What does Righteousness mean? It means being upright, honest, blameless, moral, just… The righteousness of God is the divine attribute that describes God as acting in a way that is consistent with his own character. God is perfectly righteous in the qualified sense that He never treats anyone in an incorrect or unjust manner.
In Hebrew, the word for righteousness = tzedakah = charity = help, generosity, goodwill, understanding. In the New Testament, the word righteousness in Greek = dikaiosunē, is being righteous before others, for example in Matt. 5:20 Jesus said, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” THAT is a strong command by our Lord and Saviour.
Also, in Romans 1:17 we read that we need to be righteous before our holy God – “For therein is revealed a righteousness of God by faith unto faith: as it is written, But the RIGHTEOUS SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
In Genesis 15:6 we are told that Abraham “believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.” The apostle James quotes this verse and asserts that because of his faith, Abraham became the “friend of God” (James 2:23).
So, we notice that one kind of righteousness is called justification, and we receive it by faith alone. It happens when we become ‘born again’ and accept our Lord and Saviour into our hearts and lives through faith in Him. Before we had faith, we could not please God at all or perform true righteousness, because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Phil. 3:8-9 says, “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him [in union with him], not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
The second kind of righteousness is the practical way we live it out, e.g., Rom. 6:13 – “Do not present your members [that is, your hands, feet, tongue, mind, sexual organs] to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”
I quote John Piper who says, “Here’s the glory and the mystery of the Christian life. We are already righteous in Christ, and so we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). And in the peace of that acceptance with God, we strive for righteousness in our daily lives not only because we know that
this confirms that we are God’s people (2 Peter 1:10), but also because this is the most deeply satisfying way to glorify Christ.
Precious Father God, please teach me how to be righteous and how to live a righteous life that will bring glory to You alone! In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.