WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ‘RIGHTEOUS’?

What is RighteousnessMany Christians have, without realizing it, equated righteousness with ‘sinlessness’ and have accepted as ‘doctrine’ that it is impossible to be righteous apart from the atoning death of Y’shua.  We, the authors, believe that this is an incorrect understanding of the scriptural concept of righteousness – a misunderstanding which prevents believers from grasping and benefiting from the true meaning of atonement, forgiveness, and righteousness, as well as preventing us from having a clear understanding of the Plan of Redemption and the role of Y’shua. [1]

The Scriptural Definition of Righteousness

A close examination of Scripture has shown us that righteousness has never been beyond the grasp of Man, and that in our own generation, as beneficiaries of the incredible work of Y’shua and the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), we are without excuse if we do not walk in righteousness! This means we need to clearly understand what it means to be “righteous.”

The Hebrew word translated in English as ‘righteous’ is generally צַדִּיק (tsaddiyq) meaning just; lawful; doing what is right.  In Scriptural terms [2], to ‘do what is right’ or to ‘be just’ is to follow YHVH’s instructions – His Torah.

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my Torah; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. (Isa 51:6)

[Moses speaking] And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before YHVH our God, as he hath commanded us. Deut 6:25

Paul says the same thing, but not as clearly and with a lot more words!

…in order that the righteous requirement of the law [Heb: Torah] might be fully met [Grk plēroō, carried into effect; performed] in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the SpiritThose who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law [Torah], nor can it do so. … But if Messiah is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness [submission to Torah].For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body [sin, transgression of Torah per 1John 3:4], you will live Rom 8:4- 6, 10, 13 (NIV)

Thus, according to both Moses and Paul, to be righteous is to live in defiance of one’s sinful (flesh) nature, being submitted instead to God’s law – His Torah.

When we make that commitment and live by it, YHVH has bound Himself to consider or reckon us to be righteous, according to His Grace.

Grace is not new

We have written the word Grace in bold red to remind us of the price our Messiah paid with His blood to provide the eternal sacrifice for us.  Praise Him that His Grace has been active in Creation since the beginning of time!

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8)

Now our Master Y’shua Messiah himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace(2Th 2:16 KJV)

The word translated as everlasting is the Greek word αἰώνιος (aiōnios) meaning without beginning and end; that which always has been and always will be. (Strong’s G166)  If the consolation is everlasting, the Grace that brings it to us must also be everlasting.

From the beginning of time, YHVH (in His Grace) has always considered the heart when judging a person’s deeds. [3]  If a person truly loves [4] YHVH with all their heart, mind and strength, that person will also love His ways and will do his or her best to live by them. If such a person sins (transgresses Torah1John 3:4), he or she will genuinely repent [5] of it, and then the Grace-full and mercy-full YHVH forgives. [6]

Despite the fact that Man (even in his un-fallen state) is infinitely inferior to YHVH; despite the fact that even Man’s best efforts are polluted by sin; YHVH has made His Grace available throughout Time to those who love Him and who reveal their love by doing their best to keep His commandments.

…but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exd 20:6

If you love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15

… love covers over a multitude of sins. 1Pe 4:8

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.  Psa 51:17

The Faith Hall of Fame

YHVH in His Grace reckoned Enoch to be righteous:

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Heb 11:5

YHVH in His Grace reckoned Noah to be righteous:

This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless [innocent of transgression of YHVH’s instructions] among the people of his time, and he walked with God [i.e., lived by YHVH’s standards]. Gen 6:9

YHVH in His Grace reckoned Abraham to be righteous:

And he [Abraham] believed [Heb: aman – to be faithful, reliable, trusty] in YHVH; and he [YHVH] counted it to him for righteousness. … Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. Gen 15:6, 26:5

Job, who many believe was not ‘Jewish’, is called righteous:

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright [Heb yashar – righteous], and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.  Job 1:1

Luke tells us:

And they [the parents of John the Baptist] were both righteous before Elohim, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of Adonai blameless. Luke 1:6

Matthew tells us that Y’shua’s step-father, Joseph, was accounted righteous:

Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man [7]…. [Grk δίκαιος dikaios: observing divine laws] Mat 1:19

Mark tells us that John the Baptist was righteous:

…for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous [Grk δίκαιος dikaios: observing divine laws] and holy man [Grk ἅγιος, hagios: worthy of veneration] and he kept him safe. Mar 6:20

John reminds us:

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 1 John 3:4

The apostle Paul tells us:

So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. Rom 7:12

the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law [Torah]…. Rom 8:7

Y’shua said, Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  John 8:34

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?  Rom 6:16, NIV

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness…. Rom 6:18

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law [Torah]. Rom 7:25

But if Messiah is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  Rom 8:10

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body [sin; transgression of Torah], you will live Rom 8:13

That the righteousness of the law [Torah] might be fulfilled [Grk πληρόω plēroō: accomplished, performed] in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. Rom 8:4-5  

For we know that the law is spiritual [Greek: pneumatikosof the Spirit of God]...  Rom 7:14

The apostle John records that in the vision Y’shua gave him (The Book of the Revelation of Y’shua the Messiah), he was told:

