Grace Bible Church

Preaching the Living Word through the Written Word











2.†††† Righteousness


a)††† Intro

(1)†† Holiness could be described as an attribute that expresses Godís intrinsic holy character.

(2)†† While righteousness, though inherent to Godís character, describes more the outworking of holiness, especially in his dealing with man (cf. Ps 99:3).

b)††† Definitions

(1)†† Though related to holiness, righteousness is nevertheless a distinct attribute of God. Holiness relates to Godís separateness; righteousness, to His justiceÖlawÖ [and] morality. (Ryrie, Basic Theology, pg. 48)

(2)†† [Godís righteousness] signifies not only Godís inherent righteousness and perfection of nature, but also his method of treating others; his plan of redemption; his method of saving others. (Clark in loc.)

(3)†† The righteousness of God is that perfection by which He maintains Himself as the Holy One over against every violation of His holiness. In virtue of it He maintains a moral government in the world and imposes a just law on man, rewarding obedience and punishing disobedience. (Berkhof, Summary of Christian Doctrine)

(4)†† Righteousness (Heb tsedaqah, Grk. díkaios.) originally meant, ďto be straight.Ē It was used for a straight measuring rule. Figuratively, this root connotes conformity to an ethical or moral standard. Therefore, Godís righteousness is the ethical and moral rule or standard upon which everything else is based.

c)†††† God is inherently righteous (Psa 119:137; Ps 11:7).

(1)†† God does not need to learn what is righteous for He is righteous.

(2)†† Being inherently righteous, God Himself does not struggle with being unrighteous. Rather, every decision or act by God can only be righteous.

d)††† Godís righteousness is an eternal constant (Psa 119:142; 36:6; Ps 103:17)

(1)†† Godís righteousness does not change, causing the standards for the world to change. Rather, Godís righteousness is established forever and immovable.

(2)†† [Godís] righteousness is unchanging and endures from age to age. This is the joy and glory of the saints, that what God is he always will be, and his mode of procedure towards the sons of men is immutable. (Spurgeon)

e)†††† Godís righteousness is the basis for His ways and actions (Dt 32:4; Ps 103:6; Ps 145:17; Re 15:4).

(1)†† Since God is righteous, everything He does will be consistent with His righteousness.

(2)†† In all His dealings with man, He always acts with perfect justice. When man does not understand or even disagrees with God, it is due to the fact of manís own unrighteous nature.

f)†††† Godís Word is altogether righteous (Ps 19:9; Ps 119:138, 144; Ro 7:12).

(1)†† Godís Word is His declaration of His own perfect righteousness.

(2)†† His commands, principles, and testimonies are in accordance with His righteousness and are the only true righteous instruction for man.

g)†††† Godís righteousness is the moral standard for man (Dt 4:8; 6:25; Ps 50:6; Ps 89:14; Ps 97:2)

(1)†† Since God is perfect in righteous, He could place no lesser standard upon mankind.

(2)†† All men are obligated to live up to the standard of Godís righteous character and righteous Word.

(3)†† It is not left to our choice whether we will accept them or no; they are issued by royal command, and are not to be questioned. Their characteristic is that they are like the Lord who has proclaimed them, they are the essence of justice and the soul of truth. Godís word is righteous and cannot be impeached; it is faithful and cannot be questioned, it is true from the beginning and it will be true unto the end. (Spurgeon, Treasury of David, Ps 119)

h)††† God will reward or punish man according to His righteousness (1Ki 8:32; Ps 7:11; Ps 96:13; Ec 3:17; Ro 1:18; Ro 2:5-6).

(1)†† When Godís righteous standard (based on His own attribute of righteousness) is violated by any unrighteousness or sin, it evokes His eternal righteous indignation, i.e. wrath.

(2)†† God will not punish the righteous with the wicked (Ge 18:25).

i)††††† Godís righteousness is the standard for salvation.

(1)†† Since Godís righteousness is the moral standard by which man will ultimately be judged, manís salvation is solely dependent upon his own righteousness (Ro 2:6-8).

(2)†† However, there are two essential problems for man. First he must have perfect righteousness without any sin in order to be saved (Eze 18:4). Secondly, no man is righteous. All men fall short of Godís righteousness (Ro 3:10; Ro 3:23). Any good works that man does cannot be meritoriously accepted by God for salvation. The reason is that even sinful manís righteous deeds are but a ďfilthy ragĒ to a perfectly righteous God (Is 64:6).

j)†††† God provided righteousness for man in the death of Christ.

(1)†† Christ took manís sins and they were imputed to Him on the cross (2Co 5:21).

(2)†† When a sinner exercises faith in Christís atonement, not only are his sins forgiven, but Christís righteousness is imputed to the sinner (Ro 4:3, 22-25). It is on this basis that man can become righteous before God.

(3)†† It is faith alone in Christís atoning work alone without the inclusion of manís works (Ro 3:21, 28) that salvation is obtained (Ro 1:17; Ro 4:5; Ga 2:16; Ga 3:11; Ep 2:8-9).

k)††† Christ shares the attribute of perfect righteousness (Ac 3:14 (cf. Is 53:11); Ac 22:14; 2Pe 1:1; 1Jn 2:1).

l)††††† Observations and Applications

(1)†† When a believer sins, he does not lose his salvation. The believer has already been forgiven for sin and received Christís righteousness. When a believer confesses his sins, he acknowledges his unrighteousness. Based on the work of Christ, God is able to forgive him conditionally and fellowship is unbroken. Therefore, God does not violate His righteousness by having an eternal relationship with one who has committed unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9).

(2)†† The believer has been positionally made righteous through Christ. But it is the Holy Spirit who sanctifies the believer and produces conditional righteousness (Ro 8:4).

(3)†† Because of the believerís new nature and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, the believer is able to pursue righteousness in his life (1Jn 2:29; 1Ti 6:11; 2Ti 3:16; Tit 2:12).




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