What is Righteousness in the Bible? Definition and Meaning

Righteousness can be a confusing concept, but Christians need to know that God designed us to be made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ.

What is righteousness? Many people have asked this question throughout history, and the answer is not always clear. This blog post will explore how to be righteous and how it applies to Christians today.

We will start by looking at the definition of being righteous and then discussing how it manifests in both the Old and New Testaments.

Finally, we will examine how Christians can receive it in their lives.

What is Righteousness?

What does it mean to be righteous? To be righteous means to follow the correct path or do what is right and stand by it. It can also refer to a state of being morally virtuous. When applied to individuals, it means they are living under the law of God.

In other religions, it is described as dharma. Dharma means an individual’s duty fulfilled by observance of custom or laws.

In the Bible, there are two main types of righteousness: the righteousness of man and the righteousness of God.

The Righteousness of Man

The righteousness of man just means being a good person. It’s acting in just and honorable ways and treating others with compassion and fairness. It refers to our ability and morality to keep the laws perfectly. Unfortunately, in this world, we have all sinned and fallen short of the laws of God. (Romans 3:23)

This type of righteousness is impossible for us to achieve on our own. Think about ways to achieve this on your own – being a perfect and blameless person. Just the thought alone is already tedious and tough to meet.

And if a man were close enough to achieve righteous living, he would achieve self-righteousness instead. And being one does not honor our Father.

The Righteousness of God

The truth behind the righteousness of God is entirely different. It is a gift that He extends as a Father to us through faith in Jesus Christ for our sake.

“It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.” Romans 4:13

The word righteousness refers to God’s righteousness which He has given to man. God fulfilled His word to Abraham not because of his righteous deeds or his being righteous but because of God’s righteousness that He will always do as He promises. When we trust Jesus, He gives the credit of righteousness to us.

“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

Because God is a holy God, He cannot be in fellowship if sin overtakes us. The only way we can have a relationship with God is if we are blessed and blameless ourselves. And how is that possible? Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, received the punishment for our sake so we can have a relationship with God. Now, He sees us as holy and blameless. The prophets have proclaimed the coming of God’s son and Christ’s death so we can be made right before Him. The death of God’s son brought us freedom and closer to the Kingdom.

And again, it’s not because of our being righteous but because of God’s immeasurable love for us.

What is Righteousness in the Bible?


Old Testament

The Old Testament talks a lot about righteousness. In the Old Testament, God mentions the truth on being righteous related to following His laws and commands – an old covenant.

It is one of the essential themes and truth throughout the entire Bible.

In the Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis, God tells Abraham that He will bless those who obey His law and curse those who do not adhere to His law as He sets him to be the Father of all nations. (Genesis 12:3)

In His Word, it means and connects with our obedience to God. This verse tells us that God sees us righteous through our obedience and adherence to God’s law.

You can find another example of being righteous in the Old Testament in the Book of 

Deuteronomy. Here, God says He will bless the Israelites if they obey His law and curse them if they do not do His law.

“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 28:1

New Testament

The New Testament also talks about righteousness. In the New Testament, the word righteousness means having faith.

In the New Testament, the word righteousness is a translation of the Greek word “dikaiosun”. It means “being righteous before others” or “being righteous before God.”

You can find an example in the New Testament, in the Book of Romans. Here, Paul writes that God justified Abraham because of his faith. Paul emphasized that Abraham was righteous in God’s sight because he had faith in Him. (Romans 4:3)

We can also find another example of righteous living in the Book of Galatians. Here, Paul says we are justified by faith, not by our works. The verse means that we are not made righteous by our efforts but by our faith in Jesus Christ.

“Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[a] Christ and not by the works of the law because, by the works of the law, no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:16

What Does it Mean to be Righteous?

To be righteous means to do what is right, but what is “right” can be a tricky question. Different people have different ideas about right and wrong, and often these ideas are based on religious beliefs or cultural traditions. So righteousness can mean other things to different people.

For some, it might mean living according to the teachings of their faith. For others, it might mean adhering to a strict moral code.

And for others still, it might mean treating others with compassion and respect, regardless of their beliefs or background. Ultimately, righteousness is about making choices that reflect your values and beliefs.

If we look at the truth, righteousness is not about us. The Bible says it is not about what we can do and how good we can be or how perfect we are to say no to the wrong things.

It’s not about our goodness but God’s goodness and the help of the Holy Spirit. It is about the Holy Spirit empowering us to do God’s commandments and be righteous men. It’s not about our righteousness but the righteousness of Christ.

When we pursue righteousness, we are following God Himself. We are seeking a relationship with Him. We want to be like Him and reflect His character. We invite the help of the Holy Spirit as we take the first step towards righteousness.

And when we do that, we can be the kind of people God wants us to be. We can receive His wisdom on approaching others and sharing our faith instead of sounding self-righteous and perfect.

What are the Benefits of Righteousness?

Righteousness is often thought of as a moral quality, and it certainly is that. But righteousness also has some practical benefits that are worth considering. As Christians, righteousness should be one of the things we desire so we can live our purpose in life.

We should fully embrace the word righteous, proper righteousness, and true righteousness as described in the Bible. Not only because it is what God wants us to do but also because it has many benefits.

Here are some of the benefits of righteousness:

It brings peace of mind.

The truth about the righteousness of God is that it brings peace of mind to our everyday lives because it removes the burden of guilt and shame brought by sin and our flesh.