And the dragon was enraged with the woman [faithful Israel], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God AND have the testimony of Y’shua Messiah. Rev 12:17

Commandments AND FaithHere is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments  of God AND the faith of Y’shua. Rev 14:12

 

Y’shua said:

If you love me, keep my commandments. [8]   John 14:15

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. [9]   John 15:10

And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness [Grk: anomia, Torahlessness]!’   (Matt 7:23 NKJV) 

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law [Torah], till all be fulfilled.  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments [9], and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Mat 5:18-19

Every one of these verses, ‘Old’ Testament and New, from Genesis to Revelation, agrees with each other: In YHVH’s judgment, the righteous person is the person who loves YHVH and shows it by doing their best to follow YHVH’s value system, His Torah.

The Righteous are Always to be Found

Luke, Mark and Matthew tell us that there were righteous people living in Israel in Y’shua’s day: specifically Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, Y’shua’s stepfather Joseph, and presumably others as well.  Y’shua also mentions (during the Sermon on the Mount) that YHVH sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous alike.  Therefore, we can read Mark 2:17 and Matt 5:45 with a slightly different cast of meaning than we are ordinarily taught in the church:

I came not to call the righteous [Grk δίκαιος dikaios: righteous, observing divine laws], but sinners to repentance. [10] Mar 2:17 

… for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just [Grk δίκαιοςdikaios: righteous, observing divine laws] and on the unjust. Mat 5:45

In other words, it is quite permissible within the context of these passages to take the meaning that Y’shua was fully aware of a faithful remnant of righteous people (followers of Torah) still existing in Israel, especially among His own family, and that He came to call the rest of the people to repentance and back to Torah. [11] and [12]

These people were accounted or reckoned as righteous because they loved YHVH and observed His divine instructions faithfully, without adding to them or changing them in any way. (Deut 12:32)  They were sinners like the rest of us, but their sin was fully atoned for as they repented and followed the sacrificial system set in place in YHVH’s Torah as a provision of His Grace.

One Law

YHVH says that there is ONE law for both the Israelite and for the Gentile [13]; thus the privilege of being accounted or reckoned righteous has been available to all men at all times.  Noah, Enoch, Job and Abraham were simply regular guys – not even ‘Jews’ – who were trying to make sense of a terribly messed up world.  By making it their choice to align themselves with what they knew of the Torah of YHVH, they were accounted, by YHVH’s Grace, to be righteous.

We, the authors, do not believe that a ‘New Dispensation of Grace’ arrived with the atoning death of Y’shua. We believe that Y’shua’s death and resurrection are incalculably valuable to us, but we also believe that YHVH does not change [14], and that He has never changed His Plan of Redemption.

Righteousness has always been available to Man, and its terms have never changed:

 Love YHVH

(Old Testament – Deut 6:5, New Testament – Matt 22:37)

Obey His commands

(OT – Deut 6:25, NT – John 14:15)

Repent of sin and offer (or accept) the appropriate sacrifice for atonement 

(OT – Ezek 18:30 & Lev 5:10,  NT – 1John1:9 & Heb 9:12)

Receive Grace

 (OT – Ezek 18:20-23, NT – Eph 2:8)

Return to faithful obedience. 

(OT – Ezek 33:11, NT – Heb 10:19-24)

(See my article, Does Paul Really Teach That Torah has Passed Away?)

In His Love and Grace, YHVH has simply enhanced and refreshed His Plan through Y’shua, offering believers even more benefit, at less cost to themselves. We will discuss this in more detail as we go along.

So how does Isaiah 64:6 fit in with what we are saying?

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isa 64:6

In the evangelical church, believers are taught – or at least they are allowed to absorb the idea – that this verse means that all men are unrighteous (in church parlance, sinful), and that there is nothing we can do which could even begin to make us ‘righteous’ (sinless) unless, of course, we acknowledge Y’shua as Lord and Savior.  

It is certainly true that there is nothing we can do that will change our sinful nature – only YHVH can do that through the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit.   However, that is not ‘righteousness’ in the biblical sense – to be righteous is to live in defiance of our sinful nature, being submitted instead, as Moses and Paul said, to God’s law – His Torah.  (Deut 6:25, Rom 8:7)  This we CAN do.  Even our lapses can be atoned for: Remember that the Law includes provision for atonement.  Therefore, it has never been impossible to be righteous – Enoch, Noah, Job, Abraham, Zachariah, Elizabeth, Joseph and others have proven that!

Unfortunately, the church assigns a universal (and therefore incorrect) meaning to Isaiah 64:6 because the verse has been taken out of context.  This verse is not describing all men at all times.  It is actually rebuking a specific set of people in the time of Isaiah who otherwise WOULD HAVE been considered righteous.  Notice that these people have become unclean (unrighteous).

These are people who consider themselves to be worshippers of YHVH. They are offering Him sacrifices and attending worship services at the temple.  Nevertheless, Isaiah lambastes them for their unclean worship of YHVH, starting off with YHVH’s opening rebuke:

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith YHVH: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.  Isa 1:11

We used to wonder about this verse.  After all, YHVH commanded them to sacrifice, so why was He now telling them not to bother?

