We begin today a series of message concerning the Biblical words "just" and "righteous" (along with their derivatives, justice, justified, right, righteousness). The terms share the same Biblical root word in both the Hebrew and Greek languages of the original Biblical text ("tsaddiyq" - Heb.; "dikaios" - Gr.). To be righteous is to be just, and to be just is to be righteous. We will thus use the terms interchangeably in the messages to come. Few more vital understandings await us in the Word of God, and none that more shine the spotlight of glory upon God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Moreover, few considerations more firmly plant our feet on the path of righteousness by lifting our hearts and minds into the Heavenly realities of our Lord's character and way. May He lead us into greater knowledge of Himself, His Truth, and the righteousness of life in Christ.
First, what do the terms just and righteous mean? The answer is rightness, or that which is equitable, due, and proper. That which is righteous is that which is what it should be. As a result, it also does what it should do. "The righteous Lord loveth righteousness… The Lord is righteous in all His ways" (Psalm 11:7; 145:17). Again, in this most basic definition, the simple meaning introduces a reality and concept that carries us to lofty heights of spiritual knowledge, understanding, and response.
Such illumination provides the foundation for one of the most foundational truths of Scripture, namely, that God only is righteous in His essence.
"I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only" (71:16).
God alone dwells as inherently just and righteous because He alone is self-existent. From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God" (Psalm 90:2). Nobody made God, including Himself. He simply is, and just as importantly, He is exactly what He should be. Thus, He is just and righteous in and of Himself. "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me" (Isaiah 45:5). If the child asks us, "Where did God come from?", we answer, "He came from everlasting. He has always been. He is. He will always be. And He was, is, and who He will be in absolute and pristine perfection!" Thus, we join the Psalmist in making mention of God's righteousness, even of His only.
All others, namely, created beings, must derive their being and rightness from the only One who is inherently just. Recall that being righteous means that something is what it should be. Angels and humans cannot be righteous apart from God because apart from Him, we cannot even be! "In Him we live and move and have our being… The Lord hath made all things… It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves" (Acts 17:28; Proverbs 16:4; Psalm 100:3). Moreover, just as we cannot exist apart from the Lord, we cannot exist as what we should be apart from Him. "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" (Romans 3:21-22). God must make us, and He must make us righteous and just in accordance with His determined standard of personal existence.
Our Lord is a being of such indescribable goodness and greatness that He "is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (I John 1:5). He cannot be other than who He is (remember this statement for a sublime consideration later in this series). He cannot do anything that does not perfectly accord with His character and nature. "As for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31). He does not merely possess righteousness, and act accordingly. He is righteousness, existing as the very essence of perfect rightness. God defines righteousness rather righteousness defining God. Again, only He can be of such substance, thus reserving for our Lord alone the reality of existing as inherently just. "Thou art God alone!" exulted the Psalmist (Psalm 86:10). All who grasp the Biblical meaning of righteousness proclaim the same wondrous truth in recognition of the holy glory wherein we view our righteous Lord as…
"Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen."
(I Timothy 6:16)
Next: the origin of unrighteousness
Weekly Memory Verse
In the multitude of my thoughts within me Thy comforts delight my soul.