Is it possible to live a perfectly righteous life?
This is an important question for Christians, because if it is not possible, then really, what is the point of trying? Speaking humanly, I need to believe a goal is at least achievable if I intend to pursue it.
Furthermore, if it is not possible to live a perfectly righteous life here on earth, then that implies that death holds the key to our becoming righteous… in heaven only and not here on earth.
If death holds the key, then doesn’t that mean that Christ’s victory wasn’t fully complete on the cross? In fact, Christ conquered death itself on the cross, so death no longer has the power it once had. The Bible says Christ holds the key, not death.
Revelation 1:18: “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
Furthermore, in 1 Peter 1:16 God commands us:
“…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Clearly, we cannot keep this command by the flesh; it requires the Holy Spirit working within us to make this possible. But that being said, is not everything that we need provided in the Spirit? He has empowered us (Acts 1:8) to be His witnesses. So now in the New Testament, when God commands us to do something, He also gives us absolutely everything we need to obey that command, on a personal level (Romans 8:4).
Luke 6:40 “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.”
Jesus is saying that everyone who has been perfectly trained will be like his teacher. We are taught by Christ, and once we are perfectly trained, we will be like him in every way.
Ephesians 4:13 “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”
I recognize that for most people, this isn’t going to happen here on earth, and that the ultimate fulfillment of this will happen when we are transformed into His likeness (2 Cor 3:18).
But that is irrelevant to my question. I didn’t ask if anyone had ever done it, but rather I asked is it possible?
If we decide in our mind that the only way we’re going to become Christ-like is by dying, then that negates the power of the cross and the victory of Christ over sin and death. I therefore believe it is possible – regardless of how many ever achieve it – and that it should be the goal of every Christian to seek to be perfectly trained in the ways of Jesus.
Take the argument one logical step further – if it were not possible to be fully righteous in this life, would it then still be possible to attain righteousness in certain areas of our life? And if so, by what means? We all have a ‘besetting sin’ in the words of David Wilkerson (besetting = harassing, persistent, assailing); a sin that we strive and struggle and fight against to overcome. Is there hope that there may be victory over that sin? There HAS to be, otherwise what is the point in fighting? So if there is victory (yes!) in the name and walk of Jesus for the smaller and larger things in our lives, why not for our whole life, in it’s entirety?
In summary, we can attain righteousness in our lifetimes! It is illogical to conclude this can only happen at death, as our righteousness is evidenced by our works (Revelation 19:8), which themselves cease at death. If death provides the only solution, then the sacrifice of Christ is cheapened, and God is robbed of His glory. That cannot be!
Some further references for you to dig into: Psalms 18:32, Ephesians 4:13, Philippians 4:12, James 1:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Revelation 19:8, 1 Timothy 3:16-17, Luke 6:40, Matthew 5:48, Romans 8:4, Romans 8:29-30, Colossians 1:28, Colossians 2:2.