What is Righteousness? (part 1)

If you look back at the “Position .v. Condition in Christ” posts, you may recall that the y-axis of the graph identified our measurement of our “righteousness”. The graph showed that when we are saved, our POSITION in Christ shoots up to 100% righteousness. It also showed that our CONDITION in Christ, or our journey as Christians, worked throughout our lives to climb higher on the “righteousness scale”, but it bumped and stumbled along the way. Understanding this visual helps us understand what righteousness really is.

So then, what is righteousness? How is it defined? What’s the simple definition? How can we be both 100% righteous, and still waiver and grow and stumble in our level all at the same time? How does righteousness define our walk as Christians?

In the simplest of terms, Jesus Christ was 100% righteous. He was completely Godly. He was literally the Son of God. He came to earth to set an example for exactly how humans should live in order to please God. He basically set the perfect example for us. He lived a completely righteous life. And his actions and teachings were all recorded in the Bible. Therefore, OUR level of righteousness is determined by how “Christ-like” we live our lives. How well we follow His example. As Matthew 4:4 clarifies, it is living by every word of God–living according to God’s perfect law. In other words, striving to live like Jesus Christ lived–living a life of faith, love, and obedience.

As I said in an earlier post, 1 and 2 Timothy are FANTASTIC resources for defining why we should strive for righteousness. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 says,

“But you, man of God, flee from all that is of the world and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith.”

2 Timothy 2:22 goes on to say…

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

And, finally, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 lays out exactly how we can work towards righteousness by saying,

“All scripture is god-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

WOW! Beautiful scripture. So what does all of this mean? In the most basic of terms, it means that, in order to live as righteous as we can, and allow Christ’s light to shine through us as bright as it can, we must strive to live like Christ lived. How do we know what all that entails? THE BIBLE! It’s like a “How To” guide! haha. And what is most beautiful about it is that it is the living, breathing word of God. So, every time we open its pages, the words can hold different meanings and interpretations for our personal journey. But that is why the Bible is so important. That is why studying, digging in the Word, and learning is so crucial. If we want to live as righteously as possible, as we should all strive to do, we have to engage ourselves in His Word for guidance and growth.

A wonderful spiritual mentor of mine once taught me a great lesson…picture a chair. You can look at it, touch it, walk around it, lean on it, see it from every angle, feel it, and so on. And, in doing this, you may have an idea of what that chair can do. BUT, you will NEVER fully understand the magnitude of that chair’s purpose until you sit in it. You will never be capable of understand the comfort and relief and support and use of that chair, until you USE it. Now apply that metaphor to the Bible. We can glance in it, pull little verses out of it here and there, carry it around, flip through it…but we will never understand the magnitude of the Bible until we USE it–until we study it, read it, APPLY it into our lives, learn from it, and truly BELIEVE it! And in doing that, we can strive for righteousness. We can truly learn how to live like Christ!

If righteousness is defined as how Christ-like we are living, we must learn how to actually live more Christ-like by studying His Word–studying how it’s done. We can grow SO MUCH in our condition

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