What Does Righteousness Mean?

Our BSF lecture focused on righteousness and our third principle stated, “God’s way of salvation is the only way to turn from sin and turn to righteousness.”

Well, I was stumped.  I had always thought of righteousness as being right.  But this obviously isn’t the case in this sense so I decided to find out what I was missing.

Webster’s says righteousness is “acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin; morally right or justifiable; or arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality”

The synonym listed is moral.

So in my upbringing I had missed the “God” in the sense of the word.

In the statement above, God’s salvation allows us to be righteous (or free from guilt).  Jesus erased our sins. And being righteous means to act in accordance with God’s law–to continually strive to be like Jesus.

God is righteous because He is free from sin.  Isaiah 46:12-13: God says “…you who are far from righteousness, I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed.”

I made the mistake of going to Sam’s Club again (I really need to stay away from that place.  I think I would be a fiend if I went to the Bible BookStore as regularly) and I bought Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C. Tenney.  I had seen it before but decided to wait–until I looked up righteousness and it had the definition I had been seeking!  So, I bought it!

This Dictionary says righteousness is “any conformity to a standard, whether that standard has to do with inner character of a person or the objective standard of accepted law….Lord God always acts in righteousness because He always has a right relationship with people.”

This also explains righteousness in terms of Jesus.  Fascinating stuff and I’d highly recommend it.  I can’t wait to dive more into it.

In essence, being righteous is being like Jesus or being like God.