God is righteous (Psalm 7:11a). What this means is that unlike humans, He is right and all that He does is right. In the version of the Bible, God’s word for Students, ‘righteous’ is translated to mean ‘approved by God’. The root word from which ‘righteous’ was translated in the New Testament also means being upright, guiltless, faultless and observing divine laws.
God possesses all these attributes, but man does not because of the sinful nature inherited from Adam. So no matter how much good a man does, he is not qualified to be declared ‘righteous’, especially since the standard for righteousness is God Himself (Matthew 5:48, 1 Peter 1:15-16). In Matthew 5:20, Jesus stated that unless the righteousness of a man exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, he would not enter the kingdom of God. These were people who obeyed the law to the letter. They were considered the most ‘righteous’ people of their time, yet Jesus declared that even their righteousness was not good enough.
But if we want to reign with Christ, we need righteous. How do we go about that? Well, Jesus has paid the price and all we have to do now is believe. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says ‘For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ By death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, a great exchange has occurred such that because of His sacrifice, we can be declared righteous. This righteousness is not based on our works, that is, it is not based on what we do or don’t do, it is only based on faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22-26).
So if without ever doing anything wrong technically, a man is born a sinner, so he does not have to do anything, but believe, for him to be declared righteous (Romans 5:12,18-19). If you have been wondering just what to do to make you righteous, there you have it. Simply believe!