Tag Archives: Righteousness

He lives; you died

Jesus joins us to Himself, blanketing us with His righteousness as He lives His life in us. He lives; you died; you share His life.(Colossians 3:3-4) In Christ Jesus we have died to sin and are now free from its power. Why? Because through Christ God has eliminated sin as the reason for separation from Him.

Sharing in Jesus’ life is the cornerstone of our relationship with God. While we must not minimize the importance of sharing in His death, it doesn’t end there. To be sure, in Romans 6:5 Paul emphasizes the fact that, “if we have become, united with Him in the likeness His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

Remembering that in God there only exists life, the only possible outcome of being joined with Christ in His death is that we also share in His resurrection. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, so we too are raised up from our dead old self into glorious new life in God.

Righteousness a Gift?

It’s easy for us to think of salvation as being a free gift of grace, but righteousness is often a different story. Yet righteousness before God comes exclusively as a free gift from Him as well. Here’s how Paul puts it: “… those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17). Truly magnificent, isn’t it? But as wonderful as this is, it’s merely the starting point in our walk of faith.

The question is how the reality of God’s righteousness, having now become our own, plays out in the believer over the course of his life. What about our old nemesis: sin? How is it that God can allow our ongoing struggle with sin to exist right alongside the awesome position of righteousness we now have in Christ? The incredible gift of God’s grace has everything to do with it! In Christ, God has actually caused us to die to sin itself.

By Grace Alone

By grace alone we have been made righteous. We tend to think of righteousness as having become acceptable to God. But righteousness is much more than merely being acceptable. Rather, it is rooted in the fact that Christ is now in us, and we in Him.(Colossians 2:27)

The promise of the Gospel is a gift. Our righteousness can never be earned by working toward it. The truth is, redemption means that we have actually become the righteousness of God Himself.(2 Corinthians 5:21) In Christ Jesus we have been granted an almost unbelievable status with God. But believe it we must, since by faith we have been reconciled to God and consequently have been made righteous.

Rescued from Sin

Think back for a moment to what your life was like at the time Jesus rescued you from your sin. In and of ourselves, could any of us have achieved righteousness in God’s eyes? Of course not! Each and every one of us had to rely totally on Jesus to clean up the mess we’d made of our lives.

Then how in the world could we ever think that now we might somehow be capable of building relationship with Him by our own efforts?(Romans 5:10) Well, needless to say, it’s impossible. Still, it’s not at all uncommon for believers to keep trying, since our human nature instinctively inclines us to do so. Therefore, we must always be vigilant not to retreat into a mindset of trying to earn a position of good standing with God.(Colossians 2:20-21)

Appreciating Judgment

For most of us, the word judgment carries with it some pretty nasty overtones. Punishment being imposed for wrongdoing is usually what think of when we hear that word. But doesn’t it just as often result in a reward for doing right? Think of opposing parties in a court battle. The loser is indeed punished, but the winner ends up being rewarded.

Righteousness through Christ provides the pretext for positive judgment by God. The evil done in our former life doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when covered over by the extravagant grace God lavishes upon us. And His grace is not only bountiful, but inexhaustible What I mean to say is, it’s not only meant to cover our pre-redemptive sin, but our troubling shortcomings subsequent to our salvation as well. Good news? You bet! Thank God for judgment!

God’s Law

In His eternal wisdom, God chose Israel from among the nations as His own possession. Of Israel God said, “…you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”(Exodus 19:6) He then gave them special revelation concerning His righteousness—its primary expression being the Law of Moses, which came some four hundred years after Abraham received God’s promise. In this Law God laid out the rules for Israel’s behavior, structure for their worship and also a special revelation of His nature. He made such things known to no other nation.

But over the centuries Israel debated both the meaning and the implementation of the Law of Moses. Over time an oral tradition evolved, handed down from teacher to student, ultimately resulting in a written collection of traditional rabbinic laws called the Mishna (compiled over 335 years from 200 B.C. to A.D. 135). Jesus made mention of this supplement to the Law when He chided the Scribes and Pharisees: “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?”(Matthew 15:3)

Eventually the Mishna became a cornerstone of the Talmud, an exhaustive interpretation of both the Mishna and the Law and Prophets compiled over 250 years from A.D. 250 to 500. An English version of this work is comprised of almost 36,000 pages in 36 volumes.  

In Judaism, man has raised the complexity of religious law to an astonishing level. But the question is why they would be motivated to make law so burdensome. The answer seems to lay in their belief that righteousness before God is possible only through strict adherence to His law—and the more works of the law one performs the holier he has the chance to become.

The Jews have indeed brought the complexity of law to a new level, but their beliefs concerning law in general are not unique to them. These beliefs are also deeply embedded in the psyche of mankind as a whole, and therefore found as a common denominator in most of the world’s religions.

The Righteousness of Law

Scripture tells us that God is righteous. We commonly define righteousness as being in right standing with God. But what does it mean for God to be righteous? It would be silly to think that He has achieved some sort of excellence that allows Him to be good enough to be God. No, God doesn’t need to meet a standard of righteousness; He intrinsically is that standard. God’s righteousness means that He is by nature the essence of all that is good and just. Explaining God’s righteousness in The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer says:           

            “In the inspired Scriptures, justice and righteousness are scarcely to be        distinguished from each other. The same word in the original becomes in English     justice or righteousness…Justice, when used of God, is a name we give to the             way God is, nothing more; and when God acts justly He is not doing so to             conform to an independent criterion, but simply acting like Himself in a given   situation…Everything in the universe is good to the degree that it conforms to the       nature of God and evil if it fails to do so. God is His own self-existent principle of      moral equity…”           

Now since God’s righteousness (justice) is the benchmark by which He will ultimately judge His creation, He had to provide mankind with the means to relate to His standard of perfection. He revealed that standard to man through law. So a good understanding of biblical law is essential, because it’s impossible to fully comprehend God’s amazing provision for our own righteousness (justification) without it.