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'Behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD,
'that I will perform that good thing which I have promised
to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah:
In those days and at that time I will cause
to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness;
He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell safely.
And this is the name by which she will be called:
Jeremiah 33:14-16

One of the names of God is Jehovah Tsidkenu – THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Righteousness is holy and upright living in accordance with God's standard. The Hebraic word for righteousness "tsedeq" comes from a root word that means "straightness." This straightness conforms to an authoritative standard set by God Himself.

For I proclaim the name of the LORD: ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He. Deut 32:3-4

God's character is the definition and source of all righteousness (Gen. 18:25; Deut. 32:4; Rom. 9:14). Therefore, man's righteousness is defined in terms of God's.

Righteousness defines man's relationship with God (Ps. 50:6; Jer. 9:24) and with other people (Jer. 22:3). In simple terms, being righteous is both loving God and loving our neighbours. Adam and Eve would have acted righteously in their relationship with God if they had obeyed Him. Their obedience would prove their love as His commands defined that relationship.

The Ten Commandments defined Israel's relationship with God. To obey those laws was to act righteously. Such obedience maintained the covenant relationship between God and His people. This covenant relationship is not any ordinary relationship - it is a relationship based on a covenant. Apart from obeying the Word of God, we cannot have any covenant relationship with God.

The animal sacrifices in the Old Testament and the cross of Jesus in the New Testament reveal man's need for righteousness. Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, man is inherently unrighteous. Man cannot be righteous in the sight of God on his own merits. Therefore, man needs God's righteousness to be imputed or transferred to him.

The cross of Jesus is God’s demonstration of His righteousness. God accounts or transfers the righteousness of Christ to those who trust in Him (Rom. 4:3-22; Gal. 3:6; Phil. 3:9). We do not become righteous because of our inherent goodness. God sees us as righteous because of our identification by faith with His Son.

His righteousness is imputed to us when we believe - at the very moment we put our faith and trust in Him. Before that, we are all like an unclean thing. All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags. All of us fade like a leaf. Our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6). It is in that while we are yet sinners, Christ died for us! Apart from Him, we can do nothing, are nothing and have nothing. Therefore, God imputes His righteousness unto us.

To whom does God impute His righteousness? The ungodly! To him who does not work but believes on Him Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. David described the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin." (Romans 4:5-8)

When we are still ungodly and unrighteous, God imputes His righteousness unto us so that in Him, we become righteous. When our bank accounts in heaven are negative, God transfers His glorious funds not only to offset all our debts of sin and unrighteousness but also to give us an abundant positive overflow of grace and mercy.

How did we receive His righteousness? By believing in Him. Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). God will reward the ungodly with His righteousness when they believe in Him.

After we become righteous, we have to abide in Him as He abides in us. We have to seek His kingdom and His righteousness. We have to remain righteous in Him and not to muddle with unrighteousness again.

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him.

For He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them. (Psalm 103:8-18)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is eternally Jehovah Tsidkenu – THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. From everlasting to everlasting always the same.

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Written on:
18 February 2004