For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
There are a lot of thoughts on righteousness and what it means to be righteous and if you are righteous or not. Every religion, and every division of religion often have different ideas on this. When the Bible talks about righteousness, it doesn’t mean “good works” or “holy” or any other term that seems to denote that the person is somehow good. In fact, when the Bible talks about righteousness, the word used actually means “To be put in right relationship with God”. Ultimately, being righteous isn’t about having anything good about you, it just means the fractured relationship between you and God has been restored. The secret is that this relationship is only restored through faith.
But what about my good deeds? What about my hard work? Romans 1:18-21 begins to explain how God’s wrath is against all godless and unrighteous people. (Spoiler alert: that is everyone on earth, no person in any religion, even Christianity is exempt from this categorization).
For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse. For though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became worthless, and their senseless hearts were darkened.
What is being said here, is that all people are godless and unrighteous, and because of that all people are going to receive God’s wrath. This is because God has made His power and presence known among everyone from the beginning of the world. This is because you can see and understand God through what He has made: the world and everything in it, specifically humans that contain attributes of God that no other creatures have. (But that would be a different post).
This means that despite God having placed attributes in us and designing a world that is so specific down to the details of molocules and cells, no one gave God praise or thanks. Instead, each and every person has become self-absorbed and self-reliant.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.
This leads to the point where mankind as a whole become “idolaters”, which in essnse means that each person chose to worship something created instead of the one that created them. That created thing could be a statue, nature, another person or even themselves. Worship comes from the idea of an action that shows reverence. So if you are wondering what you worship (because everyone worships something) think about what thing you value the most. Because all people worship creation instead of God, the creator, God has let them commit to and pursue their sinful desires (Romans 1:26-32). So what is the solution?
If God put signs of Himself throughout creation, all of mankind has rejected God and decided to worship and ultimately value creation over God the creator, and in response God has allowed mankind to commit to and pursue the evil desires inside of their hearts what hope is there for anyone to be righteous, or to enter into right standing with God?
The answer was at the beginning of this post, “The righteous will live by faith.” It is the faith of an unrighteous, godless person that allows God to turn our unrighteousness into righteousness. To take us from a place of standing in God’s wrath, to standing in God’s grace. How this happens in outside the goal of this post. But to summarize I will say through the obvious need for a way to shift people from godless to righteous, God made a way through sending His son Jesus into the world in human form to live a sinless, righteous life that we never lived and then He ultimately died God’s wrathful death that we deserved to die. In that having taken our place, we can now approach God with faith and God can take an godless enemy and make a righteous child of God.