Here I offer part two of our study on righteousness. Last time we established several principles from Scripture.
1. God expects and even enables us to be righteous.
2. Righteousness means doing right with the right attitude for the right reason.
3. Righteousness is insufficient to accomplish eternal life in us. If we are to have eternal life it is not because we have been righteous enough.
4. Righteous living us a blessing to ourselves and others; it protects us from further condemnation.
In this peice I want us to consider the following questions.
Whose righteousness is it, our righteousness or God’s righteousness?
How do we distinguish between our righteousness and God’s righteousness?
One attempted explanation is to say that our righteousness is any goodness we do and God’s righteousness is what God does for us in Christ. This explanation seems to protect us against self-righteousness or works-salvation. On the surface, this view sounds evagelically accurate. However, doesn’t such a view negate the necessity for me to practice righteousness and only
obliges God to be righteous? Let’s look at how the Scriptures describe Man’s righteousness and contrast that with what we know about God’s righteousness.
Proverbs 14:12 helps us. “There is a way that seems right to a man but the end of it is death.” One of the first observations we see about our righteousness is that it is based on what we think to be right. Left to ourselves we would never arrive at the same conclusions about life and right behavior as God reveals to us in Scripture. Our human reason leads us to choices which bring self destruction. This is the reason we must have God’s righteousness, because ours leads us into a righteous mess, not righteousness. Perhaps this is why another proverb advises us to “Lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
In contrast with our righteousness, God’s righteousness as revealed in Scripture is based upon the nature of God Himself. It is honest, true, pure, kind, forgiving, merciful,etc. God’s righteousness leads us to exhibit God’s nature. However it is not God performing the righteousness. It is rather up to us to perform the righteousness but it is God’s righteousness we perform, not our own.
Think about the laws that are imposed upon you every day as you drive your car. Are they your laws? Did you write the law that your must stop if the light is red? No. But you still are expected to fulfill the law. The law comes from a higher source you are expected to abide by it.
But isn’t God’s righteousness too high for man to achieve? Certainly it is impossible to achieve perfect righteousness as God is perfect. But the level of righteousness God expects of us must be within human reach since God calls us to walk it out. We do need His grace operating in us to rise to the level of God’s righteousness and He is more than willing to provide that grace to those who humble themselves before Him.