Identifying as Righteous: Dangers & Alternatives

Keith KettenringChristian Living, The Uncommon Journey

Are you made more righteous because you think you’re righteous? That seems to be the notion behind the identity movement which says: identify yourself differently and you’ll become different. So, though it’s obvious that we’re not righteous due to our unrighteous thoughts and actions, we keep telling ourselves that we actually are righteous: “I’m perfectly righteous in Christ.” Because I’m a Christian, in Christ, I’m automatically righteous. It’s all a mind game. 

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We know our conduct is not righteous but we excuse ourselves because “I’m perfectly righteous in Christ.” 


Complacency – No effort towards god-likeness is needed. You simply hang out here on earth until Jesus comes. Perhaps you’ll do something for Him. But as far as your heart is concerned, you’re good to go. 

Sinfulness – Interestingly, the people I know who most strongly believe this are also people who are proud, judgmental, manipulative, and heady. Others excuse their sinful ways because they are “human” though “clothed in the righteousness of Christ.” Sin is only taken seriously in theory. 

Rationalization – Literally, you reason it out. It’s right because it makes sense to you: Christ is righteous. I’m in Christ. Therefore, I’m righteous. Not necessarily. Beware, how you rationalize your behavior.  

A better alternative, more in line with reality…

Let’s assume you are in Christ. Yet you know you are far from being righteous, godly, humble, loving, and just. However, because you’re in Christ you have what you need – His life, grace, wisdom, power, and strength – to more deeply participate in Him to the healing and renewal of your soul, mind, heart, and body.

Being in Christ, you really can face your sins and faults openly and clearly leading to repentance while experiencing His love, grace and mercy in union with Him. 

Better to see yourself as you really are, find God present in the mess, and in repentance cry out for His mercy. Then, leave it to God to guide you into righteousness.  

Being “in Christ” is not a favored position in which you become complacent but a living reality which demands your participation. 

I’ll reflect on this more in my next post. 

For now, reflect on your own understanding of “becoming righteous.”

Does it matter to you?

Do you excuse your unrighteous thoughts, attitudes, and actions because you’re “clothed in Christ’s righteousness?”

Do you find yourself hesitant to make an effort to become righteous because you’re already righteous?

Do you think it’s enough to believe you’re righteous in Christ? 

How does your understanding of righteousness affect your daily living?  

Dr. K