But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
What do you think righteousness is about? Something you do or something you are? Right doing or right being?
The Bible tells us that after Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross, God imputes righteousness not to those who strive to obey the law (Galatians 2:16), but to anyone who believes in His Son. Because Christ took our sins and gave us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), the moment we believe in Him, God treats us as righteous apart from our works or obedience. (Romans 4:5–8) This is new covenant righteousness—a righteousness that comes by faith and not works.
You are not righteous because of how morally upright you are. You are not righteous because you exercise self-control. You are not righteous because you read 10 chapters of the Bible daily. You are not righteous because you feel righteous. But you are the very righteousness of God in Christ solely because the sacrifice of Jesus made you so. When you believe this, your faith is accounted for righteousness.
And this is what God wants you to use your faith for. If you are righteous by your deeds, you don’t need faith. You also don’t need faith to know that you are sinful. But you need faith to believe and declare that you are the righteousness of God in Christ, in the midst of your struggles with temptation and sin.
For example, when you feel lousy because you have just shouted at your wife, God wants you to exercise your faith to see yourself as still righteous in the midst of that failure. This living revelation that you are still righteous will give you the strength to love your wife and reconcile things with her.
The devil may remind you of your foul temper and question your integrity: “How dare you call yourself righteous when you just did that!” Just ignore his lies and boldly declare, “I am not righteous because of what I have done or not done. I am righteous only because of the blood and finished work of Jesus at the cross!”