Righteous Living



What does it mean to live righteously? Let’s begin by looking at a couple of definitions concerning righteousness.


  • Righteousness: the quality or state of being righteous (dictionary.com)
  • Righteous: (adjective) acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin (Merriam-Webster.com)
  • Unrighteous: (adjective) not righteous: sinful, wicked (Merriam-Webster.com)
  • Self-righteous: (adjective) convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others: narrow mindedly moralistic (Merriam-Webster.com)


So, righteous living would be to lead a moral life according to divine law, being free of sin and guilt. Concerning Christianity, the divine law would be that which is spelled out in Scripture. Almighty God sets the standards by which righteousness is measured. Self-righteousness is not only of no value but is actually deceptive as it is man’s measurement and the enemy would have us believe it is acceptable to God, or worse, superior to God’s standards.


Righteous living is not about self, rather, it is sacrificing self and living by the standards which God, who is holy and true, laid out for us. We are to compare our words, thoughts, and deeds to that which God says is holy and righteous. Anything else is to raise ourselves above God, thinking we know better. That didn’t work out so well in Eden when sin was allowed to enter man and haunts us still today.


Can we live free of sin and guilt? Can we be freed from the guilt of our past, live free in the present, without sin in our future?


A positive response to the gospel of salvation provides for the forgiveness of sin, and with forgiveness comes freedom from the guilt that accompanied the sin. Jesus Christ provides that salvation for us and has taken our guilt upon Himself. He also said, on more than one occasion, “Sin no more.”


There was the man whom He healed at Bethesda, the pool.


John 5:14          Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”


There was the woman who was caught in idolatry whose sins He forgave.


John 8:10-11     Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”


Sin no more. That seems to be a pretty tall order. Is it even possible to sin no more? While I can make an argument that technically it is possible, I also concede that it is not likely to be accomplished. We will take a closer look at the two stories after we explore a bit of the habits of Jesus as expressed in the Gospel According to John.


For a point of reference, we know the first public sign performed in the life and ministry of Jesus was the transformation of water into wine at Cana in Galilee. The story can be found in chapter 2 of the gospel.



John 2:11           This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory. And His disciples believed in Him.


Skipping ahead to chapter four we find that sometime later, while passing through Samaria, Jesus met the woman at Jacob’s well.


John 4:25-26    The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ). When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”


  • I’ve had people tell me that Jesus never claimed to be God
    • This is one instance that, if not exactly, is awfully close to it as He tells the woman that He is the Messiah
    • He also said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
      • Along with other confessions of being God and Christ


There is much more in this story to be examined, but for our time here we see that the disciples were urging Jesus to eat in verse 31 of chapter 4.


John 4:34          Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.”


The Samaritans desired to have Jesus stay with them for a time. Jesus enjoys being where He has been invited and where His presence is desired. There is a lesson for us to learn here. He did go other places as well, but that’s another story.


  • Do we invite Jesus to be where we are?
  • Do we truly desire His presence where we are?


What was Jesus teaching His disciples at that time?


  • Jesus was showing His disciples, among other things, that His primary focus was always on the call of God on His life, obedience in love
    • Pleasures and necessities of this world took a backseat to the call of God and to serving Him


  • Jesus and His disciples went to Galilee after two days with the Samaritans
    • On the third day He returned to His people
      • Hmmm? Another third day return


John 4:46          So He came again to Cana in Galilee, where He had made the water into wine.


  • Jesus proclaimed the health of a boy from Capernaum
    • The man sought out Jesus because of his dire need
    • The son of the official at Capernaum was healed because of the man’s faith


John 4:54          This was now the second sign that Jesus did when He had come from Judea to Galilee.


Jesus then went from Galilee up to Jerusalem.


John 5:1             After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.


  • Did Jesus enter at the sheep gate?
    • There are some that will make the case that He did.
    • I don’t know, but He is the Good Shepherd



How did Jesus know to go to the pool? How did He know about the specific man?



  • I am laying out a hypothetical scenario here
    • Jesus had an early morning prayer session with Father, as was, I believe, His custom to do


Mark 1:35          And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.


I don’t believe this was an isolated case. I do believe it is an example for us to follow.


Continuing with my hypothetical case:


  • Jesus likely received an assignment for the day
    • Perhaps Father instructed Him, “Son, today I want to show mercy on a man who has been an invalid for thirty-eight years. No one helps him as he goes to the pool Bethesda which is near the sheep gate. I want you to go to him today.”
    • Jesus obeyed Father in love
      • End of hypothetical
    • Jesus saw the man, went to Him, and asked, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6)
    • The Jewish leadership questioned the man concerning his healing; who healed him?


John 5:13          Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.


  • Jesus did not gather others around to heal them
    • He did not hold a healing service
    • He did not seek to make a name for Himself
    • I believe He obeyed the instruction from Father and then moved on


  • Later, perhaps by inspiration from Holy Spirit, Jesus found the man


John 5:14          Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”


  • Jesus did not specify a particular sin that he should commit “no more”
    • It is possible that He did, and I simply wasn’t told what it was
      • Perhaps the man was crippled for thirty-eight years because of previous lifestyle choices
        • I am not told the age of the man
      • Perhaps the man was born this way or had a disease as a youth
      • Perhaps the man fell into a lifestyle of sin during the thirty-eight years
        • Self-medicating; cursing God for his situation; or other things, or a combination of them
      • I simply don’t know all the facts of the matter
    • When I surrendered my life to Christ, I was instantly delivered from alcohol and drug abuse
      • I refuse to open that door again
      • Will something worse happen if I open myself up once again to that stronghold?
        • It is very likely that it would be worse than it was before
      • But I was not instantly delivered from other strongholds which I had to battle through and overcome
        • Was I free to continue in those sins?
          • I think not!


