What is righteousness and justice? Those two words are hard to explain because we live in a world that does not understand the true meanings of the such words whether the meanings are implicit or explicit. Even though, our laws of justice were once based upon the Ten Commandments and the Words of God regarding behaviors that needed be punished, we have basically thrown out true justice for expediency and vengeance. We also have corrupt judges and lawyers as well as laws that have been expressly established for punishment and retribution rather than having just lawyers and having judges and laws that are based on the betterment of society and are established upon righteousness and justice.
Obviously, society needs laws, and we should attempt to provide some type of justice when determining judicial cases, whether it is for the punishment of crimes committed or to help someone who has been hurt by a physical, emotional or financial situation. However, litigation for the sake of litigation is prevalent in our society today. We can sue someone for a ham sandwich, if we can find a lawyer to bring it to court. Certainly, there is little righteousness and justice today within our court systems as more and more judges try to implement their own ideas of right and wrong and appeal to political correctness within their perception of justice.
There is only One who is righteous and just
There is one, though, who is righteous and just; He is God. “The Heavens declare His righteousness, …” – (Psalm 97: 6. NASB). He is truly just and it is not just a perception of justice, for God is the epitome of righteous justice. But only telling someone that God is righteous and just is not good enough. As Christians, we need to be able to fully explain and share our knowledge of God’s righteousness and justice with others. So, I want to take a few minutes to delve into what Righteousness means when we are speaking of God and our relationship to Him. We also need to understand how unrighteous we truly are in the eyes of God, and how God has made a plan for us to become righteous before Him.
Once we understand just how truly unrighteous we really are, then we can repent and be made righteous. But, how can unrighteous humans be made righteous before God who is righteous and just? First we have to understand that our righteous God is full of uprightness and integrity. This means that God is honest and sincere with high moral principles. In other words, God does not accept half-truths, or the concept of gray as opposed to the truth of black and white. For, in God’s eyes something is either good or bad, or right or wrong. The idea of simply making a situation into what the person wants the situation to be just so that person can ease their conscience does not exist with God. Instead, righteousness means that God does not accept nor can He tolerate immorality, deceit, lying, or any other types of sin, nor will He whitewash them.
Saving His Creation
Although God cannot accept sin, God also knew that to save His creation, i.e. humans, there would be only one way that we could come to Him. We could not come to Him as unclean sinners. So, God put His merciful plan into action. What was God’s plan? Well, humans would be able come to God through the sacrifice of His Only Son, Jesus Christ, on the Cross. God’s plan would require Christ’s blood to wash away our sins. So, “… God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been made justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” – (Romans 5: 8, 9, NASB). Because of God’s loving act, today Christ’s cleansing blood is available to all who will believe on the risen Son, Jesus Christ, and who will then ask Christ to come into their heart to cleanse them from their sins.
“All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to Himself through what Christ did. … For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message that He has given us to tell others.” – (II Corinthians 5: 18, 19. NASB). Can you share this glorious news with those who have not yet found the cleansing power of Christ’s Salvation? Can you share this news with your mentees? Or maybe you need to come to Christ and in repentance, then ask Christ to come into your life?
God has given his creation a way to become righteous before Him, but if we refuse to believe on Christ as the risen Son of God, then we will have to receive God’s punishment. In fact, the Apostle Paul said, “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, WHO WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.” – (Romans 2: 5, 6. NASB). In other words, God will reward believers in Christ and reward them for their spirit-filled good deeds. However, God will also punish those who are lost in their unbelief. He will punish them for their refusal to believe in His Son and for their fleshly and ungodly deeds of evilness. I pray that you will recognize the One and Only Savior, Jesus Christ and in repentance and belief, ask Christ to come into your heart before it is too late.
The Meaning of Righteousness
As I have said, God is righteous and just. In fact, there is no entity or person that is more righteous and just than God. “… for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all the deeds He has done, …” — (Daniel 9: 14. NASB). This means that all of our earthly judges, who rule daily on the lives of people, cannot hold a candle to the righteous justice of God.
Do we then really understand what righteousness and justice is? Well, God has given us His Word and the Ten Commandments as guidelines to provide us a pattern for righteous and just behaviors. Unfortunately, people have gotten away from reading God’s Word, which means that they have very little understanding of what righteousness and justice is. To make matters worse, government agencies have taken the Ten Commandments from many of our court houses. Although God gave us ideals, laws and morality to uphold, we have failed to live up to His ideal of righteousness and justice, even though we have been given goals to reach. However, to better understand what righteousness and justice entails for us mortals, we first need to look at the definition of those two words so that we can understand just how righteous and just that God is.
