I’ve named several posts the Righteousness of God (I think). How could I describe the righteousness of God in one post? In fact, how could I describe the righteousness of God at all?
In the end, the righteousness of God is displayed in the lives of spiritual people. What I am about to write is not just the product of reading Scripture. It is the product of reading the lives of the saints of God.
And their lives are every bit as much the Word of God as the Scriptures are.
We don’t know very much about righteousness/doing good. Most of what we think is doing good isn’t.
Well … maybe not most, but a lot.
Part of the reason we abandon our own righteousness (Rom. 10:3-4; Php. 3:8-15) is so that God can create his.
His righteousness is undefinable.
The Scripture defines it in very general terms by saying the “the fruit of the Spirit is” and “against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
We don’t follow a law because if we do the law becomes our guide rather than the Spirit being our guide.
If the Spirit is our guide, he is able to begin working a righteousness in us that is the product both of changing us and showing us what to do. Each of those things produce different results. When he’s leading us, and we do what we feel from him, then we do acts of righteousness. When he’s changing us, we begin to do acts of righteousness we don’t even know about. We are simply kinder, easier to be around, more encouraging, and more convicting … mostly without our knowledge.
The result of a spiritual righteousness is that you never feel adequate in yourself. You always wonder why God has mercy on you, but you know he is having mercy on you because your relationship with him is peaceful, growing, and good.
No law could produce such a righteousness. When you obey the law, you know you’re righteous.
Well … you think you are. Paul said before he met Christ he was “blameless” according to the Law. After he met Christ he realized he was the chief of sinners, the ultimate example of someone undeserving of the mercy of God.
Big difference in how he saw himself, no?
When the Spirit produces righteousness, you live like that. Your confidence in facing the judgment is that you know him. The Spirit bears witness with your spirit that you are the child of God (Rom. 8:16). You know, deeply and fully, that when you sin you have an advocate with the Father (1 Jn. 2:1). You feel the love and mercy of God. Your gratefulness grows, your fear of displeasing him–and even of being judged by him for disobedience–grows, and your righteousness grows without pride.
This is the path. God doesn’t need you to be at the end of it. He’ll get you to the end of it. He just wants you to stay on it. You are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works that he has prepared beforehand to do (Eph. 2:10).
The Judgment and Previous Posts
Correcting the commonly held false beliefs about the judgment means reminding Christians that there is one (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10). It means telling them that it’s according to works and that they ought to fear (1 Pet. 1:17).
However, correcting false beliefs about the judgment is one narrow part of God’s plan. If it’s all you look at, then you will think you need to trust in yourself and your obedience for righteousness.
That will not work. That’s just a good way to find out Romans 7 is true.
You do need to obey. You do need to fear. But you need to await the hope of the righteousness which comes by faith (Gal. 5:5). That’s a real, lived-out righteousness (1 Jn. 3:7), but it nonetheless comes by faith, imparted by the grace of God (Rom. 6:14).
Stay on the path. That’s our biggest job, our ultimate work of righteousness (Jn. 15:1-5). It is God who is committed in Jesus Christ to getting you to the end of it (Php. 2:13; 1 Cor. 1:7-9; Jude 24).