The purpose of this paper is to show the difference between the righteousness that comes through the righteous act of the Messiah, who died to give us eternal life in the presence of YHVH; and the righteousness that comes from our obedience to the Law of YHVH, the Torah, His instructions for having life.
Genesis 15:1-6 After these things the word of YHVH came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."
In summary, since the Law (the Torah) is righteousness, and our obedience to the Torah leads to righteousness for us; and, since Messiah became our High Priest and is capable of interceding for us with the Father when we transgress the Torah, we have an obligation to be obedient to the Torah, established forever by YHVH, if we claim to be walking in the true way.
But Abram said, "YHVH Elohim, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring: indeed one born in my house is my heir!"
And behold, the word of YHVH came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir."
Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."
And he believed in YHVH, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
In this passage the word believed is the Strong's #539 = v'he-amin. The word is used in past tense because we are being told something Abram did. The meaning is more than just a mental agreement. It establishes an act on Abram's part, or simply said: Abram did something.
What did he do? He trusted. Trust is the definition of the word faith. To trust or believe, is to rely on YHVH to do what He said He would do. In Luke 18:8, the Messiah asks the question, "...when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" The Greek word translated faith is pistis, Strong's #4102. It means believe, with the predominate idea of trust. Very simply, we must trust in what YHVH has said, i.e., accept it to be true. Because of this trust, we then become obedient to His Word.
In verse 6, the word accounted is #2803, khaw-shab, meaning to plait or interpenetrate, i.e., what is trusted comes into us and we become one with it. Since what we are talking about is trusting the Word of YHVH, then this Word comes into and we become part of it. Since the Word is Messiah, then we are becoming one with Him.
Also in Genesis 15:6, we are told this belief, or trust, became in Abram as righteousness. Righteousness = #6666 = tse-daw-kaw = rightness or rectitude. The word rightness means conformity to the will of YHVH, or conduct in line with His truth and justice.
Righteousness means conformity of heart and life to the divine Law. It includes justice, honesty and virtue.
Rectitude of mind, means being disposed to act in accordance to a known standard of right, truth or justice.
Rectitude of conduct is the actual conformity to a known standard of truth and rightness.
In James 1:20, we are told the "...wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of YHVH." Here the Greek word for righteousness (#1343) means equity of character or a condition of conduct acceptable to YHVH. It includes integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling and acting.
In James 2:21, we are told that Abraham was justified or "rendered just" (#1344) by offering Isaac as a sacrifice. This act happened because Abraham trusted YHVH and accepted His Word as truth.
The "works" mentioned in verse 22 were his acts of obedience to the Word of YHVH.
The declaration of righteousness as mentioned again in verse 23, is based upon his actions of obedience.
In 2 Timothy 2:22, we are told to "pursue righteousness (#1343), faith, love, peace, with those who call on YHVH out of a pure heart." This righteousness we are to pursue is that which comes from our works of obedience to the divine Law which trains us in justice, truth, obedience, equity of conduct, etc.
In Acts 10:35, Peter makes the statement, "But in every nation whoever fears Him (YHVH) and works righteousness is accepted by Him."
These works of righteousness are our obedience to His divine Law. Now, if righteousness comes through obedience, then unrighteousness comes through disobedience. You should note that we are not talking about our salvation given as a free gift by Messiah through His submission to death for us.
What is the righteousness He imputed to us by His death?
What is righteousness apart from the law?
In Genesis 3:6, we saw Adam eat of the fruit he was commanded not to eat. This act of disobedience was sin, which is transgression of the commandments of YHVH, which is transgression of the Law. (1John 3:4)
Now, we are told in Romans 5:12, through the sin of one man, Adam, sin entered the world. If disobedience is sin, then disobedience entered the world. Because of this sin (disobedience), death also entered the world and spread to all men, because all sinned. Sin did not exist until an instruction was given that could be disobeyed.
Romans 5:14 tells us that death reigned from Adam to Moses. When Moses received the Law from the hand of YHVH, it contained instructions which would allow sin to be covered temporarily, until the one who would come should arise to remove the disobedience and death that had come into the world.
Therefore, we are told in Romans 5:18, that the righteous act of one man (Messiah) and His obedience even unto death, resulted in justification, i.e., a declaration of innocence (#1347), an acquittal, exempting us from the curse of condemnation that had entered the world because of the disobedience of Adam.
The form of the Law, or Torah, the first five books written by Moses, Genesis through Deuteronomy, is a set of instructions given to us for living a life set apart to our Creator.
This Law did not remove the condemnation, or death penalty, that had entered the world because of Adam's disobedience. It only covered the sins through the sacrifices, and through them prophesied of the One who would come to remove death and restore eternal life in the presence of the Father.
So the righteousness we have imputed to us through the death of Messiah is the declaration of innocence that existed before the disobedience of Adam. Now, because Y'hoshua died in our place and has become our High Priest through His resurrection, we can be restored to the Father and confess our sins to Him. As we confess our sins, our disobedience to His Law, we must repent. This means that we are to turn back in obedience to His divine Law, the Torah, and perform its commands, which is righteousness. Then we are walking in Y'hoshua's footsteps, because walking in obedience to the Law is walking in the instructions which were established to bring us into the image of Messiah.
Romans 8:29-30 states "for whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He called; whom He called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Those who believe the Word and have faith, or trust, in Messiah for salvation, i.e., their declaration of innocence, also walk according to the Torah, His divine Law. They have now received the righteousness of His obedience by grace and continue to walk in the Law to establish the righteousness given to them by His divine instructions.
Romans 6:1 asks the question, "...Shall we continue in sin (disobedience) that grace may abound?" Verse 2 answers the question: "Certainly not!. . ."
Romans 3:31 also asks a question: "Do we then make void the Law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Law." This word establish (#2476) means to stand. Thayer's Greek lexicon says, to make firm, to fix, to establish, to be kept intact.
These verses take us back to the Torah to help us understand the instructions we have been given, which have always been the will of YHVH for our lives.
Genesis 18:19, tells us YHVH knew Abraham in order for him to command his children and his household after him, that they (we) may keep the way of YHVH to do righteousness and justice, that YHVH may bring to him what He had spoken to him.
In Deuteronomy 6:24-25, we are told: "And YHVH commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear YHVH our Elohim, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before YHVH our Elohim, as He has commanded us."
Psalm 4:5 tells us, "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in YHVH."
Matthew 5:20 says, "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven."
Romans 6:16 asks us, "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?"
Messiah Himself said, in Matthew 9:13, "But go and learn what this means! I desire mercy and not sacrifice! For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
What He is saying is that because He desired mercy for all His people, He came to call sinners (those disobeying the Law) to repent (turn back to the Law in obedience).
Psalm 19:7 says, "The Law of YHVH is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of YHVH is sure, making wise the simple. . ."
We have eternal life through the righteousness imparted to us by the obedience of our Messiah. And we have a life of joy and peace through the righteousness of the Law, when we follow it. One does not exclude the other. The grace of Messiah on top of the grace of Law is a complete package that YHVH has given us to know Him, which is eternal life. [John 17:3]
Know this however, attempting to have eternal life through any type of work -- without accepting the gift of Messiah -- is an exercise in futility.
The grace of YHVH allows us to have abundant life now, as we follow Messiah and imitate His obedience; and then in the time to come, eternal life in the presence of YHVH.
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