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Doctrine of Righteousness

July 23, 2010

DOCTRINE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Introduction

God’s righteousness is absolute moral perfection and absence of all sin or contact with anything less than perfect righteousness equal to His own. Divine righteousness is the absolute standard by which God judges all of His created beings according to Psalms 119:137. God is infinitely holy and perfectly righteous in all of His ways as stated in Deuteronomy 32:4. His righteousness is evident in all of His attributes. This is because God’s righteousness prevents any compromise of His perfect justice. God’s perfect justice prevents any compromise of His other attributes from any source.

Righteous are You, O Lord, and upright are Your judgments. (Psalms 119:137)

“The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)

To be “righteous” means to be acting in accordance with all of God’s laws and statutes and without sin or guilt. Because God is perfect in all of His attributes, God’s righteousness is perfect, eternal, unchangeable, and absolute.

Righteousness Related to Justice

God’s righteousness is always related to His justice. God’s perfect righteousness can only contact perfect righteousness. God’s perfect justice demands perfectly fair justice in all cases.  God administers justice to His created beings based on the perfect and absolute principles of His righteousness.  Whatever His righteousness requires to remain perfect, His justice performs. If any thought or action of any created being does not measure up to His perfect righteousness, then God’s justice must judge that “unrighteousness.”  This is called sin. Conversely, if any thought or action is in accordance with His perfect righteousness, then His justice must provide blessing.

For example, if we sin in any way either consciously or from ignorance, God’s righteousness must condemn that sin and His justice must provide punishment for it. As believers, God’s justice punishes us to get us to return to the Filling of the Holy Spirit through confession of sin. When we do something (thought or action) while filled with the Spirit, the righteousness of God demands that we be blessed by the justice of God. As we grow spiritually, God must provide greater grace blessing accordingly.

Unbelievers remain under condemnation from the justice of God because they have not accepted the perfect saving work of Jesus Christ. Without God’s perfect righteousness given at the point of salvation faith belief, they can never have any relationship with God. They will receive the same perfectly fair punishment from His justice as the fallen angels will receive – eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire.

God is the righteous ruler over all of His creation and as such, He is the only just dispenser of rewards and punishments. God’s perfect righteousness makes Him the only perfectly qualified judge in existence. The perfect justice of God cannot be unfair or prejudiced and cannot make a false judgment. This is because the standard of judgment is always God’s own perfect righteousness. There are many passages in Scripture that confirm God’s perfect essence and righteous judgments. A few are presented below.

And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)

“Therefore the Lord has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.” (Daniel 9:14)

The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds. (Psalms 145:17)

“Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2)

“There is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2)

“There is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2)

God’s perfect righteousness makes His character perfect as are all of His other attributes.  The passages below reveal God’s righteous actions and judgments. We as believers are to conform to His plan through Bible doctrine in our soul and thereby to grow in knowledge of Him.

O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;  For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds. (Psalms 7:9)

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face. (Psalms 11:7)

Splendid and majestic is His work, and His righteousness endures forever. (Psalms 111:3)

For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3)

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. (1 John 2:29)

God’s Justice Can Only Bless Perfect Righteousness

The righteousness and justice of God guarantee that God will always be consistently fair and impartial in dealing with His creatures. God’s justice provides whatever His righteousness demands – in all cases. There has never been a time that His justice provided either blessing or punishment without perfect input from His righteousness. God’s righteousness first confirms the need for either blessing or punishment, then signals the justice of God to execute what is required.  Therefore, there is nothing that mankind can do to alter or corrupt God.

God cannot bless mankind when they only possess an old sin nature. There is no target for blessing, only a target for punishment. When we accept the perfect saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross, we receive the imputation of His perfect righteousness as one of 40 things God gives each believer at the moment of salvation. This imputation is perfect and permanent. Whatever God’s righteousness accepts, His justice will bless.  Therefore, all blessing is from the justice of God directly to the righteousness of God in us, not to us personally. God blesses us because of what He is, not what we are.

God’s Righteousness And Mankind

God has always been totally free from sin.  God cannot tempt or solicit any created being to sin.  God cannot be involved in sin in any way. God’s righteousness can only condemn it. God’s justice can only judge it.  This is why, according to 2 Corinthians 5:21, Jesus Christ had to become perfect and sinless humanity to be qualified to be judged in our place for all of the sins of the human race.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

God’s absolute righteousness cannot have a relationship with any creature that has anything less than perfect and absolute righteousness according to Psalm 111:9 and Isaiah 6:3. God’s absolute righteousness cannot have fellowship with sinful man according to Isaiah 59:2.

