Righteousness & Justification
I. Words for Righteousness & Justification.
It is unfortunate that our English translations treat use these two different words. In the Greek there is a family of words which are variously translated “righteous, just, justify or righteousness.”
- Root word - dike - “right, custom, just, Greek goddess of justice.”
- Adjective - dikaios - “one who is righteous, just or observes divine laws.”
- Verb - dikaioo - “to make someone righteous.”
- Noun - dikaiosune - “the abstract quality of rightness.”
- Everytime, that the English translates the word “justify” (or “justification”) it is from the dike family of words.
- Everytime, except one (Hebrews 1:8 - euthutes “straightforwardness”), that the English translates the word “righteousness” it is from the dike family of words.
II. Two Uses of Righteousness of Justification.
- Behavior expected by God.
- One practices righteousness (I John 3:7). KJV & ASV “doeth righteousness”
- Zacharias and Elizabeth were “righteous” before God, walking in all God’s commandments (Luke 1:6).
- Lot was a “righteous man” (II Peter 2:8).
- Speaks of those who “worked righteousness” (Hebrews 11:33).
- Jesus “fulfiled” all righteousness (Matthew 3:15).
- One’s legal status before God. (i.e. guilty of sin, or innocent).
- In one sense there is none “righteous” (Romans 3:10).
The Law of Moses did not resolve this:
- No flesh is justified by works of the law (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; 3:11).
While God wants man to “practice righteousness” we must not “trust in ourselves.”
- Paul was “blameless” concerning the “righteousness which is in the law” (Philippians 3:6) but he was the “chief of sinners” (I Timothy 1:15).
- The law was not a law which gave life (Galatians 3:21).
- Some “trust in themselves” that they are righteous (Luke 18:9).
- One is not justified by a clear conscience (I Corinthians 4:4).
This was Israel's problem:
- The Gentiles who did not “pursue” righteousness, attain “righteousness” in Christ, the “righteousness of faith” (Romans 9:30).
- Israel who did “pursue” righteousness, did not attain the “righteousness of the law” (Romans 9:31).
- Through ignorance of “God’s righteousness” sought to establish “their own righteousness” and did not “submit to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3).
III. God’s Righteousness.
- We should seek righteousness.
- We must seek God’s righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
- We should hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6).
- We are to “pursue righteousness” (I Timothy 6:11; II Timothy 2:22).
- The gospel reveals the “righteousness of God” (Romans 1:17; 3:21,22) - This is what we should seek (Matthew 6:33).
- How does God’s righteousness come to us?
- One is justified by God’s grace (Rom 3:24; Titus 3:4-7).
- It is always God who justifies!
- God is Just and the one who justifies (Romans 3:26).
- God justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5).
- It is God who justifies (Romans 8:36).
- He does so through Christ.
- One is justified by His blood (Romans 5:9).
- One is justified in the name of the Lord (I Corinthians 6:11).
- One is justified by Christ (Galatians 2:17).
- One is justified by faith (Romans 3:28; 5:1; Galatians 2:16; 3:24).
- Contrast is our “own righteousness” vs. “righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:7-9).
- To try and be justified by the law is to be estranged from Christ (Galatians 5:4).
- We are not saved by works of “righteousness” (Titus 3:5).
- Paul & James. * Paul is concerned with a person’s legal status. James with our obedience. Paul considers how God moves the “sinner” to a condition of being “justified.” James addresses how one who has been justified should do what is right.
When Scripture addresses “righteousness” it does so from one of two considerations:
- Abraham was not justified by works (Romans 4:2)
- One is justified by works and not faith only (James 2:24,25).
- Paul distinguishes between a “righteous” man and a “good” man - which illustrates innocence vs. positive goodness (Romans 5:7).
- The legal status of one who stands before God innocent or forgiven of sin.
- The behavior that God considers proper.
- God’s righteousness requires obedience.
- Obedience leads to righteousness (Romans 6:16).
- Those who “work righteousness” are accepted by God (Acts 10:35).
- Those alive from the dead should present their bodies as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13).
- The forgiven (in Christ) become “slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18).
- The Christian’s righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20).
- We must live “righteously” (Titus 3:5).
- Those who “practice righteousness” are born of Him (I John 2:29).
- Scripture gives “instruction in righteousness” (II Tim 3:16)
We await “righteousness” (Galatians 5:5) and will recieve the “crown of righteousness” (II Timothy 4:8). * We can know the “way of righteousness” and turn from it (II Peter 2:21).