Our Righteousness

Most people believe that they are a pretty good person. I would agree that most everyone that I have known during my life, had the capacity to do very good things. I have also seen these same persons say and do some really terrible things. This is a fact of life that all adults are familiar with. We understand that we are not perfect and we make certain allowances for imperfection. If we did not, we would never have a meaningful relationship with anyone.

People who have no tolerance for mistakes, particularly from someone who we have held in high regard, will not often forgive. When we make mistakes, we are hurt when the person we harmed with our words or actions, will not forgive us and treat us as if the matter had never happened. Our understanding of perfection, causes us to seek it in others, while excusing the lack of it, in ourselves.

From the perspective of God, who is perfect in all things. None of us are good and our constant tendency towards evil, never ends. With this in mind, we wonder why God would even bother with us at all. I have often pondered the fact that God loves us, despite His clear hatred of sin. I find it hard at times to understand why I am the object of God’s affections, when so many times I treat Him so poorly.

We must understand that God’s love for us does not depend upon our performance. He does not love us for what we do, but for who we are. He loves us because that is what God is: Love. This does not mean that we are so lovable by God that He will tolerate our rebellion to His authority. Some people see God as mean, restrictive, and angry. The truth is, we see that throughout the Bible, God is extremely patient with people; often delaying their judgment for hundreds, or thousands of years.

Many have criticized God for His order of the total destruction of the Canaanites. What these critics have not realized is that from the time that God told Moses that He would destroy these people, until the eventual destruction of all their nations, there was a period of about 900 years.

In Genesis 15, God informs Abraham that He will destroy the Amorites, but not until their iniquity is complete. He will give them adequate time to repent.

Genesis 15:16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

This verse was given to Abraham at about 1926 B.C.[1]

God orders the total destruction of the Amalekites, in 1 Samuel Chapter 15, by King Saul.

This order came about 1028 B.C.[2]

1 Samuel 15:3 (the Lord speaking to Saul) Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.

God told us in advance of His actions, what He was planning—by the prophetic word. The intent and purpose of this book is to demonstrate the transcendent and extraterrestrial origin of the Bible. We understand who God is, by what He has written and how He fulfilled every promise of His word.

2 Peter 1:19-21 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…

Many people focus on God’s order of annihilation against the Amalekites, while missing a far greater point: God spoke these words over 900 years before they were fulfilled. No matter how great the distance is from the prophecy that is given, God will fulfill—entirely, everything that He has said.

Isaiah 46:11 … I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. (ESV)

Once we can understand God’s justification in carrying out this judgment, we can move on to understand the significance of this event from a prophetic point of view.

God is making a statement to the world that He loves us all, but He will only put up with our sin and rebellion against His law for a finite period of time. The fact that we can observe the judgement of God so carefully depicted for us in various places throughout the Old Testament, should greatly humble us and bring our hearts to repentance. As surely as God has judged the horrible acts of the Canaanites, He will also bring into judgement all of our sins—if we do not repent and turn to Him for Salvation.

This chapter focusses our attention on our tremendous need for righteousness. The purpose of the God in sending the Messiah into the world; was to make us righteous, by His death and resurrection.

Jeremiah writes; The Messiah shall be a descendant of David, who is called “THE LORD, OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Jeremiah 23:5-6 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David…

Luke 3:23-31 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah, the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er, the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David

1 Corinthians 1:30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—

2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 1:8 But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.”

What is Acceptable to God:

The Biblical principle of Righteousness defines all human beings as incapable of obtaining it. According to the Lord, if a person will be seen as Righteous, his righteousness must come from the Lord.

Psalms 14:3 They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

1 Corinthians 1:30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

When a person places all of his trust in Jesus Christ, he exchanges his unrighteousness for all of Jesus’ Righteousness. In Isaiah chapter 64, the prophet contrasts the righteousness of God with the righteousness of man.

Isaiah 64:4 For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You…

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…

We should understand that from God’s perspective, all human beings are incapable of consistently doing right. It is not that we don’t want to do virtuous deeds, we are just incapable of performing righteousness consistently. No matter how hard we try to be good, sooner or later, we are going to fail. The problem is that while we live in these fallen bodies, as the descendants of Adam; we do not have the capacity for any long term righteousness.

If we will be righteous and find ourselves acceptable to God, we must receive our righteousness from the work that Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. In and of ourselves, there is no good thing that would cause God to accept us or give us eternal life. I realize that this is not a popular concept today. Many people believe that they are basically good, and I would not dispute that all of us have the capacity for good. The problem is that we are not always good, and it is to this certainty that God addresses the issue of our unrighteousness. In order to be seen as truly good, we must be be perfect and without sin.

Matthew 19:16-17 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” 17  So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Jesus said that the true definition of “good” is someone who always obeys the laws of God. Obviously, none of us have ever achieved perfection in our moral actions. We have observed great men and women with exceptional moral character; but if we truly knew them well, we would also see that they have many faults. We recognize what goodness is; the problem is that we are not always able to do what we should. Jesus said that no one is truly “good,” except God. The reason: God always does what is right. Because Jesus always did what is right and never committed any sin, by the example of His life—He is truly good, and therefore, He is God.

