Righteousness (Justification)

Righteousness is a very common word in the Bible. In the Hebrew Old Testament, tsadaq and its derivatives are found about 500 times; in the Greek New Testament, dikaios and its derivatives are found over 200 times. These are usually translated as a form of righteousness or justification.

In the original Bible languages, righteousness was a judicial term. In spiritual contexts, it conveys alignment with God’s laws, being right in God’s judgment, and being as we should be.

God is righteous, meaning his actions and words are always correct. Nehemiah confessed that God’s punishment of Israel and Judah was righteous. Jesus is called the Righteous One, for he is perfectly and inherently righteous. His works always align perfectly with the will of the Father. In this sense, no accountable human is righteous, for all have sinned. The name Zedekiah means Yahweh is righteous. Psalm 119:137; Psalm 7:17; Nehemiah 9:32-33; Acts 7:52; Romans 3:9-26

Many people are described as righteous in the Bible. Those who live by God’s laws are declared righteous by God. Those who disobey God are called unrighteous. Through God’s word, people learn how to be made righteous. Noah, Daniel, and Job are examples of righteous people. Romans 1:16-18; Ezekiel 14:14

Those who trust in their own works rather than God’s to provide salvation are self-righteous. Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” He offers salvation to those who acknowledge they need it. While obedience to God’s law is inseperable from righteousness, we are completely dependent on God to provide it. We must not confuse the requirements God has placed on us with his work to make us righteous. Luke 18:9-14; Luke 5:29-32

In word-processing, justified refers to text aligned with both margins. This is a fitting parable of spiritual justification, for we must be aligned with God’s will, doing all he commands and avoiding all he prohibits. God instructed Israel, “You shall be careful to do as Yahweh your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” Deuteronomy 5:32

I am not ashamed of the good news, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:16-18

~ SR

Related words: gospel

Ruhmann, Scott. “Word of the Week: Righteousness.” 27th Street Church of Christ. Access date: . http://www.churchofbend.com/wow/righteousness.htm