Righteousness was something that was credited to someone because of his or her actions. A righteous man was one who was characterized by living a godly life and keeping to the law, yet here we read that because of Abraham’s faith he was counted as righteous. If you dive deeper into Abraham’s story you will see that he proved himself to be righteous, but only after it was shown that he had faith in God was he counted as righteous.
At first glance you might wonder how faith can make someone righteous. We know that no one besides Jesus is wholly righteous, yet God says to Abraham, because you have faith in me and the promises I have made you will be counted righteous and so will all your descendants after you.
As I was reading these two passages one thing stuck out to me—the power of faith. Faith has the power to make someone righteous. It is not our deeds or how close we keep to God’s instructions, it is simply by believing that God is who He says He is, and will do what He has promised to do. As simple of a statement as that may be, it can actually be hard to live out. It seems to actually be easier to try and work our own way to salvation by saying, “See all the things I’ve done God!” than to actually live by faith. A lot of people live that way, thinking their good deeds make them right with God, but no matter what we do we can never build a bridge long enough to cross over our sin to get to God.
The interesting thing is, that when we live by faith it draws us closer to God. I love reading Abraham’s story because you get to see the intimacy he had with God. He knew God and he had a close relationship with Him. We see later in Genesis that God tells Abraham that he is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of the wickedness there, but Lot, Abraham’s nephew lived there, so he pleaded with God to not destroy it. In chapter 18 Abraham asks God if he finds 50 righteous people there to save the city, and God replies that he will spare them. He goes to God many more times whittling down the number to 10 people. Abraham had faith enough that he had such a close relationship with God that he was able to go back and forth with him in this way.
Our righteousness, being made right with God, comes by faith in God, and believing that He sent His son to die for us and rose Him from the dead, and it is our righteousness that enables us to have a close relationship with God.