Righteousness is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but perhaps doesn’t get defined enough. Do you know what it means to be righteous? Righteousness is not some abstract idea, it is something that we can have through Jesus Christ. In the basic sense it is being looked at as if we have not sinned, even though we have. It is God looking at us and seeing the perfection of Jesus Christ instead of our sin. This is a gift given to us.
Righteousness rescues us from sin – Sin has its grip on us before we are set free by Jesus Christ. That is a problem because of the way it directs our lives and because it ends in death, namely spiritual death. Without God rescuing, we will be overwhelmed by our sin and never find our way out.
“The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.” Proverbs 11: 6
Evil desires trap us because in our own strength we will fall for them. It is like if you have ever been the one that had to go pick up the pizza while you were really hungry. You get the pizza and there you are, just you and the pizza. It is all delicious and warm. “How about I just peek in the box?” Then that peek becomes a bite and then you have eaten half the pizza before you are home.
This is what sin does. We have a sin nature inside of us that is bent naturally away from God. Those desires for popularity, acceptance or material stuff get to be too overpowering on our own. They entice us. Righteousness, given to us by God, frees us from that, not that it goes away, but that we don’t have to obey it. We then respond by living better lives, by saying no to worldliness and yes to God’s ways.
“Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.” Proverbs 11: 21
There is also freedom. Freedom says, “sin you are not the boss anymore! I do not belong to you, I will not work for you, I will not listen to you.” The penalty that was due to you because of that sin is gone and you are able to walk and live in freedom that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Are you living in freedom or are you all tied up in sin still? If you believe in Jesus, He is your Savior, why would you continue to wrap yourself up in sin? This is like the prisoner who has been set free and doesn’t want to leave prison. I mean, they have their bed, their tv, friends and their wall of pictures. Life is good within the familiar. We look at them and scream “You are free!!” Same with you and I. We have been set free, so we should live like it. That is what righteousness does for us from God through Jesus Christ.
Righteousness Gives Life Meaning- Let’s say that you took a box and placed everything about you inside of it. Inside the box would be things like your career, education, finances, stuff, and friends. Everything you have is right there and you flaunt it around to everyone, showing them how awesome you are. The problem is that no matter how awesome it all appears right now, at the end of your life none of it goes with you. Do you have anything for eternity? Eternity is a much longer time than this life. Hope in money or careers, sports, or partying, while exciting for a time, won’t last for eternity.
But, when God enters in and declares you righteous, your life is set on a new path. It is to a place where you recognize what matters and what doesn’t matter; placing energy in what will last.
“The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.” Proverbs 11: 5
Righteousness makes a straight way. This is where we need to be, recognizing our place as a child of God and following His ways because we want to!
“The desire of the righteous ends only in good, but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.” Proverbs 11:23
What is it you desire? Your desires don’t come from the need to get more stuff, but from the desire to follow God and to love Him, lining your life up with Him. This is when you open up your Bible and say, “God I want to be what you want me to be, change me.”
If you follow yourself or culture, the end is wrath because God must punish sin. There is also heartache and disappointment when those things that are chased are not satisfying
God has given to you righteousness and you can therefore live forever as a result of Jesus Christ. He has said, you are forgiven and are acceptable because of Jesus Christ. Jesus smoothed the relationship between you and God!
God is at work in you, right now. You see, this is not a guilt trip, the Gospel message was never about that. It is about the love that God has for you. This is such a love that He was willing to place your sin on Hie perfect Son so that you would be able to spend eternity with Him. This is a game changer. In a moment God did what we could never have done. God has declared you to be righteous, live like it is true.