Righteous, Righteousness

<<good, upright>>

Righteousness is morally correct behaviour (both thinking and acting), conforming to the character, mind and will of God, as opposed to wickedness; it is the state of perfection that God requires for humanity to enter heaven.  However, our righteousness is as ‘filthy rags’ compared to God’s, and will not get us to this eternal destination (Isa 64:6). Thankfully our admission will be by the grace of God, through faith in Christ. It is a gift given to all who believe and apply the Bible’s teachings (Ps 51:10; Rom 3:22, 5:17; Eph 2:8,9; Phil 3:8,9; Tit 3:5). At the cross, a divine exchange took place, “God made [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that [by faith] in Him we might become the righteousness of God” – seen not as sinners, but holy, by the mercy, grace and righteousness of Jesus Christ, with our minds and lives being conformed to the image of His Son (Rom 5:1, 8:8,29, 12:2; 2 Cor 5:21; 2 Pet 1:1).

As a 'new creation’ we must continue to seek God in order to please Him and endeavour, with His enabling, to live out in our experience this unique holy position ‘in Christ’ (2 Cor 5:17; Col 3:1). Although we do still sin, as believers the overall pattern of our life should be our primary concern, with righteousness not sin being the dominant focal point, as our minds subconsciously seek to attain what our attention is focused on. Indeed Paul says we are to become slaves to the righteousness that leads to eternal life (Rom 6:6,7,13-23).               

The Holy Spirit lives within and we are to “walk in the Spirit” by living a lifestyle of full surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, while cultivating the ability to hear God’s voice and the habit of obeying (Gal 5:16,25; 2 Tim 1:14). Salvation is a joint effort – 

Right living is not about rules but righteousness,           peace and joy in the Holy Spirit – Romans 14:17

Jesus provides the righteousness before a holy God and we outwork it in our daily life otherwise our faith is in vain (2 Cor 6:1; Phil 2:12,13). The type of ‘fruit’ we produce indicates our true nature and if His truths are being acted on (Mt 7:16-27). We are exhorted to “Live as children of light whose fruit is all goodness, righteousness and truth, finding out what pleases the Lord… For man’s anger [or any other selfish trait] does not bring about the righteous life that God demands” (Eph 5:9,10; Jas 1:20). As those who earnestly seek this righteousness we will be filled with the such fruit, abundantly rewarded and able to withstand Satan’s attacks (Prov 21:21; Mt 5:6, 6:33; Eph 6:14; Phil 1:11; 2 Tim 2:22; Heb 1:9). Using another image the Bible counsels us to “Sow for yourselves righteousness” and reap an increase (Hos 10:12).

As believers we should be committed to living out the principles and godly qualities of the Bible which are vital in the pursuit of righteousness (1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 3:16). We are to put on the character of Christ and desire holiness while putting off the works of the flesh. This calls for self-control and discipline to deny the flesh yet understanding and

Those who pursue righteousness                 will receive – Matthew 5:6

doing what God requires (Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9,10; Jas 1:22-24). In humility seek the continual awareness of the presence of God, for although His Spirit lives within we are much of the time oblivious to Him, preoccupied with the affairs of life and out-of-tune spiritually (1 Cor 3:16).

“He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”. These paths are defined routes that even the simple will not stray from (Ps 23:3; Isa 35:8). 

All people will be judged according to the righteousness and justice of God. Jesus spoke openly of this to His listeners (Jn 12:48; Act 17:31). He said, unless their righteousness was of a greater dimension (a heart attitude of wanting and actively bringing about the Kingdom of God) than that of the religious leaders (who only had an outer show to impress) they would not get to heaven, while the Apostle John assured his readers that “everyone who does what is right has been born of Him” (Mt 5:20, 6:33; 7:21; 1 Jn 2:29).

David said, God rewarded him according to his righteousness and Job was called a righteous man (2 Sam 22:21,25; Job 1:1,8, 2:3). Abraham believed God and it was credited as righteousness to him; while we too, are credited with the righteousness that comes by faith as we live out our beliefs and await the crown of righteousness for all who live for Christ, doing as we believe He would in our situation (Rom 1:17, 4:3-8, 10:10; 2 Tim 4:8).

In Scripture the righteous are contrasted to the worldly – “Righteousness exalts a nation, while sin is a disgrace to any people” (Ps 1:1-6; Prov 14:34; 2 Cor 6:14). Living a God-honouring life includes rightness of speech and ethics together with right actions and fair dealings between each other, turning from all that defiles by dying to sin and living for righteousness (Ps 15:1-5, 119:1-16; Mic 6:8; Mt 5:3-16; Col 3:1-17; 2 Tim 2:19; 1 Pet 2:24).

The Pharisees, the religious leaders in Jesus day were self-righteous – they had unwarranted confidence in their own righteousness. They considered they were superior to other people, because of their strict adherence to the legalistic traditions which they flaunted to gain honour from those observing (Mt 6:1-5,16-18, 23:5-7; Lk 18:9-14).

See also: armour (spiritual), consecrate, disciple/discipleship, divine exchange, goodness, growth, impute/imputation, pursuing God, put off/put on, right, self-discipline, self-righteous.



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