Righteous and justified, in Hebrew yashar, and dikaios in Greek, carries with it the Biblical meaning of being right with God and in relationship with Him. And this right-ness with God is eternal life.
Just as life is the opposite of death, so righteousness is the opposite of sin.
And just as a man who is alive can not be dead. So a man who is righteous can not be a sinner. 1John3:6-9. So a man can not be a sinner saved by grace. He is either a sinner, or he is saved.
So as we learned in pt.1 of this series just as sin is to miss Jesus because He is the mark at which we are to aim our faith. So righteousness is hitting the mark by believing in Jesus. This is why the Biblical definition of righteousness is knowing and believing in Him.
Paul confirms this when he says we are "justified (which is to be righteous) by the faith of Christ". Which means that when we believe in Jesus as He believed the Father we are righteous. This is why righteousness can not be by the works of the law. Because the law is works and is not of faith.
But, because so many have been taught to believe the pagan doctrine of original sin, what is really just Judaism for Gentiles, a form of salvation by works, they believe that a man is only righteous or justified when they, or someone in their place, has done enough good works. They are righteous because either they accept Jesus' "sinless perfection" imputed to them. Which means placed to their account. Or by earning it by their own works
But, because this sinless perfection is by works and not by faith. It has no place in the New Testament. And no place in the doctrine of a New Testament believer. Because like I said, this causes men to rely on works for salvation. Which is no salvation at all.
Because Paul said the law is of works. So that salvation is still of works even when we believe those works have been done by someone else.
So if Jesus had to keep the law perfectly, which is works, in our place for us to be saved. Then that would mean we are saved by works, and not by faith as Paul says is the only way we can be saved. See how this reasoning goes against everything the New Testament says about how men are saved?
There is a righteousness of works in the Bible. But, this kind of righteousness is the righteousness of the Pharisees. A righteousness that in Mt.5:20 Jesus said "except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
It is a righteousness like Saul's before he became Paul who said of himself in Phil.3:5 I am a "Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee". This means that he kept the law better than his peers. Having a righteousness of works that in Phil.3:6 Paul described saying, "according to the righteousness that comes through the law I was blameless".
But, as we saw in Pt.1 of this series Paul recognized that this righteousness is "dung" and "loss" compared to knowing Jesus. So this is not a New Testament righteousness that only comes by faith in Jesus. It is a righteousness of works.
And since knowing Jesus is the only kind of righteousness that is eternal life. This is why the righteousness that comes through the law can not give eternal life. Because it is a righteousness that is of works.
Paul also said in Gal.2:16 that being righteous is not by works. It is by the faith of Christ. And that no flesh can be made righteous by the works of the law. So it can not be that anyone is made righteous through blameless law keeping no matter who keeps it.
This is why when we read in Luke1:5,6 that Zachariah and Elizabeth were both "righteous before God. Walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." Not only does this make a lie of the doctrine of original sin because it makes it clear that men can indeed keep the law blamelessly just as Jesus did.
But, we can also see that even though they did keep the law blamelessly they still needed Jesus. Because by the law is a righteousness of works, and not of faith. Which is why Paul says his righteousness, and theirs, that came from blamelessly keeping the law, was refuse. Something to be thrown away when compared to knowing Jesus.
In Eph.2:8,9 Paul says we can only be saved by grace through faith and not of works. Stating again that it is by faith and not of works. So that it must be by the faith of Christ.
When looking at the faith of Christ what do we see? We see that Jesus is in constant communion with the Father. In John14:11 we see that it is through this communion that Jesus accessed the power He wields to show people He is one with the Father. A oneness Jesus says is love. Because faith works by love.
In John5:30 Jesus said "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." Showing that Jesus' righteousness was a righteousness of faith because He did not seek His own will. He sought the will of the Father. And to make sure His will was always submitted to the Father He was in constant communion with Him.
An example of this is when we see Jesus asking the Father if there was any other way to save mankind than by Him going to and dying on the cross. And when He said, "Nevertheless not my will but thy will be done" we see the faith of Christ that not only made Jesus righteous. But, also the faith that makes all men righteous.
This explains why Heb.2:11 says, "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren". So we are brethren with Jesus for no other reason than believing in Him as He believed the Father.
As Jesus was righteous and made one with the Father when His belief in Him submitted His will to the Father's. So we are righteous and made one with Jesus when our belief in Jesus submits our will to His. This is what Paul said it means to be righteous.
This is why in Gen.15:6 God said "Abraham believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Showing us that being righteous has nothing to do with works. But, by believing we are "reckoned" by God, actually considered by God, to be righteous.
It had nothing to do with the works Jesus did when He walked the earth as a man. Just as it has nothing to do with sinless perfection attained through any blameless law keeping anyone does. We are righteous when we believe in Jesus as He believed the Father. By the faith of Christ. This is why believing in Jesus is eternal life.
This is how the thief on the cross was saved. He was hanging there as a punishment for the bad things he had done. Yet, when he showed he had the faith of Christ when he believed in Jesus just as Jesus believed the Father by asking Jesus, "Remember me in your kingdom?" Jesus recognized this and answered saying, "Verily I say unto thee today. Ye shall be with me in paradise."
This is why righteousness that is eternal life can not be earned. Not because men can't keep the law blamelessly as Jesus did. Because the scripture plainly shows that they can.
It is because Paul said in Gal.3:21 that there was never a law given that could give life. Otherwise righteousness would be by the works of the law.
But, it is of faith so that works are disqualified. So that the life we receive as a gift from God is righteousness, and vis a versa. Because righteousness is the relationship we have with God by faith. And life is the gift we have from God that is also the relationship.
So once more for those who did not catch this earlier in this message. The apostles taught that when we are saved we are delivered from sin which is not believing in(John16:9) and not knowing Jesus(John17:3). To the righteousness and eternal life which is believing in and knowing Jesus.
You can be righteous too if you will believe in Jesus just as He believed the Father. . For it is believing in Him as He believed the Father that makes men righteous. This is the faith of Christ by which men are justified. And is the only righteousness that brings life. Because to believe in Jesus as He believed the Father is to know Him. And knowing Him is eternal life.
So trust in Him now. And believe that He has raised from the dead. And you will be righteous and you will have eternal life.
Do this... and I will see you there or in the air!