The One True God is Righteous and Just
by Gini Crawford, MSW
Perfect righteousness and justice
God's righteousness and justice are always acted out perfectly. God is righteous; He does exactly what is right. There is no lawlessness in Him. He is the final standard of what is right. God is just; He is perfectly fair. His justice has no bias in it. 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 comes 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®
Righteousness in Jesus
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. That incredible loving plan was for Jesus to pay for the destructive consequences of our sins, taking the punishment we deserved upon Himself (Isaiah 53:5-6). 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. (1 Corinthians 1:30, 6:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 2:24). When God looks at us, He doesn't see our sin, but instead He sees Jesus Christ's righteousness. Loving justice, 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. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. / He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Romans 5:8-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB®
We could say, having Jesus' righteousness allows us to go from God's enemy to His friend. How do you feel about Jesus taking your sins upon Himself and giving you His righteousness?
When Christians 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 still 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. I read this story the other day, and realized it gave an analogy of how sin can harmfully infect our whole being (Psalm 32:3-5, 38:3-5, 18). 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 want to stay away from him. Sin is like a foul garment of death on us, spiritually sickening us, which God doesn’t want to be near. (Isaiah 59:2; Isaiah 64:6-7; Romans 6:23a). Sobering analogy!
In regard to our sin problem as Christians - when we confess our sins or agree with God about our sins, it gets the foul garment of sin off of us, cleansing our unrighteousness and restoring our closeness to God again. Confessing your sins is the easiest way God could give you to be 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®
God's Word, the guide to righteousness
As Christians, God wants us to live righteously in Him. At times we think we are doing righteous acts but we are not (Isaiah 64:6). God's Word teaches you what is right to do, and what isn't - so you need to know 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; 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
Growing in God's righteousness
As you just learned, we have Jesus' righteousness living within us as Christians. However, we still need to be 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 just about every day. Read Psalm 37:5-6; Matthew 6:33; Romans 3:22, 6:16-19, 14:17.
Write down your insights from these passages on righteousness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 uses a clever illustration about how to grow in righteousness. The original language of the New Testament was Greek. So from a few Greek words in these verses, you are being told to lay aside or put off 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 3:3-5). 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 to put on what is right" in Ephesians 4:20-5:2. Read Ephesians 4:20-5:2.
Make a list from Ephesians 4:20-5:2 on what you should or shouldn't be 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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