Righteousness – What kind do you have?

The Bible speaks of two different kinds of righteousness and God’s righteousness. Man’s righteousness is, in reality, only an imagined righteousness, for God, Who looks upon the heart and Who cannot lie says: "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10). No matter how moral and upright a man may be in his dealings with other men, he has no righteousness which can stand before a holy God. "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" (Isa. 64:6). God is perfectly and absolutely holy and righteous, and no sin can stand in His presence. And yet He testifies of us, that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). So, no one can ever stand before God in his or her own righteousness. "Therefore by the deeds of the law (which is righteousness by personal attainment) there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom 3:20).

God’s Word, however, tells us about another kind of righteousness, God’s very own perfect righteousness, which He has provided for those who will accept it as a gift from Him. "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference" (Rom. 3:21, 22).

This real righteousness, this true and perfect righteousness, is called "the righteousness of God." It is the righteousness which God has provided for sinners. God Himself, being perfectly holy, cannot forgive our sins simply because He loves us, or simply because He knows we cannot help ourselves. "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23), eternal death, which is eternal separation from God. So, of God would save His sinful and sinning creatures, He must righteously settle the sin question, our sins must be atoned for. The debt must be paid. This was done at the Cross, when our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s dear Son died for us, "the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God" (I Pet. 3:18).

On the Cross, God "made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). Because Christ took our sin upon Himself, God can give His righteousness to us when we trust Him by believing the Gospel, "how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (I or. 15:3,4).

All need righteousness in order to stand before God, none can provide that righteousness for himself, but God has provided it, and it is for all, "even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference" (Rom. 3:22). While this righteousness is "unto all", (for Christ died for all), it is only "upon all them that believe." If one would be saved, if one would be clothed with this "righteousness of God", he must believe, He must embrace with his heart God’s message concerning His Son."Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that us in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare I say, at this time His righteousness; that He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:24-26).

We note that God’s righteousness is a gift, the above verses declare that we are "justified by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (ROM. 6:23) . We cannot work for it, it must simply be received. This wonderful gift is "through faith in His blood." His shed blood speaks of His life laid down for us, "for the life of the flesh is in the blood:…it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Lev. 17:11).

God’s gift of salvation and righteousness then "is by faith of Jesus Christ…upon all them that believe" (Rom. 3:22). Believing is equal to receiving. "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12).

By giving His only begotten Son for us, God not only maintained His own righteousness and gave eternal proof that He will not pass over sin; He also opened the way to give His own Son’s righteousness yes, to give is Son Himself, to all who will believe. Where is boasting then; it is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law" (Rom. 3:27, 28).

Reader, what kind of righteousness do you have?" If you are trusting in your own righteousness, you are lost. If you are trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness, you are saved. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).

John B.. Marchbanks