There is a simple answer: Like Cain’s offering, their offerings were not given in accord with YHVH’s instructions or with ‘a contrite heart.’ (Psalm 51:17)  They were treating YHVH in the same way they treated pagan ‘gods’, which, by the way, they were also worshipping.

 YHVH’s Unusual Ideas Concerning Sacrifices

In the ancient pagan world, sacrifices were made in order to appease capricious ‘gods’ and even to feed and clothe them.  In other words, pagan sacrifices were generally made to satisfy the supposed needs and desires of the ‘gods’ and keep them happy so they wouldn’t grieve mankind (and so they might even help him out).

In contrast, the sacrifices mandated by YHVH had nothing to do with meeting His needs or satisfying His desires or even keeping Him ‘happy’ – they were graciously ordained in our behalf to allow us to escape the penalty of sin!  YHVH has no need of our sacrifices – WE are the ones in need!

Therefore, our sacrifices are useless to us and repugnant to YHVH if they are not offered in a spirit of genuine repentance.  In recognition of the sinners’ own need, the sacrifices were to be offered by a repentant people who were doing their best to obey YHVH’s commands, but who had sinned inadvertently (or sometimes even presumptuously) because of their flawed (sinful) natures.  YHVH in His Grace had made provision for such sin and had put the sacrifices in place to atone [15] for it.

And he [the priest] shall burn all the fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. Lev 4:26

And he [the priest] shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto YHVH: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him. Lev 4:35

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Rom 12:1

Having made his sacrificial offering with a penitent and contrite heart, and having begun once more to follow YHVH’s instructions to the best of his ability, the sinner was forgiven and counted or reckoned as righteous.

This was not a temporary or symbolic atonement, as Christians are sometimes taught.  It did not just ‘hold them over’ until Messiah’s arrival. [16]   YHVH’s forgiveness is real.  This was a full atonement – it lasted forever. [17]  The only condition was that the sacrifice was to be offered in genuine repentance and that the person should begin again to obey YHVH’s commands (i.e., follow Torah) out of love for and gratitude to YHVH.

But YHVH tells the Israelites of Isaiah’s day that He is tired of their sacrifices. Why?

He instructs Isaiah to tell them:

Adonai says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. Isa 29:13, NIV

In their own eyes, they were ‘loving’ YHVH and ‘serving’ Him, but in reality, they were living and worshipping according to their own traditions and doctrines – the precepts of men and human rules – rather than by the ordained commands of YHVH’s Torah.  These people were ignoring YHVH’s commands and doing things their own way.  YHVH calls this rebellion, which He equates to witchcraft and idolatry!  (1Sa 15:23)

in vainWhen we add our own traditions and doctrines (Such as Sunday worship, Christmas and Easter, the ‘passing’ of Torah) to YHVH’s Word , we are no longer loving and serving YHVH – we are loving and serving ourselves. We are writing the rules as though we were gods!  This is why YHVH says they have removed their heart far from me. This is why disobedience (rebellion) is equated to witchcraft (service to the evil one), iniquity (perverseness) and idolatry.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of YHVH, he hath also rejected thee from being king.  1Sa 15:23

YHVH will not accept such worship from those who know better – it is empty, meaningless, insulting, and worse than if they had completely ignored Him!  It was for this reason that what would otherwise have been righteous acts of the folks Isaiah was sent to warn were instead like filthy rags.

Time to Repent!

This verse has VERY serious implications for the modern church:  Presumably every genuine believer with access to the Scriptures has read the Tanakh (OT) and is therefore NOT ignorant of YHVH’s commands.  When we subsequently ignore YHVH’s feasts and Sabbaths in favor of pagan celebrations such as ‘Sun Day,’ Christmas, and Easter, we are essentially telling YHVH that we are in charge and we can write the rules.

Thus, any ‘repentance’ we think we are experiencing is only imaginary, because our actions show that we have no real concern for what YHVH desires.  We have chosen to accept and follow human rules.

If YHVH is unchangeable, as He claims, and if His Word is true and reliable, as we SAY we believe, then YHVH must be saying of the modern church: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”

If we truly love Him, we will respect His code and won’t try to rewrite it.  If we live out the specific actions instructed in Torah because of Love for YHVH and for our neighbor, then it is accounted to us for righteousness.  Our observance of Torah becomes a demonstration of the Love in our hearts, which is what YHVH is actually looking for.  The specific ‘works’ (actions) called for in Torah are meaningless without the heart motivation of love – love for both YHVH and our neighbor. [18]

If we truly love YHVH and His Living Word, Y’shua, we will not pick and choose what parts of Torah we want to obey – we will simply learn and obey His precepts…period.  And YHVH graciously reckons this to us as righteousness.

We must repent of our arrogance, abandon our pagan-rooted traditions and return to the divinely ordained biblical calendar and method of worship!
But if we can be recognized as righteous through our own efforts, why do we need Y’shua?

