Greetings Homer,Hi Paidion,
I know you do not believe in imputed righteousness. I am puzzled about how, since we "stumble in many ways", we can attain righteousness. How do you see it?
I think I have already explained this a few times, but I don't mind doing so again. Salvation from sin (which is rather similar to attaining righteousness) is a process. If we are engaged in that process, we are on the narrow path which leads to life. In order to get onto that path in the first place, we need to entrust ourselves, our very lives, to Messiah Jesus. Then, through faith, we need to appropriate the enabling grace of God (which was made available through the sacrificial death of Jesus as well as His resurrection). As we continue to do that, we will stay on that narrow path. Furthermore, Paul was persuaded that God would continue to work in us and enable us until the process is complete. He wrote, "I am persuaded of this very thing, that the One beginning a good work in you, will continue to accomplish it until the day of Jesus Messiah." (Philippians 1:6)
This perseverence is important.
For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:14 RSV)
I think the reason God puts so much emphasis on righteousness—actual, practical righteousness, is that He knows that this is the life-style that will most benefit others as well as ourselves. If we understood this, I don't think we would worry so much about "getting to heaven" or "avoiding hell." I think we can trust God to do what is best for us in this regard. I think those who put their confidence in some "salvation" formula, such as "I have accepted Christ as my personal Saviour" or "I have trusted in the finished work of Christ" or "I have prayed the sinner's prayer" or some other such formula, but who have no interest in living righteously (because they imagine it to be impossible), may some day find that they have been self-deceived.
Perhaps you are asking whether it must be complete, or will it do for it to be incomplete. Since salvation is a process, God certainly accepts us before our salvation from sin is complete. As long as we remain on the narrow path, God knows we are trusting in Him as the source for righteous living, and that "working together with Him", we are achieving it. I don't think He will find the severe remediation of hell to be necessary unless we get off the narrow path. In other words, if we reject Him, and say something like this to ourselves, "To heck with this stuff! I'm going to live my life the way I want to live it. It's time to look out for #1."Is the ACTUAL righteousness we must have relative or absolute?
I think I may have answered this above. It's not a matter of degree as far as being acceptable to God is concerned. God, of course, expects complete righteousness, and He is going to get it, when His work in us is completed at the day of Jesus the Messiah! Meanwhile He puts up with our incompletion. God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy!If it is relative, how can a person know if he is righteous enough?
The heart attitude of the tax collector would be a first step. In crying for mercy, He entered the door of salvation. After that he would need to live it out, to persevere, to stay on the narrow path that leads to life.Would the attitude of the heart, such as that of the tax collector, Luke 18:13, be counted as righteousness? Or supplying what was lacking?