When we know that we are right with God, we can rest assured that He is pleased with us.

Being right with God gives us a sense of peace and comfort.

It brings joy.

A righteous behavior also brings joy because we live according to God’s will with the right motivation. When we do what God wants us to do, we can experience His joy and the death of our desire to do wrong.

The joy we experience through righteousness is a deep and lasting joy that we cannot find anywhere else. Sin no longer has a hold on us, and sin no longer has power over us. God has freed us from our sinful nature

It brings blessings.

Righteousness also brings blessings. When we are righteous, God blesses us in many ways.

He gives us good things, protects us from harm, and provides for our needs. These blessings are bonuses of our relationship with God. Our ultimate and biggest blessing in life is Christ.

It leads to eternal life.

Another benefit of righteousness is that it leads to eternal life with heaven as our home in God’s Kingdom.

When we live righteously, we live in a way that pleases God. As a result, He gives us the gift of eternal life.

In the Bible, Jesus reminds us in His Word that the gift of eternal life is for everyone who desires to live their lives fully for Christ and allow His love to free them from their sins. It is available to everyone who understands that it is by the mercy of God, not by our works or good deeds.

Christ alone brings justice and salvation and molds our character.

We are heaven-bound to live forever in His presence and are not made solely for this world.

The next time you feel tempted to give up on righteousness, remember that it has some real benefits that are worth pursuing.

How to Pursue Righteousness


Look at Jesus

The righteousness of God is perfect and complete. But His righteousness is also something that we can share in. What matters to God is not our outward appearance or obedience to some rules. What matters is our relationship with Him. And that relationship is made possible by looking to Jesus.

When we look to Jesus, we see His righteousness on display. We see His selfless love for others. And we see His willingness to lay down His life for us.

As we behold Jesus, we are transformed into His image and righteous likeness. We begin to share in His righteousness. And that’s why looking to Jesus is so important. It’s not just a matter of getting right with God, but it’s more of a matter of becoming more like Him.

Christ is the perfect example of righteousness. He always did what was right, even when it was hard. He obeyed God’s commands and never sinned.

We should never compare the life that we live to others or even our morality. If we do that, we will end up in a constant struggle with our flesh and the world’s wickedness. We will end up proud and veering away from the truth of God.

Jesus makes us humble. When we compare ourselves to Him, we will realize our endless need for grace, mercy, and salvation from our sins. When we shift our focus to Jesus, we also change our desire, character, words, and how we live in this world.

Ask God for His Righteousness

Another way to pursue righteousness is to ask God for His righteousness. Righteousness is something that we cannot achieve on our own but only through His grace. When we ask God for righteousness, we ask Him to make us right with Him. This means our relationship with God is restored, and we can fellowship with Him again.

Asking for righteousness is incredibly important because it puts us back on the path of righteousness. It allows us to live a life that is pleasing to God and free from sin. When we ask God for His righteousness, He gives us the power to live a righteous life. One becomes a proud member of His family.

How to start? Go to the presence of God through prayer and humbly ask God to empower you to live a life of righteousness. If you want to ask God for righteousness, you must humble yourself and ask Him in faith. Believe that He will answer your prayer, and He will surely grant you righteousness.

You don’t have to have the perfect words to say. The Holy Spirit will give you the right words to pray.


Lastly, we need to believe. We need to believe that God can make us righteous. We need to think that He has the power to change our hearts and bring justice.

Many people believe that righteousness comes from following the law. However, the Bible tells us that righteousness is not achieved through our efforts but is a gift from God.

When we receive righteousness from God, it means that we have been made right with Him. This right standing before God is based on our faith in Jesus Christ, not our good works. As a result, righteousness is something that we cannot earn; it is something that we can only receive by grace through faith. Because righteousness comes from God, it is essential to our relationship with Him.

When we are righteous, it enables us to stand boldly before God and receive His blessing. It also gives us hope and assurance that we are ultimately secure in His love no matter what happens in this life. For these reasons, believing in the righteousness of God is essential for our spiritual well-being.

When we have faith in Him, He will work in us and through us to make us the people He wants us to be.

What Does Righteousness Mean for Christians Today?

So what does all this mean for Christians today? It means living according to God’s design and being empowered by His Spirit to reflect His character. It is not easy, but it is possible – and worth it.

Pursuing righteousness should be a top priority for every follower of Christ. We can do this by looking to Jesus as our perfect example and asking God to help us grow in His righteousness.

Pursuing righteousness is not always an easy desire, but it is always worth it. 

This can be difficult to do, but it is made possible by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. When we trust in Him, His righteousness is imputed to us, and we are given the power to live righteously.

We encourage you to take some time today to ask God how He wants you to grow in righteousness.


In Conclusion

Righteousness. A word that gets thrown around a lot in the Christian faith. Righteousness is living in a way that is pleasing to God.

It’s important to note that righteousness is not the same as being perfect; rather, it’s about striving to live according to God’s standards.

This can be a challenge in today’s world, where there is so much pressure to conform to society’s expectations. However, Christians are called to be different – to stand out from the crowd and live according to God’s righteousness.

This can be difficult, but it is also incredibly rewarding. When we live righteous lives, we experience the joy of knowing that we are pleasing God and making a difference in the world.

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Alex Shute
Alex Shute, MBA
Alex is a family man and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. His passion is to serve the global Church and bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn & grow.

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