First we need to address the idea of “being recognized as righteous through our own efforts.” Is that really what happens? No! It is by YHVH’s Grace that He even takes notice of our ‘righteous acts’!  He doesn’t owe us anything, least of all recognition as being ‘righteous.’ After all, since we are His creation, our obedience to His statutes is simply what YHVH is entitled to!  It is incredibly Grace-full of Him to give us rewards for doing what should be as basic to our existence as breathing.  This was true for the ancient Israelites, and it is even truer for us, who are the blessed beneficiaries of the incredibly generous terms of the Refreshed Covenant.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Y’shua Messiah our Saviour; That being justified [declared to be righteous] by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7

For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Y’shua Messiah. Rom 5:17

The reality is that we are recognized and credited as righteous through the Grace and mercy of YHVH, Who had no obligation to pay our debt to sin, but Who Graciously bound Himself by Covenant to do so. [19]

The Covenant lives on!

YHVH has done what He promised to do! He has given the ‘new spirit’ (the gift of the Holy Spirit who has regenerated our spirits) and He has placed in our hearts the desire to love and serve Him.  Our problem is that we have “inherited lies” so that we no longer take at face value YHVH’s clear statements as to what it is that pleases Him.  But just as prophecy foretold, that situation is being rectified.  That is why you are reading this article!

O YHVH, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.  Jeremiah 16:19

The Truth is: What pleased YHVH in the past still pleases Him today!  What YHVH desired of His People in the past is what He still desires of them today!

For I am YHVH, I change not.  Malachi 3:6

The terms of the Covenant have not changed: The faithful Israelite [20] is still expected to live by YHVH’s statutes and ordinances (His Torah), and YHVH still agrees to care for and protect those who do so.   But now, as often happens in covenants, there is a new element:

Something New

YHVH understands that the most devoted and faithful believer is hampered by the flesh, so the Father has made a way to resolve that issue. Just as YHVH first honored Abraham’s loving obedience by making a personal covenant with him, YHVH has now honored Abraham’s ‘seed through faith’ by enhancing and improving His side of the Covenant: He sent Y’shua, through whose death our flesh becomes dead to sin (Rom 6:2, 6:11) and through whose resurrected Life our spirits are reborn; AND He sent the Holy Spirit to give us supernatural power to help us walk in righteousness!

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: [For the purpose] That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Ezek 11:19- 20

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Messiah was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  Rom 6:4

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 1Cor 12:7

We have indeed received a new spirit – The Holy Spirit!  Through regeneration, He has killed the power of the flesh and has re-birthed our spirits, so that we can walk in newness of life – which means that now we can walk in righteousness.

This is the Refreshed Covenant at work!  Torah still stands, as it always has and always will, but now we have the power to understand it and perform it in the way YHVH originally intended!  Previously we were often prevented from obeying in spirit and in truth [21] because of the limitations of our flesh.  Now, through the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, we can reckon the flesh as dead to sin and can discipline it to the Way of Righteousness!  Praise Yah!!!

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Messiah Y’shua our Master/Owner. Rom 6:11

And do not present your members [arms, legs, hands, feet, etc.] as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. Rom 6:13

Remember that Scripture defines ‘righteousness’ as obedience to Torah out of Love for YHVH.  So now, just as in ages past, we can be reckoned as righteous if we love YHVH and show it by walking according to His precepts, statutes and instructions.  However, we have the added benefit of the eternal Sacrifice of Y’shua and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives – YHVH has made the process so much easier for us!

This gives us an added obligation, as well.  To whom much is given, much is expected! [22]  If we insist on staying in the flesh rather than utilizing the power of the Spirit, we will never be able to please YHVH and we will suffer the consequences. If we merely follow the letter of Torah without basing our ‘obedience’ in love for the Father and for each other, we will be ignoring the real meaning of Torah.

And thou shalt LOVE YHVH thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  Deut 6:5

…. but thou shalt LOVE thy neighbor as thyself: I am YHVH. Lev 19:18

That the righteousness of the law [Torah] might be fulfilled [Greek: plēroō: performed; accomplished] in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law [Torah] of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom 8:4-8

Our minds no longer have to be carnally oriented; our flesh no longer has the power to force us to be in rebellion to the statutes of YHVH!  In fact, by the terms of the Refreshed Covenant, love for the statutes and ordinances has been ‘written upon our hearts.’ [23]  When the Holy Spirit abides in us, it becomes part of our very nature to desire to live by YHVH’s standards in loving obedience to our wonderful Father, Savior and King! [24]

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith YHVH, I will put my law [Heb. Torah] in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jer 31:33

The secret [Heb סוֹד: intimate counsel] of YHVH is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant. Psa 25:14

With Torah, it is a simple matter to know and accomplish the Will of the Father.

For many years, it was our constant desire to DO what pleased the Father, but like everyone else we knew in the church, we were never sure what the ‘will’ of the Father was!

The most common question we hear from Christians is, “How can I know what the Will of the Father is for my life?”

The ‘official’ answers given have ranged from “just love God and your neighbor”, to “pray,” or even “set out a fleece.” Each answer was based on the underlying assumption that the believer needed to know the specific ‘will’ of God at specific moments in their life.

