The Righteousness of God?
Who is God? That is a big question. If someone were to ask you that,
what would your answer be? Maybe you might say that He is love or the
Creator of heaven and earth.
The Bible is known as God’s Word. It is the book He wrote to reveal
Himself to us, so if anyone wants to know more about God; that is the
first place to go. It contains many descriptions about Him. In 1 John
4:8 it says, “…God is love.” In Revelation 4:8 it is written, “Holy,
holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty…” Psalm 47:7 declares, “…God is
the King of all the earth…” But there is one quality of God I want to
focus on. In Isaiah 45:21, God speaks of Himself this way, “And there
is no other god besides me, a righteous God…” And in another place,
the Bible says regarding God’s gospel, “For in it the righteousness of
God is revealed…” (Romans 1:17)
Righteousness is not a commonly used word in our everyday
conversations. What does it mean? The root word “right,” helps with
the definition. It refers to God’s rightness, perfection,
guiltlessness, innocence, faultlessness and justice. Therefore,
because God is righteous, He acts in righteous ways. The Bible reveals
this through His commands. They lay out God’s expectations, not just
for His followers, but all mankind.
Have you heard of the Sermon on the Mount? In it Jesus said, “…
everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…”
(Matthew 5:22) He also spoke, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You
shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks
at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her
in his heart.” (Matt. 5:27-28) And in another place He stated, “You
have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate
your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those
who persecute you…” (Matt. 5:43-44)
Why is Jesus laying out these commands? In them He is revealing His
own righteousness, but also stating the kind of life He expects from
us. He wants us to be righteous, just as He is. Jesus is very clear
about this when He says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your
heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48) This is His standard. We are
to be morally perfect. Who can achieve this though? Can you? Your
neighbor? Your Pastor, Rabi, Priest, or Cleric?
Why do we have to live up to this standard? We might say, “This is
God’s standard, not mine. I do not have to burden myself with trying
to live this way.” In response, the Bible says, “The times of
ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to
repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in
righteousness by a man whom he has appointed…” (Acts 17:30-31) All of
us, whether we believe in God or not, or live by His commands or not,
will stand before Him at one point in the future to be judged by His
righteousness. And what if we fail to live according to His ways? We
will face His certain judgement and eternal death in the unquenchable
flames of hell.
Where is our hope then? For who can live this way and never fail? Only
one person. Jesus. He is our hope, and this is why He went to the
cross. He died and rose again to become our righteousness. We can
never live perfectly enough to be forgiven, but we do not have to.
Why? Because Jesus already has. When a person meets the conditions of
repentance and faith in Christ, then Jesus’ righteousness covers him.
A prayer for you. “Lord God, we have failed to live according to your
ways. We are imperfect people. We repent, and call upon you in faith,
that the righteousness of Christ would become our own, and that we
would be made acceptable in your sight. In Jesus name. Amen.”