He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name. (Psalm 111:9)

And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

As perfect and absolute righteousness, God rejects all forms of righteousness that do not measure up to His perfect righteousness. This means that all forms of human righteousness cannot ever measure up to God’s perfect standard.  Isaiah 64:6 tells us exactly where human righteousness will get us with God.

For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

Man’s concept of righteousness is relative to what is learned, observed or experienced in life.  No human being, except Jesus Christ, has ever had the capability to measure up to God’s absolute divine standard of righteousness by self‑effort. This is shown in Psalms 14:3, Romans 3:23, and Titus 3:5.

They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalms 14:3)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.  (Titus 3:5)

Jesus Christ’s Sinless Perfection and The Cross

Jesus Christ was perfectly sinless (impeccable) throughout his life here on earth. His humanity remained perfectly sinless even while He was being physically tortured prior to being nailed to the cross. He never even had a single mental attitude sin though it all! He never once called on His deity to get him out of a jam. His human nature remained absolutely perfect and sinless thus maintaining moral perfection. The enabling power of the Holy Spirit sustained Him as the Holy Spirit does for every believer in the Church Age. The spiritual life of Jesus Christ sustained him as he paid for our sins on the cross. This is the very same enabling power of the spiritual life that each and every believer possesses. The only thing standing in our way of using this power is our free will decisions to do so.

It goes back to that moment of Salvation when you received Jesus Christ as your Savior, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (baptism means identification) entered you into union with the Lord Jesus Christ. In union with the Lord Jesus Christ, you share the righteousness of God positionally. You will never be perfectly sinless in this life because you were born in Adam’s sin and with a genetically formed old sin nature. However, when your soul is controlled by the Holy Spirit, you are by definition in a sinless state. Once you decide to sin mentally or by action, you immediately lose the filling of the Holy Spirit and sin in a state of carnality where your old sin nature controls your soul.

When we’re filled with the Holy Spirit, we’re not controlled by the old sin nature.  When we’re controlled by the old sin nature, we’re not filled with the Holy Spirit.  When we’re filled with the Holy Spirit and growing under Bible doctrine, we grow spiritually and learn to make use of the Holy Spirit’s power within to stay in fellowship a maximum amount of the time on a daily basis.

As you grow spiritually, you will be in fellowship a greater percentage of the time.  The new believer is out of fellowship most of the time. The mature believer remains in fellowship most of the time. But you will never come to the place where you do not convert temptation into sin. Only Jesus Christ lived a life of perfection. The only thing we can do to receive eternal salvation is to express non-meritorious faith in the perfect substitutionary work of Jesus Christ on the cross. This is faith alone in Christ alone.  When you do that, you’re immediately in union with Christ and you share His righteousness as in 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Romans 3:22.  For those who think they can get to heaven on their own by keeping the Mosaic Law, Galatians 2:16 and Romans 3:23 are very clear. For those who think they can get to heaven on their own by being very moral and good to others, Isaiah 64:6 has an even clearer message. Everyone sins with the exception of Jesus Christ who is the only way to eternal life and a relationship with God.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction. (Romans 3:22)

Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.  (Galatians 2:16)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)

For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

Jesus Christ is both perfect humanity and the perfect undiminished God the Son who is co-equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.  The triune God is absolute righteousness and cannot be unrighteous or unfair. God=s absolute righteousness was satisfied with Christ=s work on the cross. Therefore the focal point in all of creation is the cross.

God’s Blessings Target His Imputed Righteousness In Us

All blessing from God to the believer is imputed from the justice of God to His indwelling righteousness that we all received at the moment of salvation.  All divine discipline or punishment also comes from the justice of God. In either case, what the justice of God sends to us is based on how we measure up compared to the perfect righteousness of God. If we measure up because we are filled with the Holy Spirit and producing divine good by our thoughts and actions, we are blessed from the justice of God. Alternatively, when we are in carnality, we receive divine discipline from God’s justice to turn us back to the spiritual life. Whatever the righteousness of God rejects (mental attitude or action contrary to His perfect righteousness), the justice of God must condemn. Divine discipline brings to our attention that we need to confess our sins per 1 John 1:9 and again be filled with the Holy Spirit.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)