“The words 'it was credited to him [Abraham]' were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness-for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” - Romans 4:24-25
Sometimes we hear people say about others, “How can they call themselves Christians? They do this or that.” Maybe we have judged other people in the same way by questioning their “Christianity” or their relationship with God in Christ because of something they have done which “we” feel is inconsistent, or a violation, of our view of “being a Christian.”
In such moments, the gospel risks corruption. No longer is the atoning work of Christ through his death and resurrection-and one's acceptance of that by faith-sufficient for “being right” with God. Something else-some other standard of behavior- has been added as a requirement or a measuring stick for “being a Christian” and has denied the sufficiency of work of Christ. In the days of the New Testament, various practices such as circumcision, the keeping of the Sabbath, or other traditions encroached upon the purity of the gospel message. Today, we have our own categories of actions and beliefs that, if “added” as a requirement to “be a good Christian” pervert the gospel. Perhaps we don't mean for that to be the case, but it happens nonetheless.
Being “right” with God is not based upon “being a good person.” Not even Jesus was willing to accept being called “good” (see Luke 18:19). And in this world, who decides what makes up “being good”? “A good person” is a relative term and cannot be consistently defined. The truth is that we are “all sinners and fall short of the glory of God.” Right-ness with God is credited to us on the basis of our faith, not on the basis of our performance in the eyes of other people. We may not agree with how some people who are in Christ behave, or even what they may believe on some matters, but our assessment of their actions and thoughts does not make them any “less” in Christ. If we feel compelled to judge others, perhaps it is ourselves we should first consider. Are we perverting the gospel by putting requirements upon others that detract from the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice?
Righteousness is credited to us on the basis of our faith. It is not something we earn. Praise God that we are in Christ based on God's work in Christ and our acceptance of that work by faith!