I want to dig into a thought of Luther’s on the three ways we commend God’s righteousness. Now just to be clear, this is not Luther Vandross, but Martin Luther.
“Our righteousness commends God’s righteousness in three ways.”
Obviously, if you have read these chapters in Romans, you will already know that we are NOT righteous. So, we are talking about the good things we do, our attempts at righteousness. These things bring attention and glory to God’s righteousness in three ways.
1) God is proved righteous when He punishes our unrighteousness.
So, when we fall short, God’s discipline of us points to His righteousness. He is perfectly just, not according to what we think is fair, but according to His standard of perfect holiness. Therefore, He is righteous when He punishes the unrighteous, and He can only be righteous by punishing them. A God who lets sin go could not be considered righteous..
2) Our righteousness commends God’s righteousness by comparison.
The greater His righteousness shines forth, the more wicked our righteousness appears. When compared to each other, the lowliness of our righteousness draws attention to the heights of His. A skyscraper may look tall, but directly compared to an ant next to it, its height is even more distinct.
3) God’s righteousness is commended by His work in us.
When we, who have no capactiy for righteousness, are righteous, it is revealed to be His righteousness active in us. Every good act I commit is God working through me. He gets credit for all of it.
God will be shown righteous by our lives, either at work in them, in comparison to them, or in punishing them. All three ways reveal His righteousness. I’d prefer to be a part of the first.