Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Proverbs 21:21 Chasing after righteousness! Part 2

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
   will find life, righteousness, and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)

It is God who wants us to seek righteousness, and this verse is a promise that we will find it. But just what is righteousness? Is it about me doing good works, doing all the right things, and saying all the right words, keeping all the right rituals, going to church faithfully, worshipping in the correct way, tithing the right amount?

No. Righteousness does not come by keeping the law. If we could become right with God by keeping a set of laws, then Christ would not have needed to come save us from sin - we could have saved ourselves! In the book of Galatians, Paul deals with this topic at length (thinking we might study this book next), but he says this fact succinctly:

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:21)

So, it’s not MY righteousness that Proverbs is talking about - it’s God’s righteousness! In his letter to the Romans, Paul affirms the pitiful state of all men before God:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
      no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.  
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

    no one does good,

    not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

And Paul was just reiterating what Isaiah wrote:

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6 KJV)

The word for “filthy rags” Isaiah used here was the same as menstrual cloths! Unclean, indeed! No, I cannot depend on my righteousness, for there is none! The only righteousness I have is that which Jesus has imputed to me (which is the big theology word that means He has credited me with HIS righteousness). Jesus has covered my pitiful rags with His beautiful robe of righteousness!

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;

    my soul shall exult in my God,

for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;

    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,

    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

The righteousness we seek is not our own, but God’s.

When we receive the gift of salvation from Jesus, when we believe He is the Son of God and God the Son, who died for us, then we receive His righteousness as well. This concept goes all the way back to Abraham, when he first received the promise from God about his offspring:

And he [Abraham] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Gen 15:6)

Abraham will be our model when we go into how to practically “pursue righteousness” next time.  

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