The Foundation of Righteousness
You need to be righteous to get to heaven, and yet you cannot be righteous on your own by the things you do. You need Jesus and His righteousness!
Kingdom Principle: Righteousness; Part II
Locate in Scripture: Genesis 3; Romans 5
From the very beginning God created humankind in perfection. What made it perfect is that we were created to experience an intimate and personal relationship with Him. Adam and Eve experienced God in the garden. They were created in righteousness; upright, sinless and in right standing with God.
When the serpent deceived Eve, it was by challenging this position of righteousness. When questioning her on what God said, he twisted God’s instructions. Eve started thinking about this and began to believe that the tree they were told not to eat of, was good for food, pleasing to look at and desirable for wisdom. This is what the serpent said, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5-7). In other words, God is keeping something from you. If you eat this, then you will be like Him.
They were already like God, created in His image and created with perfect fellowship in mind. However, what the lie presented was a comparison of what God gave them and what could be if they acted. Eve ate of the fruit and gave some to Adam and when he ate the transaction was complete. Adam took the righteousness that God gave Him as a gift and exchanged it for unrighteousness; broken fellowship, sin, shame, condemnation and judgment. Instead of trusting in God, they wanted to be like Him and found that they were not enough. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:7).
What Adam and Eve discovered when they ate was that the righteousness that they were created with was gone. They were no longer upright, sinless and in perfect standing with God. They trusted in the fruit of the intimate relationship in the garden instead of trusting in the source of the fruit, which was God. All of it was a gift, however when the serpent presented a twisted reality, he was in essence telling them to rely on themselves because something was missing in what God gave them.
Two Kinds of Righteousness
There are two kinds of righteousness; self-righteousness and God’s righteousness. Self-Righteousness says there is something I can do to be right with God. It is a mindset that God plus what I do, makes me acceptable. God’s righteousness is His character, nature and His rightness. God will always do the right thing because He is right, He thinks righteously, it is part of what makes Him God.
Isaiah says that our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It is not just our sin that is filthy, it is our righteousness (trying to be righteous on our own – our “self-righteousness”), When we attempt to be right with God through our own means, it cannot compare to the standard of God’s righteousness, because in contrast, it is filthy and offensive, we are excluded on the basis of sin. One of the definitions of sin is missing the mark, James said, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). In other words, you can live more righteous and more holy than anyone else and still miss the mark if you are depending on your righteousness to make you acceptable with God.
This was part of the deception from the beginning in the garden; the serpent deceived them by questioning God’s intention. He tricked them into believing there was something missing, something God was keeping from them. This is the same lie used today. The lie that says you must do something to make yourself right with God, when in fact everything that needed to be done was done through Christ Jesus.
Adam Made You a Sinner; Jesus Made You Righteous
Consequently, only two works will ever count with God. What Adam did in the garden when he chose to sin and what Jesus did on the cross to undo it. Paul said in Romans, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). In fact Paul stresses five times in this passage that what Jesus did far exceeded, completely overshadowed and out-shined Adam’s transgression. The two cannot even be compared because what Christ did to redeem us was much more in every way! (Romans 5:15-19). If Adam brought death; Jesus brought life. If Adam brought condemnation; Jesus brought forgiveness. If Adam brought judgment; Jesus brought grace. Christ’s payment for Adam’s debt was extravagant and eclipsed, outweighed and surpassed the fall’s devastating effects on humanity.
Jesus freely offers the righteousness needed to be acceptable by God.“But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:21-24).
God is asking you to trust Him as the source and on that basis it is always enough. God’s righteousness is given to you as a gift at the moment you trust Him as your savior (II Corinthians 5:21). When the starting point is God’s righteousness, then you are always acceptable!
Join me for Part III; 'God is the Source of Righteousness'.