As I was listening to Brother Richard Cook’s sermon today, one of the Scriptures he quoted was really emphasized to me by the Holy Spirit, but in a context different to what Brother Cook was speaking on. The Scripture in question is from the Old Testament and can be found in Ezekiel 14:14-20 though what the Holy Spirit was showing to me only involved verses 14, 16, 18, and 20.
“Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the LORD GOD.
In context, we need to look back at the two earlier verses, though (vv. 12-13). God is speaking of the unfaithfulness of the world around these men (including all their immediate family, if applicable) and that, even though these men lived in the land, they could only deliver themselves by their righteousness. It wouldn’t extend to anyone else. God repeats this 4 times to emphasize this point through the prophet Ezekiel. This is an important point. You cannot ride on the coattails of a righteous relative. Just because your mother, father, sister, brother, or 12th cousin thrice removed was a holy, righteous person – by God’s standards mind you; what man has to say in the matter of who is or isn’t righteous really doesn’t come into play – does not mean you get a free ride.
What you can do, though, is what is outlined in Romans 12:1-2
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
In other words, if you are calling yourself a Christian, and you truly have been born again, you will attain righteousness – not because of others – but by the redeeming power of Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You will be righteous because you will be a new man (or woman) in Christ Jesus and your life will reflect the change that has been made. It won’t be because Uncle Noah or Cousin Job or Nephew Daniel were righteous. Their righteousness only delivers them. Period. End of story, and not because I said so, but because God said so (and not once, but 4 times in the 6 verses in question).
You can only seek after righteousness for yourself, never on anyone’s behalf and you cannot rely on someone else’s righteousness to benefit you.