To be righteous means that we are acting in a just and upright manner, and that we are always doing what is right in the eyes of God. God even tells us that “A righteous man hates falsehood.” – (Proverbs 13: 5. NASB). In fact, God is the One Who sets the standards for righteousness; giving the godly a reason to hate falsehood. Accordingly, righteousness is that state of engaging in morally upright behaviors without lying and without doing things that are bad or evil. Christians who practice living a morally upright life and not lying or who refuse to engage in the temptations of this world, have a better chance of being a good example for those who have not yet asked Christ into their heart, than do Christians who succumb to this world's sins. (Any person, even a Christian, can succumb to fleshly temptations of greed, pride, envy, immorality etc. that this world has to offer, if we do not stay in the Word. But if we stay in the Word of God daily and keep ourselves in daily prayer, we can be that Christian who doesn’t fall for the world’s temptations, and we can be a Christian who sets a Christ-like example for others).
Our legacy of righteousness
In the book of Proverbs, God tells us that “A righteous man who walks in his integrity – How blessed are his sons.” – (Proverbs 20 7: NASB). The greatest legacy that any man or woman can leave behind when they physically die is that of personal godly integrity and obedience to God. Teaching our children to lead moral, honest, truthful, and righteous lives while working for the Lord and helping others in brotherly love is the best legacy that we can leave. The reason it is so great a legacy is that it blesses our children and their future children for generations. But, when we fail to teach righteousness and obedience to God to our children, we leave behind a world much worse than the one we entered. So, whether we are leaving behind daughters or sons, we need to make sure that they understand what righteousness is and how they can be made righteous in the eyes of God. Have you explained to your children what righteousness means? Do they know about Christ? What kind of blessing will you leave for your children?
We live in a world that has a hard time understanding righteousness. That is because most people today live by their own standards of truth, morality, and virtuousness, doing what is right in their own eyes. In fact, few people today understand the truth, morality and virtuousness of the Bible and of God, because they have not been taught to live by God’s standards. But, that does not mean that those three words, truth morality and virtuousness, do not mean anything, for they do mean a lot. For even though we may not have been taught what is right and true, we all have an inner knowledge of right and wrong. Although, we may ignore this inner standard, it doesn’t mean that God’s standards for righteousness doesn’t exist. For, God established the standard for righteousness.
God is the only Righteous One. The Bible says: “Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven. Yes, the LORD pours down His blessings. … Righteousness goes as a herald before Him, preparing the way for His steps.” – (Psalm 85: 10-13. NLT). Moreover, we should be grateful that God has given us His holy Word, so that we could understand what righteousness is and understand how God expects us to attempt to live a righteous life. Unfortunately, there are many people, who do not believe in a righteous and Holy God. Therefore, it is the responsibility of true Christians to share with others what we know about God. We can also share God’s righteousness through the Gospel message that we are to share with others.
Whether we are in engaged in Active Relational Christian Mentoring or in some other service for the Lord, it is important to understand that we are not only being watched all the time, but that we will leave behind a legacy of some kind for our children and for others we have encountered. In other words, our lives as Christians are on display daily for other people to see and observe. People will be able to see if we practice what we believe, or if we are just spouting hot air. But, even if we are not actively mentoring another person, we must realize that we are passively mentoring those around us through our behaviors, acts, and words. Consequently, people and children around us will recognize whether or not we are living a righteous life, or we if we are just following the crowd of people who do what is right in their own eyes. As Christians, we are to live daily for Christ and in doing so, allow others to see our Christ-light shining forth.
My dad told me when I was a young girl that I had only one thing worth anything that I would leave behind when I die. That one thing of worth is my name. People will remember my name and they will associate my name with how I acted, what I believed in, and the words that I have spoken. My name will be remembered and associated with someone who either loved the Lord and lived for Him or with someone who was false and who did not live for the Lord. Moreover, no matter how kind and loving I am to those around me, it will all come down to whether or not I have accepted Christ as my Savior and lived for Christ during the time that I have been given, or if I have squandered my life away by living only for myself.
I would just add one more thing to dad’s explanation of how important our personal name is. I would add that my name will or will not be associated with the legacy of sharing the Gospel message with others, depending on what I do in life. If I do not live a righteous and just life in Christ, then I will not have a positive effect on the growth of the Kingdom of God. However, if I live sharing the Gospel and live attempting to live a righteous life, then when I die, my name will have stood for God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Furthermore, my impact on the lives of others will be for the glory of God. But, in order to live a righteous and just life for others to emulate, I and other Christians have to focus on living for Christ every day and not just on Sundays. We need to remember that we will either leave a legacy of blessings associated with our name, or we will leave a legacy of unrighteousness and falsehood. What kind of legacy will you leave behind?
