This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. (Rom. 3:22)

IT’S PART OF OUR DNA to earn our way. We work, we get paid. We behave appropriately, we get rewarded. That is true in every area of life except when it comes to God and our righteousness. God gives away His righteousness freely. In fact, He doesn’t want us working for it at all. Paul wrote, “No one will be declared righteous in [God’s] sight by observing the law.” He went to great lengths to explain how everyone is guilty. We all “fall short” of receiving God’s glory. This is where we all begin—separated from God because of the sinful nature. The law cannot save; it does not redeem or justify us. It simply shows us how guilty we are and how much we need God. No matter how hard we work at it, how many hours we put in, or how many good deeds we accomplish, in the end we have no defense. Guilty remains the verdict. This is good news! We can lay aside all the works, rituals, and deeds and just receive God’s righteousness, which “comes through faith in Jesus Christ.”

“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17). This is true, but faith always comes first. The works are a result of a love for God, not a means to receive it. Receive God’s love and be justified freely. Then the overflow of your life will produce much fruit.

Receive God’s gift freely through faith in Jesus Christ.

Scott Simmons is the author of iFollow: Connecting Belief and Behavior to Who You Are in Christ (WPH) and the youth ministry movement director for The Wesleyan Church.