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Christian Fundamentals – Righteousness

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  • Christian Fundamentals – Righteousness

    What is it?

    Righteousness is what is right – ”I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” (Isaiah 45:19). Righteousness is a first principle with God, and everything for His pleasure is based upon it.

    Where is it seen?

    It is seen in God, who is righteous (Psalm 119:137), and in the Lord Jesus (1 John 2:1). Of the Lord Jesus we read ”Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity;” (Hebrews 1:9), and even Pilate declared ”I am innocent of the blood of this just person” (Matthew 27:24), and the thief on the cross ”this man hath done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:41). But of ourselves, we’re told ”There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). In the sight of God we are righteous only through faith (Romans 4:11) and not through works.

    How can God reckon a man righteous?

    The Epistle to the Romans makes it abundantly clear that fallen man does not possess righteousness, but that it is presented as a free gift of God (Romans 5:17). God certainly does not overlook our sins, but that free gift is ours because the Lord Jesus ”Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24). Through the work of the Lord Jesus and His shed blood, God can be ”just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). His righteous claims against sin have been fully met by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross so that ”there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1).

    How can it be seen in the lives of believers?

    A true believer marked by faith and by dependence upon the Holy Spirit – ”for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). This leads to practical righteousness: ”if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10). Noah is the first man that God calls righteous (Genesis 7:1), he ”became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).

    Today, believers in the Lord Jesus can show that they, too, have been reckoned righteous – their lives showing that they have faith in God, and that they seek by the Spirit to do what is right in His sight. The world in which we live has largely given up any thought of God, and there is now little acceptance of God’s standard of right and wrong. But we can show righteousness by seeking to be pleasing to God in our daily lives, and by making His interests our interests in all things.

    Paul exhorts Timothy to flee youthful lusts, and to ”follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22). In that same epistle, Paul instructs Timothy (a young man) as to the way of righteousness, to ”continue thou in the things which thou hast learned” (“ Timothy 3:14) when others are careless or ignoring right principles (like today), and he reminds him ”all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for… instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16).

    [Reproduced with permission]
    Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right. - Charles H. Spurgeon