A Righteousness from God
Author: John A. Witmer
Week of November 19, 2017
A husband was helping his wife rearrange some furnishings in their home. When he picked up a costly crystal vase, he was warned to be careful. Cautiously, he carried it from one end of the room to the other. Just as he was putting the vase down, it slipped and fell to the floor, breaking into pieces. He refrained from reminding his angry wife that he had carried the vase safely across the room, for that would only have irritated her more; the vase was broken nonetheless, and words would not replace it.
So it is with seeking to establish one’s righteousness by doing good or keeping the Mosaic Law. As James wrote, “Whoever keeps the whole Law but stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).
This is why Paul wrote, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom. 3:10), and “therefore no one will be declared righteous in His [God’s] sight by observing the Law” (v. 20). The fact is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (v. 23).
If no one possesses righteousness and no one can earn it, how then can a human being be accepted by a righteous God?
The answer is that there is “a righteousness from God.” The “righteous God” (Ps. 7:9; cf. Ps. 11:7; 116:5; 119:137; 145:17) requires righteousness in those He permits to stand in His presence, but He provides it as a gift. Paul wrote, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ” (Rom. 3:22).
Jesus Christ died “as a sacrifice of atonement” (v. 25) and accomplished “redemption” from sin and Satan (v. 24). As a result, any person who accepts by faith Christ’s death for him is “justified [declared righteous] freely [as a gift] by His grace [unmerited favor]” (v. 24).
Consider this: God faced a divine dilemma. How could He, infinitely righteous, accept into His presence eternally sinful people unable to achieve righteousness by their own efforts? The solution is the redemptive death of His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ, accepted by faith. That enabled God “to be just [righteous] and the one who justifies [declares righteous] those who have faith in Jesus” (v. 26). Are you trusting in your own righteousness—or in God’s?