We have come to believe that this understanding is essentially wrong, limiting, and injurious to believers.  Under this ‘system,’ our lives become a constant stream of questions and self-doubt: “Am I really doing what the Father wants me to do? Maybe I should have (done thus and such)….?”  The enemy wreaks havoc in our lives, accusing us of having made the wrong choices, and so often we cannot help but listen to his accusations because we are not confident that we have heard God rightly.

Take heart! YHVH is not a God of confusion. His will is simple and easy to understand – particularly with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

  • The Will of YHVH is that we are to love Him with all our heart, mind and strength.

And thou shalt love YHVH thy Elohim with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Deut 6:5

  • To love Him means to obey Him.

if you love meIf you love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. [25]  John 15:10

  • What is it that we are we to obey?  His precepts, statues and commandments – His Torah!

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove [Grk: dokimazō: recognize as genuine after examination] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. [26]  Rom 12:2

Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am YHVH. Lev 18:5

All the commands of Torah are designed to give us a ‘vehicle’ through which to live in the will of the Father and to walk out an ACTIVE LOVE for YHVH and our neighbor.  Love, after all, is not a feeling – it is an action.  Without expression through action, feelings are meaningless and useless.  Torah gives us the means by which to express our love in ways that align with the Will and Character of YHVH and Y’shua!

Does this righteousness earn us salvation?  NO!  It is the evidence OF our salvation!

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. … For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Rom 8:4, 14

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Y’shua Messiah our Saviour; That being justified [declared to be righteous] by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7

CONCLUSION

As both Moses and Paul said, Righteousness’ in the biblical sense is to live in defiance of our sinful nature, being submitted instead to God’s law – His Torah. (Deut 6:25, Rom 8:7)  Righteousness has been available to all men throughout time.  In His Grace, YHVH has, from the beginning, credited men as being righteous if they truly loved Him and demonstrated their love through their faithful commitment to live according to His standards.  When their sin nature caused problems, they were committed to repenting of their sin, and they obeyed YHVH’s commands pertaining to atonement through sacrifice.

YHVH’s expectations have never changed. The sacrificial means of relationship between YHVH and men has never changed. YHVH’s Plan of Redemption has been consistent throughout Time:

  • If a person lives according to the statutes and precepts (Torah) of YHVH, YHVH has graciously decreed that He will reckon it to that person as righteousness.  (Deut 6:25, Rom 8:7)
  • Because His Torah is Truth (Ps 119:142) and is intrinsic to YHVH’s nature, it will never cease to exist. (Isa 51:6) Specific rulings designed for specific time periods may be modified, but the principles behind those rulings will never change. [27]  Torah, the Way of Righteousness, will exist forever.  (Isa 51:6)
  • People are by nature flawed and sinful and, for that reason alone, all fall short of the glory of YHVH.  Every ‘godly’ person sins, usually inadvertently but sometimes even presumptuously. (Rom 3:23) The wages of sin is death. No exceptions. (Rom 6:23)
  • In Yah’s mercy and Grace, He has decreed that sin can be atoned for by the sacrificial death of an innocent party. (Lev 4:26, etc) The repentant sinner can be forgiven and can escape the death penalty.  (Rom 8:1)
  • The sacrifice must be offered through a priest who is himself cleansed and acceptable to YHVH.  (Num 8:15, etc)  Y’shua is that priest.  (Heb 4:14)
  • The sacrifice must be offered in the ordained place and in the ordained manner.  (Deut 16:6, etc)   Outside of Time, (and thus eternally) Y’shua is “the Lamb slain from the foundation [creation] of the earth” (Rev 13:8).  He was slain in the Heavenly Temple and His blood sprinkled on the Heavenly Altar; the efficacy of whose sacrifice in our behalf has been active throughout Time.   Within Time, Y’shua was killed at Passover at the ordained time and in the right place – Y’shua is the Lamb of God whose blood over the doorposts of our hearts marks us as ‘set apart’ and not subject to the death penalty that normally (and still) accompanies sin.  (John 1:36)
  • When people truly love YHVH and seek to serve Him to the best of their ability, He has promised to forgive them and dwell among them. (Gen 26:3, Rev 21:3, etc)  He actually lives within us! Praise Him!
The Way of Righteousness has never changed!

Believers are still expected to:

 Love YHVH;

Obey His commands;

Repent of sin and offer the appropriate sacrifice for atonement;

Receive Grace;

Return to loving obedience.

The basis of righteousness rests on two things:

  1. Love YHVH with all one’s heart, mind and strength.
  2. Show Him that love by loving His Ways and obeying His commands – His Torah.

The promise of eternal life relies on two things:

  1. Genuine repentance for sin, demonstrated by a return to loving and grateful obedience.
  2. A blood sacrifice to atone for sin.

The terms have remained the same – only the expression of the Covenant has changed. Now we have been made aware of two amazing and incredible gifts that have been added to the original provisions of the Covenant:

  1. The Holy Spirit’s supernatural regenerative power, releasing us from the power of the flesh; and
  2. The ONCE-FOR-ALL sacrificial death and resurrection of Y’shua, releasing us from the penalty of death.

