The Love for Righteousness
By Al Stoner
As we have said, this righteousness is “revealed from faith to faith,” and that, through belief of the gospel. That is to say, the more men increase in their faith (that is, in the substance of things hoped for, and in the persuasion of things not seen), the more clearly they will perceive that God was absolutely righteous in the matter of saving them, and that there were no unrighteous dealings on His part in the putting away of our sins by the Lord Jesus Christ. As the matter of sin being put away righteously was, and is, vitally important to God and essential to the working out of our salvation, it must also become important to us, as well.
A Further Elucidation. Hear the Apostle Paul as he further elucidates this matter in chapter 3 of Romans. “Whom (that is, Christ) God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His (that is, God’s) righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time His (God’s) righteousness: that He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (vv. 25- 26). Those who are somewhat ignorant of God might carelessly reason that God could do whatever He wants to with regard to saving men. But if, as the Scripture declares, He is the righteous Lord and He loves righteousness, then it is impossible even for God to somehow circumvent His own righteousness character in order to save men. If men are going to be saved, it is not only essential that they are made just, but even moreso that God remains just and righteous in the making of them just. This critical matter, as we have said, is what is made abundantly clear in the gospel. Eventually those who are living by faith will find it essential for them to know that was, and is, altogether righteous in saving them from their sinful state.
Righteousness Imputed to Men for Believing. “Now it was not written for his (Abraham’s) sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead (Rom. 4:23-24). When we read back in Genesis of Abraham believing in the Lord, and God counting it for righteousness, some might respond by saying, Oh, that's very interesting! But the point that Paul is making here in Romans is that God was establishing a new thought in the earth when He said that of Abraham. Now, in every nation, where men believe in the Lord by obedience to the gospel, righteousness is imputed to them as well for their faith! This is a wondrous provision that God has made for men in the gospel, for without this imputation of righteousness, none could be saved. This righteousness is not imputed in exchange for good works that men might do, but rather it is imputed wherever men have obeyed the gospel and are trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ to save them.
Faith Counts for Righteousness. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not (that is, by not attempting to find acceptance with God by the works of the law), but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:4-5). We would earnestly seek to persuade our readers, not only of the essentiality of our being righteous before God, if we are to be accepted of Him, but also of the good news that God has made the full provision for our being “made righteous” (Rom. 5:19) before Him because faith is counted by Him for righteousness! Let us, for this reason, give the more earnest attention to believing and to nourishing our faith! We must continually ask ourselves, how is it with our belief of “the record that God gave of His Son” (I Jn. 5:10)? It is that faith that counts for righteousness!
Righteousness and Baptism. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17- 18). This is what actually occurred at our baptism. We were, in truth, made free from sin and became the servants of righteousness when we obeyed “the form of the doctrine” [the doctrine declares that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again for our justification, and baptism is the form of the doctrine] which was delivered to us! We must not attempt to judge this matter by feelings or by carnal reasoning. Let us daily reckon that we were constituted “the servants of righteousness” when we arose from the baptismal waters. Let us seek to live accordingly, continually reckoning upon what God has said about this matter, thus glorifying Him.
Submitting Ourselves to God’s Righteousness. “For they (the Jews) being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:3). The Jews of old were not the only ones who were “ignorant of God's righteousness.” There are many today who are going about seeking to establish their own righteousness by the doing of “many wonderful works” and a host of philanthropic deeds. May each of us here be careful to “maintain good works” (Tit. 3:8, 14) and not to despise the doing of them, but let us also have grace that we may continually submit ourselves unto the righteousness of God, thus culturing a hatred for the thought of seeking to establish our own righteousness. And may God help us to urge those all about us to do the same.
Christ Made unto us Righteousness. “But of Him (that is, God) are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (I Cor. 1:30-31). Everything (including righteousness) that we need for finding acceptance with God and to make it safely to the world to come is found in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us, therefore, make much of Him in our preaching emphasis, and abide constantly in the Him (I Jn. 2:28) and all shall be well with us!
The World to Come and Righteousness. “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Pet. 3:13). We would just leave our readers with this thought that the land to which we are journeying is a place where righteousness dwells and is preeminent. That is one of the primary characteristics of the new heavens and the new earth. Not immorality, or what the world calls amorality, but RIGHTEOUSNESS shall be there! Once arriving safely there we shall forever have had done with every vestige of unrighteousness, both within ourselves and all about us. Let us greatly anticipate the day! “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look.” This is a stance that glorifies God, namely that of acting directly in accordance with His promise. He promised us a blessed and everlasting abode of righteousness, namely the new heavens and the new earth, and therefore we are looking for their soon appearance, simply because He has promised.