What is Righteousness?


This has been a favorite subject of mine for many years. I’ve been walking with the Lord since September of 1973. I’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit since March of 1978, and I’ve been learning to flow with the Spirit ever since.

But let’s get one thing straight: the more I know, the more I realize how much I don’t know. And that’s the honest to goodness truth!

A Partial Understanding

We’ve heard the word “righteousness” in Word of Faith/charismatic circles for so long that it’s lost its meaning.

To prove my point, let me ask you this quick question; what is a good definition of the word righteousness?

If  you went up to Joe Blow on the street and said to him, “You have been made righteousness by the blood of Jesus,” would he understand that?

What about telling him, “You have right standing with God?” He would have no idea what that means.

Our understanding of righteousness usually goes that we’ve been “made right” with God, that everything is good between us and Him.

While that’s true, being right with God is only a small piece of understanding what righteousness is. Which is whole reason I’ve started this series.

The Misconception of Righteousness

Now, I’ve been around the block a few times, and I’ve heard all sorts of things about righteousness. For the longest time, I thought folks who claimed to have the “righteousness of God” were just full of themselves. I believed they were full of self-righteousness.

I had been taught that no one can be righteous. You’re either not saved or, if you are saved, you’re backsliding because of sin.

My oldest brother gave my first pastor a little book about the blood covenant by E.W. Kenyon. The next Sunday, the pastor handed it back to my brother saying, “This is blasphemy!”

The Turning Point

It wasn’t until around 1981-82 that I came under a Spirit-filled pastor who began to teach on righteousness, and it was like scales fell off my eyes. I had been under the impression that talking about righteousness was almost blasphemous. But once I found the truth, it changed my life.

I’m going to spend the upcoming weeks to go into depth on how my understanding of righteousness has changed and why I believe it is so vital for believers to understand in this day and age.

Divine Interruption

I hesitated to even talk about righteousness because so many believe they already know all there is to know about it.

There was a time in my life that I thought I knew all there was to know about it, too. I was sitting under an instructor at Rhema, and as he was teaching, I had this conversation in my heart, “I’ve heard this already! I know this. You’re teaching me this but it doesn’t work that way in real life.”

The Lord interrupted me and said, “Jan, from now on, I want you to treat every subject you hear in this place as though it was the first time hearing it. If you don’t, you’ll never receive what I have for you from this place.”

So, as we dive deep into the subject of righteousness, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how much you know, none of us know it all.

What Does the Bible Say?

Romans 5:1-2 is quickly becoming one of my favorite scriptures in all of the Bible. Let’s read it in The Passion Translation:

1Our faith in Jesus transfers God’s righteousness to us and he now declares us flawless in his eyes.  This means we can now enjoy true and lasting peace  with God, all because of what our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, has done for us. 

2Our faith guarantees us permanent access into this marvelous kindness  that has given us a perfect relationship with God. What incredible joy bursts forth within us as we keep on celebrating our hope of experiencing God’s glory!

Did you see that?! It says our faith in Jesus transfers God’s righteousness to us. That’s right, it’s transferred, just like you’d transfer money from savings to checking. And get this, it declares us flawless in His eyes. Can you imagine that? Flawless!

He Became Sin

Let’s keep reading. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 in the TPT, it says,

21For God made  the only one who did not know sin to become sin for us,  so that we might become the righteousness of God through our union with him. 

Did Jesus become sin? According to Scripture, Jesus went to hell, not because He sinned, but because He became sin. Someone had to pay the price, and because of God’s great love for you, Jesus paid the price on your behalf.

If Jesus had not borne our punishment, we could not be doing what we are today. We could not have the access to heaven as Romans says.

Might Become

God made that only one who did not know sin to become sins for us. When I’ve used this verse with other demoninational brothers and sisters, they point out the use of the word “might.”

“Now see, Jan, it says that we might become.” But if you look at the verse in context, the word “might” doesn’t imply a possibility but rather an empowering to do so. It’s means He’s given you the power to become the righteousness of God through Christ.

Look how the Apostle John puts it in John 1:12:

12But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

That’s a right and an authority. It’s a right and authority that Satan doesn’t have. And you better believe he’s madder than a hornet over it.

It’s a Gift

Romans 3:22 in The Passion Translation says,

22This is the righteousness that the Scriptures prophesied would come.  It is God’s righteousness made visible through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.  

God’s righteousness made visible?  How many of you can see righteousness? God’s righteousness is made visible through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.

And now all who believe in him receive that gift.

This is key, right here. Receive that gift. This isn’t something we can earn, it’s not something that we can do. This is something that is freely given, so it must be freely received.

The Importance of Righteousness

We will cover many, many more Scriptures in the weeks to come, but just these few cause us to see how important the subject of righteousness is to understand.

Righteousness is found throughout the whole Word of God. There’s a reason why it’s talked about so much.

I can’t stress this enough: righteousness is foundational. It’s what you build upon. If you’re foundation in shaky, the whole building will collapse. We need to build upon what we’ve learned in the last 30, 40, 50 years.

What you learned yesterday, you should be building upon today.

The Act of Being Made Right

So, what is righteousness? The most common answer is “being made right with God.” But it’s not just about being “right with God” in some superficial sense. No, it’s about being transformed. It’s the act of being made right with God. It’s about being made a new creation in Christ. You’re something the world has never seen. A new species of being. That’s what it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17.


So, the question we should be asking isn’t, “Are you right with God?” It should be, “Have you been made a new creation?”

Next Time

There’s so much to cover on the importance of righteousness so stayed tuned. Until then, I speak blessing and wisdom over you as you seek the Lord and grown in understanding of His righteousness.