How to show that all Christians are not equally righteous

How do I show a Protestant that all Christians are not all equally righteous? He says we are in order to counter my argument to praying to saints because they are perfectly righteous and thus their prayers are the most efficient. I thought of using 2 Corinthians 3:18 to refute this, but does anyone else have better verses that could do the job?

Here are some examples of righteousness is something we do. If its something we can do then naturally we are not all equally rightouss.Matt. 5:20; Luke 1:6; Acts 10:35 - here are more examples of “doing” righteousness, not just being “imputed” external righteousness. We are not just defendants in a courtroom who have been exonerated. We are children of God endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit by whose grace we can become righteous.

Matt. 5:28 - Jesus teaches that just looking lustfully at a woman is adultery. But avoiding this involves an inner change, a response to God’s grace.

Matt. 6:1 - beware of practicing righteousness before men. We are not just declared righteous; we can practice righteousness as well.

Obviously people are more christ like more holy than other we grow more christ like, more righteous more sanctified more justified more saved. Hope this all helps maybe someone can add something. If they continue with the whole imputed thing try this. Matt. 15:18; Mark 7:15 -Jesus teaches the interior disposition is what defiles man. Thus, God’s infusion of grace changes us interiorly.

Matt. 23:25-28 - the Pharisees appeared outwardly righteous to men, but inside they were filled with hypocrisy. God desires and helps us effect an inner change of heart. He doesn’t just declare that we are righteous.

Luke 11:39-40 - the Pharisees cleansed the outside of the cup but inside they were full of wickedness. God demands an internal change and gives us the grace to make that change.

John 1:29 - Jesus the Lamb of God literally takes away the sin of the world. He does not just cover up the sins of the world.

Acts 3:19 - repent, that your sins may be “blotted” out. The word blotted comes from the Greek word “exalipho” which means an actual wiping away or removal, not a covering up.

Acts 22:16; 1 Cor. 6:11 - again, the phrase “wash away” is from the word “apolouo” which mean a literal removal or an infusion of cleansing, not an imputation or covering.

Rom. 4:3 - it was “credited” to him as righteousness. The word “credited” comes from the Greek word “elogisthe” which means a book entry. God records what there actually is; He does not make a phony entry on the books.

Rom. 5:17 - we do not receive Christ’s personal level of righteousness (which is impossible), but we are made righteous on His account by God’s mercy and the Lord’s work on the cross. The word “made” in Greek is “katestathesan” which refers to a real, actual, ontological change in the person’s soul.

Rom. 5:19 - through “Adam/Christ” we were made “sinners/righteous.” This means that there is not just a relational change in status, but an objective change in nature. We are not just declared righteous, but are actually made righteous. God does not declare something without making it so. For example, in Gen. 1:3, God declares that there is light, and there is light. The declaration is followed by the reality.

2 Cor. 3:18 – Paul says that we are being changed into the Lord’s likeness from one degree of glory to another, by the power of the Spirit. This shows that justification is ongoing, and changes in degrees throughout one’s life, based upon one’s obedience of faith.

2 Cor. 4:16 – though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. Justification does not happen all at once, and is not an external declaration. Justification happens every day, and concerns our inner nature.

2 Cor. 5:17 - Paul says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. He is not just the old creation that is covered up. The old has passed away, and behold, the new has come.

I like Hebrews 12:7-10

*Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.*The crux of the passage is that God disciplines those who are already His sons. If everyone was equally righteous, there would be no discipline needed, but He does so to draw us to more complete holiness, i.e. righteousness.

I would simply point to the parable of the servants with the talents in Matt 25. Notice the acceptable servants were not equal, and when the servant who hid the talent had his taken away, it ended up in the hands of the servant with 10 talents. Since the bad servant was cast out, if this is alluding to eternal life, it implies there is UNequal reward.

Thus if in our justification, how we “appear” in the eyes of Almighty God, is not any part our own but is only that of Jesus, we must all appear equal. If that is so, it puts the justness of God into disarray, as He would be “viewing” us all as equally justified, but rewarding some of us more than others. That would be UNjust and completely absurd.

Are you ready to defend your interpretation? If it were me you spoke that to, the word would prove you a wrong.
The talents is a type of gift like the Holy Spirit. If you bury it in the ground you are not testifying about Jesus. Those servants that receive the goods need to make use of the gift.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.

Twisting scripture to make your point is not prudent.
Now remember this proverb
14-12 12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

The way you just chose is from man “you” not the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 3
11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
13 Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;

Below is the wages to the workers. Above as I pointed out is speaking of the HS.
All received the same pay whether they worked 12 hours or 1.

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle,[a] and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’**
8 “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 9 And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.**

Are you ready to defend your interpretation?

I do not defend interpretations; I offer them for consideration. If you do not accept my interpretation and hope to engage me in some kind of “my interpretation is better than yours” battle, you are on a fool’s errand. I don’t consider a verse that begins with “The kingdom of heaven is like…” to be concerned with preaching God’s word to anyone. Who would need that IN Heaven? Thus my interpretation reflects it. You might also take note of the word “IF” in my post. Last I checked, that was a conditional.

One clarification:

I don’t consider a verse that begins with “The kingdom of heaven is like…” to be concerned with preaching God’s word to anyone.

Tthe initial handling of the talents - yes, that is concerned with what you do on Earth. I was referring mainly to the disposition of the talent stripped from the 3rd servant. It was given to one of the others who had already entered into the joy of the Lord, thus could be alluding to a reward in heaven.

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