever did will be taken into consideration by God on Judgment Day. All your charitable deeds will have been in vain, because you rejected Jesus as the Christ and died in your sins (John 8:24).
God will only take into consideration the good that a person does if they are a genuine born-again Christian, trusting upon Jesus Christ and His righteousness for the forgiveness of sins, and not their own efforts in any way (2nd Corinthians 5:10-11; 1st Peter 1:17).
Jesus boldly stated in John 3:3, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” We also read the frightening words of 2nd Thessalonians 1:8, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You has been get born-again! And I'm not talking about the heretical Catholic misconception of being born-again by surrendering to Jesus. That's a sure road to Hell fire and damnation. I'm talking about being Biblically born-again by the Seed of the Word of God. You need to have your SINS forgiven. You are the SINNER, and Jesus is the SAVIOR. It's that simple!
You don't get saved by turning over a new leaf, promising to do better, giving up the world, ceasing from committing sin, surrendering to God, nor by making a commitment to Christ. Those are all fine in their own place; but they are roads to Hell if you trust them for salvation. Jesus paid for your sins; therefore, eternal life is a free gift that you can only freely receive apart from all self-righteousness works (John 1:12; Acts 10:43).
You Need HIS Righteousness!
The problem is that we have NO righteousness of our own to offer God, except our self-righteousness, which is NOT acceptable to God... "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6). Despite how good of a person you may think you are, James 2:10 plainly states... "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
In other words, even one sin is enough to keep us out of Heaven, and condemn us to Hellfire for all eternity. No matter how much good we do in this life, we simply cannot make up for the sins we've committed. This is why God in His abundant love sent His only begotten Son into the world, Jesus Christ, to pay for our sins with His own literal precious blood (1st Peter 1:18,19; Hebrews 9:12). Jesus paid a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay. Eternal life is a free gift (Romans 5:15; 6:23), paid for by Jesus' precious blood.
You had better BELIEVE on Jesus as your personal Savior, because you are a GUILTY sinner under the condemnation of God's holy Law, and deserving of Hell. It's Jesus Who has the nail-scared hands and feet. All of your goodness and human effort won't help you one tiny bit when you stand before The Great White Throne of Judgment. Your only hope is the blood of Jesus Christ which takes away our sins ... "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ..." (1st Peter 1:18,19). John 1:29 reads, "...Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
“For he [God the Father] hath made him [Jesus the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” —2nd Corinthians 5:21
Oh listen friend, you need HIS righteousness; not your own in order to go to Heaven. I think Romans 4:5 states it best...
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
We are saved by believing THE GOSPEL. Jesus DIED, was BURIED and then RESURRECTED. This is the Gospel according to the Bible...
1st Corinthians 15:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
Jesus shed His blood for our sins...
1st Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
If you receive Christ's blood sacrifice as payment for your sins, then you are saved. Salvation is all about Jesus and has NOTHING to do with us. Jesus bore the burden of OUR SINS on Calvary's cross. Beware of anyone who places the weight and burden of sin upon the sinner.
Are you trusting your own self-righteousness to save you? Are you trusting the false-righteousness of some religious denomination? Are you relying upon your own human effort to clean up your life of sin? Or are you trusting upon HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, which is by faith in Jesus Christ alone.
But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS!
“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” —Matthew 5:20
Christ died, that's history; Christ died for me, that's salvation!
The Imputed Righteousness of Jesus Christ
Dr. John R. Rice Refutes Lordship Salvation
Shut Up and Get On the Ark!
Ye Must Be Born Again!