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I very much agree with Thomas in that we need to make a clear distinction between righteous acts, good deeds, etc..., and the righteousness provided by and through the salvation experience. Let's say you were found guilty of a crime that called for the death penalty. As you stood before the judge, deserving death, the judge said "I love you so much that we have decided my son will pay for your crime and die in your place. Not only this but we will also expunge this charge from your record. I declare you not guilty, you are free to go." In this scenario you were found guilty and liable for the penalty. However, the judge first had mercy by not giving you what you deserved. Next he bestowed grace by giving what you did not deserve, then set you free. By comparison, a truly saved individual, although culpable and responsible for his sin, has been declared innocent/ righteous. We are not righteous but have been declared righteous as a result of Christ's substitutionary atonement, the innocent dying for the guilty. Christ's innocence/righteousness has been imputed or laid to our account. 2 Corinthians 5:21 " For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Righteousness is exclusively of God Matthew 19:16-17. We therefore can only be counted righteous on permission from Him which is extended to all who come to Him by the grace which is only provided through God's Son Jesus Christ. On account of that, there is no other way we can be righteous minus Jesus. No one is ever counted righteous without ever getting to accept God and His will. Once more, righteousness is exclusively of God and God alone. He (God) only extends it to whoever comes to Him by the grace He (God) provides through His Son Jesus Christ. As to define what the word righteousness is; can be done in a range of versions depending on how we would want to approach it and what we are aiming to achieve out of the question. The following are some of the versions: In one sense, we could say; righteousness is the mind of God. The mind of God is all good intentioned, God is never moved by emotions, when He makes decisions, He does so independently. God is never compromised nor is He influenced in any way when He does anything. God never favors anybody on account of mere friendship or proximity or looks. He looks out for those who have a mind like His and will keep right by sticking to it. Righteousness is the only point which whoever seeks God should derive their strength from. Isaiah 54:14 says we can only derive our spiritual strength from righteousness. Righteousness is the point where we connect with God and by which we are identified as belonging to God by the grace granted to us through Jesus Christ. It is the ultimate product of our acceptance of Jesus Christ. In another way, righteousness can be defined to mean standing right with God and true goodness (1Timothy 6:11). By being righteous, God is ever loving, caring, peaceful, faithful, bearing. As mortal men, we are more often than not influenced by a number of factors when we make decisions some of which are; biological closeness, tribe, family, friendship etc. On the other hand though, God is influenced by non of such. God's excellence is above the excellence of men. We are also counted righteous when we are upright and in right standing with God (1Peter 3:12), (Hosea 10:12). How are we upright and in right standing with God? Most of what manifests in our flesh is more often than not manufactured in our mind. If our mind is influenced by other factors rather than to do the right thing, we are likely to produce results similar to what has crossed our mind. For example, in the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, the visible action is not what is counted as sin, but where it originates or manufactured from and that is the mind (Matthew 5:28). But if we yearn for righteousness, we will make decisions which may not necessarily favor us but keep us standing right with God. To choose not to steal even when conditions dictate that you should is out of the desire to be right with God. It is the mind that agrees to that and is therefore counted righteous because it chooses the way of God despite causing suffering to the physical man. Righteousness is choosing to do God's will by accepting all He may have asked you to do and do just that (James 3:18). In Isaiah 20:2 when the Prophet Isaiah was commanded by God to walk naked and did just that, he was being righteous by accepting and doing the command of God. He didn't question God's command nor did he attempt to reason with God, despite knowing that walking naked is shameful to the observers, why? He knew that God is all holy and all righteous. Whatever God tells you to do, He knows exactly what He wants to achieve out of it, for He is Omniscient. We can never reason with God. He is God because He is unimaginable, unpredictable, He does as He wishes. Such is the main cause of our misunderstanding of God. We want to reason with Him, we want disapprove Him which can't be (Isaiah 55:9). That is; righteousness can be defined as fulfilling God's will wherever we may be and that is it!
Righteousness broadly means right standing, right believing and right living. We normally focus our attention on Abraham's faith, but we should focus on the faithfulness of God towards Abraham. God was faithful always with Abraham. He was under the grace of God. Therefore he was accounted for God's righteousness. We became righteous because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. God gave his righteousness to us through Christ.
