Righteousness is the “state of him who is as he ought to be,… integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). This is a high standard to live up to. Paul calls it something we hope for. He wrote, “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith” (Galatians 5:5). We can hope to have righteousness, but it only comes by faith.
Righteousness is the state of being pure; of thinking, feeling and acting correctly. Jesus put it this way, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). This is a seemingly unreachable goal. How can you be as perfect as our Father in heaven? The Bible tells us, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6). There must be something more to this picture.
A Clearer Picture
Paul explained the righteousness that we can have by faith when he wrote, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:21, 22). Here we learn that the righteousness we get by faith is “the righteousness of God.” This sure makes it easier to understand how Jesus could ask us to be as perfect as His Father, for the righteousness we get by faith is God’s own righteousness.
The Bible says, “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jeremiah 23:6). The Lord is our righteousness. He is our only hope of being perfect. Paul explained it this way, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus is the way to the Father’s righteousness. If we have Christ we have God’s righteousness, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). Having Christ in you is the way that we “…might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). That is amazing!
Paul prayed that he would “…be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:9, 10). The righteousness we are to have is “of God by faith,” but not just any faith, it is “the faith of Christ.” That is powerful! God’s righteousness can only be attained by faith, but not our own puny faith; it can only be had by the faith of Jesus Christ. That faith is limitless. With His faith, anything is possible.
From Faith to Faith
Paul confessed, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16, 17). Catch the value of that phrase. God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith: from our puny faith to Christ’s limitless faith. When we come to Christ we exercise the little “measure of faith” (Romans 12:3) we have each been given, but then we get His unlimited faith. Please don’t miss this extremely important point. Jesus Christ gives you His faith as a free gift.
Faith is extremely important. The Bible says about the failure of the children of Israel, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19). They were never able to partake of Christ (v. 14) and His righteousness because of their unbelief. The promises of God seemed too good to be true, so they remained in unbelief. Friends, we must not follow their example. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14). One of the big things that men fail to grasp is that if we have Christ, then we have “the faith of Christ.”
Notice what the Bible says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…” (Galatians 5:22). Notice that “faith” is part of the fruit of the Spirit. This cannot be our faith, but has to be “the faith of Christ.” Friends, this is a BIG DEAL! We have the faith of Christ right now if we accept it and believe that we have it.
You see, many people overlook the incredible benefits we have in Christ. The Bible says, “…ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). Jesus said, “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29). That is both an amazing promise and a frightful challenge at the same time. We have not because we ask not, and we have according to our faith. If we believe that we have “the mind of Christ,” “the Spirit of Christ,” “the love of Christ,” “the meekness and gentleness of Christ,” “the obedience of Christ,” “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” “the grace of Christ,” and “the faith of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16; Romans 8:9; 35; 2 Corinthians 10:1, 5; Ephesians 3:8; Galatians 1:6; Philippians 3:9), then we will have them, and our lives will demonstrate this fact. But, if we do not believe that we have these things, then we will not have them, for they are obtained by faith.
This is actually a simple process; as simple as ABC. Ask God to fulfill His promises in your life, Believe that what God has said He will do, and then Claim the promises as your own. It seems too good to be true, but I have tried it, and it works. The key is not to doubt that these promises are yours. Never stop trusting in the word of God to do what that word says. That is what Jesus called “great faith” (Matthew 8:5-10). Faith must be grounded in the powerful word of God, and cannot be genuine when it has no foundation. I can have faith that my old car will be able to drive to Alaska and back, but if the Lord did not instruct me to go to Alaska in that car, then how can I be certain it will make it safely? But God promised in His word, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This is a concrete, solid promise that we can claim and be 100% sure it will happen because God promised. The same is true with all the promises about our benefits we have when Christ lives in us.
All the riches of heaven have been given to us in one unfathomable gift, the gift of Jesus Christ. In Him are all things that pertain to life and godliness. The Bible says, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:2-4).
