Who Is A Righteous Man?
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless” (I Timothy 1:8,9).
To those who practice the list of evils given by Paul in this passage (vv.9,10), the law is good, for it serves to restrain their “lawless” deeds by providing punishment. By setting up a standard of holiness, it therefore defines righteousness. Furthermore, it “brings us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24) by making clear the fact that we can’t live up to its requirements.
Who is the righteous man for whom the law does not apply? Scripture teaches that all “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (v.20). We are totally incapable of obtaining righteousness on our own.
Thankfully, the story does not end here. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, . . . Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: . . . Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (vv.21–24).
Our Lord Jesus Christ is that righteous Man, completely living up to the demands of the law. He deserved no punishment, but shed His blood to satisfy God’s just requirement (Leviticus 17:11) of punishment for our sins. Therefore, since the penalty has been paid and God’s justice satisfied, God can “declare His (Christ’s) righteousness for the remission of sins” (Romans 3:25). He is the “justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (v.26).
Praise God! We are, therefore, in Christ, the “righteous man” who will not be judged by the law. JDM