Scripture quotations taken from the NASB


The Transgression

When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden he "commanded the man" (Ge 2:16) "from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die" (:17). However, Adam violated the command. "Through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners" (Ro 5:19). The result was "through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin" (:12). Then "death spread to all men" (:12) because "in Adam all die" (1Co 15:22). Sin is the culprit because "the sting of death is sin" (1Co 15:56). "The wages of sin is death" (Ro 6:23). Therefore "sin reigned in death" (5:21) and "death reigned" (:17). "Death works in us" (2Co 4:12). "They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds" (Ps 14:1). "They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one" (:3). But even though "the wise man and the fool alike die" (Eccl 2:16), you should consider "him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb 2:14). There was a "certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us" (Col 2:14).

Jesus told them, "'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin'" (Jn 8:34). Being a slave means you are not free as Israel was in "the house of slavery" (Ex 13:13) in Egypt. It has a more serious meaning because the devil has "the power of death" (Heb 2:14). At the judgment "death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:14). But before that people were under "the power of Sheol" (Ps 49:15) which resulted in "going to the pit" (Job 33:28). Therefore, you have to be rescued in order to be free. But "No man can by any means redeem his brother or give God a ransom for him--for the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever" (Ps 49:7-8).

Just and Justifier

We know that "the wages of sin is death" (Ro 6:23) because "the soul who sins will die" (Eze 18:4). It is a fact of life as Paul said he served "the law of sin which is in my members" (Ro 7:23). We are "sold into bondage to sin" (:14). You can yield yourself to serve "sin resulting in death" (6:16). When Adam and Eve sinned they were driven from the Garden of Eden (Ge 3:24) and lost their relationship with God. Consequently God developed a plan to reconcile humanity back to himself. However, there is the issue of the sin and guilt of humanity. The "curse of the Law" (Gal 3:13) convicts us and there is a "certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us" (Col 2:14). We are "delivered . . . into the power of our iniquities" (Isa 64:7). Job revealed that God would "'bring [man] into judgment with Yourself. Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one'!" (Job 14:3-4). Furthermore, man cannot extradite himself "since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal 2:16). That is why Jesus stated, "'The Son of Man has come to save that which was lost'" (Mt 18:11) and to rescue "those who are perishing" (2Co 4:3). "While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Ro 5:6). "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (:8).

But God is just and his wrath must be appeased. "'I will not acquit the guilty'" (Ex 23:7). "He will by no means clear the guilty" (Nu 14:18). In other words, in his mercy he will not just unilaterally let humanity off the hook. "Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no man living is righteous" (Ps 143:2). "If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?" (130:3). To acquit would be to pronounce a party not guilty. Therefore he must "be just and the justifier" (Ro 3:26). He is the one who "justifies the ungodly" (4:5). To be justified is a forensic term meaning to be justly treated or to be vindicated which is to exonerate. It is a judicial act whereby all the claims of the law are completely satisfied. It is a judicial process where the judges "justify the righteous and condemn the wicked" (Dt 25:1) which renders a verdict. "'Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly'?" (Ge 18:25). "The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether" (19:9).

Nature of Sin

What is sin whose sins we are guilty of? A good way to delineate it is to describe its effects. Paul explained it saying "if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me" (Ro 7:20). He said that we indulge "the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath" (Eph 2:3). The source or reality of it is in man's nature. David said, "I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me" (Ps 51:5). A more direct revelation from Paul is that it is "the principle that evil is present in me" (Ro 7:21). "Sin [evil] was in the world" (5:13).

Many people define the original sin as being "through the one man's [Adam's] disobedience the many were made sinners" (Ro 5:19). "Death spread to all men, because all sinned" (:12). That sin is explained in Romans 5:18 by the NASB as "through one transgression", the NIV "as the result of one trespass", and the NKJV "by the offence of one." An offence is a violation involving a breaking of a law or rule as with "the offence of Adam" (:14). It is "iniquity . . . in sin" (Ps 51:5) as "disobedience" (Ro 5:19). That "the many were made sinners" (:19) is explained by the Greek word kathistemi meaning that one is appointed to a position designating that he hasn't specifically qualified himself for it. That is why you received the guilty status even though you "had not sinned in the likeness" (:14) of Adam.

