It is foreign to humanity yet available to all. It is the opposite of sin. It is moral perfection. It is that which makes us acceptable to God. It is an indispensable immutable characteristic of God. I’m talking about righteousness.
Necessary To Enter Heaven
“(A Psalm of David.) LORD, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart” (Ps. 15:1-2). David tells us that “working righteousness” is a requirement if we desire to dwell in God’s holy hill one day. Of course we understand that he is talking about dwelling with God in heaven.
The Need For Righteousness
Paul, as a skilled builder, lays down a theological foundation for the book of Romans by proving that all of mankind, whether Jew or Gentile, stands guilty of sin and is therefore in need of a Saviour. “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law” (Rom. 2:12).
If this was not clear enough, Paul goes on to state it in the most straightforward fashion possible: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). This verse expresses the universal condition of the whole human race. It’s not that the majority of mankind is unrighteous, but all of mankind is void of even a smidgen of righteousness.
Two Kinds Of Righteousness
“Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:8-9).
Two sources of righteousness are presented here: a man-made righteousness and the righteousness which is by God. There is no third source. If our righteousness does not come from God and Him alone, it is unrighteousness.
Obtaining God’s Righteousness
Let us look at the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through repentance and faith, we can receive the imputed righteousness of God. Salvation is an act of grace and not an act of works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Imputed righteousness is God’s righteousness freely given to us as a result of receiving Christ as our Saviour. We give Him our sins, and He gives us His righteousness. Some call this double imputation. Our sins were imputed upon Jesus at Calvary, and His righteousness was imputed to us when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Saviour. At that point of time, Jesus, the personification of God’s righteousness, credits us with His righteousness.
Which Righteousness Do You Have?
Which type of righteousness do you have? It is either man-made righteousness or it is God-given righteousness. There are some who would try to convince you that it can be a little of both. They are mistaken. We cannot begin with imputed righteousness for salvation then switch to man-made righteousness for our sanctification. We cannot start in grace but continue by works. The righteousness a believer walks in from day to day is still tied to the completed work of Calvary. He is forever my source of righteousness and victory.