—that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
— Philippians 3:8-9

The man who steps out of the darkness and turns to the light is not yet thoroughly righteous, but is growing in righteousness. He needs creative God, and time for will and effort. Born into the world without righteousness, it would be the deepest injustice to demand of him, with a penalty, at any given moment, more than he knows how to yield; but it is the highest love constantly to demand of him perfect righteousness as what he must attain to. He must keep turning to righteousness and abjuring iniquity, ever aiming at the perfection of God. Such an obedient faith is most justly and fairly, being all that God himself can require of the man, called by God righteousness in the man. It would not be enough for the righteousness of God, or Jesus, or any perfected saint; but it is enough at a given moment for the disciple of the Perfect. The righteousness of Abraham was not to compare with that of Paul; he did not fight with himself for righteousness, as did Paul—not because he was better than Paul and did not need to fight, but because his idea of what was required of him was not within sight of that of Paul. Yet was he righteous in the same way as Paul; he had begun to be righteous. His faith was an act recognizing God as his law, and that is an all-embracing and all-determining action. They were righteous because they gave themselves up to God to make them righteous; and not to call such men righteous, not to impute their faith to them for righteousness, would be unjust. But God is utterly just, and nowise resembles a legal-minded Roman emperor, or bad pope formulating the doctrine of vicarious sacrifice.