“How can righteousness be a power?” you may ask.

Righteousness is both a powerful motivation to do the right thing and a shield against the accusation and condemnation the devil uses to muddy our fellowship with God.

We have already considered righteousness as our permanent standing with God because we have been justified by faith in Jesus.

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” Romans 5:1 NLT

When we commit sin, Satan attacks on two fronts. He accuses us… “Now look what you’ve done!” and he condemns us, “Now you’ve blown it! You’re finished. God won’t have anything more to do with you.”

Jesus said that, when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convince the believer of righteousness.

“But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.  And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.  The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.  Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more.  Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.” John 16:7-11 NLT

The Holy Spirit convicts (or convinces) on three fronts. He convinces unbelievers of sin; He convinces believers of righteousness; He convinces the devil of judgment.

Can you see how important it is to us that the Holy Spirit tells us how good we are and not how bad we are? There is no value in kicking us down when we are down already. A far more powerful motivation to move away from sin is to remind us of who we are in Christ.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

When we came to faith in Jesus, we became a new creation. Everything that belonged to the old life was gone. God gave us a new beginning. Sin is no longer a way of life since we have been given a new nature, the nature of Jesus.

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” 1 John 3:9 NIV

However, this does not mean that we will never sin again. We still have remnants of our old nature which trip us up from time to time. Sin does not alienate us from God. It spoils our fellowship with Him. When we take responsibility for our sin and agree with God that we have done is wrong, He forgives and restores our peace.

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9 NIV

God’s remedy for sin is the same for the believer as for those who repent and believe in Jesus for salvation.

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 NIV

Sin does not cancel our righteous standing with God. It spoils our fellowship with Him in the same way as a child who does naughty things does not cease to be a son or daughter but cannot face the parent because he/she feels guilty.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7 NIV

Paul included righteousness in his arsenal of protective armour against the devil’s attempts to drive a wedge between us and God.

“Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…”Ephesians 6:11, 14 NIV

Why did Paul see righteousness as a breastplate?

The Roman soldier’s breastplate covered his chest, protecting the most vital of his internal organs, his heart and lungs. We can live without some of our internal organs but not without heart and lungs.

The heart symbolises everything within us that makes us who we are and how we function. When we received Christ Jesus into our hearts, they became His throne and dwelling place. He came to indwell us by His Spirit, imparting to us His own righteousness so that we are no longer alienated from the Father.

The Holy Spirit, reminding us of our righteousness in Christ, draws us back from sin and motivates us to live out what is already at work in us. He empowers us to become who we are, sons and daughters of the living God.

Righteousness, then, is the heart of our relationship and fellowship with God. However, the power of righteousness only becomes effective to protect us from the accusation and condemnation of the devil when we activate it by trusting God’s Word that we are righteous.

By faith, we apply the truth of our righteousness when we are tempted to do wrong either by intention or neglect. When we have sinned, our righteousness in Jesus draws us back into fellowship with Him through confession and forgiveness.

It is through this power that we protect and maintain our fellowship with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit who permanently lives in us.

Righteousness in us is like two sides of a coin. God has given us the righteousness of His Son which puts us in right standing with Him. We respond by living out in our lives the righteousness He has given us. This is the lifestyle of righteous, walking in the Word in the power of the Spirit.

How do we know how to respond and act in righteousness in our everyday lives? God has given us the answer in His Word.

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalms 119:105 NLT

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” Romans 8:14 NLT

Once again, the Spirit and the Word together are absolutely central to our walk in righteousness in an evil world. We display the righteousness of Jesus in us by living according to the correction and instruction of the Word through the Spirit who administers God’s grace to us.


All Scripture quotations in this series

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.




Luella Campbell

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