God never created human beings to be righteous in and of ourselves.
“Christ is made unto us… righteousness” (I Corinthians 1:30).
That which is righteous exists in accordance with God’s intentions and purposes. It is what He made it to be. By Biblical definition, no human being can independently accomplish this state of being, nor can we fulfill God’s perfect standard of righteous actions. “Without Me, ye can do nothing” declared the Lord Jesus to His disciples (John 15:5). Thus, from the beginning, we were always intended to “look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” in order to be righteous and to walk righteously (Hebrews 12:2).
When Adam and Eve sinned, they took upon themselves the deluded notion that they could “be as gods” (Genesis 3:5). In order to achieve such an exalted status, they must become righteous by their own effort to establish corresponding character, nature and activity. The attempt was doomed from the start. Indeed, by disobeying God, our forefathers became unrighteous even as they began the quest for independent righteousness. “As for God, His way is perfect” (II Samuel 22:31). Having sinned, Adam and Eve (and their subsequent offspring to whom they passed down their nature) should have discovered from the start the hopelessness of their quest for righteousness apart from the One who alone it can be said, “Thou art righteous” (Ezra 9:15).
We exist to be inhabited, led and enabled by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is righteousness for human beings, the representative righteousness that leads to realized righteousness in character, nature, and way of life. Nothing else suffices in both constituting and empowering human beings to fulfill the reason for our existence. We cannot be and do what we were created to be and do by ourselves. Nor were we intended to do so. We rather exist to be “habitations of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2: ). Born again believers are righteous in being because the Spirit of Christ dwells in us. We act righteously in behavior because that same Spirit walks in us, leading, motivating and enabling all genuine godliness. No other righteousness is needed, nor is any other possible.
“He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
(II Corinthians 5:21)