Were Zachariah and Elizabeth Righteous Through the Law?

In Luke 1:6 we read something very interesting about Zachariah and Elizabeth as being described as righteous and walking blamelessly and all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.

But how can Zachariah and Elizabeth be righteous and keep all the commandments if no one is found righteous through the law, and all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God? Here we will try to unpack the answers to these questions.

I think a starting question needs to be asked. How could Zechariah and Elizabeth be ‘Blameless Before God’ when if the other scriptures are true that say:

‘ALL Have Sinned’ – Romans 3:23?

‘NO ONE is declared righteous before him by works of the law’- Romans 3:20?

‘for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly’ – Gal 2:21?

“There is NO ONE righteous, NOT EVEN ONE – Romans 3:20

So we have a challenge here. If ALL have sinned, NO ONE is righteous, not even ONE, and Jesus would have needlessly died if it were even possible to be righteous through the law, then how do we explain this teaching in Luke 1?

We know that people were saved before Jesus came to die on the cross and usher in a new covenant. And while many men of God certainly did their very best to keep all of the commands, we realized later that they too were also saved because they “believed God”. In Hebrews 8:9, we discover that the problem with the law was that no one actually kept the commands. At least not perfectly.

I think we need to keep in mind the era in which this is written. Jesus had not yet come.

Like many other Jews, Zechariah and Elizabeth were good, righteous people who did their best to obey the laws of Moses which, of course, they lived under. At this time this was the only covenant available to people. And of course, we know that if these people were all saved by being perfect doers of the law, well, at the very least we can agree that nearly every all of them would’ve ended up in hell, because we clearly see the Old Testament is not a story of success. It’s a story of falling short, then God’s wrath, then repentance, God returns, then falling short again….. Rinse and repeat over and over and over again.

“Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” (verse 6). So they were decent and righteous, that is, as far as the requirements of the law go.

However, in the sermon on the mount Jesus teaches the Jews that simply obeying the requirements of the law was insufficient for salvation. Many of the Pharisees too were pretty good at ‘keeping’ all the law’s requirements, but it wasn’t enough. Jesus magnified the law, revealing its spiritual heart.

So, in conclusion, I think this could be summed up as follows:

“Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” (verse 6). So, yes, they were decent and righteous, that is, as far as the requirements of the law go AT THAT TIME.

However, it was not law-keeping that saved them. We should be able to agree on that based on all of the Scriptures outside of that. The law had not yet been magnified because Christ had not yet come.

GOD CALLED THEM BLAMELESS AND RIGHTEOUS. However, if they did not believe God, they would not have been called blameless and righteous.

We see a very similar explanation with Abraham.

Abraham believed the Lord and it was credited to him as righteousness – Genesis 15:16

For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” Romans 4:9

And here’s a big one.

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but NOT before God. – Romans 4:2

So I absolutely agree that the question about Zachariah and Elizabeth being found righteous and blameless is a good one, and a fair amount to ask. But in light of all of the other scriptures, I think we are faced with the difficult question of figuring out how can both be true. How can NO ONE be righteous but this couple was? How can ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but this couple didn’t? How can NO ONE be declared righteous by works of the law, but this couple was?

Hopefully, this has given everyone some insight into how to interpret this letter from Luke in chapter 1.

Author: Mike Cynar

Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.

It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.

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