The Importance Of Practiced Righteousness

The Importance Of Practiced Righteousness

By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
–1 John 3:10

When Paul said to put on the breastplate of righteousness, he was not talking about self-righteousness or imputed righteousness–that is, Jesus’s righteousness that we get credit for when we trust in Him as our Savior. So what kind of righteousness was Paul referring to?

There is a third kind of righteousness in the Bible, and that is practiced righteousness. Practiced righteousness is our obedience to God once we become a Christian. It is the good works we perform after we are saved. No, good works are not a requirement for salvation, but they should be the result of our salvation. In Matthew 7:17-19, Jesus described practiced righteousness as the fruit of our spiritual life: “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Simply put, if a tree is alive, it is going to produce fruit. If it is not producing fruit, it is dead and needs to be cut down. James said the same thing in James 2:26: “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” If you see a Christian who has no interest in doing good works and obeying God, then that person, no matter what he claims, is spiritually dead. If we are spiritually alive, we are going to practice righteousness.

Here is the thing: trees do not have to work at producing fruit–they do it naturally. But you and I, even as born-again Christians filled with the Holy Spirit of God, still have to work at practicing obedience to God. It requires effort. We face the stiff headwinds of an adversary who is out to destroy us, and we still have the residue of that old sinful nature within us. That is why over and over again the Bible encourages us to practice righteousness. In 1 John 3:10, the apostle wrote, “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” Revelation 22:11 says, “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”

When Paul said to put on the breastplate of righteousness, he was talking about exerting all the effort necessary to obey God in every part of your life. He was talking about obedience. Why is this important in spiritual warfare? Because, Paul said, obeying God in every part of your life protects you against the attacks of Satan. Practicing righteousness makes your spiritual life inhospitable to the temptations that want to set up residence in your heart.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Putting Out The “Not Welcome” Mat” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org;