I would like to sum up what I have read in these answers. Righteousness has a two facet application when it comes to Christianity. First, there is Positional Righteousness, that is the legal standing that is obtained before God upon new birth or salvation. [2 Corinthians.5:17-Galatians 6:15-Romans. 6:4-6-Romans 7:6-Titus 3:5-7 and John 3:1-5] Second, there is Practical Righteousness, which comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit after salvation that comes in righteous living or sanctification.[Romans. 8:4-13-Romans.14:17-Gal. 5:16-17] So righteousness before God is through God by being in Christ and then living righteously by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
There are two sorts of righteousness in the New Covenant (Ro 10:3), the righteousness which comes from man (his flesh) and the righteousness which comes from ALHYM (the Hebrew name of our Creator and Heavenly Father, pronounced "Al-o-heem" Ge 1:1) which is of The Spirit. One from self-effort, keeping Laws or the other from ALHYM'S effort. Righteousness is from the Greek word dikaioo', Hebrew 'tsadaq' which has been translated as "righteous or justified". It has legal connotations in the word "just". The short meaning is a state of being "just as if I had never sinned." That is being made holy like ALHYM is holy (1 Pe 1:15-16) How can I be like this? This is a big mystery, but only a mystery until we know. The Jews had come to believe that it was by keeping the Law, Torah, the 10 Commandments which had blossomed out to 613 (including the 10 Great Commandments). Christ came to correct their thinking! No! Holiness, righteousness, and being justified comes through the blood of the Lamb (Jo1:29; Ro 5:9; 1 Cor 5:7) " But ALHYM demonstrates His own love [agape] toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified, by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." (Ro 5:8-9) The word "justified" is the Greek word 'dikaiOthentes' which is in the Aorist, Passive Plural mood. Aorist = an act which occurred in a point of time in the past which is effective in the present, now. Passive = lying down doing nothing. Plural = it affects many. Summing up the meaning here is that the individual person is passive - we are the passive ones, and Christ's blood shed on PESACH, Passover 30-31 C.E. is active to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, i.e. his blood takes out, erases the "un" out of the word unrighteousness and so we become made "righteous"! Not by our own effort but by ALHYM giving His Son "iEsou christou" (Mt 1:1 Greek) to be our Saviour, our Redeemer. It is through repentance that we confess our sins to iEsou so that His blood can be effective within us to cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1Jo 1:9). iEsou means " He will save His people from their sins" (Mt 1:21) Christou means "Anointed", The Messiah, Christ (Jo 1:41). The blood of Christ is half the story. The other half is the Holy Spirit's infilling on SHAVUOT, Pentecost 30-31 C.E., 50 days after PESACH. His Spirit gave the disciples of Christ the power "to walk the talk" and to witness and perform the miracles iEsou did in his 3 1/2 years ministry on earth as the Son of Man (Ac 2:1-4). We are all literally placed in the process being made righteous, justified, sanctified, being made holy like ALHYM is holy. This happens to us as the "rubber-hits-the-road" as we are led by ALHYM'S Holy Spirit (Ro 8:1,14). Halleulajah! Praise iEsou Christou for His grace towards us and for our faith. In Him. Lawrence NZ
Like Abraham, Noah's righteousness was God's gift in response to his personal faith. Both Abraham and Noah believed the Word of God "and it was counted to [them] for righteousness" (Gen 15:6; Heb 11:7; Ro 4:9-13; Gal. 3:1-7). The only righteousness that God will accept is the righteousness of Christ, His Son (2 Co 5:21), and the only way one can get that righteousness is by repenting of sins and trusting Jesus to save him (Ro 3:19-30; Ga 2:16). Noah must have learned this important truth from his father Lamech (Ge 5:28-29), who learned it from his father Methuselah, who learned it from his father Enoch. How important it is for us to teach our children and grandchildren how to trust the Lord! Then they can be counted righteous with the righteousness of Christ (1 Co 1:30). When I attended Arizona Bible College for 3 years in Phoenix, Arizona some 50 years ago, they used to say, "Righteousness is that righteousness which God's righteousness requires Him to require." The covenant people of God are called to live righteously, that is, in conformity to the demands of the covenant and according to God's will (see Psalm 1:4-6): "The wicked are not so, but are like m chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord p knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish."; Ps 11:7 "For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face."; Ps 72:1; Isa 1:16-17. Having within the covenantal relation with God the gift of salvation, they are to behave as the people of the holy Lord. Hosea, the prophet of divine love, ties righteousness with mercy, loving kindness, and justice (Hosea 2:19; 10:12). God lays down the requirements of the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:17-20), which basically says that our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees. John says God is righteous (John 17:25) and the Holy Spirit has a specific role with respect to righteousness (John 16:8 John 16:10), a convicting ministry. Scriptures are for training Christians in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). As a reward for his efforts for the kingdom of God the believer looks for "the crown of righteousness" (2 Tim 4:8). Christians are to die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24) which says, "Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sin should live unto righteousness." Peter also says that we are to be prepared to suffer for righteousness' sake (1 Peter 3:14). For much, much more about this, see Francis J. McConnell's article on "Righteousness" from the Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.
We have to be as righteous as God to go to heaven, and no one is. Romans 4:6 Just as David describeth the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness apart from works. We can have practical righteousness as explained in the book of James. The golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Our practical righteousness is for rewards in heaven for the saved sinner. First Corinthians 3:11-15. But we cannot have perfect righteousness in our sinful state. We have not been transformed in to the image of His Son until the resurrection. But His Spirit who lives in the believer is perfectly righteous. Ephesians 1:13-14. It is the Holy Spirit in the believer who is our perfect righteousness before God. Ephesians 4:30. Paul said, I have no righteousness of my own, but the righteousness of God through Faith. The bible says our righteousness is nothing but filthy rags before God. So we have His imputed righteousness which is the only righteousness God will accept.
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