Faith is the instrument for Righteousness but not the cause. Christ is the cause. Righteousness comes only by faith in Christ. Sola Fide, ("by faith alone") is the Reformational slogan that challenged and solidified what the Bible and the Christian faith was all about. This act is divinely initiated. It is grounded in the obedience of Christ who fulfilled the requirements for us. It is based on the faithfulness of our Lord, and not of our goodness. Our goodness comes from God's working in us so we produce Fruit. Remember that all have fallen short of God's standards; sin has affected all of our being and all that of the world's. Even if we had not actually committed any evil, it is still our nature to do so. We have all sinned, some more than others, but the smallest sin falls way short of God's requirements. This is what "total depravity" and "original sin" are all about (Rom. 3:21-26; 1 Cor. 15:42-49; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:24; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:10). Growing in faith, education, and commitment will prevent the practice of sin even though sin will still be present.
The goal of the Christian life is to pursue righteousness, character, and maturity, all of which we get from the workings of the Spirit in us (Matt. 7:16-18; John 15:4-8; Gal. 2:22-23). If you feel stale and dry from lack of love and sympathy in your life, especially with God, you may have a big problem! Drop to your knees in surrendered prayer and seek His face! (Keep in mind that emotional levels differ with each personality; God does not care about our emotional level, only our faith, trust, and response for what He has done.) Seek what is blocking you from pursuing Righteousness and the understanding others and having sympathy. A true test of how Righteousness is working in us is the amount of love and sympathy we have for one another and the lost. This is what leads us to pray for even those we do not like. When we have faith in God, then we must have faith in His Word and be against everything that stands against it!
Understanding Righteousness will help us understand who we are in Christ, what He is doing in us, in others, and in the world, and then what He requires of us. We then can respond better and faster to the opportunities and call He has for us. As we draw near to Him, we know and hear Him better! Let us live our lives and lead our churches because of the love and Righteousness He gives to us. Then, we can respond with gratitude and follow His good example in worship and servant hood.
© 1992, 2001, 2005R.J. Krejcir, Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/