All these blessings of heaven are available to us “through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” Getting to know God and His Son enables us to have access to far more than is possible without this knowledge. Realizing the immensity of the blessings that are yours for the asking is the key to unlocking the reality of being a partaker of the divine nature and escaping the corruption that is in the world. When you ask Jesus Christ into your heart you immediately have everything you need to live a victorious life.
Christ in You
The Bible says, “Examine [test] yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates [not standing the test]?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). With Christ in you, you have everything, but without Christ, you have nothing.
The Bible says, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). Jesus Christ dwells in you by faith. That is why it is so important what you believe. If you believe that Christ is in you, based upon His promises, then He is in you. Satan continually tries to get us to doubt that Christ is in us. There is a battle going on over your mind and faith. Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29). God’s work is to get you to believe in Christ, and Satan’s work is to get you to doubt. This is why this battle is called, “…the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).
It truly is mysterious how Christ can live in us, but the Bible has revealed this mystery, “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26, 27). Having Christ living in you is our only hope of salvation.
Paul explained, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Our meager faith is able to grasp hold of Christ so He can live in us. Then we live our lives “by the faith of the Son of God.” It is the faith of Christ that enables us to live a victorious life.
The Spirit of Antichrist
John wrote, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.… Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 3:24-4:4).
Notice the connection here. John first stated that “we know that he abideth in us,” and he closed with, “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Between these statements is his warning against false teachers “that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh…” Notice the context here. The warning is against false teachers who claim that Jesus Christ does not abide in your flesh. This is a dangerous error because “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” If you do not have Christ in you, then you do not have the advantage you need over “your adversary the devil,” who “as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Don’t let anyone trick you into believing that Jesus Christ does not live in your flesh right now. “Christ in you” is your only “hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Paul explained, “…ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). The Spirit of Christ is our lifeline to God. The Bible says, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:11, 12).
The Son of God
There is a strong connection between righteousness by faith and Jesus being the Son of God. John wrote, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4,_5). In order for us to overcome the world and have the righteousness of God, we must believe that “Jesus is the Son of God.”
Jesus lived a unique life when He was here. He was the only person born who lived His whole life without ever committing a sin. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus Christ intimately knows what we are going through, and precisely knows how to give us the victory. The Bible says, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour [help] them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
Not only does Jesus know what we are going through, but He has a divine connection with His Father that enables Him to meet us where we are and bring us to where His Father is. To illustrate Christ’s absolute connection to God, Paul wrote, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:1-4).
The Son of God is “the express image” of His Father, who inherited all things from His Father, including His pure, holy nature. Later in this chapter the Bible says, “But unto the Son he [the Father] saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Hebrews 1:8, 9).
Here, Jesus Christ is called “God” by His own Father. He is also said to love righteousness and hate iniquity (sin). The pure righteousness of God is an attribute of the character of the divine Son of God. Jesus prophesied in the book of Psalms, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8).
The fact that Jesus is the Son of God guarantees that He has the same nature as God. His natural love for righteousness and hatred for iniquity He received by inheritance from His Father. If Jesus Christ was unrelated to God, the Father, then there would be no guarantee that they are alike. It is Christ’s connection to His Father and to us that enables us to partake of His divine nature. Just as Christ’s connection to His Father is vital, His connection to us is vital. The Bible says, “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26). The divine Son of God “became us.” This inseparably connects divinity and humanity, but this connection is only in Christ. For us to be connected with divinity, we must have Christ in us.
God has given us everything we need to thrive as God’s children. The Bible says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).
God has entrusted us with so much. He loves us enough to make us the sons of God and make us pure “even as He is pure.” This wonderful ability only comes to us through the faith of Jesus Christ. Having Jesus Christ living in your heart opens up a vast treasure house of blessings from heaven that is available to all those who believe.
I pray that you will accept the great blessing of Christ in you, and let Him continually live in you, “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). May you truly partake of the free gift of the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ.