Lesson 6 – God’s Righteousness Revealed “in Christ”

 God’s Righteousness Revealed “in Christ”

Lesson Aim:     To show how the “in Christ” realm makes it possible for God to reveal His righteousness to man in such a way that Christians can enjoy fellowship with God.

Scripture:         Rom.3:21-26.

Word Definitions:

A.      Glory (Greek, doxa), primarily signifies an opinion, estimate, and hence, the honor resulting from a good opinion.  God’s glory is revealed in God’s righteousness. 

B.      Propitiation (hilasterion). This Greek word has been translated mercy-seat in Heb. 9:5.  The blood of animals served as an atoning sacrifice, or propitiation, as they were offered at the mercy seat by the High Priest under the old covenant.  God’s presence was there in the room which was called the “Holy of Holies” in the temple.  The Hebrew word for mercy seat is “kapporeth.”  It is connected to the word “kipper.”  It means to cover up or wipe out and hence to atone for offences, to forgive. 

          In God’s new covenant He is propitiated by the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for the sins of His people by the blood of Jesus Christ (V. 25).  God’s righteousness is revealed and a mercy-seat is provided for faithful Christians.  God’s presence is available for faithful Christians.  Thus, the word propitiation means an appeasement toward God or mercifulness from God. 

          God does not change but His attitude toward a sinner will change based on a Christian’s faith in the blood of Jesus as a propitiatory sacrifice.  In this way, Jesus’ blood became a propitiation for sin based on the faith of a repentant sinner.  Grace reigns over faithful Christians “in Christ” because we abide on the mercy-seat of God (Rom. 5:21; I John 1:5-9).

C.      Just (dikaios), Righteous.

D.      Justifier and justify (dikaiosis). To make or declare right.

E.      Redemption (aposustrosis), a releasing for a ransom.  Used in Rom 3:24 as it follows forgiveness and justification – redemption as the result of expiation.  Deliverance from the guilt of sins, “through the redemption in Christ Jesus.” 


People love to excel above our fellow man.  We have a desire to be bigger, stronger, wiser, and more powerful than our contemporaries.  We strive to be “the greatest.”  This appears to be an inherent need because it is universal and timeless.  Everybody all over the world has always been doing it.  This means God has put the need within each person.  Mankind has an inherent need to achieve, attain social acceptance in his or her achievement; and thereby, receive glory.  All three needs are “built-in” all human beings from birth. 

Inferiority complexes can develop as a person seeks to attain satisfaction for these innate needs.  This can happen in childhood during their early learning attempts to achieve and then get social acceptance in their achievements.  If parents are prone to be harsh about the child’s experiments to achieve, the child may feel guilty about his or her efforts to attain satisfaction for this strong desire.  These feelings may become “locked away” in their sub-conscious mind.  It can become a hindrance to learning and achieving in the child’s future.  These locked away emotions are called “complexes.”  They rob people of their “will to act.”  Justification by faith is a very useful doctrine for Christians to overcome our inferiority complexes.         

Very few people attain a pinnacle of glory in their lifetime.  Some have and upon their arrival, found it to be a very lonely place.  That is, they excelled over their fellow man to the point they found themselves alone as a winner.  Some winners have given up their pursuit of friends.  They live alone in their “Ivory Towers.”  Others have recognized the danger of losing social acceptance in their ambitious pursuit of “being the greatest.”  Generally, people of the same qualities and strengths fellowship together; therefore, some people choose to give up the pursuit of the “Ivory Tower” to satisfy their need for friends.  The question: “Is there a way to have both?”  The answer is yes, but not in physical terms.

We do not want to suggest God is ambitious in the ways of man.  God is the greatest.  He is God Almighty.  It is not necessary for God to pursue a goal because He is the goal.  When Moses inquired about the name of God, God said, “I AM WHO I AM.”  Exo. 3:14.  However, we do want to suggest that God’s perfect righteousness has been a problem in relation to His fellowship with mankind.  Man will lower his standards and play down his strengths in order to enjoy fellowship with others.  God will not lower His “bar” of holiness and righteousness.  This is true even though He created mankind specifically for fellowship with Himself.  We must have His fellowship if we will know truth, have forgiveness and be happy in this life and the life to come (Luke 18:29, 30).  In this lesson we want to show how the God/man relationship problem has been completely solved in Jesus Christ.


A great thing has happened in our time, that is, in these last days of time.  “God’s righteousness is now manifested.”  We may have taken it for granted that God’s righteousness had always been revealed to man.  God has indeed always been righteous.  But His righteousness has never been revealed and presented as a gift to man as it has been “in Christ.”  A good question is “Why not?”

God is righteous.  He is holy.  All of His attributes are holy, no weaknesses can be found in His behavior.  Because of His nature He has been described as a “consuming fire.”  Heb. 12:29.  Should a  sinner come into His sphere of fellowship, he or she would be consumed.  This is both a blessing and a problem.  First of all, God’s righteousness is mankind’s model or standard for his or her own.  People do not know whether they are winners or losers without God’s righteousness.  God’s nature will not let Him fellowship people if they are less than righteous.  The problem is that mankind became sinners.  We want to take note of the fact that when Adam broke covenant, which was sin, blood sacrifices were established by God so that He could have some type of limited fellowship with man and help him.

To emphasize the nature of God in relation to a sinner, let us study a few incidents from the Old Testament.  There was a time when God decided to visit the children of Israel in a very direct way.  Please notice the facts surrounding this visit.  Read Ex. 19:10-22.  Note how careful the Lord was to advise Moses about the need of sanctification.  He sent Moses down from the mountain the second time.  God said, “Go down, charge the people, lest they break through into the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish”   Verse 21.  Moses was allowed to be as close with God as any man before Christ and yet he was not allowed to see His face.  Read Ex. 33:18-23.  God said , “Thou cannot see my face for there shall no man see Me and live.”  verse 20.

