The Righteousness of God

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.

This was originally an email; however, Jennie has been asking a question about my separating faith and works when I talk about the judgment and going to heaven. She’s concerned—rightly—about my doing so because for the Christian, good deeds are the product of walking with God. They’re not separated from faith.
I’m hoping this will adequately answer the question.

God’s righteousness

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).

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7 Responses to The Righteousness of God

  1. Jennie S. says:

    That’s amazing about the tornado, Shammah; people would be ‘blown away’ (mentally, not physically 🙂 if they could see all the times they’ve been spared by God to live another day; unfortunately most of us don’t think about that very often.

    I’m sorry about your sister and her neighbors, John Bob. It’s hard to imagine having everything destroyed like that. What can we do to help?

  2. John Bob says:

    We saw a few trailers in town that had been completely ripped apart, and then more so by the scrappers.

    My sister just about lost everything from her house in Nashville. Water completely covered some of her neighborhood’s houses. It rose 4 or 5 feet into her’s. The water had sewage and gasoline in it. It was terrible.

    Her fridge had floated to the back part of her house.

  3. Shammah says:

    Not bad in Selmer. Unfortunately, we had a tornado instead. I saw the most amazing thing on one street. Trees down everywhere, but minimal damage to houses. The people on that street need to give thanks to God.

    I saw one house that had a huge tree laying sideways in its front yard, and the tops of trees twisted off on the side and back of the house, but no damage to the house or the car in the carport.

    I got some good pictures of the flooding at Selmer Park, but most of our area’s flooding was gone on Monday.

  4. Jennie S. says:

    That’s right, you all in Tennessee had some really bad weather, worse than we had here in Georgia, We didn’t do badly here; did you all have flooding?

  5. Shammah says:

    Well said, John.

    Hi, Jennie! Sorry I didn’t respond earlier to your comment. It was a rough weekend, to say the least. How was the rain where you are?

  6. John Bob says:

    This really does help.

    I’ve heard you teach on this a dozen times… but for me, it always comes back to rest. Resting in the Spirit.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the first half of Sit Walk Stand, the first chunk of Ephesians stating over and over how we’re seated with Christ.

    That’s where I’m supposed to be, all of the time.

    If I stay there, the fruits of the Spirit are bound to overflow from me.

    I can try all that I want to love and treat people right, as well I should. But if I am not letting the Father sit me down next to His son, and accept His love being lavished out on me, I’m not going to have anything to give anyone.

  7. Jennie S. says:

    Thank you, Shammah.
    I agree.
    You said: “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.”

    So, like Jesus said : “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:29
    We believe in Him and then we keep walking in that faith step by step, like Abraham did before us.

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