Consequently "there resulted condemnation of all men" (Ro 5:18 NASB) and "judgment came upon all men to condemnation" (:18 NKJV). Condemnation means that a penalty has been assessed as a judgment in that Adam was told he would "surely die" (Ge 2:17) which is equivalent to a death penalty. "The Lord God commanded the man, saying . . . 'from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die'" (:17). However, the serpent tempted Eve asking, "'Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden''?" (3:1). How did he know this? He was there "from the beginning" (Jn 8:44). Then he lied saying, "'You will not surely die'" (Ge 3:4). Jesus said, "'Whenever he [the devil] speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies'" (Jn 8:44).

Condemned Sin

The right of redemption was a tenet in Old Testament Jewish law. Inheritance of land was a practice in their society. But it's possible an owner would come upon hard times and have to sell his property. However, "his nearest relative is to come and buy back what his relative has sold" (Lev 25:25). Another situation might be that a person comes into poverty and has to sell himself into slavery to survive. But in this case also "he shall have redemption right after he has been sold: (:47). Fortunately the law specifies that "one of his blood relatives from his family may redeem him" (:49). An Old Testament word for it is "gaal" which means to free by means of a price paid. Another legal term is "padah" which means to deliver or rescue. The nearest relative is called the kinsman-redeemer who is responsible for protecting the interests of needy members of the extended family. The price paid for redemption is called the ransom. Christ came "'to give His life a ransom for many'" (Mk 10:45). He is the "one mediator also between God and man . . . who gave Himself as a ransom for all" (1Ti 2:5-6). Many believed that Jesus was the one prophesied to redeem Israel, which at that moment, would be their subjugation to Rome. In the temple Anna "continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Lk 2:38). On the road to Emmaus two men confessed, "'We were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel'" (24:21).

In the garden of Eden God told Adam, "'From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for . . . you shall surely die'" (Ge 2:17). Consequently, "through fear of death [they] were subject to slavery all their lives" (Heb 2:15). Since that is the case then "one of his brothers may redeem him" (Lev 25:48). However, "No man can by any means redeem his brother or give God a ransom for him" (Ps 49:7). "No one is justified by the Law before God" (Gal 3:11). Therefore, God had to take the initiative "who reconciled us to Himself through Christ" (2Co 5:18). It was "with a view to the redemption of God's own possession" (Eph 1:14). God made a way for mankind who he created to be reclaimed. "The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men" (Titus 2:11). "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2Co 5:21). He was "offered once to bear the sins of many" (Heb 9:28). "He died to sin once for all" (Ro 6:10) and "condemned sin in the flesh" (8:30). "He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Col 2:14). Therefore "consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Ro 6:11). Even though you have been delivered from slavery to sin "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). I now "live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me" (:20).

Forgiveness of Sins

If someone offends you he usually gets blamed for the consequences. You can hold it against him which tends to drag you down. But if that person says he is sorry you should forgive him. For serious crimes many people never forgive the offender. However, Christians tend to follow the Bible's teaching and forgive the perpetrator. "'Vengeance is Mine, and retribution'" (Dt 32:35). How does God forgive our sins? Zecharias prophesied concerning this (Lk 1:67) saying that you become aware of "the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins" (:77). Jesus "will save [i.e. salvation] His people from their sins" (Mt 1:21). It starts with "'repentance for forgiveness of sins" (Lk 24:47). Then, "'I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember more'" (Jer 31:34). Sin had to be destroyed and the sins produced by it had to be accounted for. "Your sins will be wiped away" (Ac 3:19). John saw the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (Jn 1:29). Does that mean that the world's slate is wiped clean and that's the end of it? The only way forgiveness can be received is if God's work is appropriated. Sins are committed in the flesh, so at the basic level, God had to "put to death the enmity" (Eph 2:16) and "condemned sin in the flesh" (Ro 8:3). It was done so "the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin" (6:6).

How is this accomplished? It is because "Christ died for our sins" (1Co 15:3). He "was delivered over because of our transgressions" (Ro 4:25). Jesus said, "'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE', for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mt 9:13). "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Ro 5:8). He gave "His life a ransom for many" (Mt 20:28). He was "offered once to bear the sins of many" (Heb 9:28). He "gave Himself as a ransom for all" (1Ti 2:6). It results in "the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph 1:7). He is the "propitiation for our sins" (1Jn 2:2).

