Vol.XIII No.XII Pg.7
February 1977

You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Dear bro. Turner:

When a man is justified does this mean he is righteous? Please discuss the Bible use of righteousness. DA


Paul says the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9-) then adds, but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified. . . I would have to conclude that in being washed, sanctified, and justified one is also made righteous.

Read W.E. Vine on righteousness. It may refer to an attribute of God; to the sum total of the requirements of God; or to the man whose life conforms to the will of God. (1 Jn. 3:7 seems to present all three uses.) Vine repudiates the imputation idea we are hearing from some brethren. He says, Righteousness is not said to be imputed to the believer save in the sense that faith is imputed (reckoned is the better word) for righteousness. It is clear that in Rom. 4:6, 11, righteousness reckoned must be understood in the light of context, faith reckoned for righteousness, vv. 3,5,9,22. For in these places is eis, which does not mean instead of, but with a view to.

Righteousness (formerly spelled rightwiseness) may refer to the condition of men (Heb. 11:4, 1 Pet. 3:12;, 2 Pet. 2:8) without implying they were absolutely perfect. Righteousness was reckoned unto Phinehas on the basis of something he did (Psm. 106:31). Abrahams obedience made perfect his faith (Jas. 2:22-23), and the Scriptures were fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. We must not assume that righteous can refer only to the perfect life of Christ, nor become more particular in application than was the Holy Spirit.

Nor is righteousness a fixed state, once consummated, forever so to be. We come into Christ by an obedient faith (Gal. 3:26-27); but our righteousness in Christ may lm lost, and regained, as we fail to continue in his goodness or abide not still in unbelief (Ron. 11:19-23). This is not to say each individual sin brings about such a change, but we do accept Pauls on the tree, off the tree description.

Our righteousness is made possible by Christs one act of righteousness — His death on the cross (Rom. 5:18), whereby man may be forgiven of sins (Rom. 4:6-8). Continued righteousness is also dependent upon Christ, who ever liveth to make intercession for the faithful (Heb. 7:25). (I.E., continued righteousness is also made possible through forgiveness.) Christ is the means of righteousness; forgiveness is the operation and an obedient faith is the condition.

The continual cleansing that is essential to continued righteousness is available to all who walk in the light confessing our sins (1 Jn 1:7-10; 2:1-6). The present, active, construction in these passages (see Greek grammar) indicates continuity — such walking and confessing is a manner of life; a humble, dependent attitude that ever looks to Christ for forgiveness. It is in this way that Christ is to us righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.