The mystery of Godliness is that it is not initially about righteousness. It is firstly about life and our life in God. God is a person and Himself. He is complete and content in Himself. Life and love flow from personality, in particular the trinity of God. To be in God and part of HIs Family is to be in His life and His righteousness – which is not a separate thing but an expression of Himself. He is Himself, life and righteousness because He is God.
It is unlikely that we would think of righteousness independently of God if it were not for the emergence of the knowledge of good and evil in that sad revelation and experience arising from our separation and independence from God. To live like Adam and Eve in God before the fall was to live in the absence of self-consciousness and the absence of any thought of a distinction between good and evil. In God they just were. They could say ‘I am who I am.’
Before the fall if life and righteousness were to be named at all they were named Father. In relation to humans righteousness and life were simply sons of God. There was no separation between righteousness and persons. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. In union with God we are whole, we are alive and we are as participants in I AM.
The law of Moses was given in the context of the reign of the knowledge of good and evil – the law that Paul called the law of sin and death, which in its wider meaning was the culture of ethics and morality that came from the tree. In its narrower context it was the commandments written on stone as nominated by Paul in 2 Cor 3.7 NIV.
‘Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was’ 2 Cor 3.7 NKV.
In contrast to this list, the righteousness of God as defined by Jesus and explained by Paul is the person of Jesus Christ. The righteousness of God is to be the Father and the Son. The righteousness of the sons of God is to be sons and daughters of God. We are the life of Christ.
Now the scripture comes to mind, ‘Here are they who keep the commands of God and the testimony of Jesus’ Rev 14.12 NIV. Firstly ‘commandments’ in the new testament means the teaching of Jesus who declared Himself the way, the truth and the life. Righteousness and life is subsumed in Him and expressed through Him. Secondly in new covenant terms the meaning of this scripture is as follows. ‘The command of God is to believe and obey God’s Son. The testimony of Jesus is that He is entirely and unconditionally our life.’
In Jesus you have a new name because you are a new person. You are a son growing each day in Christ into the reality of who you really are. You are casting off the lies and false identities apportioned by the Father of lies. You are ridding yourself of false gospels and absorbing into your being the fullness of the life that is Christ. You are being mentored into the real you that was the plan before the foundation of the world and now being realized in oneness with our Father.
We are daughters and sons in the son of God because of our union with our Father. As such we participate in their life, identity and purpose. We are who we are in spirit and in truth. Our fragmented life in Adam is dead. Far more than a compilation of virtues and dispositions, we are our entire selves. We are the expression of who we were designed to be in the heart of our Father. We are at rest in being ourselves and being sons. You are complete in Christ. Your life in Jesus is you!