Whatever righteousness is, it comes highly recommended.
Mt 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Mt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
First point we must all realise, is that the ‘righteousness’, referred to above is Christ’s own righteousness. Not our own, not someone else’s, not the church’s. Isaiah said our own righteousness is worthless, so what we must answer is the question “what is Christ’s righteousness?” For it is that righteousness that we must hunger and thirst for, it is that righteousness we must seek for on equal priority to His kingdom.
We all, as professing Christians, have accepted Christ’s kingdom. We have all acknowledged His propitiation and atoning death. But His righteousness? What is that? And how do we get it?
Paul answers both questions here…
Ga 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
So the Galatians were thinking that they could be justified by following the law, but Paul says it must be by faith. And he equates justification with righteousness. The cross, the shedding of blood, justifies us. Throughout Biblical history the sacrifice of the animal and the shedding of blood removed sin from being as impediment in the relationship and a wall between God and man. We are ‘accounted’ righteous in the sight of a holy God, and we then have free access to the throne of grace.
But did God desire that Israel continually sin because they had a “get out of jail free card” grazing in the back paddock? Not at all. In fact several times God showed His great displeasure in the rivers of blood that constantly flowed from the temple altar.
Isaiah 1:10 ¶ Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
What is going on here? It was in Eden that God Himself set up the sacrificial system. And a whole range of various sabbaths and holy days and services and sacrifices for the express purpose of gaining forgiveness, yet here is God saying He wants them to stop? What’s missing? Isaiah in the next few verses gives the answer. And after, John the Baptist confirms this.
16 ¶ Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
Matthew 3:7 ¶ But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
Php 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 ¶ 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:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Righteousness is holiness; likeness to God, and God is love. (1 John 4:16) It is conformity to the law of God, for “all Thy commandments are righteousness” Psalm 119:72, and “love is the fulfilling of the law”. Rom. 13:10
Righteousness is love, and love is the true light and life of God. The righteousness of God is embodied in Christ, and we receive righteousness by receiving Him.
2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
It has been said that we take but two things to heaven with us from this world. The souls we have have helped save through our witness, and our characters. Eternity is dependant upon what characters we develop now, whether Christ’s or the prince of this world.
Eph.4:17 ¶ This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,….22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Thus righteousness is both imputed, (justification) and imparted (sanctification.) Both are essential, both are Christ’s, and both can be ours if we have but faith.
Rom.5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Romans 8:1 ¶ There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit…4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.