The Savior

Then John recognized Jesus saying, "'Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'" (Jn 1:29). "The Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world" (1Jn 4:14). "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (1Co 5:21). He "was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification" (Ro 4:25). He was "offered once to bear the sins of many" (Heb 9:28). "He died to sin once for all" (Ro 6:10) and "condemned sin in the flesh" (8:3).

It was "through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death" (Heb 2:14). He "canceled out the certificate of death" (Col 2:14). "'The Root of David, has overcome'" (Rev 5:5). "God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol" (Ps 49:15). "'He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, and my life shall see the light'" (Job 33:28). Jesus said, "'I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of death and Hades'" (Rev 1:18). "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses" (Eph 1:7). Therefore, "consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Ro 6:11). "We have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men" (1Ti 4:10).

The Redeemer

Abram's father was taking his family to Canaan from Ur but then he died. Next, God spoke to Abram and directed him to continue alone with his family to a place he would be shown. If he was obedient he would receive certain promises from God (Ge 12:2-3), When they arrived in Canaan the "Lord appeared to Abram and said, 'To your offspring I will give this land'" (:7). "Then he believed in the Lord, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness" (15:6). It was God "who redeemed Abraham" (Isa 29:22). In Christ "we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Col 1:14). God initiated the process of redemption saying to the serpent regarding their descendants, "'He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel'" (Ge 3:15). But Satan as "the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving" (2Co 4:4). "The whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (1Jn 5:19). Therefore, mankind was in bondage to sin. But "whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith" (:4). God continued to carry out his plan saying to Israel, "'I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians'" (Ex 6:6). "The Lord has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he" (Jer 31:11). "You have by Your power redeemed Your people" (Ps 77:15) "which You have purchased of old, which You have redeemed to be the tribe of Your inheritance" (74:2). "Because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers . . . [He] redeemed you from the house of slavery" (Dt 7:8). Isaiah prophesied by way of "'the Redeemer of Israel'" (Isa 49:7) that Christ would be "'the Servant of rulers'" (:7) and "'will have compassion on you'" (54:8). "'A Redeemer will come to Zion'" (59:20) and "'He will redeem Israel'" (Ps 130:8). Job foresaw the future saying, "'As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth'" (Job 19:25). "'Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob'" (Isa 60:16). "'All flesh will know'" (49:26).

At the Cross

"God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" (2Co 5:19) "having made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col 1:20). It was a "testimony given at the proper time" (1Ti 2:6) and "displayed publicly as an atonement in His blood through faith" (Ro 3:25). "We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses" (Eph 1:7). "Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Heb 9:22). He "released us from our sins by His blood" (Rev 1:5). "You were not redeemed with perishible things. . . but with precious blood" (1Pe 1:19). Jesus said, "'This cup is the new covenant in My blood'" (1Co 11:25) "poured out for many" (Mk 14:24). "Through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb 9:12). It is "the church of God which He purchases with His own blood" (Ac 20:28). "They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony" (Rev 12:11).

Christ's sacrifice was prophesied in the Old Testament. "He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening of our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed" (Isa 53:5). "He would render Himself as a guilt offering" (:10). The Tabernacle of Moses was a picture of Christ's work. "He shall present his offering to the Lord . . . one ewe-lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering'" (Nu 6:14). Also, the priest was to "offer to the Lord a bull without defect as a sin offering" (Lev 4:3) and then "dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before the Lord" (:6). Being without defect guaranteed that the death it died was not its own. Jesus was "tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15). "He had done no violence nor was there any deceit in His mouth" (Isa 53:9).

"He has taken it [sin] out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Col 2:14). "The word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness" (1Co 1:18). Christ "redeemed us . . . having become a curse for us-for it is written, 'Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree'" (Gal 3:13). "We know that our old self was crucified with him . . . that we should no longer be slaves to sin" (Ro 6:6). "He who has died is freed from sin" (:7). Paul said "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ in me" (Gal 2:20). We know that in actuality "Christ died for our sins" (1Co 15:3) and "died to sin once for all" (Ro 6:10). We identify with Christ's actual sacrifice in a spiritual way, but it becomes real in our lives. "Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness" (Ro 8:10). We are "always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body" (2Co 4:10). "Consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Ro 6:11). "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God" (Gal 2:20).