Before these gifts were given to Man, righteousness was genuinely possible, but certainly not easy.  WITH these amazing and powerful gifts in our possession, WE HAVE NO EXCUSE! Our lives MUST reflect the character and glory of our Messiah!!!  If they do not, then we are not led by the Spirit and we are not sons of God.  It is our choice.

[Moses speaking, after reviewing Torah with the people] This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. Deut 30:19

Brethren, let us make the right choice and walk in Torah

through the power of the Holy Spirit

with all our heart and mind and strength!

Let us choose the Way of Righteousness!

For it had been better for them not to have known the Way of Righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.   2 Peter 2:21

By Sue and John Wyatt, The Coming Kingdom, lambs.servant@gmail.com


© John and Sue Wyatt and The Coming Kingdom Blog and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Coming Kingdom Blog and The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to John and Sue Wyatt and The Coming Kingdom Blog and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


FOOTNOTES

[1]  We agree entirely that Y’shua’s sacrifice IS the atonement for our sin, and that our loving and obedient identification with Him IS accounted to us as righteousness under the Refreshed Covenant.  However, Y’shua is “the Lamb slain from the foundation [creation] of the earth” (Rev 13:8).  His sacrifice on man’s behalf has been effective throughout all of Time, a fact of which we believe the patriarchs were fully aware.  This is why we hear Job saying, “I know that my Redeemer [the One who paid the price of my sin] lives!” (Job 19:25) and Psalm 78 tells us, “I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.. . . And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.”

[2]  All New Testament terms (sin, righteousness, etc.) are defined by the Tanakh (OT Scriptures); it was upon Tanakh-based definitions that Y’shua and the apostles based their teaching.  Scholarly research even shows that when the apostles wrote their documents, they were careful to use the Greek words already established by the Septuagint (the Greek version of the OT written by the Jews about 250 BCE) in order to carry forward the ancient understandings.

[3]  [Edited 9 May 2017]  From the beginning of time, YHVH (in His Grace) has always considered a person’s heart before judging the deeds.  However, it is extremely significant that the heart is considered, while the deeds are judged.  (Jer 17:10) This why Paul quotes Psalm 62:12 and Proverbs 24:12 when he says (Rom 2:6):  God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”  See also: Deut 5:29, Deut 10:16, Deut 30:6, 1Chron 28:9, 2Chron 16:9, 2Chron 34:27, Prov 21:2, Ps 34:18, Jer 17:10, Jer 24:7, Ezek 44:9, Joel 2:13, etc.

[4]  The Hebrew word for love (אָהַב ahav) is a root word from which other Hebrew words derive.  Its ancient meaning, according to Gesenius’s Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon (H157), was to be verdant; to germinate.  In the biblical understanding, love is not an emotion or a feeling – it is an action that results in life and fruit.

[5]  To repent does not mean to merely feel remorse or to be sorry for having “done something wrong.”  To repent means to stop doing things that violate YHVH’s instructions and to begin doing those things that are instructed in YHVH’s Torah.   When John the Baptist and Y’shua called for repentance, the people understood that they were being called to stop transgressing Torah.  (for sin is the transgression of the law [Torah] 1John 3:4)

[6]  [Edited 9 May 2017 sdw] The sacrificial system for the atonement and forgiveness of sin has been in place since Adam and Eve.  The sacrifices offered were not efficacious in themselves they pictured the efficacious sacrifice of Y’shua,The Lamb slain from the foundation (creation) of the earth.”  We believe that the patriarchs KNEW this.  They fully understood that their sin brought death into the world (pictured by the slain animal) and that they deserved the same death as was being received by the sacrificial animal. (The wages of sin is death. Rom 6:23) This is why they pressed their hands onto the animal before its death – a picture that their personal sin was worthy of the death penalty.   They also understood that atonement and forgiveness came only through the Grace of God, who had already provided redemption.  This is why we read numerous declarations of gratitude to Israel’s Redeemer.  (Sadly, much of this understanding has been lost to the Jews, but they do still understand that they are ‘saved’ only by the Grace of God.)  Under the Refreshed Covenant, we have been made aware that there is only one efficacious sacrifice (Y’shua’s), and there is no condemnation (to death) for the repentant sinner. Romans 8:1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Y’shua… How Gracious of YHVH!  (An excellent article explaining the PURPOSE of the sacrificial system is Thanksgiving in the Kingdom, Part II, by ‘the Barking Fox.’)

[7]  The Hebrew equivalent of the phrase ‘righteous man’ is the word tsadik (צַדִּיק), which was a title given to those perceived to be especially righteous (obedient).  It is believed by some that in each generation, a particularly righteous man of the House of David was considered to be ‘the Tsadik,’ or the spiritual leader of Israel – more so even than the High Priest. (For example, Aaron was the high priest, but Moshe was the spiritual leader of the people.) For this reason, some hold that this term (Matt 1:19, etc) is actually referring to Joseph’s formal title of the Tzadik of Israel, and that at his death, Joseph passed that position on to his son, Y’shua, who in turn passed it on to his half-brother James. We are informed by the writings of Hegesippus that James was known as ‘James the Just’ (in Hebrew, ‘Ya’acov Ha Tsadik’) and was considered by all Israel – even by the Pharisees – to be the spiritual leader of Israel.  We will be studying the subject of the Tsadik further, because it opens avenues of inquiry and insight that are potentially of great interest to believers.

