Does a Righteous Person Have it Better?

Encouragement for Your Heart and Mind from Pastor David Staff

What do you think?

Does a righteous person have it better in (this) life?
For many people, the jury-is-still-out on the answer to this question.  You might be wondering, “What do you mean by a righteous person?”

 The word “righteous” means “someone who is blameless because of having adhered to a standard.”  If you are in the habit of always driving at or below the posted speed limit, you are “righteous” in terms of those specific laws.

The rub comes, of course, in that no human being (except one) has ever been or acted consistently in keeping with God’s moral standard (i.e., His perfect Law), nor with any defined standard.  This is why the Bible states without apology, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

Worse yet, our inability to be righteous or consistently live righteously (i.e., sin) carries a penalty.  “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23).

Yet there is hope!  Christ, the righteous One and innocent lamb of God, took our place and satisfied sin’s penalty for all humanity.  “He became sin, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Ask yourself:
“If I had to stand before God today, would he see me as righteous?” 
If so, for what reason?

God’s offer in Christ is simple and profound.  When someone trusts in Jesus’ sacrifice for the penalty of sin, a gift of grace comes from God.  He gives that trusting person “righteousness.”  By grace through faith, anyone can receive God’s gift of blameless-ness.   Yep…it’s true.

 As a result of the Lord’s gift, God’s word actually speaks about “righteousness” in at least 2 distinct ways, though the one (the first) should lead to the second.

The FIRST way is “positional” righteousness.  That is, when someone trusts in Christ and his sacrifice for sin on the cross, that trusting person is justified by faith.  To justify is to make a legal declaration.  God declares that a trusting person is “righteous.”  He or she will not be blamed for any lack of conformity to God’s moral standard.  God views a trusting person as righteous.  He or she has a “standing” before God of “righteousness,” as if they have never broken even one of God’s standards.

Paul says to have that standing in righteousness is also to be “at peace with God” through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Such is the position of a person – the newborn child of God – who is trusting in Christ.

This FIRST (or positional) aspect of righteousness should lead to a SECOND aspect, that of “practicing” righteousness.  When someone has a “standing” before God of righteousness, it should lead to that person desiring to “live each day” in ways that conform to God’s moral standard.  In this second way, then, a person can be described as righteous as they obey the Lord, obey His commands in the way they live.  They want to be holy because their Heavenly Father is holy. Truthful because their Father is truthful.  Loving because their Father is loving. Refusing to be selfish because their Father is generous.

Please note!  When you see the word “righteous” in the book of the Proverbs, it most often is referring to this SECOND aspect of righteousness.  That is, someone who, fearing the Lord, seeks to live and act righteously.  Someone who (as Paul writes) “makes it their aim to be pleasing to God” (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:9).  This is the practice of righteousness.

Well, here’s where we started: Does a righteous person have it better in (this) life?
My promise.  Come this Sunday morning to #2 of WISDOM: God’s Life Compass.  We will take up this very question.
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