Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

definition of righteousness


Righteousness in the OT was defined as perfect obedience. Righteousness in the NT has come to be defined as perfect obedience on some things and a measure of latitude on the rest. Imperfect obedience in the non-essentials can be addressed by asking occasionally for an added measure of forgiveness. Thus the measure of righteousness has been and still is obedience. This standard neatly separates mankind into two camps, elevating one and diminishing the other. This has been the ongoing story of first Judaism and now Christianity.


But is that the concept of righteousness taught by Jesus? By Paul for that matter? The words of both men lead me to conclude otherwise. Both knew the extent of human frailties and the frustrations of acquired righteousness. Both recognized the delusions under which mankind had operated since the Garden and the ill effects of claiming righteousness by personal effort. Such righteousness is works based and inevitably results in self importance, pride, disdain, and oppression.


In consequence of the above observations I conclude that any definition of righteousness which suggests or imparts a superiority of one person or group over another person or group is actually unrighteousness. Righteousness does not splinter humanity into good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable, worthy and unworthy. In other words self righteousness, the type that elevates, exalts, condemns, and rejects is a contradiction in terms. Righteousness unites and builds up. Self righteousness divides and destroys. Righteousness promotes hope. Self righteousness thrives on fear.