Almighty God Jehovah "has set a day in which He purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed". That "man" is Christ Jesus our Lord Michael. Consequently, "Seek the Lord, all in the land who live humbly by His laws, seek righteousness, seek a humble heart; it may be that you will find shelter in the day of the Lord's anger."  (From Acts 17:31 NWT & Zeph 2:3 NEB).

But what is righteousness, and how do we seek it? Righteousness is the subjection of one's spirit to the spiritual requirements of the moral Law of God. These requirements are set out in His inspired Word the Holy Scriptures. "All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness".  (2 Tim 3:16).

"Disciplining in righteousness" by God is an essential part of one's spiritual training and development as one of His sons. Those "whom Jehovah loves He disciplines; in  fact, He scourges every one whom He receives as a son." (Heb 12:6). It is through His Word and righteous disciplines that one's "perceptive powers" are "trained to distinguish both right and wrong" and one acquires accurate knowledge of the righteousness of God. Those who have been trained by the "discipline from Jehovah" yield peaceable fruit, namely righteousness, and "walk orderly by this rule of conduct" (See Heb 5:13,14 & 12:5,11)  (Gal 6:16).

Some believe that having a zeal for God without accurate knowledge of His spiritual requirements is enough for one to be considered righteous before Him. Do not be deceived. This mistake is already being made by Jews endeavouring to live solely according to the requirements of the Mosaic Law. Of these the Apostle Paul wrote: "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge; for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God (through Christ). For Christ is the end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith (in him) may have righteousness." (Rom 10:2-4). Consequently, those seeking to establish their own righteousness through works of Law, are without accurate knowledge from God, and cannot be declared righteous before Him.

"A man is declared righteous, not due to works of Law, but only through faith toward Christ Jesus."  (Gal 2:16). The Mosaic Law was intended as a "tutor leading to Christ", that we might be declared righteous due to faith in him. (Gal 3:24).  For "Christ died once for all time concerning (our) sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, that he might lead you to God". (1 Peter 3:18). Does this mean that those who say they believe in God but have not come to know His spiritual requirements or subjected themselves to His Will, are thereby forgiven for their sins and declared righteous?  Certainly not!  For the apostle James wrote: "You believe there is one God, do you? You are doing quite well. And yet the demons believe and shudder." (James 2:19). It is not enough for a person to rely upon belief in God for salvation. We must exercise faith in Him through our works and word in Christ, that we may be declared righteous by Him. "A man is to be declared righteous by works, and not by faith alone." (2:24). Indeed, "faith without works is dead." (2:26).  We are declared righteous by active faith in Christ as disciples under his instruction.

The apostle Paul wrote: "With the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation." (Rom 10:10). Those exercising faith for righteousness from their heart do so not only by their works, but also by their word. The Christ said: "By your words you will be declared righteous, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matt 12:37). Since we must render an account to God in the Judgement concerning every unprofitable saying we have said, let us use "wholesome speech which cannot be condemned", that we might be declared righteous before Him through The Christ.  (Titus 2:8)  (Matt 12:36,37).

Remaining faithful to the spiritual requirements of God, one must expect to suffer persecution for righteousness' sake. So why did Christ pronounce happy those "persecuted for righteousness' sake"? Because "exercising faith for righteousness" while suffering persecution from Godless ones leads to our being counted worthy of the Kingdom of God for which we are suffering. (2 Thess 1:4-10.  Matt 5:10)  (1 Peter 3:14). Consequently, "Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you."  (Matt 5:11,12).

As we acquire accurate knowledge of the spiritual requirements of God, we must put into practice His righteousness in our lives to be counted among those "born" from God. (1 John 2:29). But "take good care not to practice your righteousness in front of men in order to be observed by them; otherwise you will have no reward with your Father who is in the heavens." Those who make an outward display of making "gifts of mercy" to "appear righteous to men", do so merely to be glorified by them, and are full of "hypocrisy and lawlessness". (Matt 6:1-4 & 23:28). Those who refuse to give glory to God in righteousness, and seek glory from men through a show of falsely called 'knowledge' have "deviated from the faith". Indeed, to declare oneself righteous before men is "a disgusting thing in God's sight".  (Luke 16:15)  (1 Tim 6:20,21). "Hence when you go making gifts of mercy, do not blow a trumpet ahead of you (to let everyone know), just as the hypocrites do in the synagogues (where people gather) and in the streets (publicly), that they may be glorified by men."  (Matt 6:2-4).

Almighty God "purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness" through the one to whom He has committed all powers of judging: The Christ Michael. (Acts 17:31John 5:22-24). "And he will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears."  (See Isaiah 11:1-3). The Christ Michael is not deceived by those who disguise their hypocrisy with "an appearance of wisdom" and "misleading inspired utterances". (Col 2:23. 1 Tim 4:1,2). "With the Spirit of his lips" he will put such wicked ones to death. (Isaiah 11:4). This Spirit "flooding through in righteousness" will sweep away all those rejecting the righteous decrees of God and taking refuge in lies and falsehood. The Lord Jehovah has said: "I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the leveling instrument;* and the hail must sweep away the refuge of a lie, and the waters themselves will flood out the very place of concealment." (Isaiah 28:17 & 10:22,23).  When the "instrument"* of final destruction "justice in full flood" is poured out, those refusing to be subjected to the righteous spiritual requirements of God shall be "wasting with sickness, yet  overflowing with righteousness" toward their eventual extermination.  (Isaiah 10:22 NEB & footnote).

C. B. Thomas.
& 25/10/11.