In Christian theology, righteousness refers to being in right standing or alignment with God.
According to the Bible, human beings are inherently sinful and separated from God due to the presence of Sin in the world. However, through faith in Jesus Christ, Christians are declared righteous before God.
Faith in Jesus Christ: Christians believe that faith in Jesus is the means by which they are made righteous. This faith involves acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God, believing in His sacrificial death and resurrection, and accepting Him as Lord and Savior.
Through faith, Christians are justified before God, meaning they are declared righteous by God’s grace.
Romans 3:22-24 (NIV) says,
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Imputed righteousness: Christians believe that upon accepting Jesus, His righteousness is imputed or credited to them.
This means that although they are still imperfect and prone to sin, God sees them as righteous because of their faith in Christ. This imputed righteousness is not based on their own actions or works but on the righteousness of Jesus. For it says in 2 Corinthians 5:21,
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Transformation and sanctification: While Christians are declared righteous through faith in Jesus, they also believe in the process of sanctification.
Sanctification involves the ongoing transformation and growth in holiness, as the Holy Spirit works in their lives to conform them to the image of Christ. It is a progressive journey where Christians strive to live according to God’s commands and bear the fruit of the Spirit.
Romans 12:2 encourages,
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
To summarise all that, a Christian is considered righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. (Not sure what it means to be a Christian – Start here.)
A Christian’s righteousness is not earned through their own efforts but is a result of God’s Grace.
Christians believe in the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, leading them to live in alignment with God’s will.
Does this mean life is wonderful all the time and that Christians don’t encounter hard times? No.
Does this mean Christians don’t stumble and even fall at times? No.
In those times, however, this is what God promises in Psalm 37:23,24:
The steps of a righteous person are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.
Though they fall, they shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds them with His hand.
God walks with the Christian through those times and upholds, encourages and strengthens them.
God helps, guides and even directs the Christian – He orders the Christian’s steps.
So what does the Righteous Christian have to do?
Don’t stand still. Just keep stepping.