Became Sin

His "death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions" (Heb 9:15). Christ "through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God" (:14). He offered "Himself as a guilt offering" (Isa 53:10). This was prophetic as when "the blood of goats and bulls" (Heb 9:13) was sprinkled on "those who have been defiled, [to] sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh" (:13). "One may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood" (:22). These were the "transgressions that were committed under the first covenant" (:15) which "was not inaugurated without blood" (:18). Moses explained it as "according to the Law" (:19) as "'the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you'" (Ex 24:8). "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! "How blessed is the man whom the Lord does not impute iniquity" (Ps 32:1-2). Then Jesus cited, "'This cup is the new covenant in My blood'" (1Co 11:25). "Where a covenant is, there must be the death of the one who made it" (Heb 9:16). When a person writes a will he must die before the executor can lawfully distribute to the beneficiaries. "A covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives" (:17).

God "made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2Co 5:21). He "committed no sin" (1Pe 2:22) so how could he become sin? He was "made . . . to be sin" (2Co 5:21) because he was, in terms of a figure of speech, a sinless substitute as a sin offering "on our behalf" (:21). Mankind was already experiencing the penalty of death and was separated from God. In order to take on the burden of humanity's transgressions he had to bear the fate of sinners and experience those consequences. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us" (Gal 3:13) and was therefore treated as though he was a sinner. Because he was sinless it was obvious he wasn't dying his own death per se but was a substitute for the sinner who was guilty and couldn't save himself. At the cross "when the sixth hour had come, darkness fell over the whole land" (Mk 15:33) which symbolizes God's turnng away from the Son whom he had made "to be sin" (2Co 15:21). This is reflected in Jesus' voicing, "'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me'?" (:34). The sin debt "was hostile to us" (Col 2:14) and he "nailed it to the cross" (:14). Because Christ had become sin you'd think it had also died. However, "He has taken it out of the way" (:14) which explains why sin is still in the world. What it means is that it made a way to be "raised because of our justification" (Ro 4:25) so "we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2Co 5:21).

Sent in Likeness

God sent "His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Ro 8:3) "who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2Co 5:21). What is the likeness of sinful man? "The first man is from the earth, earthly" (1Co 15:47) and "so also are those [we] who are earthy" (:48). Physically it is heredity and DNA. Psychologically it is how you are raised, and as some presume, you become the product of the sum total of your experiences. Man is composed of "spirit and soul and body" (1Th 5:23). "The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground" (Ge 2:7) which is the body. The brain is a physical organ and we make decisions with our intellect. But you "believe in your heart" (Ro 10:9) which is from another capacity. That source is from when God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Ge 2:7). Job said the "'Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life'" (Job 33:4). You could limit God's creation if you only considered Solomon saying "they all have the same breath" (Ecc 3:19) or Isaiah stating, "Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils" (Isa 2:22). But a distinction is made by Solomon saying, "Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth?" (Ecc 3:22). He says "man goes to his eternal home" (12:5) and "the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it" (:7). Zechariah states that it is the Lord who "forms the spirit of man within him" (Zec 12:1). He is the "Father of spirits" (Heb 12:9). Moses referred to the Lord as "the God of the spirits of all flesh" (Num 27:16).

God made man in the image and likeness of God (Ge 1:26). He "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (2:7). Hebrew for "breath" means breath, wind, or spirit. "God is spirit" (Jn 4:24) and he communicates with man. Jesus "became a life-giving spirit" (1Co 15:45) and "breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (Jn 20:22). "With the heart a person believes" (Ro 10:10) which is the "inner man" (Eph 3:16). It applies to "the hidden person of the heart" (1Pe 3:4) or "inner man" (Ro 7:22). You become a new person "inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit" (Ro 2:29). "'That which is born of the Spirit is spirit'" (Jn 3:6). Then "our inner man is being renewed day by day" (2Co 4:16). But since Christ was born as we are, wouldn't he become subject to the same fleshly drives? The difference is that "Christ is born of God" (1Jn 5:1). On the surface, as a man, it would appear that he possessed a sinful nature like everyone else, but he was sinless "for in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form" (Col 2:9).

