Works Righteousness vs Gift Righteousness

Works Righteousness vs Gift Righteousness

2 Peter 1:1 – Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 

People are flawed. God is perfect.

Most religions, in some form or fashion, agree with these basic beliefs. To remedy this problem, there are two options:

  1. In works righteousness, you do something to make yourself acceptable to God. Examples would include having your good deeds outweigh your bad, reincarnating to pay off your karmic debt, going to purgatory for a season to suffer in payment of your wrongdoing, etc.
  2. In gift righteousness, the perfect God came down from Heaven to live a perfect life and die a substitutionary death to give you His righteousness as a gift. Only in Christianity does someone other than you do the work to make you righteous. Only in Christianity is righteousness a gift you receive rather than a status you merit.

Theologically, this is what Paul and other Bible writers refer to as justification. When Peter speaks of the “righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” he says it is something that the Christian has “obtained”. The language here is of a gift you did not earn, but rather Jesus gifted to you. For this reason, some English translations used words like “received” (NASB, NIV, NLV) and “given to you” (NLT) to further emphasize the gift nature of Christian righteousness.

This is the place that Peter begins his letter to help Christians. In a world where you have to earn everything, and even what you earn can be lost, you need to know that Jesus has earned righteousness for you as a gift, and since you did nothing to earn it, you cannot do anything to lose it. Only in Christianity do we live from righteousness and not for righteousness. In a world where seemingly no one and nothing is guaranteed, the one thing you can start to build your life on is the gift righteousness of Jesus Christ!

How does the concept of gift righteousness lift a religious burden off of you and help you to love and serve God not to get anything from Him but simply because He has loved and served you? 

To download the free e-book Power Under Pressure which is a study in 2 Peter for individuals, groups, and families from Pastor Mark click HERE. To listen to Pastor Mark’s 4 sermons on 2 Peter preached in the summer of 2020, visit These and other resources are made possible by our ministry partners who support Real Faith as a Bible teaching ministry of Mark Driscoll Ministries to whom we say THANK YOU! 

Mark Driscoll
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