Jesus reminds us that words reveal our character. Moreover we all know that words can hurt and they can stay in our memory long after an incident or long after we have heard them. In other words, our words leave a legacy of their own. That is why Christ said: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. …The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” -- (Matthew 12: 33, 35-37. NASB). What kind of legacy will you leave behind? Have you used words to glorify God and do His will? Are your deeds good and spirit-filled? Or, are the deeds that you have done been done for selfish reasons. Will the words that you speak today condemn you when Christ comes?
Receiving the righteousness of Christ
Christ said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” – (Matthew 5: 6. NASB). This blessing comes to the one who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, for he/she is essentially yearning for God. Those who are searching for God and the righteousness of Truth will find it in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. For, it is Christ, who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is Christ who died on the cross for each of our sins. It is only through belief in Jesus Christ as the risen Son of God that we will be filled, never to hunger or thirst again. In fact, Jesus said, “… ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. All that the Father gives to Me, will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” – (John 6: 35, 37. NASB). So, when Jesus went to the cross for our sins, He became our Sin-bearer, and in doing so, He gave us His righteousness. For, “He (God) made Him, (Jesus), who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – (II Corinthians 6: 18. NASB). In other words, Christ gave us life so that we could receive His righteousness which allows us to have a personal relationship with Him forever – giving us eternal life. Those who find Christ and His righteousness will be filled with joy, peace, happiness and true contentment.
God wants righteousness for every person, as having righteousness means that we try not to sin and through the cleansing blood of Christ we can now come into the presence of the Holy and Righteous God; the one who established right, truth and justice. But the only way that we can be made truly righteous is to repent of our sins and then with the miraculous rebirth of Salvation be cleansed from all unrighteousness. That is because it is only through God’s Son, Jesus Christ, that we can be made righteous. “For as through the one man’s disobedience (i.e. Adam’s disobedience) the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One (i.e. the obedience of Christ) the many will be made righteous.” – (Romans 5: 19. NASB).
Have you come to the place where you want to be cleansed from all unrighteousness? Do you want God’s peace, love, truth and contentment? Then, you need to come before God repenting of your sins and asking Christ to come into your heart. Then and only then, can you be made righteous before God. “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” – (Isaiah 1: 18. NASB).
God is Just
What is justice and being just? Well, today in our world justice seems to be an elusive concept that we attempt to fit into our idea of retribution and sometimes vengeance. Yes, we want murders and other criminals punished for what they have done and to keep them from ever doing the same thing again. However, what is justice for one family may not be justice for another; depending on how the jury sees the situation or how the judge rules.
Everything that we do on this earth should be based on God’s laws and rules, but since we are not omniscient or omnipresent we cannot know the truth of each situation. Sometimes, too, we get the truth turned all around or we just can’t find the truth, which leads to innocent people being incarcerate for something they did not do. But, even when the judicial system discovers the possibility of a mistake, being human and led by pride and political agendas, people, that is people in the justice system, do not want to admit that they put an innocent man in jail. Sadly, those who are truly determined not to lose face, will do everything in their judicial power to keep the innocent incarcerated, because it would mess up their record of wins, or they would have to admit they were wrong.
At other times we incarcerate people for long periods of time for non-violent crimes. Such things as personal drug use, white collar crimes, and prostitution that lead to years of incarceration, and sometimes these individuals are put in with the violent criminals. Obviously, these people have broken the laws of the land and some have even hurt themselves in the long run, but we call it justice even when we do not try to help these people or when we do not try to match the punishment to the crime. God, on the other hand, knows what perfect justice is. There is no equivocation about the discipline or punishment, for His discipline and punishment is correct, right, and just. “There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He (God) says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” – (Romans 9: 14-16. NASB).
What exactly do we mean when we say that God is just? Well, we can only describe “just” according to the Word of God and the way that man has interpreted just from God’s standards, but even if we are only able to use our idea of just, we know that true justice is full of godly perfection. Because we cannot reach that perfection, we have to rely on the following words and their meanings when we speak of just and justice: i.e. having wisdom; being scrupulous; honest and truthful; fair and unprejudiced; undoubtable and ethical; unerring and accurate; precise and particular; and right and righteous. However, even understanding and incorporating those words into our justice system cannot hold a candle to the pure knowledge of the omniscient God based upon the true wisdom of God that does and will provide the perfect justice for God’s creation through the Triune God.
