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THE LORD IS OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS



 

“I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway... What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:19, 24). The Apostle Paul readily admitted his shortcomings. He was incapable, in his own strength, of doing what was right.

 

Like Paul, our futile attempts at righteous living are reminiscent of Adam and Eve. In the Garden, they worked feverishly to manufacture garments that would cover their nakedness and make them worthy to stand before a Holy God (Genesis 3:7, 21). They failed.

 

In fact, all have failed. “All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).

 

God alone is righteous (Psalm 116:5). In the High Priestly prayer, Jesus referred to God as “Righteous Father” (John 17:25). Similarly, Jesus is named “the Righteous One” (Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14). His righteousness “reaches the high heavens” (Psalm 71:19). “The Lord is righteous is all his ways” (Psalm 145:17). His “righteousness is an everlasting righteousness” (Psalm 119:142) and “the heavens proclaim His righteousness” (Psalm 50:6).

 

Noah, the first boat-builder, didn’t earn God’s favor. It was faith in a gracious God that transformed Noah (Hebrews 11:6-7), and he is called “a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (Genesis 6:9). God spoke to faithful Noah saying, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation”(Genesis 7:1).

 

Abraham, too, was considered righteous because he trusted God. He “believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). That is, righteousness was imputed to Abraham. This does not mean that God accepted Abraham’s faith instead of righteousness. Rather, it means that God accepted Abraham because he trusted in God rather than trusting in something that he could do, and God credited righteousness to Abraham.

 

Just as righteousness is credited to the believer, sin was imputed to Christ, who freely took upon Himself man’s just punishment. “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ freely traded His righteousness for our wretchedness. He became sin, so that we could become righteous! “He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5–7).

 

And so, Jesus rightly deserves the name Jehovah Tsidkenu. (That’s probably pronounced something like… zid-kay-new.) “Look, the days are coming… He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land… This is the name he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5).  

 



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