God moved as closely with the children of Israel as He could.  This was done by means of the sacrifices at the tabernacle and later the temple.  God met with man in the Holy of Holies.  Thousands of animal sacrifices were offered so His arrangement for fellowship could exist.  There were some dangers to the physical life of man when the glory of God made His presence known.  Here is what happened when God’s righteousness came in a close relationship with mankind in his sins:

And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah and all their goods.  Numbers 16:32

Once the people spoke against God.

And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.  Numbers 21:6

The Gentiles were mostly complete failures becuse they were without the guidance of God’s presence.  The Jews were much better off, but in some cases, suffered immediate death when they rebelled.  It can be concluded that without the continuous flow of blood from the animal sacrifices, no man could have been associated with God and lived.

A part of God’s righteousness was written on the tables of stone in Law form.  However, it condemned some Jews.  Any situation that pitted God’s righteousness against man’s righteousness without a sin offering would have produced a tense but short drama.  It would be equal to a sword fight between an amateur and a professional.  The amateur is told he must fight to live but if he makes one mistake, he will die.  Even this is a  weak example for the God/man relationship without propitiatory sacrifices for man’s mistakes (sins).

God found a way to reveal His own nature to man; however, it had to be done in such a way that it would not destroy man.  Neither could it make man guilty about his weaknesses or cause him to be fearful in the presence of God.  All of the answers are found in Jesus Christ.  Listen to the scriptures:

And the word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.            No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.  John 1:14, 18

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.            And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil, for  everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.               But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having  been wrought in God.  John 3:17, 19-21 

Jesus did a beautiful job of showing the world God’s righteousness.  He did not come to judge but to arrange for man to have a manifestation of God’s righteousness.  If Jesus had come to judge the world by God’s righteousness, all would have been declared guilty.  When Jesus left the world, momentarily, the light left.  Jesus told His disciples, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  John 9:5.  Jesus Christ in the flesh is the way God planned to reveal His righteousness to us.  He wanted to make Himself even more accessible.  Jesus was declared righteous only after He took His last breath on the cross.  Then, and only then, could it be said He “knew no sin.”  II Cor. 5:21.

Although He was a son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered; And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.  Heb. 5:8, 9

Jesus’ death on the cross was a demonstration of God’s righteousness.  Rom: 3:25, 26 

Jesus came ‘to fulfill all righteousness.’   Matt. 3:15

His obedience to God’s righteousness on the cross was His last “act of righteousness.”   Rom. 5:18.  How was the cross a demonstration of God’s righteousness? God had passed over sins previously committed.  He also planned to justify other sinners to have life in the future in spite of the fact they were not perfect.  Because of this, it could be concluded; God had lowered His standard of righteousness.  If one dared to think like this, he only need look at Jesus’ suffering on the cross for the sins of those God justified.  God is just and He is the justifier (Rom. 3:26).

The cross is a demonstration of God’s righteous attitude toward sin.  We now understand Jesus’ life and death was a perfect example of God’s righteousness.  The question is how does this solve the problem of man’s need of a continual manifesting of God’s righteousness?  All Jesus did as a perfect obedient Son gave Him the right of choice to die for all.  He gave His own life because “all have come short of the glory of God.”  Rom. 3:23.  “There is none righteous, no not one.”  Rom. 3:10.

Because Jesus made this final choice to demonstrate God’s love for us, God raised Him from the dead and made Jesus the head of a new aeon.  He is the Lord of the justified.  “Him who was delivered up because of our transgression, and was raised because of our justification.”  Rom. 4:25.  The new aeon is referred to as “in Christ.”  Eph. 2:6; Heb. 9:23. 

Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come. Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  II Cor. 5:17, 18

This new aeon is a grace from God through the perfect obedience of His Son to God’s righteousness.  Why was this grace made manifest to this world?  So God could continually manifest His righteousness to faithful people without condemnation.  “In Christ” is where God reveals His righteousness and where the faithful can live with God even though man’s righteousness is as “filthy-rags.”  Isa. 64:6.

We can now begin to correct ourselves.  Christians behave according to the righteousness of God.  We can accept the new covenant.  We can be happy.  What makes all of this possible “ in Christ?” The blood of Jesus and man’s faith in Jesus’ blood provide a propitiation.  God has provided a spiritual mercy-seat.  The mercy seat in the “holy of holies” in the temple was a shadow of the real thing (Heb. 8:5).  Christians have a gift of God’s righteousness as a reigning force in our lives while we work on what needs to be fixed in our lives (Rom. 5:17).  Justification is not given to us so we can practice unrighteousness.  This will be fully discussed in our next lesson under the doctrine of justification. 

Questions for Discussion 

1.    Why is it not necessary for God to be ambitious about getting to the top?

2.    What has God manifested in the world, now “in Christ?”

3.    What happens when God’s righteousness and sinner-man come together without a blood sacrifice?

4.    What was God’s arrangement to reveal His righteousness to Israel?

5.    List some incidents that happened to Israel when they rebelled against God.

6.    Why was the Jew better off than the Gentile?

7.    Explain how Jesus revealed God’s righteousness.

8.    What did God’s faithfulness to His righteousness finally demand of Jesus Christ?

9.    Explain how the “in Christ” aeon lets God reveal His righteousness to man without His wrath.

10.  What influence does God’s righteousness have on a Christian’s life?

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