The Gospel

In several of Paul's letters he expresses the greeting, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 1:2) representing two members of the three-person Deity. "God created the heavens and the earth" (Ge 1:1) and "the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters" (:2). "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image'" (:26). The Father alone is not the "first cause" as Greek philosophy might argue. But Jesus was sent by the Father because he said his desire was "'to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work'" (Jn 4:34). Also Jesus explained that when the Holy Spirit arrives, "'He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak'" (Jn 16:13). Then Paul explains that at the finish "comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father" (1Co 15:24).

Paul told the Colossians he had "heard of your faith in Christ Jesus" (Col 1:4) that they had "heard in the word of truth, the gospel" (:5) in which they "understood the grace of God in truth" (:6). It is "the hope of the gospel that you have heard" (:23). Paul told the Romans he was "not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation" (Ro 1:16) because "in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith" (:17). He was sent to "preach the gospel" (1Co 1:17) "by which you are saved" (15:2). "The word of the cross is . . . to us who are being saved . . . the power of God" (1:18). "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" (2Co 5:19). They comprehended "the grace of God in truth" (Col 1:6) which means that they fully and experientially knew. Jesus "was with God, and the Word was God" (Jn 1:1) and "the Word became flesh . . . and we beheld His glory . . . full of grace and truth" (:14). Jesus prayed, "'Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth'" (Jn 17:17). It is "the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested" (Col 1:26) "which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (:27).

Spiritual vs. Carnal

Paul confessed "I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin" (Ro 7:14 NASB). "I am carnal, sold under sin" (:14 NKJV). "I am unspiritual, sold as a slave under sin" (:14 NIV). Some Corinthians were in the same predicament. He told them "I could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh" (1Co 3:1). That is not a good prognosis because "the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so" (Ro 8:7). You would think that carnality and spirituality were mutually exclusive. In the first case, Paul told the Colossians that "you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds" (Col 1:21). But in the second he reminded the Corinthians that "you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you" (Ro 8:9). "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him" (:9). "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come" (2Co 5:17).

Paul said "the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh" (Ro 7:14) whereas the NIV translates "I am unspiritual" (:14). But he says "you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit" (8:9). Is this a contradiction in terms? He says "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my flesh" (7:18) whereas the NIV calls it the "sinful nature" (:18). Is everything the natural man does unspiritual? Consider "when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law . . . they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness" (2:14). People are born with a conscience so aren't necessarily fleshly and sinful all the time. A major commandment is to "'love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind'" (Lk 10:27). You are composed of "spirit and soul and body" (1Th 5:23). The body and soul are individual components because God "'is able to destroy both soul and body in hell'" (Mt 10:28). The spirit and soul are separate because there is a "division of soul and spirit" (Heb 4:12). Also the soul and heart are individual parts because they "were of one heart and soul" (Ac 4:32). Paul explains there is "the law of God in the inner man" (Ro 7:22). Then he sees "a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members" (:23). If the body wars against the mind (thinking etc.) how can this be so if the head is part of the body? It's because the reference is to the "law of the mind" (:23) whereby "with my mind [I] am serving the law of God" (:25) which is "the law of the Spirit of life" (8:2). But he describes a problem that "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out" (7:18 NIV). It is because the "sin living in me does it" (:18 NIV). The reason that "I practice the very evil that I do not wish" (:19) is due to "the principle that evil is present in me" (:21). This is not easy to understand. God had originally said, "'From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die'" (Ge 2:17). Paul asked, "Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Ro 7:24). He responds, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (:25).


The Bible did not (speaking with "tongue in cheek") invent the term "righteousness." A commentator cites a Mesopotamian word based on a river reed being used as a ruler to measure if walls were straight. This would be an absolute standard. But when it comes to the expectations of a society, the standards could vary from culture to culture. At a higher philosophical level you might consider the relative humanist who could say that expectations change to whatever currently works, which would mean that there was only a relative standard. If you consider the evolutionist he might conclude that whatever is necessary to survive is the standard, whereby expectations would vary according to circumstances. One source cited that Greek writing treated righteousness as someone who conformed to the expectations of diety and society. In the Bible it relates to the Hebrew word "tsedeq" and the Greek root "dikaio." All the relevant words are used in various ways so that translators had to select the correct English word for the appropriate context. In the former it would mean "rightness." It would refer to a state of being such as being right as opposed to being wrong. It would be an attribute of a person having a state of integrity relative to God's standards or the expectations of society. God implemented a practical application of his character when he chose Israel and called Jerusalem the "'city of righteousness, a faithful city'" (Isa 1:26). "He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness" (33:5). "'They will call you the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel'" (60:14). It was a unilateral purpose of God because "'It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart'" (Dt 9:5) that "'God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people'" (:6).

