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The Daily Word of Righteousness
The Righteousness of God
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33—NIV)
We have been commanded to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. The righteousness of God is what He is in Character. The righteousness of God includes all of His commandments and goes even beyond these. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Righteousness of God and the Covenant of God with people.
We are to make seeking God's righteousness the first priority of our life.
But this is a difficult thought, at least for me, to get hold of. What does it mean to seek God's righteousness?
I believe the conclusion is today, in Christian thinking, that we should not try to work up some righteous behavior of our own but should trust that God counts us righteous by the fact that we have believed in Christ, or we are identified with Christ. God is righteous. Christ is righteous. We are unrighteous in behavior but God deems us righteous because of our faith in Jesus Christ.
We could derive the same assurance from the following passages:
In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: "The LORD Our Righteousness." (Jeremiah 23:6—NIV)
In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: "The LORD Our Righteousness." (Jeremiah 33:16—NIV)
It is absolutely true that when we are a true disciple of the Lord Jesus our name is "The Lord our righteousness."
While it is understandable from having such a name that we might conclude God has attributed righteousness to us because of our association with the righteous Christ, this conclusion leaves three huge questions unanswered:
First, if the Christian salvation consists primarily of Christ's righteousness attributed to us, why does the Apostle Paul state if we believers continue in unrighteous conduct we will not inherit the Kingdom of God?
Second, since we know the new Jerusalem will not consist of believers who are unrighteous in behavior, how, when, and where do we make the transition from unrighteous behavior to righteous, holy behavior?
Third, if our salvation consists primarily of Christ's righteousness attributed to us, why does the Lord tell us that in the end of the age His angels will remove from His Kingdom all behavior that offends God?
I have never heard these three questions answered from clear passages of Scripture kept in context. Have you?
My opinion at this point is that gaining God's righteousness is by no means limited to having the righteousness of Christ attributed to us. I don't think this is what the expression means, except in a limited, initial sense. I do not believe being saved by grace means God refers to the members of His Kingdom as righteous even though they are continuing in the filthy conduct of the sinful nature.
To be continued.