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The Necessity of God's Righteousness

Do you have it; and how important is it for the salvation of your soul?

     "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Gal. 2:21)  In this verse, I would like to call your attention to the very important word "righteousness".
     RIGHTEOUSNESS: What is it?  Who has it?  How and when does one receive it?  How long does it last?
     If a person needs righteousness to get to Heaven, these are some questions that must be answered upon the authority of the Word of God.

I. What is righteousness?
     In Psalm 45:7, "righteousness" is recognized as the direct opposite of wickedness.  It could be described with adjectives such as pure, holy, just, etc.
     The dictionary defines righteousness as a "condition that is considered right according to some standard of morality and justice".
     The question is: who determines that standard, man or God?
     The Bible makes mention of two kinds of righteousness.  One is measured by a human standard, while the other is measured by a divine standard.
     In the book of Romans, Paul alludes to these two kinds of righteousness when voicing his concern about the eternal salvation of his own people: "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.  For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." (Rom. 10:1-3)
     Do you see the two different "righteousnesses"?  One is God's (divine righteousness), and one is their own (human or self-righteousness).
     Paul admitted that the Jewish people were very moral and religious, but obviously that was not enough to qualify them as righteous according to God's standard.
     The Scriptures teach that God will judge the world in righteousness by one man. (Acts 17:31)  That man is Jesus Christ who lived a perfect, sinless life.  He is the divine standard of righteousness.

II. Who has righteousness?
     Since divine righteousness is the standard by which God determines who will qualify for Heaven, no one deserves to go there.  "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." (Eccl. 7:20)  Because of sin, human righteousness will always come up short of qualifying a person for Heaven.  "As it is written, there is none righteous, no not one." (Rom. 3:10)  "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23)
     You may consider yourself a very moral, religious person; but Jesus said: "except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:20)

III. How and when does one receive righteousness?
     Remember when Paul said that the Jews were trying to "establish their own righteousness?"  Whether it be the rite of circumcision, sacrificing in the temple, or keeping the law, etc.; they were always trying TO DO SOME THING to make sure that they would be righteous enough at the final judgment.
     Unfortunately, this is the same thing being taught by most churches today (get baptized, attend church, keep the commandments, etc.).
     Dear reader, if you have done or are doing any of these things to make sure that you will finally get to Heaven, you are just trying to "establish your own righteousness."  The only righteousness you have is "self-righteousness".
     You must repent of this!
     You cannot do anything to EARN God's righteousness!
     Neither is God's righteousness something a man can bestow on you through some physical, outward act such as circumcision, baptism, or confirmation.
     It can only come by a spiritual, inward operation which the Holy Spirit performs on a person's heart.Jesus told the Pharisees: "the kingdom of God cometh not with observation ... for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20, 21)
     Remember: "man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh upon the heart." (I Sam. 16:7)
     The Old Testament prophets often made mention of a circumcision of the heart.  Paul also refers to this in Romans 2:28, 29.  The only kind of conversion that is really going to change a man is a genuine heart conversion!
     The Bible says divine righteousness is imputed (accounted) to a person the moment he completely trusts God's Word, before any works are performed.
     Consider Abraham in Romans, chapter four: "For what saith the scripture?  Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Rom. 4:3)  Notice: this imputation of God's righteousness took place before any physical acts of obedience were performed.  "How was it then reckoned?  When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision?  Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.  And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised:..."  This "sign" or "seal" was a physical outward label for others to see what had already been done in his heart.  (This same principle applies with the ceremony of baptism today.)

IV. How long does righteousness last?
     That depends on whose righteousness you have.  If it is your own, then it will only last as long as your physical life and you will spend eternity in Hell.  However, if you have God's righteousness, then it will last forever.  For the Bible says His righteousness is an "everlasting righteousness." (Psalms 119:142; Isa. 51:6-8)
    Dear reader, what about you?  You can't work for righteousness or it would be your own.  You must submit to God's righteousness by faith in his Son who paid the price for your sin.  "For he (the Father) hath made him (the Son) to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (II Cor. 5:21)
     Remember, the very moment that you sincerely repent and call upon Jesus Christ with a BELIEVING heart to save your soul from Hell, that VERY MOMENT... you have GOD'S Righteousness and it is EVERLASTING!