The One True God is Righteous and Just
by Gini Crawford, MSW
The One True God is righteous and just. God is righteous, which means He does exactly what is right; He has no lawlessness in Him. He is the final standard of what is right. God is just, which means He is perfectly fair. God's justice rewards righteousness and punishes sin. We could say, God's holiness is His essence, and righteousness is His way by which His holiness is expressed.
For I proclaim the name of the LORD... His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He. Deuteronomy 32:3-4 NASB®
Sin and punishment. I am sure you realize disobeying laws no matter where you live, always come with a negative consequence. I can get in a hurry in my car, so of course I have gotten speeding tickets from breaking our city's speed laws. As a result, I am punished with a fine. Sin has punishment, because it is disobeying God's laws. Death and eternal punishment away from God are the punishment for sin. (There are two forms of death in the Bible: Spiritual death which is separation from God, and physical death.)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NASB®
God's righteousness and justice toward us.
God never wanted to punish us. The Bible says that God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He did not want them, or us, to die! He created us to be with Him, not to be dead to Him. However, since justice and righteousness are His characteristics, He has to fairly and rightly deal with all disobedience. If He did not, He wouldn't be just or righteous. Remember, He rewards righteousness because He is just. However, because He is just, He will punish unrighteousness which is sin.
Nevertheless, you can't catch God off guard. He had a plan set in eternity to deal with our sin, so He wouldn't have to punish us (Isaiah 43:11-13). That incredible loving plan was for Jesus to pay for the destructive consequences of our sins, taking the punishment we deserved upon Himself. This allowed us as Christians - to be justified (declared righteous), to have God's just anger against our sins satisfied, and to be completely forgiven of those sins. (Romans 3:22-26; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 Peter 2:24). When God looks at us, He doesn't see our sin, but instead He sees Jesus Christ's righteousness. Miraculous reality, isn't it?
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him...He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Romans 5:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB®
God's righteousness and our sin
Should we care about sin (unrighteousness) in our lives, since Jesus took our punishment for our sins? Of course! When we sin as Christians, we are disobeying God's laws, which He put in place to give us well-being on this earth. Sin is never good for us; frankly it can devastate our lives if we habitually continue in some sins. Sadly, a man contracted an infection that caused his body tissues to die, resulting in his untimely death. The dying of his tissues made his body give off a smell so foul, people would instinctively stay away from him or start vomiting. Looking at Isaiah 64:6-7, if our deeds are not God's deeds, then they are not righteous, but are sin. Sin is like a filthy and foul garment on us, which of course, God doesn't want to be near. (Psalm 38:3-5, 18; Romans 6:15-23; James 4:1-10). Sobering information, isn't it?
In regard to our sin problem - when we confess our sins or agree with God about our sins, it cleanses our unrighteous filth (sin) from us and restores our closeness to God again. Confessing your sins is the easiest way God could give you to be so quickly near Him again (Psalm 32:1-5). When you sin, God knows it, whether you think so or not. Confess it and move on with Him.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NASB®
As a Christian, God wants you to live righteously in Him. God's Word teaches you what is right to do, and what isn't - so you need to be reading His Word. I was just thinking, a number of people around the world can't afford a Bible or can't read one if they had one. They would love to have God's Word accessible. Those of us with a Bible are blessed, so let's intentionally be using it to learn the fundamentals of God's righteousness. This will give you the knowledge you need to live righteously, and not sinfully. (Psalm 1; Matthew 6:31-33; 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
Growing in God's righteousness
As you just learned, we have God's righteousness living within us as Christians. However, like our sanctification or holiness, we need to grow in righteousness. Are you purposefully growing in righteousness? Psalm 23:3 says that God wants to guide you in the paths of righteousness. Ask God to help you live a just and righteous life. It is a prayer I pray for myself and my family about every day. Read Psalm 4:1-5; Matthew 6:33; Romans 3:22, 6:16-19, 14:17; Titus 3:5-7. Write down your insights from these passages on righteousness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 uses a clever illustration about how to grow in righteousness. In a figurative sense these verses are telling you to lay aside that old foul garment that represents your old sinful nature, and to put on your new garment of righteousness (Job 29:14; Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:3-4). What these verses are simply saying is: Christians need to put off or stop the sins in their lives, and instead put on or do what Jesus would do. You will see examples of these put off sins and put on what is right in Ephesians 4:20-5:2. Read Ephesians 4:20-5:2. Make a list from this passage on what you should or shouldn't to doing. Then go do what is right.
Do you want to be found wearing a stinky old coat of sin that doesn't fit you any more, or a beautiful new coat made just for you in righteousness and holiness by your God? You do have a choice.
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