People often ask the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

The premise is incorrect. According to the word of God there are no truly good people. The reason that bad things happen is that we live in a world that has fallen from the perfect creation that God intended. When Adam fell into sin, he became a sinner; someone incapable of perfection. In turn, all of us who are descended from Adam inherit this same tendency towards sin. The fall caused all human beings to become inherently selfish. We tend to think of ourselves and what benefits us, instead of the welfare of others. This does not mean that we are incapable of selfless acts; only that our natural tendency is towards self, before other people.

A few practical examples that demonstrate our tendency towards selfishness:

In a conversation that is occurring between a group of people, listen to what is being said. Most often, you will hear people take turns speaking. Often, you will notice those who are in the group start to cut into the conversation before the person has finished speaking. When the next person begins to speak, he will often start his sentence with “I.” He will then talk about himself and seldom comment on what the person before had just said. Women are better at listening and actively participating in the conversation of others, but both men and women tend to focus on their own comments rather than what the person they have been listening to has just said.

I like this… I went there… My car… My house… Very seldom will you observe a person simply listening to what others are saying and then responding to what they have spoken, without saying: I, Me, or My.

The next time you go to a store or restaurant and park your car, notice what happens as you walk towards the entrance of the building. If someone else is also making their way towards the door at the same moment you are, what is your response? Do you feel the urge to get to the entrance before the other person? Sometimes when we arrive at the door first we will hold it open behind us for the one we vanquished—in order to cover up our selfishness. Very rarely will you see a person rush to the entrance so that they may hold the door open and allow others to go first.

When someone brings out a photo that has a group of people in the picture, including you, who is the first person you look for in the photograph?

These are a few examples of common circumstances that happen to us every day of our life; and most of the time, we are not even aware of how we react. Should we catch ourselves behaving this way, many of us would be embarrassed. We do not set out to be selfish; we just are, because this is our nature as fallen beings.

The primary reason that the world is full of so much pain and suffering is due to the fact that every person on this planet is usually thinking about themselves, before all the other people in the world. I say this not to shame you or make you feel bad about yourself. I am exactly the same way myself. I am constantly aware of my own selfish behavior, and I have to correct my own behavior quite often. This is the point; we have to catch ourselves in acts of selfishness and correct our behavior, because being selfish is as natural for us as breathing air.

We are, by our very nature, selfish beings. This is the greatest proof of our fallen nature. When God created us, we were not self-centered; we were others-centered. When Adam fell and disobeyed God, his nature went from others to—“me, myself and I.”

Notice the first thing that happened to Adam after his sin:

Genesis 3:7-8 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Their eyes were opened; and for the first time, they noticed that they were naked. They felt guilt and hid themselves from God. Prior to Adam’s sin, he was not focussed on himself; he was looking at Eve and his relationship with God and all of creation. The fact that immediately after Adam’s sin occurs he becomes self-aware, illustrates the defect, which is in all of us. We are sinners by nature, being self-consumed. This defective nature that we all posses is the cause of all of the pain and suffering that is in the world.

Bad things happen to all of us because we live in a fallen world where selfish people do whatever they want to do, with little or no thought for how their actions will affect other people. There are many who are genuinely evil; and by their evil actions, they hurt and kill others. We suffer at the hands of evil people because this is the way that the world is, without God. If the people who live on this planet were seeking God and His righteousness, submitting themselves to His authority, our world would be far different from what we see today.

I am always amazed when Americans ask: “why, if God loves us, would allow so much destruction, suffering, and death in our nation?” Why would we expect God to protect us when we have repeatedly told Him that we don’t want Him in our public schools, our government, or our personal lives?

Our nation and the world, in general, is facing a crisis of morality that has caused God to pull back from blessing us as His people. The Lord is allowing us to suffer the consequences for our own choices in rejecting Him and His law for our lives.

See the chapter: Intercessor, for detailed information on the spiritual decline of America.

People who are sincerely trying to lead good lives, become victims of the bad behavior of others who live lives of sin and are not really concerned with how their actions affect other people.

We should understand that good people don’t go to heaven; saved people go to heaven.

When a person comes to God and admits that he is a sinner—someone who has broken the law of God—and he is ready to repent from his sins and trust the Lord as his Savior; God grants that person the atoning work that Jesus accomplished on the cross. When Jesus died as the Savior of the world, He was paying the debt that all people owe for their sins. Jesus took the penalty of sin for all of us so that when we receive Him, our sins are eliminated as if they never occurred. It is at this point that we become “good people,” having obtained our righteousness from Jesus Christ.

You might not agree with this principle, but it is nevertheless what God has established, as our Creator. These are the requirements that He has set forth for any human being who wants to be saved and obtain eternal life.

