Saturday, January 24, 2015

What is righteousness? Why is it important?

Romans 1:17 "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.”

What is righteousness?
Today’s post is going to survey what the Bible has to teach about the concept of “righteousness”. When Paul refers to "it" in verse 17, he is referring to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that he mentions in Romans 1:16. When it comes to understanding the Gospel or “Good News”, the idea of “righteousness” lies at the core of its meaning. Romans 1:17 expresses most clearly the centrality of righteousness in the Gospel: “For in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: “the just shall live by faith”. So what is meant by this term “righteousness”. The most common Hebrew word behind the English word translated “righteousness” in the Old Testament is defined by one Hebrew scholar as: “a thing examined and found to be in order, right; a person found to be unobjectionable, morally upright, innocent.” In the New Testament, the most common Greek word behind the English word “righteousness” deals not only with the state of something or someone before God, but also their conduct and deeds.

In attempting to define the word righteousness, we can offer the following basic definition: “a life and conduct that is pure, innocent and perfectly pleasing with and before God.” The proposed definition of righteousness touches upon three interrelated truths that pertain to the Gospel of salvation and the character of God Himself. 

First, to say that one is righteous in terms of purity deals with the spiritual and moral dimension of one’s life before and with God. Righteousness is what properly describes God Himself, since God is without sin, cannot lie and thus cannot tolerate the sight of sin in His sight. (Habakkuk 1:13; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18)

Secondly, when we say that righteousness or a righteous life is one that is innocent, we are speaking of a life that is without guilt and accusation in the eyes of the law of God. To be righteous before and with God means to be legally “right” and thus innocent before His sight.(Hebrews 7:26) 

In addition to righteousness having to do with moral and legal purity and innocence before and with God, the third element of our definition touches upon the relational dimension of righteousness. God in and of Himself is righteous because He in and of Himself relates perfectly and pleasingly as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When someone is righteous in God’s sight in the relational sense, they are acceptable in His sight and are deemed an adopted son or daughter. (Genesis 15:6; 17:1; Job 1:8; Romans 4:3).

This introductory discussion today has aimed to offer a definition of righteousness in general. With regards to how a person is deemed righteous in God's sight, as well as what type of righteousness is involved in salvation, before and after, we will take the next several posts to consider the different types of righteousness discussed in the Bible. 

More tomorrow....

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