Have we already been made righteous or not?
In the article, ‘The Difference Between Righteousness and Holiness‘, we found out that through Jesus, we have been made the righteousness of God according to 2 Corinthians 5:21; but that holiness is something that we need to actively pursue. However, Matthew 6:33 seems to throw a proverbial spanner in the mix. It says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you“. So have we already been made righteous or do we need to seek after righteousness? How can we resolve this seeming inconsistency?
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross we already have right standing with God.
On the face of it, these two verses seem to contradict each other. But an important thing that you need to be convinced of as a Christian is that, despite what some people say, the Bible is not full of contradictions. Therefore we need to find out exactly what these two verses mean. We looked at 2 Corinthians 5:21 in ‘The Difference Between Righteousness and Holiness’ and saw that righteousness meant right standing with God. We also saw that because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we already have right standing with God – it is not something that we need to attain (nor could we attain it if we tried). So let’s take a closer look at Matthew 6:33, but this time we will read it from the Amplified Bible, “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides“.
We should do things God’s way simply because He’s God.
We have found the answer – these two verses do not contradict each other. Biblical righteousness means right standing with God, and it also means God’s way of doing things. We have already been made right with God, that has been firmly established and nothing can change it. However do we, one hundred percent of the time, do things God’s way? Probably not. That is what we need to be seeking, to do things more and more the way that God wants us to do them. To be continually listening for God’s voice and obeying what He says. To look for whatever instructions He has given us in the Bible and obey them. To seek to find out what God’s ways of doing things are, and then do them. We should do things God’s way simply because He’s God – that should be enough motivation – but God has included a very good reason for doing things His way in Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you“. If you want to get the ‘things’, then you need to do things God’s way, you need to give His ways priority. Proverbs 21:21 in the Complete Jewish Bible, also gives a promise to those who seek or pursue righteousness, “He who pursues righteousness and kindness finds life, prosperity and honor“.
Whenever you come across a Bible verse that promises a reward to the righteous, you should be claiming that promise for yourself.
We need to make it our top priority to seek first God’s way of doing things. But whenever you come across a Bible verse that promises a reward to the righteous, you should be claiming that promise for yourself – because you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, right now. You are seeking to do things God’s way, but you already have right standing with God. Let me give you some examples of what God has promised to the righteous (if you’re a believer, that means you):
- “Turn your burdens over to Yahweh, and he will take care of you. He will never let the righteous person stumble.” (Psalm 55:22, Names Of God Bible)
- “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” (Psalm 92:12, King James Version)
- “Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:12, New International Version)
- “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” (Psalm 34:15, King James Version)
Jesus is our Good Shepherd and the path He is leading us on is actually the straightest, easiest path.
Let’s get back to the subject of seeking God’s way of doing things. What does the Bible have to say about doing this? Psalm 23 is one of the most well known passages in the Bible and in verse 3 David says, “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake“. The Tehillim commentary on this verse says, “The considerate shepherd will not fatigue his sheep by taking them on difficult, roundabout routes. Rather he leads them on the straightest, easiest path“. Often God’s ways may not make sense to our natural mind. The route that He says to take may seem to be totally illogical, but Jesus is our Good Shepherd and the path He is leading us on is actually the straightest, easiest path. If we insist on going our own way, we will soon find that we become tired and weary, because the path we have chosen is actually more difficult than we anticipated. Isaiah 55:9 shows that we should not be surprised when God’s ways do not make sense to our natural mind, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts“. We can learn God’s ways though, they are not seem deep unfathomable secret, and as we do learn them, they will begin to become natural to us, and the world’s way of doing things will become more and more foreign.
I will conclude with a promise that God has given to those that walk in His ways. It is found in Psalm 128:1, “Great blessings belong to those who fear and respect the Lord and live the way he wants” (Easy to Read Version).
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
If you have never received Jesus as your Lord & Saviour, if you have gone away from God, or if you have any doubts regarding your salvation. I encourage you to click on the link below. Clicking on the link will not secure your salvation, but praying the prayer you find, from your heart, will.
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