A righteous person is a person who is in right standing with God. The only way to obtain righteousness in God’s eyes is to believe that His Son, Jesus Christ, took your sin when He was crucified and gave you His righteousness as a gift when you received salvation.
This is what salvation is all about! Growing up, I heard that Jesus died for our sins, but to be honest I had no clue what that meant or why it was important.
It turns out, what happened at the cross changed everything and provided a brand new life for those who would believe.
Jesus redeemed us from the life of slavery that we were in and gave us a new spirit that is created in righteousness.
and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:24
With a new, righteous spirit you can now have a relationship with God. You can approach God boldly without any sense of guilt, shame, or inferiority.
You don’t have to feel unworthy anymore because God has taken care of it. You weren’t worthy on your own. You deserved death. But Jesus has given you the gift of righteousness!
You can now receive all the blessings God has designed for you. You are free from the curse and penalty of sin.
This is what the new birth in Christianity is all about. When you receive salvation, you receive righteousness, or right standing with God.
All of your sin has been removed and completely wiped away through the sacrifice of Jesus and you receive a new spirit that is righteous.
If you try to become righteous on your own, through your own efforts, you will find that you are going to fail over and over again. It’s hopeless. You may do good for a while, but eventually you will always fall short of God’s standard of righteousness.
What Makes a Person Righteous in God’s Eyes?
God is honored when we believe Him. What makes a person righteous in God’s eyes is faith in what Jesus has done.
If God says that you are righteous because of what Jesus has done (2 Corinthians 5:21), but you choose to not to believe it, then you are not honoring God at all. You are calling Him a liar.
A truly humble person will believe that what God says is true. A person who is honoring God will say “If God says I am righteous because of the finished work of Jesus, then I am righteous. I believe what God says is true!”. This honors the Lord. This is true obedience to the Lord.
God says that He has made you righteous through the finished work of His Son. If you have received salvation, then in God’s eyes, you have become the very righteousness of God. Not by your own efforts, but by faith in what Jesus has done.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Believing this truth honors what Jesus has done at the cross. Trying to be righteous by your own efforts is like saying that Christ died in vain, that what He did wasn’t enough. The entire book of Galatians deals with this very subject.
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. Galatians 2:21
The Bible says that self-righteousness, or man’s attempt to be righteous on his own, is like filthy rags to God.
But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; Isaiah 64:6
When this verse is talking about filthy rags, it is talking about the used rags a woman disposes of during her monthly cycle. (Too much information, I know!) But the point is that self-righteousness is absolutely nasty.
What Does it Mean to be Righteous in the Bible?
According to the Bible, true righteousness can only come by faith. A person cannot obtain true righteousness apart from God. It is utterly impossible to obtain right standing with God by your own efforts.
All your attempts to pray for long hours, read the Bible every day, and be kind to your spouse are useless when it comes to obtaining righteousness. They may benefit your mindset and the happiness of your marriage, but they will not fix the fact that you were born in sin and must be born again.
Righteousness must come by faith in what Jesus has done. When you believe on Jesus and accept salvation, righteousness is imparted to you as a gift.
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17
Jesus taught that God’s standard for righteousness was much, much higher than man’s.
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20
Jesus went on in Matthew 5 to explain the differences in God’s standard and man’s standard. Man says not to murder, but God says that if you’re even angry at someone without a cause, it’s like murder to Him. Wow!
How then could anyone be good enough to obtain right standing with God? You can’t on your own. That’s the point. Throw up your hands, surrender, and receive righteousness as a gift.
In Luke 18, Jesus tells the story of two men who went to God seeking right standing with Him. One man came to God with his list of good deeds that he had done. The other man came to God completely dependent on the mercy of God. The man who came with acknowledging his dependence on God’s mercy is the one who went away justified before God.
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18: 9-14
How Can One Be Righteous?
Just like everything in the Kingdom of God, you receive righteousness by grace through faith. To become righteous, you must believe that when you received salvation you received a new nature that is righteous and holy.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
You may look at your daily actions and think you are anything but righteous, but this is why it’s so important to understand what happened when you got saved.
Your spirit man is the part of you that changed. Your soul and your body stay the same until you begin to renew your mind to what has happened in your spirit. As you begin to believe that your spirit is now righteous, you will begin to act like it.
This is how you can begin to enjoy your relationship with God. He becomes your Father. You have access to Him without any sense of guilt or shame. In fact, you don’t even have to look at yourself. God sees you in Christ, perfected forever (Hebrews 10:14).
You can freely run to God at any time and receive the help you need. This is the way it was always intended to be!
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
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