My favorite new song off the newest Passion CD, is a hymn rewrite by Daniel Carson, Kristian Stanfill, Christy Nockels, Matt Maher, & Jesse Reeves called “Lord I Need You”. It is a powerful statement of trust in God mostly as a singable rewrite of “I Need Thee Every Hour”.  It’s not the most catchy or rocky song in the collection, but its’ words are probably the most powerful and striking.

Lord I Need You: playing music while “baby sitting” (not very well with either though)

I think the new words are:

(bridge) Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

(chorus)Lord, I need You, Oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

I found myself singing it several times and mistakenly (subconsciously?) singing “my one defense, thy righteousness.” It seemed like a huge mistake –I really need God, my only defense is that I’m righteous, but that’s what the song says.

Then the beautiful of the song hit me –I’ve been (supposed to be) sinning about a wonderful doctrine called “imputed righteousness”. This is (I think) the technical term for the kind of justice and security that God gives to Christians. I’m not gonna lie, I had to look up the formal definition in Logos Bible Software, but after reading Calvin, Hodge, and several other definitions- I came across this one:

The crediting by God to believers with righteousness on account of Jesus Christ. Paul argues that Abraham did nothing which earned him the status of being righteous in the sight of God. Rather, Abraham believed the promise of God, and for that reason was granted the status of being righteous before God. Likewise, all who trust in Jesus Christ have righteousness imputed to them–that is, reckoned as if it was theirs. Imputation should not be confused with impartation. Believers are not made right ethically (impartation), but put right relationally (imputation). What God changes is not the character of believers but their legal standing before him. From this new position, believers are called to co-operate with the Holy Spirit in sanctification so that their character increasingly reflects their new standing.*

Our best defense against guilt, against temptation, against accusation, against doubt – is OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. That when we trust in Christ, God looks at us – and rather than seeing us in our guilt, sin and failure God sees the work of Christ. Those who are in Christ are seen by God as being just as righteous as Christ himself.

That is worth singing about. (Chord Chart)

*Manser, M. H. (1999). Zondervan Dictionary of Bible Themes. The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. Grand Rapids, MI: ZondervanPublishingHouse.

By |November 10th, 2011|sam reflects|5 Comments

About the Author:

Believes that the world would be a better place if people lived in the reality of what God has done for them. He's a husband, father, church leader, and follower of Jesus.


  1. Wadeskelton November 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    That was truly beautiful!

  2. Christina September 15, 2013 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    This is one of my favorite songs right now. I understood the line “My one defense, my righteousness,” to mean that my one defense, [and] my righteousness,” as referring to God, whom I need, rather than my one defense is my righteousness. Does that make sense? I do believe we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness…but I think your original subconscious rewording of the song is appropriate, and the true meaning of it. 🙂
    Maher, Tomlin, and the others could very well read what I wrote and say,”Wrong!” Ha! What do I know? 🙂

    • Samuel September 16, 2013 at 11:09 am - Reply

      Yes – that’s a fair take on it – either way though it’s roughly the same – talking about “my righteousness” as being united in Christ. – Love this song thanks for listening. I think I had Psalm 18 in my head when I was listening to it the first time 🙂 – “the Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness.” – a lot of Christology/Biblical Theology to unpack there.

  3. Ann McWilliams July 22, 2014 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    I think some proper punctuation would solve the issue.

  4. brianfreytagBrian Freytag July 14, 2015 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Matt Maher is of Roman Catholic persuasion which leads me to believe that his theology on this line is based on the idea that God cannot call somebody righteous unless they are righteous. So after repentance and their works of penance (through the Sacrament of Penance), they literally are righteous. In Maher’s case, it is literally his own personal righteousness via his faith and works. Roman Catholics believe that is their own righteousness that is their defense.

    Your subconscious “thy righteousness” is more theologically correct because I am not righteous apart from the imputation of His perfect righteousness. I cannot make claim to it, otherwise I’m boasting. My defense isn’t my own righteousness even if it is counted to me as righteousness.

    This is why I like to know the theological background of the individuals singing the songs. It helps to unpack what the theology actually is in a song 🙂

    God bless!

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