Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Righteousness in Action

At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:8-10

Being made righteous should lead to us living righteously.

We trust Christ alone for our righteousness and never our good works. We must never lose sight of that. But we must also realize that the righteousness Christ gives us inevitably manifests itself in righteous deeds. Paul puts it this way: as believers, we are to “walk as children of light.” And why? Because “the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.” In short, the Lord has made us righteous; therefore, we are to act righteously.

We cannot be the beneficiaries of the objective righteousness of Christ without the evidence presenting itself in our righteous living. Sinclair Ferguson puts it wonderfully when he says that “we are now the recipients of an irrevocable justification (or righteousness) in Christ, which in turn leads to a growth in righteousness in ourselves.”[1] Similarly, John Calvin wrote that “the Son of God though spotlessly pure took upon himself the ignominy and shame of our sin and in return clothed us with his purity.”[2] Christ bears our sin for us, grants us His unblemished record, and then empowers us, by His Spirit, to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Colossians 1:10).

The Puritans used to speak in terms of a righteousness that was imputed and then a righteousness that was imparted. They were seeking to distinguish between the objective righteousness that Christ affords us and the subjective righteousness that we enact in our lives in the power of the Spirit. As believers, we are the grateful possessors of both.

Whatever your preferred terminology, this much is always true: the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ isn’t simply a free pass that excuses us to do as we please. No, the gospel calls us and empowers us to do what pleases the Lord. The key is that the gospel always turns us back to Jesus. As you look to Christ for your righteousness, He will enable you to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” and strengthen you to run the unique race God has set out for you (Hebrews 12:1-2). So today, be sure not to trust in your righteous living to earn you salvation or blessing from the Lord. But equally, be sure not to make the mistake of allowing your salvation to tempt you to be half-hearted in your pursuit of righteous living. You have been made righteous; now go and live righteously.

Questions for Thought

How is God calling me to think differently?

How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?

What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?

Further Reading

Ephesians 5:8-15

Topics: Christian Living Imputed Righteousness Jesus Christ


1 Let’s Study Ephesians (Banner of Truth, 2015), p 181.

2 Institutes of the Christian Religion 2.16.6, quoted in Bruce Milne, Know the Truth: A Handbook of Christian Belief, 3rd ed. (InterVarsity, 2009), p 212.

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.