What is righteousness? In secondary school chemistry classes, we learnt that if you have a substance that you suspect to be an acid, you can investigate and confirm the acidity of the substance by a simple test. Take a piece of paper, called litmus paper that has been previously soaked in a certain substance, then dip it into the substance you’re investigating, It will turn red if it is an acid.

Now, imagine someone pointing to the red colour and saying “see acid!” Funny right? Of course, and that’s because the red colour is not the acid, it is the proof that the substance it was diped into is an acid. The red colour is the action that the acid takes when it is exposed to the other substance that the paper had been soaked with. Righteousness is not just right-action. Right-thinking, right-speaking and right-action are the effects of the presence of righteousness in the heart of a believer. The good man, out of the good stored up in his heart brings forth good things.

Another example; what if someone comes along with a substance and says “this is an acid.” And you ask, “why do you say that?” The fellow replies, “I believe it is and if I test it with litmus paper it will turn the paper red.” Again you ask, “have you tested it then?” He replies, “not yet but I believe it will turn litmus paper red.” And then he hops along with a smile on his face. Sincerely, you will shake your head and say, “what a fool!” And that is exactly what the scripture calls such people who build houses on sand. I am ashamed to say this; there are many fools in church. I hope you’re not one of them!? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,…He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:8, 12 NKJV)

What if you chase after the fellow, you catch up and he stops. You say, “good fellow, here’s litmus paper, test that thing you have just to be sure, you don’t want to get to where you’ll use it and find out it’s not what you think.” He takes the paper, dips it into the substance and nothing happens. This is what the scripture calls dead faith. The righteousness that such people claim to have is exactly what it is, a mere claim! They haven’t got it. My dear, is your “litmus paper” red?


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