  • I do know that Jesus told him to “sin no more”
    • Many teachers say the problem was due to sin
    • Sin is not always the cause of the problem
      • For example, the man blind from birth that Jesus healed


John 9:2-3        And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or His parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”


  • I do not need to judge, and ought not to, why someone is suffering the way they are suffering
    • If that information is important for me to know, God will reveal it


  • My job is to obey in love and do the works of God


John 9:4-5        “We must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”


  • “We must work”: Jesus and His disciples
    • Then and now


  • “As long as I am in the world”: Jesus is still in the world
    • I am a part of the body of Christ



  • In another story Jesus went to the Mount of Olives
    • I am presuming this was His morning prayer time
    • He then goes to the temple – early in the morning


John 8:2            Early in the morning He came again to the temple. All the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them.


  • The scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman they had caught in adultery
    • They challenged Him concerning the law and stoning her
    • Jesus, twice, “bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground”


  • I am told that the floor of the temple was stone
    • Here we have the finger of God writing on stone


Exodus 31:18    And He gave to Moses, when He had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.


  • Jesus may not have etched words into the stone
    • The symbolism suggests Jesus was tracing the same words as on the tablets
    • He also did it a second time, just as Moses received a second set of tablets after he broke the first set he had received


  • The accusers of the woman left the scene


John 8:10-11     Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”


  • Many teachers will say she was not to commit adultery any more
    • This is true; she ought not commit adultery
    • But again, Jesus did not specify a sin
      • Which sins would He permit for her?
      • No sin is good in the sight of God


  • Two examples of “sin no more”
    • Two is the number of witness
    • “Sin no more” is the command


Romans 15:4    For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.


  • These stories are written for my instruction and encouragement
    • No sin is pleasing to God
    • I should go and sin no more


Romans 8:7-8  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.


  • As a follower of Christ, moving from sinner to son, my mind is not set on the flesh like it once was


Romans 8:9a   You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.


  • The Spirit of God dwells in me


  • Jesus dwells in me


Romans 8:10    But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.


  • I must live by the Galatians 2:20 principle as I renew my mind to gain the mind of Christ


Galatians 2:19-20     For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and God gave Himself for me.


  • I am to renew my mind by the washing of the word


  • I am to take up my cross daily


  • I am to crucify my flesh daily


  • I am to sin no more


  • If I say, “I am only human; I’m going to sin” …
    • I contradict the scripture of being dead to the law and alive to Christ
    • I prophesy negatively over myself with a defeatist attitude
    • I set myself up to fail


  • If I say, “By the grace of God I will not sin”
    • I profess my dependence upon God
    • I positively confess that I need not sin


Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering He has perfected for all time to those who are being sanctified.


  • My sins were paid for by Christ Jesus on the cross


  • Also, should I sin now, I am forgiven by God
    • I humble myself, confess my sin, I am forgiven


The Apostle John let us know of God’s faithfulness.


1 John 1:9          If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


  • So, when I do sin, I can be forgiven quickly by repenting quickly


  • Jesus, my example to follow, did not sin
    • Can I do likewise; is it possible?


  • I have to say YES
    • Jesus showed it can be done
    • I am a new creation in Him
    • I believe Jesus wants to help me to not sin


  • I must submit myself to God’s ways
    • Walking in obedience in love


James 4:6-8     But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you, cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.


  • “He gives more grace”: grace is a gift from God


  • “Grace”: God’s ability overshadowing my inability, to give me His ability to do what He told me to do


  • “God opposes the proud”: I am to humble myself; I am to submit myself to God


  • I am to resist the devil


  • I am to draw near to God


  • I am to cleanse and purify myself


  • “Cleanse your hands”: do no evil


  • “Purify your hearts”: eliminate double-mindedness
    • I must be singularly focused on God and His ways
    • I cannot serve two masters


Psalm 24:3       Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah


  • “Selah”: think about it; meditate on it


  • I am called to do these things
    • Cleanse, purify, resist, draw near
    • I am required to act in faith


  • Temptations come one at a time
    • Even if they are many, each requires a decision or choice on my part
    • One at a time


1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.


  • I am to endure the temptation and resist the devil


  • If I sin, I am without excuse
    • God is faithful
      • He limits temptation to what I am able to deal with
      • He provides the way of escape
        • With each and every temptation
      • All of the temptations I receive have been received by others
        • They are not unique to me alone
      • If they come one at a time, I can deal with them one at a time
        • I need to make the right decisions, one at a time


  • I must remain humble
    • I cannot afford to let pride rise up when I am resisting temptations
    • Pride itself is sin, and begins with temptation


1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.


  • It is possible for me to go and sin no more
    • The question is, “Will I do it?”


  • I must humble myself and be in Christ


Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”


  • Living in Christ
    • Such is the life of an overcomer
  • We must imitate Christ including the habits we have seen here
    • Laying aside one’s own life for the sake of the life God determines
    • Developing an intimate relationship with the Father
    • Rising early to meet God in prayer
    • Walking in obedience in love
    • Responding to those who call for mercy and compassion
    • Being prepared for the divine appointments set by God
  • There is a cost to discipleship
    • Sometimes sacrifice is involved
    • Daily dying to self is involved
    • Full-time commitment is involved


The concepts are usually simple to grasp and rarely easy to live out. We need to rely day by day on the grace of God if we are to successfully follow Christ.