Practicing Righteousness

Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.  He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.”—1 John 3:7-10 (NKJV)

We inherit many traits and characteristics from our parents. Whether it is the size of our nose, our height, our ability to digest lactose, our tendency to feel anxious, or our skin color, inheritable traits are passed on to us at conception and develop throughout our lives.

We also inherit certain traits from Jesus when we are born again. Our appearance and character undergo a radical shift in the spiritual paradigm. One of these radical shifts is an aversion for sin; sin is something God hates, so this hatred is passed on to us at conversion. It is an abrupt desire to practice righteousness. But what does that exactly mean?

First of all, let’s look at what it is not. Righteousness or living righteously isn’t something a person achieves outside of Jesus Christ. Paul reminds us, “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10 NASB). He then writes we are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

Practicing righteous is as simple as not practicing sin. In other words, doing it—or not doing it—over and over. We all sin, but how we feel afterward is paramount. Do we continue in it? Justify it? Or do we confess and resist it? God will make a person aware of sin, whether by His Spirit, through His Word, or by those with godly counsel. God shows us a change He would like to make in us, and through Jesus we are given the power to do so. This is God’s gracious gift of salvation. 

But John presents the contrast, and we must see it. If we continue to live in sin, if we continue to make excuses for it, we should consider whether we are truly children of God. What we should have is a compelling desire to please our Father. We should not offer any part of ourselves to sin but as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13). 

As children of God, we are given an inheritance (Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 1:4). It has been passed down to us through Jesus’ victory over sin and death on the cross and our adoption as sons and daughters upon conversion. It is evidenced in our desire to obey God and follow in Jesus’ footsteps. It manifests itself in our appearance and character.  

DIG: What does practicing righteousness mean? What are the results of it? (Read Psalm 106:3 NASB).

DISCOVER: How do you react when you sin? Are you immediately convicted or do you try to justify it? Read John 15:1-17 to remind yourself of what the Father will do in your life if you abide in Jesus. 

DO: Listen to that still, small voice when sin overtakes you. Read 1 John 1:9 and ask God to help you to not let sin reign in you (Romans 6:12)

About the Author

Lisa Supp

Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.