Updated: Aug 14
God created grasses, trees, and all kinds of living creatures out of the ground. He created fish and birds from water, but man was created from God. We read only of man’s body being formed from the ground. The thing that makes man, man, is the divine life and righteous nature God breathed into him (Gen. 2:7). Mankind was right with God from the very beginning and enjoyed unbroken fellowship without sin, shame or guilt. God never wanted anyone to feel self-conscious or have an inferiority complex in relationship with Him. He wants us established in a righteous nature equal to His; one without spot, wrinkle, or blemish from sin.
Two Types of Righteousness
The Bible speaks of two types of righteousness. One is self-righteousness and is determined by a person’s behavior. The other is the righteousness of God and is a characteristic or condition of God’s divine nature. Self-righteousness is based on performance in keeping social, moral, religious, or customary laws, rules and regulations, or services done in order to gain the favor of God. The self-righteous mindset says, “I must do right in order to be right with God.”
The Pharisees were a religious group in Jesus’ day with an outer form of self-righteousness second to none. They were always at church, they paid tithes down to the spices in their cupboard, they tried their best not to sin, they prayed three times a day, and fasted twice a week. Nothing is wrong with any of these things the Pharisees were doing. In fact, Jesus acknowledged them as good things to do. But Jesus said, "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of God" (Matt. 5:20). The religious Pharisee was focused on looking good from the outside but Jesus is saying righteousness is a heart issue and God looks at the heart.
The righteousness of God is much more than behavioral. Our best efforts, on our best day, are nowhere close to God’s kind of righteousness nor can it produce it. God’s righteousness is a holy condition, a divine quality, and purity where God is seen. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites for portraying themselves righteous before God when they were not. The Greek word for hypocrite is related to the word actor. They were acting like something they were not. Sad to say, many people today are still trying to be right with God through their actions.
Good is Never Good Enough
No one can be justified with God through good behavior. God’s righteousness is something to be received by faith instead of something to be earned. This is hard for many to grasp because the Old Testament law establishes blessings and cursing based on behavior. We know the law and commandments are holy but God knows humanity is unholy and man’s sin nature causes them to rebel against His holy commands. The law and commandments were never meant to show us HOW to be right with God but rather to teach us we’re NOT right with God and that we need a Savior. The law is meant to show us what we’re doing wrong and then condemn us for it. It is totally incapable of producing in us the change we need.
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20).
God’s righteousness can never be obtained by performance. There is a well known Bible verse in Romans that many have missed the point of. All have sinned and come "short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Many people see this verse as speaking of the same thing but it's really speaking of two. "All have sinned" refers to the evil we do and sin we commit. "Coming short of the glory of God" refers to the good we do that’s never good enough. The Bible says, with the heart we believe unto righteousness (Romans 10:10). Abraham is a great example of this. What did Abraham do to be counted righteous? Nothing. Abraham wasn’t justified with God by anything he did but by what he believed. The Bible says Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Gen. 15:6). This was written to show us that we can experience the blessing of God’s righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ without having to earn it. God’s looking to impart His righteousness to people who believe 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).
The Lord Our Righteousness
Jeremiah speaks prophetically of Jesus and says when He comes, His name is THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
God made Jesus to be sin for us so that we can be made the righteousness of God. Just as we inherit sin, death, and unrighteousness through Adam’s sin, we can be born again in righteousness, true holiness, and life through the obedience of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ one righteous act of dying for the sins of the world enables all who believe in Him to be justified righteous by faith. Having a righteousness that’s not our own, no sin is laid to the believer’s account and the believer is seen in the eyes of God just as righteous as He is and his dignity restored.
"And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:" (Phil. 3:9).
The blessing of God's righteousness enables us to legally and freely receive God’s abundant love and grace, ridding us from the mindset that says, “I must do right in order to be right with God.” Righteousness now comes to us as a byproduct of God’s salvation not a means to it. No longer do we have to strive through will power to live victoriously over sin to be right with God. Victory over sin now flows from the divine nature of righteousness within us through Christ and power of the Holy Spirit. It is the blessing of His righteousness that supernaturally conforms the believer into His image until there is no more consciousness of sin and says, “I am right with God.” As Christ is in righteousness, so are we in this world. Understanding this enables us to enjoy the blessings and promises of God accidentally better than we ever will on purpose.