We can either choose to accept these truths and obey God’s command, or we can deny the facts and refuse to do what God requires. If we willingly reject the only way that God has provided for us to be saved, there remains no possibility that God can save us. We will find ourselves at the Great White Throne judgement of Revelation Chapter 21, where “no other place was found for them.” Those who stubbornly refused to accept God’s plan of salvation and chose instead to try and be righteous by their own works will find that they have no hope of eternal life. All those who are observed at the Great White Throne are determined by God as insufficient in their own definition of righteousness, and are cast alive into the Lake of Fire.

Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.(those who have rejected Christ) 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works (not according to the works Jesus did for us), by the things which were written in the books. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life (those who rejected Christ) was cast into the lake of fire.

The correct view of our present position before God, demands that we acknowledge our incompleteness and great need for the Lord’s righteousness. We do not have the capacity (from God’s view) to be righteous under any circumstances or by any works we may try to perform. According to the word of God, only what Jesus has done for us is acceptable to God. From the moment that we confess our sins to God and ask Him to forgive us—because of what Jesus has done at the cross, God declares us “righteous” and totally acceptable to Him.

Colossians 2:10 and you are complete in Jesus, who is the head of all principality and power.

In this chapter, God’s promise is that He will send us a Savior, who will not only take away all of our sins, but will also give us perfect righteousness in the sight of God.

One of the ancient names of God from the Old Testament is; “Jehovah-Tsidqenuw, “the Lord, our righteousness.”

There are 16 names for the Lord found in the Old Testament. All of these designations can be attached to the Messiah, for He (Jesus) is the LORD, Jehovah, as identified in the Old Testament scriptures.

Number 7 in this list is The Lord, our Righteousness, which is the subject of this 291st prophecy from Jeremiah 23:5-6.[3]

1. Jehovah-Elohiym—the Eternal Creator.[4]
2. Adonai-Jehovah—the Lord, our Sovereign; Master Jehovah.[5]
3. Jehovah-Jireh—the Lord will see or provide.[6]
4. Jehovah-Nissi—the Lord, our banner.[7]
5. Jehovah-Rapha—the Lord, our healer.[8]
6. Jehovah-Shalom—the Lord, our peace.[9]
7. Jehovah-Tsidqenuw—the Lord, our righteousness.[10]
8. Jehovah-Mekaddishkem—the Lord, our sanctifier.[11]
9. Jehovah-Sabaoth—the Lord of hosts.[12]
10. Jehovah-Shammah—the Lord is present.[13]
11. Jehovah-Elyown—the Lord Most High.[14]
12. Jehovah-Rohi—the Lord, my Shepherd.[15]
13. Jehovah-Hoseenu—the Lord, our Maker.[16]
14. Jehovah-Eloheenu—the Lord, our God.[17]
15. Jehovah-Eloheka—the Lord, your God.
16. Jehovah-Elohay—the Lord, my God.[18]

According to this prophecy from Jeremiah, the Lord will raise up “a Branch” from the line of David, who will be called “THE LORD, OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

The Messiah will be a branch from the root of David. Later, in the New Testament, Jesus called Himself—the vine, with all those who follow Him designated as—the branches.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

It is interesting that the four gospels present Jesus in different aspects of His work and ministry.

Matthew presents Jesus as The King.[19]
Mark presents Jesus as The Servant.[20]
Luke presents Jesus as The Man.[21]
John presents Jesus as God.[22]

An additional name given to the Messiah in this prophecy of Jeremiah is “THE LORD, OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

As previously mentioned, the righteousness that all human beings have, in and of themselves, is not acceptable to God. Jesus came to be The LORD, our righteousness. When we place all of our trust in the completed work of Jesus Christ, His righteousness becomes our righteousness. Our sins become His sins. An exchange takes place in regard to these two important points that will forever determine our standing and state before God. When our sins are removed and the righteousness of Jesus is placed to our account, we are perfect in the sight of God and fit for heaven.

[1] According to the timelines given in the Bible for births and deaths:Genesis 16:16, http://www.matthewmcgee.org/ottimlin.html
[2] 1 Samuel 15:1-2
[3] From Dake’s Study Bible, list compiled by the author.
[4] Gen. 2:4-25
[5] Gen. 15:2, 8
[6] Gen. 22:8-14
[7] Ex. 17:15
[8] Ex. 15:26
[9] Judg. 6:24
[10] Jer. 23:6; 33:16
[11] Ex. 31:13; Lev. 20:8; 21:8; 22:9, 16, 32; Ezek. 20:12
[12] 1 Sam. 1:3; etc., 284 times
[13] Ezek. 48:35
[14] Ps. 7:17; 47:2; 97:9
[15] Ps. 23:1
[16] Ps. 95:6
[17] Ps. 99:5, 8, 9
[18] Zech. 14:5
[19] Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15
[20] Isaiah 42:1, 49:6, 50:10, 52:13, Ezekiel 34:23-24, and Zechariah 3:8
[21] Zechariah 6:12
[22] Isaiah 4:2, as well as the Aramaic Targum of Jonathan, Page 63