After some study, I see righteousness defined as the state of being that originates from God alone. God does not have to act righteous either, thus God being perfect, perfection is defined by God's very existence. In the time of Moses, righteousness referred to the state of conditional perfection through following the law, as "it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us." (Deut 6:25) Now, with the New Covenant through Jesus, as Romans 3:21-22 states, "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe." Therefore, instead of righteousness being conditional through the law, righteousness is now being provided to us apart from that perfect obedience formerly required through the law.
So now faith (through the Gospel of Jesus and the in-working of the Holy Spirit, John 3:5) is how one obtains the justification that God offers, rather than through works of the law alone, for "in it (the gospel of Christ) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." (Romans 1:17) And it's only by knowing the gospel of Christ, too -- otherwise it would be us trying to make our own definition of righteousness, defining according to our wants and desires what's right and what's not as the world so often does today. Ideas about homosexuality, abortion, premarital and extramarital sex, lying, stealing, (as well as many other clearly defined sins) are all becoming acceptable to the world, as they think much of what's obviously not right are actually just and right to do. There's no way peoples' personal opinions of what's right can be accounted as righteousness, as the only way to heaven is through the God who is the provider of righteousness, and that's talked about in Romans 10:3-4, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
Just think of the definition of righteousness in today's kitchens. I've seen places where it's perceived that there's absolutely nothing wrong with the chef yelling, screaming, and throwing things at his crew, as well as places where it's okay to get drunk and high during break. But in most kitchens, there's still this thing they call "professionalism," where it's definitely not right if a person is wearing colored socks with their black and white chef's uniform. And God have mercy on that person if he's caught by the chef chewing gum or caught with his hands in his pockets. God has allowed me to see numerous extremes like that in this industry, but just consider what you see in any secular kitchen compared with what God would consider right or not in that same kitchen.
But still, as God is the one who defined what righteousness is in the first place, because of the fall, He's the only one who can abide by it too, as "There is none righteous, no, not one." (Romans 3:10) Therefore, as it's impossible to make up for our own sins, there's only one way remaining for those sins to be paid for, which is through the blood of Jesus. The perfect righteousness of God is the only way to make up for the utter unrighteousness of man. So through the blood of Jesus being sacrificed for our sins, trusting in Him as our Savior is the only way to achieve that righteousness of God, entering into everlasting life with Him! For, as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
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