What is the Standard of Righteousness?
God is holy, and we must be righteous to stand before a holy God, but we cannot make ourselves holy. So how can we look at ourselves in a mirror and declare ourselves righteous?
We live in a world where many are trying to act in their own righteous manner of what they believe is best. We see this through the acceptance of matters like abortion and the LGBTQ lifestyle. Many today believe they have found the key to living righteous a part from a holy and blameless God.
However, I don’t know about you, but in the natural, I don’t feel like I can do that. When I look in the mirror, I don’t feel righteous. I may have lost my temper or said something I regret. Deuteronomy 6 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (v. 5). I question whether I have ever loved God in the fullest possible way. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). It’s hard to feel that I love God with all my mind when my mind wanders to this or to that.
I can think of many mistakes I’ve made in the past. But the fact is, we can’t make ourselves righteous; it is a gift of God. Yahweh sent Jesus to shed His blood for our sins so we could stand righteous before Him. This was His plan long before Yeshua walked the earth. He spelled it out in the Book of Jeremiah when He revealed Himself as Yahweh Tsidkenu, the Lord our Righteousness.
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness [Yahweh Tsidkenu].’” —JEREMIAH 23:5–6
No one is righteous in and of himself. Righteousness is a free gift given to us through the blood of Yeshua. Paul said, “He made Him who knew no sin [Jesus] to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Jesus died in our place, taking our sin in His body and giving us His righteousness in return. This is the great exchange. God’s Word declares that Father “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4). Before the creation of the world, God in His love chose us to be holy and blameless before Him. This is the only way we can become righteous—by being drawn to Yeshua and receiving His righteousness, which He freely bestows on us.
We cannot attain this righteousness through our own works. The Bible says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5–6). Our sin was transferred into the body of Jesus on the cross. He took our sin in Himself, died in our place, and gave us His righteousness.
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