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Doctrine of God: Righteousness of God

November 1, 2020 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Introduction & Review

We’ve been spending quite a bit of time reviewing the communicable attributes of God. Last week, we spoke about His Wisdom, Goodness, and Holiness.

When we consider the Holiness of God, we are to understand and think of His complete moral uprightness.

Do you remember when we spoke about God being infinite and how it applied to Him being infinite in His being, glory, and perfection?

The Lord our God is infinitely and perfectly holy

  • He judges with a holy judgement.
  • He loves with a holy love

A righteous, just, and perfect love

And therefore, we have a responsibility to fear God

  • When we sin, we know that God will correct us
  • We know that He also hates wickedness and the wicked as well

The attributes we’ll investigate today are the Righteousness and Veracity of God

  • These attributes are closely related to holiness

Formal Definition:

The Righteousness of God is that perfection of God by which he maintains Himself over against every violation of his holiness and shows in every respect that He is the Holy One.



Communicable Attributes: Righteousness

The Bible speaks frequently of the righteousness of God.

The divine attribute of righteousness may be thought of in a two-fold way.

1st God always acts in harmony with His own holy nature.

He loves righteousness (Ps. 11:7)

therefore He cannot lie (Titus 1:2);

He will never deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13) or

He will never fail to keep one of His covenant promises.

If He saves a sinner, it will be in a manner consistent with His Holy nature.

If He announces a moral law it will be righteous precisely because it will be an expression of His holy will.

Because God is sovereign, He does not therefore have to answer the question, Why?

Moreover, we have no right to ask it.

Nevertheless, for Himself, His laws are right because they express His holiness.

God’s laws are expressions of a holy will that in turn is expression of a holy character.

His righteous acts are His character in action; God is law unto Himself.

In fact, all laws are to be judged according to Him.


2nd God deals with His creatures in justice (righteous treatment).

There are three Aspects to this way of God's righteousness:

Rectoral (Ruling/ Legislative) Justice

Ps. 99:4, and Rom. 1:32.

  • From the Latin word meaning one who rules.
    • A rector was someone who was the supreme ruler and officer of a particular region.
    • It is used here in its most basic meaning one who rules
    • It was adopted into the church and its schools as one in charge of a particular geographical area or institution.
    • God reveals himself as ruler of both the good and the evil.

God stands out prominently in the Old Testament as

  • the Lawgiver of Israel, 33:22, and
  • of people in general, 4:12, and
  • His laws are righteous laws, 4:8.

God has instituted a moral government in the world and requires that all government rule according to His commands – WCF Chapter 23 and imposed a just law upon man

  • with promises of reward for the obedient, and
  • threats of punishment for the transgressor.



Distributive Justice -> Remunerative Justice

  • God manifests himself in the distribution of rewards for obedience.
  • It is an expression of the love of God towards His people
    • Not based on any merit
    • But based on His free will and good pleasure
  • 7:9, 12, 13
  • 2 Chron. 6:15
  • 58:11
  • Micah 7:20
  • 25:21, 3
  • 2:7

Distributive Justice -> Retributive Justice

  • God will inflict penalties for disobedience and is an expression of divine wrath.
    • Romans 1:32
    • Romans 2:9
    • Romans 12:19
    • 2 Thess. 1:8

The primary purpose of the punishment of sin is the maintenance of right and justice.

  • Of course, it may incidentally serve, and may even, secondarily, be intended, to reform the sinner and to deter others from sin.

It should be noted that

  • while man does not merit the reward which he receives,
  • he does merit the punishment which is meted out to him.

Divine justice is originally and necessarily obliged to punish evil, but not to reward good.

  • Luke 17:10
  • 1 Corinthians 4:7
  • Job 41:11


There is one more related and very important way in which we must think of God’s righteousness.

It is the imputed righteousness of God, first mentioned at Genesis 15:6 in connection with Abraham’s faith.

Imputed righteousness is not really one of God’s attributes.

  • Even though God declares ungodly sinners, who are not righteous, to be righteous,
    • This declaration must be squared with God’s truthfulness and justice.

This is the righteousness, declaration, acquittal is known as justification.

How does the Westminster Larger Catechism define justification?

Question. 70. What is justification?

Answer: Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which He

  • pardoneth all their sins,
  • accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight;
    1. not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them,[z] but
  • only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ,
    1. by God imputed to them, and
    2. received by faith alone.

Christ’s righteousness becomes ours, imputed to us (assigned to us though we’ve done nothing to earn it or deserve it) by God when we believe on His Son.

This amazing doctrine is taught throughout the Scriptures (see Rom. 3:21)

God is both ‘just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus’ (Rom. 3:26).

but treated at length especially by Paul (from  Rom. 3:21–5:21; Gal. 1–4).

God’s righteousness will again be manifest on Judgment Day (see Rev. 16:4–7)

Just as long ago it was manifest when it was the will of the LORD to crush His Son at Calvary once He took our place as sinners (Rom. 3:25).

We can see God as righteous in His treatment of us as believers

  • not only in forgiving our sins (1 John 1:9)
  • but also in chastening us His people ( 9:14) and
  • making the demand of a righteous life (see 7:8–11).

Applications & Implications to Men (AIM) 

If at times we have difficulty in seeing the justice of God in the way He temporarily allows evil to prosper, we may nevertheless trust His justice to triumph at last (Ps. 73; Hab. 2; Jer. 12:1–4).                        Why?

Because His Righteousness demands it.

Because His Retributive Justice requires it.

Because the Holiness of God cannot allow it.

  • The longer the wicked are allowed to continue, the more the forbearance and mercy of God is displayed.
  • The longer the wicked are allowed to prosper, the more their own conscience will condemn themselves at the day of jusdgment.
  • Men will not be able to say they were destined, without hope, to judgment. They will have fully and completely earned and be deserving of their end.

Applications & Implications to Men (AIM)

What are the Implications to men?

  • We are required to be faithful/ that He will not deny himself
  • We are to be obedient to our God in sincerity and truthfulness
  • We can truly know this that God is faithful to all
  • We truly know what He promised according to scripture shall come to pass
  • We can truly know he will not deny himself.
  • We must return to the Scriptures to learn who God is and what duty He requires of man.

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