Righteousness becomes meaningful when there are relationships involved. They can be nurturing or destructive. Relations exist between family members, friends, fellow citizens and foreigners. They are expressed through conversation and behavior. Righteousness is the glue that holds families and society together. "Sow with a view to righteousness. Reap in accordance with kindness" (Hos 10:12). In Israel the "saddiq" was a wise person who got "wisdom . . . [and then] the father of the righteous" (Prv 23:23-24) greatly rejoiced. The Hebrew word "sedeq" refers to an action which conforms to a norm. There is ethical conduct expressed by, "'You shall have just balances [and] just weights'" (Lev 19:36). In context, the word "justice" is derived from the same source as "righteousness." "'You shall appoint for yourself judges . . . and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment'" (Dt 16:18). "'If a man is righteous and practices justice and righteousness'" (Eze 18:5) he "executes true justice between man and man'" (:8). "Give the king Your judgments, O God . . . [that he may] judge Your people with righteousness and Your afflicted with justice" (Ps 72:1). God called Israel beginning with Abraham but then had to supply them with the Law so they would have a revelation of how to conduct themselves. The king was God's appointed theocratic ruler and was to be obedient to God's leading. David advised Solomon, "'Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn'" (1Ki 2:3).


Paul uses the Greek word dikaiosyne meaning righteousness over one hundred times in the New Testament. He applies it in a covenantal context in terms of God's promise and man's response which establishes a relationship. God "made a covenant with him [Abraham] to give him the land of the Canaanite . . . [and] to give it to his descendants" (Neh 9:8). Nehemiah states, "'You [God] found his [Abraham's] heart faithful before You'" (:7) and "'You have fulfilled Your promise, for You are righteous'" (:8). God's initiative was necessary because of Adam's disobedience. God had "commanded" (Ge 2:16) him "'from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat'" (:17). But when they disobeyed, it came to pass that they "'shall surely die'" (:17) and "the Lord God sent him out from the garden" (3:23) and man was disenfranchised from God and unable to reestablish the relationship. Therefore, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Ro 5:8). "This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed" (3:25). "He will judge the world in righteousness . . . having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Ac 17:31) "so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2Co 5:21). "If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you" (Ro 8:11). "'Who has announced this from old? . . . Is it not I, the Lord?'" (Isa 45:21). "'And there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a savior; there is none except Me'" (:21). "'This is His name by which He will be called, 'The Lord our righteousness''" (Jer 23:6). Let "'salvation bear fruit and righteousness spring up from it. I, the Lord, have created it'" (Isa 45:8). "'My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, and My arms will judge the peoples'" (51:5). The phrase with God's arms anthropomorphically ascribes human attributes to deity. "He has clothed me with garments of salvation [and] wrapped me with a robe of righteousness" (61:10).

Abraham "believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness" (Ge 15:6). God credited his own righteousness to Abraham's account as Paul observed "not having a righteousness of my own . . . [but] the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith" (Php 3:9). "In it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith" (Ro 1:17). It is for "the man whom God credits righteousness apart from works" (4:6). God chose Abraham "'so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice'" (Ge 18:19) and God kept his promise "'because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws'" (26:5). But the disobedient do "not subject themselves to the righteousness of God" (Ro 10:3), "By His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1Co 1:30). God proceeded to deliver Israel from Egypt "'so that you might know the righteous acts of the Lord'" (Mic 6:5). It is "He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you" (Gal 3:5). "The Lord performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed" (Ps 103:6). "The Lord is righteous within her; He will do no injustice" (Zep 3:5). "His work is perfect, for all His ways are just" (Dt 32:4). They "humbled themselves and said, 'The Lord is righteous'" (2Ch 12:6). "They shall recount the righteous deeds of the Lord" (Jdg 5:11). Christ will establish his kingdom "with justice and righteousness. . . [via] the zeal of the Lord of hosts" (Isa 9:7) because "'the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness'" (45:23) and "'My righteousness will be forever'" (51:8).

