According to Singaporean megachurch pastor Joseph Prince, “righteousness is not right doing but right being”.
In support of his conclusions, he cites Romans 4:5:
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness (Romans 4:5; NKJV)
The verse above suggests that God justifies “the ungodly” based on his/her faith.
In addition, according to Philippians 3:9 (NIV), before each of us were “found in him”, we did not possess any righteousness of our own, but that we obtained “righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith”.
However, Joseph Prince’s claim that “righteousness is not right doing but right being” gives churchgoers the false impression that true believers in Jesus Christ are either incapable of or are prohibited from living righteously, from the moment of their conversion.
It also gives the nominal churchgoers a false sense of security that they are saved even though they choose to persist living in sin.
These misunderstandings by many followers of Joseph Prince arise because of a lack of awareness, or a disregard among them, that when a person truly believes in Jesus Christ, he/she becomes a “new creature” not just positionally or status wise, but FOR REAL:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17; NASB)
You see, before a believer knew Jesus Christ, he/she was ungodly (Romans 4:5), a “slave of sin” (Romans 6:17), and “powerless” (Romans 5:6) to behave righteously.
However, from the moment that a person has faith in Jesus Christ, he/she was to offer himself/herself as a slave of obedience, and which would as a consequence lead to righteous living:
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? (Romans 6:16, NASB, emphasis added)
Please note that there is no middle ground here! One is either a “slave of sin” or a “slave of righteousness”. One cannot be both or neither of them — a person who claims to be a true believer in Jesus Christ must count himself/herself to be a slave of righteousness from the moment of conversion:
But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18; NIV; emphasis added)
Just as you USED TO offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, SO NOW offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. (Romans 6:19b; NIV; emphasis added).
It is precisely because there is no middle ground that we find it written in 1 John 3:7 (NIV): “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.”
In conclusion, if you consider yourself to be a Christian, you must also by default be living to do what is right. If instead, you are living for the pleasures of sin and of this world, you are not a true follower of Jesus Christ, and I urge you then to quickly change the course of your life!