One is the righteousness that comes from our relationship with Jesus as Savior. When we come into that, no matter what we did or even do we are righteous in the sight of God. We are saved. Headed for heaven. Righteous by faith, not works. A right relationship with God. Our righteousness is imputed thru the grace of GOD. I don't think many people will struggle with that definition.
There is however another kind of righteousness. One that you DON'T have to be a christian to demonstrate. It is a righteousness of works. Doing the Right thing. Righteousness in the eyes of the world. The Reformers also called it active righteousness, civil righteousness, proper righteousness, the righteousness of the Law, and the righteousness of reason or philosophy. This kind of righteousness the righteousness of character deals with a person’s attitudes and behaviors.
A sinner headed for hell can be righteous in the eyes of the world. You have known some good moral men and women, even atheists who have profound moral centers and would not do a thing wrong that could be questioned. They are many times more righteous than many saints in the church.
If there are these two kinds of righteousness, worldly and by grace thru faith, then is it possible for a person to be saved, even filled with the Holy Ghost and yet unrighteous in worldly things. Not righteous in Character, reason, philosophy, the moral law of God, not actively righteous according to works and demonstrating improper righteousness?
I have known many people who are morally corrupt tongue talking dance sing raise their hands heaven bound Christians saved by grace but unrighteous in the flesh. Some are even ministers of the Gospel.
Do we have a right to judge them? Yes. God does. Yet his grace is secure, they are just outside of the blessing God provides by living righteously. Not saved by works, but blessed in doing right.
I won't define what that is, it is not structured from relativism. Murder is murder, Sin is sin, Adultery and Fornication are still sin, stealing is sin, lying is sin, taking the Lords name in vain is sin. All of those things in the ten commandments are still sin. You can sin against them, be forgiven and still go to heaven, you just go unrighteous in your flesh.
BUT WAIT you say, what about the forgiveness of God? Yes, it exists and is complete. Positionally you are just as a saved as you were. Positionally righteous, but not practically righteous. There is a difference.
I came to this meditation while looking at the promises of God concerning the Righteous. I could list them all here, you can look them up for yourself, but I am beginning to wonder if we don't get the two confused. Here is the passage:
25I was young and now I am old,
Have you not seen the children of the positionally saved righteous begging for bread? I have. A lot. They are righteous in the grace of God but not in practice.
In fact if you read the whole Psalm, there is a condemnation that I see on a lot that the Psalmist calls wicked. Some positionally righteous are also wicked. I have known them.. and so have you.
So what of this? We must learn to live in the fear of the Lord, not about sin, Grace covers that, but in the practical righteousness that provides blessing, provision, protection, prosperity, long life, good seed in generations and fullness of Joy.
We do well by doing GOOD. That is the word of the Lord for someone. That will irritate many who think they can live in the free grace of God without practical righteousness and still receive the blessings of the Lord. To paraphrase a commercial. That's not how it works, that's not how any of this works.