Paths of Righteousness

A covenant is a two-way street. "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Mic 6:8). "Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God" (Ge 6:9). "To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice" (Prv 21:3). Sacrifice is acceptable to someone when he deems the loss of something okay when the end justifies the means since "every man's way is right in his own eyes" (:2). "Preserve justice and do righteousness" (Isa 56:1). "'Only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you'" (Ge 6:9). "'If a man is righteous and practices justice and righteousness'" (Eze 18:5) he "'will surely live,' declares the Lord God" (:9). "'The righteous will live by his faith'" (Hab 2:4). David told Solomon, "'Keep the charge of the Lord your God . . . that you may succeed in all that you do'" (1Ki 2:3). Paul told them to "pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness" (1Ti 6:11). "'I walk in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice'" (Prv 8:20). "Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless'" (13:6). "Righteous lips are the delight of kings" (16:13). The key is to "present your members as slaves to righteousness resulting in sanctification" (Ro 6:19). "'Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you'" (Mt 6:33). "'He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven'" (7:21) "'will enter the kingdom of heaven'" (:21). "'Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven'" (5:20). "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (Gal 5:25).

On the other side of the coin, "'If only you paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river'" (Isa 48:18). "'They went far from Me and walked after emptiness'" (Jer 2:5). "The righteous God tries the hearts and minds" (Ps 7:9). "God is a righteous judge" (:11) and "upright are Your judgments" (119:137). There is "'the indictment of the Lord . . . because the Lord has a case against His people'" (Mic 6:2). "'Therefore the Lord has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds'" (Da 9:14). "The Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish" (Ps 1:6). The benefits are that "He restores my soul; [and] He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake" (23:3).

Christ in You

"'Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness'" (Ro 4:9) and "the righteous is saved" (1Pe 4:18) because "God is the one who justifies" (Ro 8:33). Therefore, your "spirit is alive because of righteousness" (:10). You receive "life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit" (:11). It is the "free gift of God [which] is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (6:23). "Because of His great love with which He loved us . . . [he] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Eph 1:4-5). "He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions" (Col 1:13). God did not just throw a switch or make a proclamation. It is accomplished by "He who raised Jesus Christ from the dead . . . who indwells you" (Ro 8:11). It requires the same means by which Christ "was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead" (1:4). But it will not happen unless the "Spirit of God dwells in you . . . [for] if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him" (8:9). "'He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life'" (Jn 3:36). Paul was "not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God to everyone who believes" (Ro 1:16). Paul had made known to them "the gospel . . . which also you received, in which you also stand" (1Co 15:1) and emphasized the important aspects twice saying they were "according to the Scriptures" (:3,4). It happens "after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation" (Eph 1:13). It is "the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe" (Ro 3:22). "With the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (10:10). "In hope we have been saved" (8:24). "'Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered" (Joel 2:32) which is equivalent to "will be saved" (Ro 10:13).

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Ro 8:1). "Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1Co 3:16). "If Christ is in you" (Ro 8:10) you are "in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you" (:9). It is "this mystery . . . which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). Paul recommends to "test yourselves to see if you are in the faith . . . that Jesus Christ is in you" (2Co 13:5). "You were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise who is given as a pledge of our inheritance" (Eph 1:13-14). Consequently, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free" (Ro 8:2). We now "do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (:4). Walking is a step-by-step process and we are being "led by the Spirit of God" (:14). One person explains this as being "practically actuated" and another says it is "progressive sanctification." "The Spirit also helps our weaknesses; for we do not know how to pray as we should" (:26). Also, "the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God" (:16). The process proceeds as "if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (:13). "The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace" (:6). You are "raised up with Christ" (Col 3:1) and "your life is hidden with Christ in God" (:3). Therefore "keep seeking the things above" (:1) and "'seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you'" (Mt 6:33). Furthermore, "when Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with Him in glory" (Col 3:4). "We eagerly wait for a Savior . . . who will transform the body of our humble state into the body of His glory" (Php 3:20-21). "It has not appeared as yet what we shall be . . . [for] when He appears, we shall be like Him" (1Jn 3:2).