As we Run through Romans in the next few weeks, one of the key questions that we will be examining in detail is: how can someone be righteous before God?
However, this question immediately brings a question: what is righteousness?
The Greek word generally translated righteousness is dikaiosynē (pronounced die-kai-o-soon-ey) and Strong’s dictionary tells us it means:
“the condition of being acceptable to God”
This is a brilliant definition of righteousness: if you are righteous, then you are in a condition acceptable to God. You could say it like this: if you are righteous then God accepts you. God only accepts righteous people. He rejects unrighteous people. Righteous people enjoy heaven on earth and go to heaven when they die. Unrighteous people endure hell on earth and go to hell when they die.
The word righteous is a religious cliche in many churches. A cliche is simply a word or phrase that people use without thinking, that does not make an impact on someone’s thinking or emotions. Sometimes it is good to use synonyms for cliches to help us appreciate their meaning.
The word righteous means right with God. It means you are totally accepted by God. It means you are treated by God as if you have never sinned, as if you are totally innocent. It means you can stand in the presence of God without fear or without shame, it means you can stand in the presence of Jesus without any sense of inferiority or lack. It means you can stand in the presence of the devil and every demon without any fear, without any sense of defeat or despair. It means God accepts you.
A righteous person prays and it happens (James 5), a righteous person is as bold as a lion (Proverbs 28.1), the righteous are blessed by God (Psalm 5.12), the Lord looks on the righteous and He listens to their prayers (Psalm 34.15), righteous people are glad (Psalm 64.10), the righteous flourish (Psalm 72.7), his work leads to life and fruitfulness (Proverbs 10.16), the righteous shall never be removed (Proverbs 10.30), the righteous are delivered out of trouble (Proverbs 11.18), in the house of the righteous is much treasure (Proverbs 15.6).
The righteous enjoy heaven on earth and when they leave the earth will go to heaven. The unrighteous endure hell on earth and when they leave the earth will go to hell.
Now you realize how important righteousness is – unless you are righteous you will not enjoy heaven on earth or ever enter heaven – now you will hopefully want to pay careful attention as we run through Romans and answer the most important question that can be asked: how can a person be made righteous? The answer is not what religion claims it is.