“He will never permit the righteous to be moved.“ - Psalm 55:22
The greater the chaos, the more important the focus. In the storm, with the waves crashing and the wind howling, keeping your eyes on Jesus is the first and only priority. This is the mindset of the righteous person. Who is “the righteous” and how does one become “righteous”? Typically, when someone thinks of the word “righteous,” what comes to mind is a morally upright person who lives above reproach with integrity and blamelessness. In the Old Testament, Job was described as a righteous man - "He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil (Job 1:1)." This description and definition is correct, but incomplete. Righteousness, is about something even greater than behavior and performance. To be “righteous” means to be in right standing with God and man. A person can achieve a certain level of religious righteousness apart from God, through strict adherence to the law, but still be outside of a right standing with God and separated from eternal life. Jesus warned, "unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:20)!" The Pharisees and the teachers of religious law were the experts on righteousness, and yet, Jesus concludes that their form of righteousness would not result in salvation. If the most religious person you know can’t attain salvation, who can? The answer to that question is found in the very heart of the Gospel itself.
Only Jesus. Only Jesus is righteous. He lived a perfect and sinless life, blameless and above reproach. He lived the life that none of us could ever live. Jesus, the Son of God, was also in perfect, right standing with God the Father. Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, God spoke from the heavens and declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased (Matthew 5:17)." Near the climax of His ministry, God the Father spoke again, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him (Luke 9:35)!" So, Jesus, perfect and sinless in moral integrity and blameless in right standing with God is the only one who can rightly be called righteous. Then, God did something completely unexpected at the cross - "God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:10)." In Jesus, we take on all of His righteousness. How is this possible? On the cross, Jesus took on all of our sin…He became sin and absorbed the entirety of God’s wrath agains sin, so that we could be declared righteous and adopted into God’s family as sons and daughters.
How do we receive this righteousness that comes by grace through the work of Christ? "One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation (Romans 10:10)." When we believe that Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection from the grave alone is our only hope of salvation, we will receive not only the gift of eternal life through forgiveness of sin, but we are also declared righteous before a holy God, through Christ, God no longer sees our sin and we are in right standing with Him.
When spiritual rebirth takes place in our lives, no longer blind to our sin, but now seeing ourselves and Christ clearly for the first time, we are transformed, a new creation, made into the righteous workmanship of God. As a new creation, we now pursue righteousness, not as a means of pursuing God’s acceptance, but as the path of living out our true identity as sons and daughters of God. We do not worry or carry anxiety about money or material possessions the way we used to, but instead we gladly receive Jesus’ invitation and promise to, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33)." Putting Jesus’ kingdom and righteousness at the top of our priorities changes our prayer life, making our prayers more in line with our Father’s will. "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16)."
True righteousness is right living for God that comes from right standing with God. When we pursue righteousness, we eschew worldly practices of coping, escape, revenge or sinful indulgence and instead set our eyes on Christ. If we have been declared righteous by the God of heaven, we cannot be moved by troubles of earth.