The Justice of God
God is just. This means that God is accurate, right, correct in every way, lawful, proper, and morally upright with truth and righteousness. Moreover, because of His omniscience God is all knowing, i.e., He knows exactly what we have done, thought, and heart intended. Moreover, “God is a righteous judge, …” – (Psalm 7:11. NASB). As opposed to a biased earthly judge, God knows who is deserving of a penalty or a reward. In fact, one of the Psalmists in the Bible cries out for the justice of God in his Psalm saying: “Justice – do you rulers know the meaning of the word? Do you judge the people fairly?’ Then the Psalmist goes on to say: “God will sweep them away, both young and old faster than a pot heats on an open flame. The godly will rejoice when they see injustice avenged. …Then at last everyone will say, ‘There truly is a reward for those who live for God; surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth.’” – (Psalm 58: 1, 9, 10, 11. NLT).
Just as the Psalmist indicates, God is wisdom and full of sound reason. He has no problem in upholding what is right, true, just, or lawful when determining who deserves what. For example, God would never put an innocent man in jail or use our man-made laws to get vengeance upon another person. For, when God hands down His judgment it is right. true and proper.
In Psalm 89, Ethan the Ezrahite tells us that God’s righteousness and justice are supreme. He says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You.” – (Psalm 89: 14. NASB). Earlier in the the book of Job, Bildad, who is speaking to Job, tells him that God rewards the good. He says, “Lo, God will not reject a man of integrity, nor will He support the evildoers.” – (Job 8: 20. NASB). But, Bildad also asks the rhetorical question: “ Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert what is right?” – (Job 8: 3. NASB). Obviously, God does not pervert justice or pervert what is right! Instead, God upholds justice and always does what is right. That is why those who have not been cleansed from all unrighteousness are not allowed in the presence of the most just and righteous God. Although God is loving and kind, truth always goes before Him, so He requires that those who come into His presence must be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ and their salvation.
Judgment and Rewards
Throughout the Bible we learn that God will reward those that have believed on His Son and repented of their sins. That is because true “born-again” Christians are first rewarded for their faith in Christ. Then they are rewarded for their good deeds and the sharing of the Gospel message with others. Those who are saved have been endowed with the Holy Spirit, who leads them into good works to pursue a Christ-like life of righteous living. However, those who have not believed on Christ as their Savior will be punished for their unbelief and evil deeds. Just simply being a “good” person will not get someone into eternal life or keep them from getting their just punishment.
Although true Christians will not face the Great White Throne Judgment, which is for unbelievers, Christians will have to face the judgment seat of Christ. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” – (II Corinthians 5: 10. NASB). This judgment seat is sometimes referred to as the Bema seat. It is not a judgment seat of condemnation, but rather a place of accountability. It is at this seat that Christians will be rewarded for their faithful obedience to the Lord.
God the Father has turned over the judgment of the world at the end of days to His Son, Jesus Christ. “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son (Jesus Christ) also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, Truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” – (John 5: 21-24. NASB).
Sharing the Gospel message
The Apostle Paul told the Romans: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, … For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘BUT THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.’” – (Romans 1: 16, 17. NASB). The Gospel message with Christ at the center shows us just how righteous God is in His having a plan to provide grace and mercy to those who are dying. For, it is only through God’s plan that we can be made fit for eternal life lived with Him. Only by trusting in Christ can our lives be made right and true for the heavenly reward of eternal life. Moreover, it is only through our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, that we can be declared right and in right standing with God. Can you share that message with others?
We live in a world that has a hard time understanding righteousness. That is because most people today live by their own standards of truth, morality, and virtuousness. In fact, few people today understand the truth, morality and virtuousness of the Bible and of God. But, that does not mean that those three words do not mean anything, for they do mean a lot. However, God is the only Righteous One. Moreover, God has given us His Word, so that we could understand what righteousness is and how God expects us to attempt to live a righteous life. Unfortunately, there are many people, who do not believe in a righteous and Holy God. Therefore, it is the responsibility of true Christians to share with others what we know about God. We can share God’s righteousness through the Gospel message that we are to share with others.
Tell others about the wondrous God of the Universe. Let those you encounter understand just how righteous, just and loving that God and His Son are. Step forward and share the Gospel with others and mentor fellow Christians when you can. God wants the body of Christ to not only live for Christ, but to be there for each other in support, love, and compassion. You Can Do It! You and reach out and help another woman through Active Relational Christian Mentoring.