The righteousness of God does not depend upon, nor is it based upon works of the law. As I showed in my last post, the law served to show what sin is and to give man the knowledge of sin. The law is NOT sin but it showed sin up for what it is and through the breaking of the law sin became even more sinful.
But the righteousness of God is not based upon the law as these two verses now show us, for they say,
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
The righteousness of God in the New Covenant has been given to man and made manifest to all mankind, not by works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. This is where the righteousness of God is to be found…in faith. And those who seek God’s righteousness, his favour, his grace and all the other things God gives to us need to seek them through faith in Jesus Christ.
I have written in other places in this blog why God chose to give us His righteousness and all the gifts of grace through faith.
In simple terms, faith is the great leveller. It is the ultimate level playing field for in faith there is no distinction between people, no one is better or worse than anyone else, no one has more or less faith than every other person who believes and all people are equal.
With faith, you either got it…or you don’t got it! Either you believe or you don’t.there is no middle ground, no fence sitting and no way to pretend. You believe or you don’t.
And you don’t need to be rich, powerful, intellectual, a superb athlete, ultra fit or anything else. You just gotta believe!
That makes everybody equal because everybody has the power and ability to believe.
And it is simple. The capacity to believe is built into man. Everybody believes something whether they are prepared to admit to it or not.
Even atheists who say there is no God and therefore do not believe because they say there is nothing to believe in, only hold their position by faith. They believe there is no God and so they too have the capacity and ability to believe and have faith…they just choose to remain faithless and ignorant of God. And while I feel sorry for them, they have the same choice to believe or not to believe that every person on earth has.
What is the righteousness of God?
The righteousness of God, as I have said is not based upon the works of law. You cannot be righteous before God simply by keeping the law.
Yes, the law is good, holy, just and true. But through the law comes the knowledge of sin, and the knowledge of sin as well as sin itself has no place in the righteousness of God.
The apostle John put it this way in 1 John 3:6-10.
6 No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does right is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he has been born of God. 10 By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil; whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother. (RSV)
The righteousness of God is all about doing what is right. That is the ultimate aim, that we may walk in maturity as Christians and think, act and behave as Christ did.
But that does not happen overnight. It may not even happen for most Christians in this lifetime. And even if it does happen for anyone, they may not even know it because to be like Christ is to be perfect and as mere humans we don’t really know what perfection is.
So the righteousness of God in the beginning is a gift given by grace through our faith. It is the same as what God did for Abraham who was declared righteous because he believed God.
God gave Abraham something specific to believe. He was told that he would become the father of many nations, even though Sarah was barren and well past child bearing age. But in spite of all the obstacles, Abraham believed God both could and would do it.
Because he believed God, God overlooked all of his sins, mistakes, wrongdoings and so on and declared Abraham to be righteous.
Righteousness by faith is a declaration by God that those who believe will be no longer held accountable for their sins. This free gift of righteousness by faith is given not because of anything we do, but by the grace of God who chooses to give it. This is the gift given to us that shows the undeserved kindness and favour of God to those (us) who do not deserve it, and that is grace in a nutshell.
But the righteousness of God for us today is even more than that. We too believe, like Abraham did, but we believe that through the death of Jesus we are set free from sin, released from the bondage of the law and free to worship and praise God according to His will, that is, to do what is right in the sight of God.
How do we get it?
So it is a valid question we all need to ask at some point in time…how do we receive this righteousness of God? If we cannot be righteous before God the Father by doing the works of the law, then what do we need to do to receive the righteousness of God?
Well as I have shown above, it is by faith that we receive the righteousness of God. We cannot take it and we cannot work for it because it is given as a gift. It is however a “work” in the broadest sense as the apostle John says in John 6:28-29.
28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
What is the work of God? Faith in Jesus Christ! If we are to be doing the works of God, which lead to the righteousness of God, then we must, “…believe in him whom He has sent.” That is, believe in Jesus Christ.
That is how we receive the righteousness of God by faith.
And this is not a blind faith for there are very specific things He has given us to believe. There are very specific things that we must learn and teachings we must follow to learn how to be like Christ. For example, the most basic principle that underlies the righteousness of faith is understanding baptism. It is by baptism that we enter the death of Christ as we symbolically die and are buried in the waters with him and then resurrected with him as new creations as we are lifted from the water. That is why in the great commission Jesus made a point of saying that it is necessary to baptise the believers, and this point was hammered over and over by the early apostles and disciples. Baptism is crucial for through it and the faith we hold about it we receive God’s grace and the gift of the righteousness of God through faith.
And this all begins with faith and especially receiving the free gift of righteousness by faith which is given by the grace of God. Everything after that is part of the growing and maturing process as we learn how to walk in Christ.
We are given this righteousness by faith as soon as we can believe in it. Then begins the process of learning to walk so that the way we live our lives and the choices and decision we make are base on what is good, right and true so that we can learn to be like Christ and walk as mature Christians not subject to every wind of doctrine but rooted and grounded in Christ.
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Grace And Truth Came Through Jesus Christ
The Woman Caught In Adultery Part 2
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