Instruments of Righteousness

Romans 6:13

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

Predominantly God is the source of righteousness in our lives.  The righteousness that we have comes as a gift of God.  We are still capable of being used as instruments of righteousness though.  We have a choice whether we will do something productive or something that will be harmful.

When we offer ourselves to God, we make ourselves available to Him and whatever plans He has for us.  This thought scares many people because they like to be in control and to know what is going on.  When God is in control though, we don’t need to worry because we know that things will work out better than when we are in control.

Being an instrument of righteousness requires that we use the gifts that God gave us.  These are not only our spiritual gifts but also our time, our natural talents, and our money.  Using these gifts for the glory of God is the reason that we received them.

Being an instrument of righteousness isn’t always easy.  Not only must we fight against our desire to sin, we must fight our desire for personal comfort.  We must go outside of our comfort zones to be all that God intends us to be.

Righteousness From God

Romans 1:17

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

In “Credited as Righteousness” we saw that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.  In Romans, Paul continues this teaching.

The righteousness that we have is not our own but rather it is given to us from God.  We don’t earn it but instead it is given to us because of our faith.  Once we have been given righteousness, we continue to live by faith.

Many Christians mistakenly follow the Lord out of duty because of the laws of God.  We can’t live up to the standards of God though; the Old Testament showed us this clearly.  That is the whole reason that Jesus had to come to earth as a sacrifice for us.

Christians, the righteous in this case, live by faith not out of duty but out of love.  We were given righteousness on account of our faith.  We don’t continue to live by faith in order to maintain our righteousness though.  We continue to live by faith because we have been made righteous.

Christians should want to follow the commands of God, not feel duty bound to observe them.  Without a doubt, our sinful nature is going to continue to rebel against God and we’re not always going to do what is right.  We’re not even always going to want to do what is right.  But in the end we should live by faith simply because we want to please the Lord.

Hunger for Righteousness

Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Jesus has many important things to say as part of His Sermon on the Mount.  As part of the beatitudes, this teaching on righteousness is just as important.

We should earnestly seek righteousness.  This means that people get what they deserve, both good and bad.  We should seek justice for sin and mercy for the repentant.

Our problem is that we don’t truly know who is good and who is bad and should not seek to exact justice on our own.  We should be merciful whenever in doubt.

There are times that God carries out justice on earth however.  Even though it seems unloving, we should rejoice when God carries out justice on wicked people.  It is not our place to carry out vengeance but when God does so we should be thankful for God’s righteousness just as much as we are thankful when a person repents.  Regardless of how God’s righteousness is displayed, we should be happy to witness it.

As is discussed in “Learning Righteousness”, we don’t know the mind of God.  We shouldn’t be quick to proclaim a tragedy as an act of God’s punishment.  But even so, we can praise God when the righteous are spared and the wicked receive their due.

Sowing Righteousness

Hosea 10:12

Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the LORD,
until he comes
and showers righteousness on you.

We reap what we sow is an often repeated saying which has roots in passages such as Hosea 10.  If we do good deeds, we’ll receive good things in return.  We will get what we deserve, both good and bad.

It depends on one’s perspective whether the process of reaping and sowing is really true.  Without a doubt there are bad people who seem to prosper and good people who suffer.

On a spiritual level, we will reap eternal benefits or suffer punishment based on what we have sown.  Those who ignore the Lord now will be ignored when they cry out to Him on Judgment Day.  This much is guaranteed.

As for what we receive on earth, reaping what we sow should be considered a proverb.  It is good advice and generally true but not a promise of things to come.  God does bless and curse people here on earth but not always.  Why some people do not receive blessings and curses on earth is unanswerable as we do not know the mind of God.

There is a human element though as well.  It is the Golden Rule in effect.  If we treat people nicely, they are more likely to treat us nicely back.  If we treat people poorly, we’re likely to be treated poorly in return.

Unfailing Righteousness

Isaiah 51:6

Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment
and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last forever,
my righteousness will never fail.

There are very few things in the universe that are permanent.  Isaiah reminds us that not even the heavens and earth will exist forever.  One thing that we can be certain of is God’s unfailing righteousness however.

Numerous places in scripture we are told of God’s unfailing love.  Righteousness is closely tied to love however.  If God’s righteousness were to fail – be given out unequally – it would be a violation of His love.  Unfailing righteousness means that we are all treated the same.  Or race, gender, or economic status doesn’t matter to God.  We’re all held to the same standards.

The truth is that all of us fall short of God’s standards.  The book of Romans makes this very clear.  The solution to this is the same for everyone which is another part of God’s righteousness.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is good enough for everyone; all they need to do is accept it.

For anyone who rejects Jesus as savior, once again God’s righteousness never fails.  Sinners are judged fairly and according to their misdeeds.  Simply trying to live a good life isn’t enough to get into heaven.  There is one standard – perfection – and only Jesus met it.  Righteousness demands that we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for us because we aren’t righteous on our own.