Today, we tend to define righteousness as that which is morally acceptable or which conforms to rules of conduct. But the Biblical usage has a far deeper meaning and implies a covenant relationship with God.
Righteousness is more than a character trait of God. The people of the Old Testament saw God's righteousness as His actions done in fulfillment of His covenant for His glory. God tells us, "I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight" (Jeremiah 9:24). We are not simply to know that God is righteous, but we are meant to experience His righteousness.
The righteousness of God is the root of all integrity.
One of the first examples we see of God's righteousness is in the book of Jeremiah, a time when God's people were living in sin and idolatry and their land was oppressed on all sides by violence and crime. The spiritual leaders were confused and scattered. The prophets were lying to the people rather than proclaiming God's Truth. Righteousness was a distant concept.
But to one prophet, Jeremiah, God promised a day to come when a righteous King would reign wisely and "do justice and righteousness in the land"; He would be called Jehovah-Tsidkenu, "The Lord Our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:5-6, NASB).
The word Tsidkenu, the Hebrew word used for righteousness in "The Lord Our Righteousness," means upright, straight, and narrow. The righteousness of God is the root of all integrity. It is the definition of all that is genuinely good in this life.
We cannot earn righteousness, but because Jesus Christ became our righteousness, it is ours through Him (see 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Once we receive righteousness through our commitment to Christ, God continues to work His righteousness in us. We are not alone in the struggle between our flesh and spirit. In our daily lives, the Holy Spirit will guide us and convict us of what is right and wrong (see John 16:7-15). And God promises us the strength to turn from temptation if we seek His help (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).
God has also blessed us with a manual on righteousness—the Word of God (see 2 Timothy 3:16). By the power of the Holy Spirit, we must allow God's Word to guide us in righteousness every day, that we might grow in Christlikeness.
Prayer: Jehovah-Tsidkenu, I ask for a heart that submits to the guidance of the Holy Spirit to live a righteous life. Give me wisdom to apply Your Holy Word to my life. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30).