What is the Gift of Righteousness?

For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17 KJV) 

Although God’s gift of righteousness is at the core of the revelation of grace, many believers find it challenging to accept its truth. This difficulty, however, lies not so much in the complexity of the truth but in the simplicity—it confronts us with the impossible and defies our inherent religious pride. However, if we should understand and fully believe this truth, it will transform our perception of God and ourselves. This devotional briefly discusses the meaning of the gift of righteousness.

Righteousness, as used in the Bible, especially in the Book of Romans, has various meanings. But in Romans 5:17 above, it means “a status of legal rectitude that satisfies the moral requirements of God’s character“. We find several fascinating truths here. First, the term righteousness, and the theological concept it represents, is a legal term. It begins with God’s Law, His moral requirements, or standards of morality. When applied to us, righteousness refers to being right based on what God says is right—it brings humanity against the standards of God’s moral Law. It uncovers what is right or wrong, good or bad, as determined by God’s standards.

Secondly, righteousness is a status. It is how God sees us after an act on our part and through the lens of His Law. Therefore, someone can be righteous or unrighteous depending on the rightness or wrongness of their actions adjudicated by God’s standards. Since righteousness is a status resulting from an act x-rayed through God’s Law, the usual means of attaining righteousness or unrighteousness is to do something. The only way to keep the Law is to do something that is in line with the Law; similarly, the only way to break the Law is to do something that is against the Law. So, there are three usual requirements for righteousness: God’s Law, the person, and the action.

The gift of righteousness offsets the traditional paradigm. Rather than attaining righteousness by doing something, we reach the status of righteousness by receiving it as a gift in Christ. The three basic requirements for righteousness—the Law, the person, and the action—are still present, but Christ is the Person who does what is right according to the Law in grace. He met God’s perfect standards, fully and eternally, and therefore obtained the status of being righteous as a Man. When we believe in Him, God does the impossible—He transfers righteousness as though it was a spiritual object from one person to another. Faith, rather than our works, become the hand that receives righteousness.

Few things offend the religious mind as the thought of the gift of righteousness. This truth was incomprehensible and inconceivable to the Jews. Sadly, it continues to insult the hidden spiritual pride often seated deep within our flesh. We all want to do something to earn something. Sadly, this attitude of proving our worth ranks amongst the fiercest enemies of grace: if you cannot be comfortable being unworthy or undeserving before God, you will have a hard time with grace.

God has already given us this gift of righteousness in Christ; our believing it is the obstacle. Remember, those who most readily believe this truth and receive the gift are sinners at conversion who repent and accept Christ. Unfortunately, and regrettably, as we become more “mature” in the faith, Christianity hardens our hearts and makes us more conscious of ourselves than Christ.

Remember, we cannot be wiser than God—He knew the risks. Neither the true grace of God nor its associated “graces,” such as the gift of righteousness, can make people sinful. Instead, grace ignites an unforced love for Christ, reverent awe for the Father, and an unquenchable joy in our hearts like nothing else! 

Receive this gift. It is Jesus’ gift to us; the cost of that gift was His cross’ shame, humiliation, and agony. It is accessible to us, but it is costly to Him. The older we become in the faith, the more we need to anchor this truth!

What is righteousness as used in Romans 5:17?

There are subtle signs that indicate we are still wavering on this truth—insecurity, feelings of shame, crushing guilt, self-condemnation, asking God repeatedly to forgive past sins, etc. Keep your eyes on Jesus alone. Receive your gift of righteousness dan thanks Him for it.

Bless the Lord for the beautiful gift of righteousness.

Read & Watch

Christ Our Righteousness 
What is Justification?
Two Types of Works in Grace
What is a Devotional?
View all Deshen Daily devotionals including today’s devotional.

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