There is none righteous the Bible declares. Not through works of righteousness we have done but by His mercy people can be saved. No one will glory/brag in His presence. Righteousness is a standard much like a framing square to a carpenter. God’s righteous standard is simply this, no one will ever be righteous in my sight by keeping rules, by trying to be good. There is another righteousness revealed, it is righteousness because of faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is a declared righteousness. God says when you meet the standard I’ve established, faith in my Son, I declare you righteous in my sight! It’s a done deal!
Then there is the fruit of righteousness, what is that? When a person has come into relationship with God through faith in Jesus, out of the relationship, things begin to change. The Bible calls this the fruit of the spirit in one place, the fruit of righteousness in another. The person who has been declared righteous has one major focus, remain close in the relationship. When the relationship is in working order fruit happens. Thinking changes, attitudes change leading to changed behavior. People become more loving, peace-filled, joy-filled, patient, self-controlled and kind. People love God and love others. Stuff changes from the inside out, not by sheer force of will, but because of the relationship. This true out working of righteousness produces humility and gratitude.
There is another righteousness. It comes through rigorous effort and discipline. Sometimes it is merely an outward behavior that is only practiced when others are watching. This righteousness is self-induced. It isn’t the fruit that comes from connection to the ultimate source of life. It is born of the human will. It is self-righteousness. It creates an air of superiority, pride and judgementalism. It is really not righteousness at all. It is the fruit of depravity. The Bible asks, after beginning your new life in the Spirit, why do you now try to become perfect with human effort?
True righteousness is attractive and winsome; self-righteousness is ugly and repelling. True righteousness brings humility and grace toward others; self-righteousness brings pride and judgement toward others.
True righteousness is developed through our connection and relationship with God. That becomes the believers one focus. The Father is able to develop and steer and do whatever needs done from there. Abide in me and you will bring forth much fruit, for without me, you can do nothing.