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Appendix in PDF format: Appendix A: Righteousness
- Ideas of Righteousness Briefly Stated
- The basic dictionary definitions
- Hebrew definition
- One teacher’s explanation
- The Meaning of God’s Righteousness – John Piper
- Usages and definitions in a single passage. Definitions from Strong’s Concordance
- Righteousness as Commonly Understood is in Error
- A Different Analysis
- The Scriptural Definition of Righteousness
- The “way”
- A comparison of ways
- The difference between “iniquity,” “transgression,” and “sin”
- The LORD God is equal in all His ways
- A love for righteousness
- Righteousness in Application
- The Everyone Test
- Answering our “unanswerable” questions
- What We Can Conclude
If there were ever a subject of Scripture that is obscured as to what it actually is, righteousness has to be it. As the evidence demonstrates, the commonly held ideas of righteousness, and what being righteous consists of, are convoluted, subjective, and frequently circular. This is not good considering that every person is going to be judged against the standard of righteousness. How can we possibly know where we stand with respect to righteousness, and being righteous, if we cannot concretely and objectively understand how the standard is defined? Moreover, the common belief is that a difference and distinction exists between God’s righteousness and man’s righteousness. Though the general understanding is that we are measured against the standard of God’s righteousness, it is not understood why that actually is. The common belief is that we are measured against God’s righteousness simply because He is the Creator and judge, and for little to no other reason. Though there is an acceptance that we cannot measure up to that standard, the belief is that we might be able to measure up to man’s standard of righteousness. Does this seem right? Does this seem to comport with righteousness? Moreover, how can we possibly evaluate and know if any thought, behavior or event is righteous if we have no definitive, objective and testable standard for what righteousness is? Nor is it likely we will ever know, based upon the commonly held “definitions” and ideas of righteousness.
Because these questions exist, merely knowing that we must be “right” or “upright” (which is to say that we must be moral, ethical and have integrity) ((As is clear from the definitions, being moral, ethical and having integrity are also subjective as they are defined as being “right, upright, or in conformance to moral standards.”)) is simply not sufficient. Rather, we must know what “right” is and why it consists of certain thoughts and behaviors, as opposed to different thoughts and behaviors. Having an objective standard is utterly necessary as societies, and generations within those societies tend to define standards of right thought and behavior differently. Because societies are this way, man’s understanding of what the LORD God is requiring of him, and whether or not it is attainable outside the salvation Christ offers, differs according to time and place. Though men examine the Scriptures, they examine them with the bias of their society and their upbringing. When the examination of what righteousness is and how it is attained occurs under this influence, even though the Scripture is used, the examination is not objective, but tainted, thus the understanding of righteousness is skewed.
Without doubt having a skewed understanding of righteousness is harmful and a hindrance. However, this situation comes about as a result of misconstrued passages in Scripture. Whether it is from improperly defined words or improper emphasis on certain senses of words or the ignoring of certain senses, it is inconsequential to the fact that, ultimately, there is a misunderstanding of what righteousness is. The existence of misconstructions and erroneous emphasis on certain definitions is perceptible in the examples presented, where definitions of righteousness are given, and explanations offered to justify its meaning and significance.
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