[8] As we explain in a number of our articles, the word translated here as ‘commandments’ is the Greek word ἐντολή (entolē) (Strong’s G1785), which is the same word used in Heb 7:5, Matt 15:5-6, Matt 5:19, Mark 7:8-9, etc, all of which refer to the mitzvot (specific regulations) found in Torah, not the Ten Commandments.  A strong case can be made that it was Y’shua Himself who was the instrument YHVH used to present Torah to Moshe!  Please see the article, Was Jesus on Mt. Sinai?-Does it Matter? by Pete Rambo, originally published on natsab.

[9]  See footnote 8

[10] When Y’shua spoke these words, the only thing He could have been calling the people to repent of was disobedience of Torah.  Torah defines sin (1John 3:4for sin is the transgression of the law [Torah]), and describes sin and righteousness to us.  (Rom 7:7bNay, I had not known sin, but by the law [Torah]: for I had not known lust, except the law [Torah] had said, Thou shalt not covet.)  Paul further agrees that Torah is the One Law for all: For as many as have sinned  [sin is the transgression of Torah, 1John 3:4]  without [specific knowledge of the] law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.

[11]  We are called to repent of sin, and sin is defined as the transgression of Torah. (1John3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.)  Therefore, to not sin is to not transgress Torah.

[12] By YHVH’s Grace and plan, there always remains a remnant of people who faithfully and righteously love and serve YHVH, a fact of which He reminded the prophet Elijah in 1Kings 19:18Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel — all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.

[13]  One Law: Ex 12:49, Num 15:16, Num 15:29, Lev 24:22, etc.  Torah was never intended to be solely a “Jewish” possession.  The earth is YHVH’s creation, subject to His law, and He has only one body of Law.  YHVH’s Plan was for the Israelites to be priests unto the Gentile nations, demonstrating by their own lives that life under YHVH and Torah is superior to pagan theological and social structures, thereby inviting all men to leave their pagan systems and to come under the government of YHVH and His Torah. (Isaiah 60:3, Isa 51:4, etc.)  Whether they ever did so or not, pagans were (and still are) judged by YHVH’s law, because that is the only law under heaven. (Romans 2:12) This concept is more fully discussed in our article, ONE LAW.

[14] Malachi 3:6For I am YHVH; I change not.  YHVH is perfect, and perfection cannot change, as it will then no longer be perfect.  In addition, change is something that occurs over time, whereas YHVH is outside of time.

[15] Atone: make reparation for an offense or injury

[16] Some teach that this atonement was temporary, pending the arrival of Messiah, and that this is why Messiah had to appear to the righteous dead in Paradise (Eph 4:9), so that they could acknowledge His sacrifice on their behalf and participate in the redemption thereof.   Since YHVH said that forgiveness had already been granted at the time of the sacrifice, we believe that the reason Y’shua appeared to the righteous dead was so that they could rejoice in His arrival and acknowledge Him as their King.

[17]  [deleted 9 May 2017 sdw]

[18] 1Cor 13:1 (NKJV)Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 

[19]  So why DO we need Y’shua? We discuss this in our article entitled THE WORK OF YEHOSHUA.  (Not published but available upon request.)

[20]  Believers have been grafted into and adopted into the family of Israel – in YHVH’s eyes, believers are Israelites.  If we have been saved by faith in Y’shua, we are ‘Abraham’s seed’ every bit as much as a (believing) genetic Israelite. Gal 3:7Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. Eph 2:12-13That at that time [before your salvation] ye were without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:But now in Messiah Y’shua ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Messiah.

[21]  John 4:23-24, John 14:17

[22]  Luke 12:48

[23]  To ‘have the Law in one’s heart’ does not mean that we suddenly just ‘know’ YHVH’s commands.  It means that the desire and ability to know and observe YHVH’s commands has now become intrinsic to our being, through the enlivening work of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.  It is the job of the Holy Spirit to bring to mind’ all that Y’shua has taught us. (John 14:26)  Therefore, we must study Y’shua’s teachings (which are actually a midrash or commentary on Torah), so that at the appropriate time, the Holy Spirit can bring those teachings to mind, thereby giving us the ability to walk in righteousness moment by moment. This is why we are told to study to become ‘approved workmen’ who ‘rightly handle the Word of Truth.’ (2Tim 2:15), and we must remember that they only scriptures available for study when Timothy wrote, were the writings that Christians call the Old Testament!  Moses talks about the Torah being ‘in the hearts’ of the people, too (Deut 6:6, etc), yet they (and we), could AND DID ignore The Word and chose their own way instead. May we choose to hear and obey!

