Righteousness is perhaps most easily defined as 'right standing with God'. Having the right to approach Him boldly because He accepts you. Righteousness is therefore as you would expect one of the most important things in the Christian life. There are for instance three things that Jesus said the Holy Spirit would remind/reprove us about and the second thing in the list is righteousness. So righteousness is high on the agenda!

Joh 16:8-11 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Holy Spirit does not act for Himself; His aim is to point us to Jesus and what He has done for us and to help us to put more and more faith in Him. Your sins have been dealt with so that you can focus on your relationship with God through Jesus. {See Forgive Us Our Sins!}

So what is this righteousness or right-standing that God is looking for and which the Holy spirit will convince us that we need?

If we think in terms of human relationships, having right standing with someone depends on their accessment of your character. If they consider you truthful, honest, loyal, trustworthy, caring, loving, and fulfilling other traits that are important to them, then you would have right standing with them.

On the other hand when God looks at how we exhibit these virtues, from the standpoint of the perfection that he is looking for, we do not come out very well. We come out very badly in fact.

Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

We come nowhere near the standard that God has and expects in us. The righteousness that we can achieve in this life of and by our own efforts is so far below the standard that God expects in those who come to Him that He says it's like filthy (blood soaked) rags.

The righteousness that God is looking for is that which was exhibited by Jesus Christ only, when he was here on earth, modelling the lifestyle of a perfect follower of God.

It's the righteousness of God, which we cannot achieve by ourselves. So, if having right standing with God was dependent on our performance we would have no hope. But there is good news! While we cannot be righteous to God's standards of ourselves, He has made a way for us by allowing us to have Jesus' righteousness imputed to us. This is what the gospel (good news) is all about. Paul puts it like this in the book of Romans...

Rom 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."

In other words, it's the gospel that has the power to bring people to realise their need for salvation to be reconciled to God; it reveals what true righteousness really is; and that if you live by faith (in Jesus) you will be righteous. You will live holy.

This is the standard we need in us and the only way to do so is to have Jesus' righteousness imputed to us by accepting his sacrifice for our sinful lives. He has taken our sins and exchanges that for his righteousness. We are given His righteousness on accepting Him as our Lord and saviour.

2Co 5:21 Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Notice that we are not righteous because of what WE have done. If we have accepted Jesus as saviour HE has given us His fullness. We have ALL received this, which includes Jesus' righteousness so when God sees us he sees a people who have right standing with Him. Not because of our righteousnesses, but because of Jesus's righteousness having been imputed to us.

Joh 1:16 For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace.

When we accepted Jesus' sacrifice on Calvary on our behalf we were changed. We are no longer what we were before the exchange took place. First we are cleansed of our sins, so we are no longer sinners.

Col 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

So through Jesus Christ we have been forgiven of all our sins and have been put into the kingdom of the Son of God.

Then we are given a new spirit which is perfect and in perfect communication with God. In right standing with God,in other words. In our spirit we ARE the righteousnes of God in Jesus.

Eph 4:24 The new man is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Next that spirit is sealed by the Holy Spirit so that our spirits will stay sin-free. It's just not our nature in our spirits.

Eph 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

And then we are cloaked with Jesus - clothed in Righteousness. So looking on the inside or looking on the outside God sees righteousness when He looks at His children.

Gal 3:27 Indeed, all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

The net result of all this is that we are completely new creatures compared to ourselves before or to someone who has not accepted Jesus.

2 Cor 5:17 You are a new creature in Jesus Christ.

And also in Hebrews the writer points out to us that...

Heb 12:22-23 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,.

You are completely different on the inside; in your spirit. Now you still have to renew your mind and bring your body into submission to the new spirit life that you have through Jesus - that's certainly true.

You have to put this new Spirit/Life into a new body/mind by renewing your mind. You have to put the new life into a new lifestyle.

Rom 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

In your spirit you have been made the righteousness of Christ.

We can also see what God says about the other benefits/blessings he has given us in Jesus by looking at 1 Cor 1:30.

1Co 1:30 It is because of him that you are in union with Christ Jesus, who for us has become wisdom from God, as well as our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

Now you have to renew your mind to be like the new spirit God has given you. Sometimes this is put as being given a new heart. At your centre or spirit level though you are new. Yes, it's true that you were a sinner, but you have been - saved, forgiven, justified, given a new spirit, sealed by the Holy Spirit, given the faith of Jesus and the righteousness of Jesus and put into the kingdom of God.
You could hardly be more new!

Rom 3:21-24 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Yes, we've all sinned but we have been justified by his grace. We were sinners but no longer; now we are justified - righteous.

The thought I'm sure will occur to many though - "What difference will this make to me actually"? "How does that help me live a better life than I would have before"?

The first thing to notice is that putting your trust in Jesus and living by his grace empowers you to live a changed lifestyle.

Tit 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

Through his grace God teaches/trains us in godly, righteous living. What this is saying is that God's love and grace, which is the gospel, is what will lead us to live holy lives. Concentrating on what we can do ourselves will only show us what failure is like, but looking to Jesus will bring us to holiness and righteousness in and through him.

1Jn 3:3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

We just naturally start living up to the standard God requires as we put faith in Jesus to live his life through us. As John 16:8-11 tells us, Holy Spirit will be reminding us that right living comes by believing in and relying on Jesus. when we miss the mark it's because we relied on ourselves. He will remind us that we are the righteousness of Christ so should be relying on Him to make righteousness and holiness our lifestyle. And He will remind us that it's satan who has been defeated and judged so that we can know that through faith in Jesus, when we resist satan he will flee from us. We have all that we need to win through!

Rom 1:17 "The righteous shall live by faith."

God has through Jesus made us right with him. He has reconciled us to himself. We now are the righteousness of God in Jesus. We have the power in us to live lives worthy of our calling when we live by grace letting Jesus live in us. When we put our trust in Jesus and live by faith in him we will live righteous lives. Not that we won't make mistakes and miss the mark at times, but our new man will be focussed on righteous living through Jesus Christ living his life in us.

Php 2:13 for it is God who is working in you, both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

We were sinners, but we have been - saved, forgiven, redeemed, justified, given a new spirit, sealed by the Holy Spirit, given the faith and righteousness of Jesus and put into the kingdom of God. And we have all things through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tit 3:4-7 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

We are truly blessed now and into the future because of the Good and Gracious God that we worship! We, of all people, can truly say - "God is Good!"


Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread. Click Here.
And forgive us our sins. Click Here.
It's In The Spirit. Click Here.
Grace and Law in Ancient Israel. Click Here.

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