Proverbs 11:4-5 “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death. The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.”
What is righteousness?
Webster’s defines it this way:
“Applied to God, the perfection of holiness of His nature; exact rectitude; faithfulness.”
Rectitude – “In morality, rightness of principle or practice; uprightness of mind; exact conformity to truth, or to the rules prescribed for moral conduct, either by divine or human laws. Rectitude of mind is the disposition to act in conformity to any known standard of right, truth or justice; rectitude of conduct is the actual conformity to such standard. Perfect rectitude belongs only to the Supreme Being. The more nearly the rectitude of men approaches to the standard of the divine law, the more exalted and dignified is their character. Want of rectitude is not only sinful, but debasing.”
I am reminded that God commands us:
Leviticus 20:7 “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.”
And twice in 1 Peter:
1 Peter 1:15-16 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
Simply, righteousness is sinless perfection. But it is not something we can attain on our own. There are two fundamental doctrinal issues at stake.
The righteousness needed for us to enter Heaven is not within man. It is given by God upon salvation.
Romans 3:10-11 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.“
How then are we to be righteous enough to enter Heaven?
Romans chapter 4 expounds on Abraham’s faith that brought him the righteousness of God. Not by works, but by faith, it was imputed or transferred to him.
Imputed is not a word we use today. It means to reckon that which we do not possess.
Romans 4:23-25 “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
Paul tells the Romans and us that our faith in Jesus Christ imputes to us HIS righteousness. So it is Jesus’ righteousness that gains us entry into Heaven, not our works here on earth.
When I meditate on the fact that Jesus gave me something which I do not deserve, it causes me to bow my head in thanksgiving, prayer, and praise.
Trying to live righteously in this present world is becoming increasingly difficult.
The things I fight today are not the things of my youth. With the increase of technology, images are thrust before my eyes, sounds that assault my ears, and pressures I never had to deal with.
Yet, all of this is not foreign to God. Nor are the commands to be holy and righteous lessened because of the increased pressure. How are we to manage?
God knew what we needed long before today. He wrote to us telling us exactly HOW to live righteously in this present world.
Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
It is by God’s grace that we can live as He commands. But it goes further than that. We must allow God to live that life through us.
Galatians 2:20-21 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
When we are dead to ourselves and allow God to lead, guide, and direct our thoughts, words, and actions, we can do that which is not in us by the grace God gives to every man to live a righteous, holy life.
Simply, it is Jesus living His life through us. We get in the way when our thoughts are tainted with our dreams, wants, and desires. Being dead to those things takes constant vigilance.
Romans 6:11-13 “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
It is in the constant yielding that we can live and be righteous. It must be by faith we yield to God that which is already His. In saying we are redeemed, we must acknowledge that we are no longer the masters of our own destiny.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
The synergy God desires comes when we, by our own free will, yield what is put into our hands (our life), and do with it as He pleases, not as we will.
Being good stewards of the life we’ve been given allows us to witness a life we could never have on our own.
Living our life the way God planned will yield much better fruit than anything that we could ever manufacture on our own. Knowing this, that God has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us into all truth.
John 16:13 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
We have been given everything to do as God commands. We just need the will and desire to follow through.