Let’s flesh that out a little. Children are righteous with regard to their parents when they obey their parents, and parents are righteous with regard to their children when they care for them. Husbands and wives are righteous with regard to one another when they keep the vows they made when they were married, and remain faithful, one to the other. Neighbors are righteous with regard to one another when they love one another like they love themselves. A ruler is righteousness, with regard to his (or her) people when he puts the needs of his people ahead of his own. Human beings are righteous with regard to their descendants when they endeavor to leave the world a better place. The Human Race is righteous with regard to our planet when we tend it and care for it, as God told us to do in the Garden of Eden, “when all the world was young.”
And what about God? The Bible teaches that God is always righteous. God is righteous because God keeps the promises that God makes. In God’s covenant with Israel, God promised the nation that if they did what was right, and kept the covenant he made with them, and obeyed the Laws he laid down for them, he would reward them with the rain and with his blessing and their land would flourish. And God promised the nation of Israel that if they did what was wrong and broke the covenant, he made with them, and disobeyed the laws he laid down for them, he would withhold the rain and his blessing, and their land would wither. In short, God has promised that to punish sin, and reward righteousness, and in order for God to be righteous, God must do both.
Now here is the problem. God loves us all, and God wants to do great things for each of us. God has plans for us, plans for good and not for evil to give us a future and a hope. However, we have broken faith with God. Both the Psalmist and the apostle agree, “None is righteous, no not one. No one understands. No one seeks for God. All have turned aside. Together we have gone wrong.”
Do you know the most difficult question in all the Bible? Here it is: How can a righteous God punish sin and spare the sinner? In Romans 3, St. Paul answers that question. He writes:
3 Since all (of us) have sinned and fall(en) short of the glory of God, 24 (we) are (made righteous) by (God’s) grace as a gift, through …Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward … to be received by faith. This was …to prove…that (God) himself is righteous (because God punishes sin) and that (God) makes righteous all who have faith in Jesus.
That is my translation. I have left altered it to make Paul’s meaning clear, but I will guarantee you that my alteration is absolutely correct, and if you study the text long enough, you will agree.
Of course, the point is not that we understand the text. The point is that we accept the gift. God hates sin, because sin hurts people, including the sinner; but God loves the sinner, and wants save the sinner from sin and death. In Christ, God has made provision to save sinners from sin and death, that we might have new and abundant life. It is when we accept God’s offer or righteousness that God put forward in Christ that all God’s goodness is made available to us, and we can say with the prophet Jeremiah, “The LORD is our Righteousness.”