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What Does It Mean That God Is Righteous?

What Does It Mean That God Is Righteous?

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. Psalm 145:17

As you read through the pages of the Bible eventually you are going to be confronted with verses like this in Psalms that declares that God is righteous. This is not just an Old Testament truth; it is also a New Testament reality. After all, since it is truth, it cannot change.

However, saying God is righteous and knowing God is righteous are two different things because what does it mean that God is righteous? If we are going to look at this question, then it makes sense to start by defining what righteous or righteousness is. 

What Does the Word Righteous Mean?

According to the word righteous means to be virtuous, honorable, or morally right. This ties closely to the use of this word in the Bible. In the Hebrew there are a few different words for righteous or righteousness.

  • Sad-diq (sa-deek) – just, innocent, in the right, devout, upright
  • S-da-qa (sdaka) – honesty, justice, justness,
  • Se-deq (se-dek) – accuracy, what is correct, right thing, what is honest, equity, what is right

In the New Testament Greek there is one main word for righteous that forms the root for all the other forms of this word in the Greek. That word is dikaios which means righteous or just.

As you see the various definitions and uses of this word form the foundation to help us understand what it means that God is righteous. 

What Does it Mean That God Is Righteous?

As we put all these words together here is what it means that God is righteous.

  • God is just in all he does.
  • God is upright in his ways.
  • God operates with honesty.
  • God always does the right thing that is appropriate for the moment. 

It is important that you understand that righteousness is not something that God does, it is something that God is. To put it another way, righteousness is part of God’s character. Since he is righteous that means that there is no other way for him to act because he must remain true to who he is. Every action God takes towards you will always be right, just, and honest.
Scriptures that speak to God’s righteousness

 For you have upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as the righteous judge. Psalm 9:4

He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. Psalm 9:8

Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness. Psalm 48:10

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. Psalm 89:14

The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory. Psalm 97:6

Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. Isaiah 11:5

I hope you can see from these verses that righteousness oozes out of every part of God’s character because as I said before righteousness is not something he has it is who he is. Notice from these verses the very foundation of God’s throne is righteousness. His right hand is righteous which means when he exercises power and authority, he does it in a just and right way.

Even the heavens declare not only God’s glory (Psa. 19:1), they declare and proclaim to the world God’s righteousness. 

Why Do People Miss That God Is Righteous?

If the heavens declare that God is righteous, why then do some people miss it. There are many who would say God is not just, or not fair in the way he deals with people, and they don’t see God as a righteous God. This happens because we often measure God righteousness, especially when it comes to justice, by his timing. In our minds God is righteous when there is a need for justice, and it is meted out instantly.

In these instances, we think of God as just, righteous, and fair. What we often miss in looking at his righteousness is that he is also patient and merciful. In fact, one of his greatest displays of righteousness is seen in his patience. Consider this well-known verse in 2 Peter.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Because God understands his position as righteous judge and what his ultimate judgment will do, he is not always quick to bring judgment because he would rather offer mercy first. Because God does not judge a person when we think he should we can miss his righteous nature. Ultimately because he is righteous, no one escapes, it just may not happen in the timeframe you think it should.

Though his righteousness requires that he bring judgment, his righteousness also seeks to allow room for repentance so he can bring mercy. Remember God will always do the right thing in every situation.

We are the beneficiaries of God’s righteousness.

One of the things that is important to recognize is that God takes his righteousness and puts it on us.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:17

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

One of the beautiful things about God being righteous is that he imparts that righteousness to us. That means because of Christ right now you can stand before God and be declared righteous. This very moment if you are in Christ, you are righteous, meaning you are seen by God as just, innocent, and in right standing with him. Your righteousness is not a result of anything you have done but because of everything that Jesus has done for you. Because of that you can now approach a righteous God knowing that he has declared you righteous in Christ.

God’s Righteousness Will One Day Set Everything Straight

The last thing I want to share with you regarding what it means that God is righteous is that one day God will set everything straight. God will one day stand as judge of everyone. There will be a moment when we all must appear before this righteous judge where God will settle all accounts.

If you are in Christ, the good news is your account has already been settled because Jesus has made atonement for you. If you are not in Christ then you will be judged according to God’s standard of righteousness, which no one can meet in their own ability. This means you have two choices. You can stand in your own righteousness (not a good idea) or you can stand in Christ’s righteousness (definitely the better of the two options).

Either way, God will apply his just standard and every judgment will be right and just because that is who he is.

As you walk away from this article, I pray that you would walk away trusting in a God who is righteous and who will always do what is right and best in your life. Admittedly it will not always feel that way, but you can be confident because we serve a God who is righteous in all his ways.

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Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit