Righteousness: The ability to do what is right every moment of every day of your life; in word, thought and deed. That means every thought, every emotion, every action must be right, and not just that way for a short time, but for your entire life. That should tell us how impossible it is for us to be righteous in and of ourselves. In fact, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”(Mat. 19:26) And remember something: it is not what is right according to me or you or the entirety of the world; it is what is right according to God. In the end, His opinion will be the only one that counts.
It could be said that Adam and Eve were righteous for a time, for that was how God created them. He created them in righteousness and holiness, but it could also be said that God created them in such a way that they, immediately, upon creation, had the choice to obey or rebel. Some may ask the question, “why would God do that? Why not make Adam and Eve only capable of good?” But God did not want a human race that would obey Him because they had no choice; He wanted a people who would obey Him because they desired to. (See The Path to Freedom)
Sin: The nature of Satan. Rebellion against God. It seems that Satan was given the freedom to choose, just as Adam and Eve were given the freedom to choose, and every human being is given the same liberty, and Satan’s choice was that he did not want to obey God, he did not want God to be God over him, but rather he himself wanted to be God(Isa. 14:12-14). Therefore, anytime we step outside the revealed will of God, which can be found in His word, we take the same position that Satan did. We make the statement that we don’t want God to be God; we don’t want to do what He wants us to do; we want to do what we want; we want to make the rules; we want to be God. Most believe that sin is the particular wrong things that we do, [e.g., stealing, lying, adultery, etc.,] however, those things are acts of sin, also called works of the flesh(Gal. 5:19-21), and they are the results of the nature of sin within us. We commit acts of sin; because we have a sin nature. (See What Must I Do To Be Saved)
Grace: The goodness of God extended toward undeserving men and women. This must be qualified further. Many think of grace as God giving us good things. This is not what is meant here. It is a true and faithful saying that God is good, and that small, three-word sentence (God is good) means that God and good are synonymous, and God is the only one who can lay claim to that ascription. We are born sinners, which means that by birth we are intrinsically evil, and the only way that we as sinners can come into the presence of God and thereby enter into heaven is for us to become good. And so grace is God infusing us with His goodness, though we do not deserve such, so that we can become good. It is at the moment of salvation that God spiritually puts us into Jesus(Rom. 6:3-4; 8:1-2), and Jesus is God, and Jesus is good; moreover, once we become a part of Him, we take on His nature, and it becomes our nature to be good. Please understand that once a person is saved, that person is no longer a sinner. I know that may seem like a strange statement; particularly because Christians can sin; they can do things wrong. But when God saves us, at that very moment He takes us out of the old body of man, with Adam as the head of that body, and He puts us into the new body, with Jesus as the head. At that moment, He changes us from unrighteous to righteous, and one cannot be righteous and a sinner at the same time. (See Life and Death Part I)
Mercy: God taking pity on us. Because of our sin, we deserve to die and spend eternity in hell. We are guilty, and there is no question of that. God would be perfectly within His right to destroy us and condemn us to eternal torment, but in His love He has provided a way in which we can be forgiven and cleansed of our sin. When Abraham took Isaac his son to the mountain to sacrifice him, Isaac asked the question: “Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a Burnt Offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a Burnt Offering.”(Gen. 22:7-8) And herein is the depth and the length and the height of the mercy of our God. God Himself would, about 2000 years after Abraham, become the lamb for a burnt offering. It was said by the Psalmist, and reiterated by Jesus, “the reproach whereby they reproached me fell on me.” That means that the very sins that were committed against God, God gave His life to forgive. While the fault lay with man for the sin and evil and rebellion, God, in His love and mercy, and in the person of Jesus, took the penalty for the very crimes committed against Himself. What a wonderful, mighty God we serve. Incidentally, God told Abraham to take his son Isaac to Moriah to sacrifice him(Gen. 22:2), and the word Moriah means Jehovah provides.
Repentance: Admitting that God’s way is right and our way is wrong. If we go any way but God’s way, we are in essence saying that we know better than He does, and obviously that is not right, but that is what the whole world does in one way or another. God gave us life as a free gift, but He gave us life with the intention that we would use it for His purposes. Most everyone, now and for all time, takes the life that God has given them and uses it for their own selfish goals and purposes, and that is what sin is. In that state, a person cannot help but commit acts of sin; because to walk away from righteousness is to take on the nature of Satan. To walk away from life is to embrace death. If one walks away from light, there is nothing left but darkness. The Bible says that all of us are sinners, and the Bible says that our sin is hurtful to God, and it is offensive to Him. When we were children, at times we did things by accident that would hurt one of our siblings, or a friend, a cousin, or even our mom or dad, and mom or dad would tell us, “now, you tell so and so you are sorry.” Some kids, in that situation, will say nothing at all; they are too embarrassed to say anything. Others will try to make excuses and say that they didn’t do the thing on purpose, and so they shouldn’t have to say they are sorry. Still others will brush it off, claiming that what they did wasn’t wrong, and so they feel that they have nothing to be sorry about. This is what we do to God. We make excuses; we blame God, or we blame someone else; we say “I didn’t mean to do it,” when in fact what we are saying is “I am not guilty of anything; I have nothing to repent of.” But it does not matter what good things we have done or what evil things we haven’t done, etc.; it only matters that God says we have hurt Him, and what is demanded in this situation is to say, “God, if you say I have hurt you, then I have, and I’m sorry that I have.” Repentance means saying, “I am a sinner, and I don’t want to be a sinner anymore. I don’t want to hurt God and others anymore. I don’t want to be unrighteous and evil anymore.”
Faith: Trusting God; believing that God knows what He is doing, He knows what He is talking about, and if we do what He says do and live the way He says live, it will turn out for our good every time. As I have said in other places on the site, God does not need us for anything. All that He has designed and created and made, at least as far as this physical creation is concerned, He made it all for us. And God is always right; He cannot be wrong. And He is not just right because He is God; He is right because He is. And so we should understand that everything He tells us to do is for our benefit and not for His, and whatever He tells us to do will always turn out for our good and for the good of others around us. People have a tendency to get all kinds of weird ideas about what faith is. Many think that faith is some kind of magical power or something; some kind of force, like the mystical, magical power that the Jedi have on Star Wars. Some think that if they say the right magic words, or wave their magic wands, like the witches and wizards of the Harry Potter series, they will cause something to happen in the spiritual world. They seem to think that their is some transcendent level of knowledge or power that some have and others don’t, and they wish they could get to that level, but most of the time people have no idea how to get to that level. The fact is, the level doesn’t exist, and it never will. When you have faith in God, or anyone for that matter, it means that they say to do something, and you do what they say because you know that they have your best interest in mind, and you know that what they say to do is going to help you. If you fall for the lie that faith is a force or magical power, or that you just have to have a stronger faith or find some higher level of spiritual knowledge, you are playing with fire, because if you do manage to latch ahold of something like that, you are looking to demon spirits rather than the Spirit of God, and all that will do is get you into hell faster. Trust God, love God, talk to God, and obey God, and you will live and reign with Christ forever and ever. Amen.