[24]  As believers, we truly desired to please YHVH.  However, we were carefully taught that Torah-observance negates the work of Y’shua on the cross, so for many years we were quite literally terrified to even consider Torah observance. The thought of offending the Master like that was more than we could bear! We avoided Torah out of love for Y’shua! (Many reading this may have done the same.)  Yet that doctrine is ‘a tradition of men’ and could not be more untrue!!!  We had to become Bereans, and test all that we had been taught against the OT scriptures (the only scriptures the Bereans had).  When we were able to read the NT from a Hebraic world view, we quickly realized that Y’shua’s entire ministry was to call His people back into compliance with Torah so that they would be fit citizens for His Kingdom. Now it is a joy to walk in His footsteps and follow His Torah!

[25]  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. (John 15:10) True love must be expressed in ways that align with the Father’s character – Torah gives us the framework upon which we are to weave our personal tapestry of love.

[26]  See also: Lev 18:26, Lev 20:8, Deut 4:5-8

[27]  The 613 mitzvot are somewhat adaptable.  For example, at Mt Sinai, YHVH commanded the people to gather manna for six days, and to rest on the seventh day. On the sixth day, they were commanded to gather twice as much manna as usual, to be used for their food on the 7th day.   However, when the Israelites arrived in the Promised Land, YHVH stopped providing manna, so we can no longer obey the instruction to gather it.  However, we can abide by the principle conveyed in the instruction: we can go about our normal life for five days, then on the 6th day we can prepare our food and other necessities to carry us through the 7th day, so that we can rest on the 7th day and not have to concern ourselves with daily tasks. The instruction specifically pertaining to manna no longer applies, but the underlying principle of preparing ahead of time for the 7th day of rest can and should still be honored.

Thank you for taking the time and showing the interest to read this article.  We would be very interested in hearing your thoughts and comments!

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11 thoughts on “WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ‘RIGHTEOUS’?”

  1. Reblogged this on natsab and commented:
    Wow!! LOVE. LOVE, LOVE this piece. It is long but it covers so much ground and connects so many incredible pieces!! One in particular will get its own post in a day or two!!

    This is a MUST READ with time spent processing all of it! Thanks, Sue & John for a job well done!

    Blessings and Shalom!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Howdy! This article could not be written much better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He continually kept preaching about this. I will forward this post to
    him. Fairly certain he will have a great read.

    I appreciate you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue, you are awesome! Your article helps me look at Scriptures through a different lens. The Lord has revealed this to you.

    I love the way you deconstruct a doctrine, re-define concepts (i.e., to their original meaning), and then put the same elements back together again—this time in its true form. I have the pieces of the puzzle but don’t always piece them together right.

    As I am still reading the book of Job, before I read your article I was wondering how could God find Job “blameless and upright”? And Job 19:25-26 impressed on me so much (“I know that my Redeemer lives….”). These two passages are now clearer to me now that I have read your explanation on “righteousness” and “salvation/eternal life”. Thank you and the Lord bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, munyingnying, for your comment! It is thrilling when the Holy Spirit reveals a correct understanding of the Word, and it is even more thrilling when we are able to share that understanding with the brethren – we become united in His Truth! Thank you for your humble spirit and your kind words. May YHVH continue to bless and teach you as you search out His Truth. I have been blessed by your blog and look forward to reading more of His revelation to you. Be blessed!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good work Sue; this is a very good understanding of Scripture, and with this understanding, we see that the Scriptures, Old and New, compliment each other, and there are no contradictions in His Word.
    I’ve been studying the Greek word Chaigraphon, used by Paul, and frequently used by well meaning Christian who say the Law (Chiagraphon) was nailed to the Cross. This word actually translates as Record of Indebtednees, or Record of Sin that was “nailed to the Cross.” When Paul is read carefully, you can still see the context, and his meaning, but this has been used by many to create an entirely different Gospel than that which was given us by our Lord Yeshua.
    Once you have this knowledge, it all comes down to the age old question–what will You do?
    Unfortunately, most of Christendom and Judaism are completely happy with what they’ve made, and have chosen instead to go on a viscious campaign of attack directed towards Hebrew Roots, Messianic Jews, and Adventists.
    Both camps claim Hebrew Roots “is not Original Christianity.” They claim it “is no part of Judaism.”
    I say they need to take a look at the only remenant of the first century Church left on the planet–The Coptic Church of Ethiopia.
    They did not choose to misinterpret Paul. They are Torah Observant, practice Kosher eating, and kept Shabot until being infiltrated by Jesuits in the 1500’s.
    It is only by the Ruach HaKodesh that a person will accept any of this, and it is only by His Love that we can be drawn out of our own feeble world of idolatry, and that’s exactly what any other doctrine other than His doctrine is–idolatry–because it eventually produces sin.
    It is my prayer that all would seek His Spirit and Truth with a repentant heart, and experience His Love which heals all the wounds that the world inflicts upon us, and gives us the strength to overcome our sin that we were formerly powerless in dealing.
    Shalom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. there are numerous records, both scriptural and secular, that make it clear that the original faith of the fathers was what today is often called “Hebrew Roots” or “Messianic.” Our problem in the church is that we are pretty carefully taught to fear any “outside” information, so we never hear anything other than our own denomination’s version of “Truth.” What a shame! Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Blessings and Shalom!

      Like

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