01 Jan Righteous in God – Jan 15
By Yosia Yusuf
What does it mean to be righteous?
According to dictionary.com, the word righteous is translated as morally right or justifiable. In our daily life, when we said someone is righteous, we mean that the person is acting in a virtuous way. But when it comes to the Bible, the word righteous is primarily used to describe something different. There are occasions in the Bible that the word righteous is used to describe a moral virtue. Eg: Psalm 18:20 – “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.” In this verse, righteousness refers to David’s moral virtue. David is appealing to God based on his good works.
However, this is not how the Bible uses the word righteous primarily. Throughout the Bible, the primary meaning of the word righteous is not good works but good standing. When God declared someone to be righteous, God did not primarily mean that the person has a high moral virtue that caught his attention. Since God is altogether holy, perfect and beautiful, his standard is nothing short of complete holiness, perfection and beauty. If that’s true, then God’s standard of righteousness is not 99.999%. His standard of righteousness has a minimum demand of 100%. Can anyone claim that they are righteous before God with this standard in mind? NO. But yet we find God declaring many to be righteous throughout the Bible. It is because when the word righteous is used, it is mainly referring to a position before a moral virtue. Eg: Genesis 15:6 – “And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” When God declared Abram to be righteous, he means that in God’s eyes, Abram is standing in a position of righteousness.
How can I become righteous?
“Try hard, put your best effort, do all the right thing, and never give up.” This is the motto that most of us believe in. We believe that if we just try harder, then we can become righteous. “God I will pray, fast, serve, love, evangelize so that you will be pleased with me.” And before long, we run out of fuel, we get tired, exhausted and frustrated. Yet God already make it clear to all us that “all our righteous deeds are like polluted garment.” In other words, all our moral virtues by itself are disgusting to God.
Praise God for his grace. God offer us another way to be righteous in his eyes and it has nothing to do with our own righteousness. This is what Paul writes in Romans 4:20-22, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness.’” Abram was counted righteous because he believes God. And today God is offering righteousness to us the same way. Believe that Jesus died for your sins. Believe that Jesus has met God’s demand of perfection for you. Believe that Jesus’ righteousness is given to those who believe in him. Believe and believe. Receive his grace today and find rest in him.