Righteousness is one of those religious words that gets thrown around the church as if everyone knows what it means. However, if we are honest, most of us just nod our heads pretending to understand because we don’t want to look like a “bad Christian.”
This is problematic for those of us trying to be kingdom citizens. Jesus tells us to hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6) but that is difficult to do without understanding righteousness. So in the next two posts, I will aim to answer two questions: what righteousness is and what does it looks like to live as a righteous woman of God. Today, we will look at the first part: what is righteousness?
The greek word for righteousness in Matthew 5:6 is dikaiosynè, which means “state of him who is as he ought to be…the condition acceptable to God.”
When we repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become acceptable to God—we gain righteousness.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 (ESV)
Righteousness serves many purposes in our lives.
The Purpose of Righteousness
1. To restore the relationship between us and God.
God desires an intimate relationship with us, just like the one He enjoyed with Adam and Eve before sin entered the picture. However, our sinful nature (our unrighteousness) separates us from God. In order to restore our relationship, God sacrificed Jesus on the cross so that we may enter into His presence free of sin.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
2. To protect us from sin.
The power of the cross forgives all our sins, but unfortunately, it does not make us immune from the temptation of sin. Our enemy will do everything in his power to once again, separate us from God. This good news is our enemy is no match against righteousness.
“We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” 1 John 5:18 (ESV)
When we enter into God’s righteousness, we receive the tools needed to stand against temptation.
“he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.” Proverbs 2:7-8 (ESV)
3. To make us more like Jesus
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, righteousness allows us to share in the nature of Christ.
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT) [emphasis added]
The righteousness of Christ does more than just save us; it helps us become the person God intended us to be.
4. To bring us into the Kingdom of God
Righteousness is an essential part of the kingdom of God.
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17 (ESV)
The Kingdom of God is here and now, manifested through those living out their righteousness in Christ. But there is also a future kingdom, one where Jesus sits on the throne, and perfect peace is achieved. This kingdom is also built on righteousness.
“Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Isaiah 32:16-18 (ESV)
We cannot be part of the current or future kingdom of God without righteousness. Remember purpose #1? It comes full circle here. God wants to be in relationship with us for eternity.
Now that we have a better understanding of what righteousness is and why it’s important, we will explore what it looks like to live out our righteousness in the world today. Check back next week for A Portrait of a Righteous Woman.