Checking off boxes on my to-do list brings me an absurd sense of satisfaction. I’ve even added finished tasks to my list so I could check them off. However, if I’m not careful, my love for productivity skews my value system, and I place more value on what I can see or measure over who I am becoming.

Michele Morin noted that someone once said, “Jesus went into the great display window of life and changed all the price tags.” One area in which He switched the tags is the category of works versus faith. Last week we looked at Rule-oriented righteousness. As we continue through the acronym DARTS in our “Father of Lies” series, let’s look at the Righteousness that comes from Christ alone.

True Righteousness

Strong’s definition of righteousness includes: “in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God. The doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 says a believer’s righteousness is found in Jesus. Romans 6:14; 8:1-4 say we are not under law, but under grace. But do we believe this when we fail to meet our standards?

Religious circles criticized the Apostle Paul for preaching grace. Some insisted that the Gentile believers needed to practice the Jewish dietary laws and be circumcised to be fully accepted. Look at Paul’s searing reproof to those who heeded this works-oriented righteousness.

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?”(Gal. 3:1-3 NIV)

While most of us don’t feel pressured to follow religious dietary rules or add circumcision to our faith, we may feel naked without the fig leaves of performance. Christ’s righteousness feels inadequate before religious performers or our inner critic.

Adding rules created a hierarchy in the church. The circumcised who followed the Jewish dietary laws wouldn’t eat at the same table with those who disregarded their rules. The harm didn’t end there.

Paul points out you can’t choose to add a few laws. You’re either under law or under grace. And everyone under the law is cursed.

Jesus said flesh produces flesh. The Spirit produces spiritual life (John 3:6). We don’t receive salvation by faith and then mature by works of self-effort. “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him” (Colossians 2:6 NIV).

  • God’s goal: our sanctification—we become like Christ in our actions and attitudes (1 Thess. 4:3).
  • God’s method: our faith in His promises (Heb. 11:6).
  • God’s means: the Holy Spirit living through us (Ephes. 5:18-21; Gal. 2:20).

Those raised under high standards, those who feel damaged, and those who strive to be perfect are vulnerable to rule-oriented DARTS. God doesn’t call us to be perfect performers. He calls us to trust the perfect work of Christ in and for us.

God doesn’t call us to be perfect performers. He calls us to trust the perfect work of Christ in and for us. #ChristAlone, #Jesus Share on X

Christ Broke the Power of Sin

Sanctification is a process. We trust the process by living by faith. Dependence on Him expressed in the obedience of faith transforms us from the inside out.

  • “This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, ‘It is through faith that a righteous person has life’” (Romans 1:17 NLT).
  • Christ’s “righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:21-22 NIV).
  • “For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God” (Romans 10:4 NLT).
  • “For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17 NLT).

When we accept our new identity in Christ we can stop hiding behind fig leaves. As Paul learned, rules are powerless to corral sin (Rom. 7:4-6). Thankfully, God did what the law could not do (Rom. 8:1-4).

The Curse of Rule-Oriented Righteousness Versus the Blessing of Faith

Rule-Oriented Righteousness

  • Condemnation, guilt, self-punishing habits, trying harder
  • Critical of myself and those who don’t meet my standards
  • Competitive or envious of those who perform better
  • Proud, arrogant, and boasting when I meet my standards
  • Self-conscious, cautions, “How am I doing?” Did I say the right thing? Cannot risk failure because my worth is based on performance. I keep striving for acceptance.

The Blessing of Faith in Christ’s Righteousness

  • Forgiveness, acceptance, and thanksgiving for Christ’s provision.
  • Loving, patient, kind
  • Humble, I am what I am by the grace of God.
  • Free, confident, spontaneous. God accepts me now—even while I’m in the process of maturing. Freedom to risk loving and being rejected because I am completely loved and accepted by my Savior. When we grasp our complete acceptance based on Christ’s righteousness, we trust God’s work in our unique personalities. We don’t have to be like anyone else. We can let the Holy Spirit express His life through us. When we don’t fear God’s condemnation then we’re no longer manipulated by human criticism (1 Cor. 4:3-5; Gal. 1:10).

God’s process of sanctification works. Let’s trust His value system and trade in our rule-oriented righteousness for true transformation (Rom. 12:2; Gal. 5:16).

Strength Builder

What family standards were you expected to meet growing up? Ask the Holy Spirit to point out where you’re trusting rules instead of Christ’s righteousness for self-acceptance. Shed your self-righteous standards and celebrate what Jesus accomplished for you. Declare: “Because I died with Christ, I am a new person.”

  • Am I confident to approach God when I mess up or only when I feel good about myself?
  • Does my above answer show I accept myself based on Christ’s performance or mine? (Heb. 4:14-16)


We have T and S left in our DARTS to examine. But next week I want to introduce a new book to you.

Click here to comment.


Sometimes I link with these great sites:

#InstaEncouragements, #TellHisStory, #Let’sHaveCoffee, #Grace&Truth

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  1. Yvonne Morgan

    I loved your comment ““Because I died with Christ, I am a new person.” We do need to declare it daily and remember it so we can live into that new life. Loving the series Debbie.

    • Debbie W. Wilson

      I love that truth too! Thanks, Yvonne. And I’m glad your comment went through. For some reason the site wouldn’t take comments this week.

  2. Annie Yorty

    Debbie, you’ve provided great application straight from the Word of God that we all can use. Thank you!

  3. J.D. Wininger

    I have oft thought about how the way we pronounce a word can totally change its meaning. I can’t life a “per-fict” life, but I can lean upon my faith in the One who will “per-feckt” my life for eternity one day. My job is to reduce the amount of work He has left when that Day arrives. Great word Ms. Debbie.


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