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righteousness, holiness, purity etc

Classik

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These are some terms often emphasized in the scriptures, and differently? Are there differences in meaning really?
 

OzSpen

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These are some terms often emphasized in the scriptures, and differently? Are there differences in meaning really?
Classik,

Richard Strauss has summarised the biblical material well, in my understanding of Scripture,

While the most common Old Testament word for just means ‘straight,’ and the New Testament word means ‘equal,’ in a moral sense they both mean ‘right.’ When we say that God is just, we are saying that He always does what is right, what should be done, and that He does it consistently, without partiality or prejudice. The word just and the word righteous are identical in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Sometimes the translators render the original word ‘just’ and other times ‘righteous’ with no apparent reason (cf. Nehemiah 9:8 and 9:33 where the same word is used). But whichever word they use, it means essentially the same thing. It has to do with God’s actions. They are always right and fair.

God’s righteousness (or justice) is the natural expression of His holiness. If He is infinitely pure, then He must be opposed to all sin, and that opposition to sin must be demonstrated in His treatment of His creatures. When we read that God is righteous or just, we are being assured that His actions toward us are in perfect agreement with His holy nature (Strauss 1984:140).​

I was alerted to this quote in Bob Deffinbaugh's article, 'The Righteousness of God'.

Oz

Works consulted
Strauss, R L 1984. The Joy of Knowing God. Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers.
 

Not_Now.Soon

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I heard once that Holy meant set apart. Kind of a special distinction from everything else common. Six days were for regular days and to work regularly, but on the sabbath the seventh day the Isrealites were meant to keep it holy and seperate for God, so they were instructed not to work. Other thinks were set apart as holy, the upticks and places of worship that were set up by the priests either by the tent of meeting where God let the high priest come into his presence, or later to the temple that replaced the tent structures. Even the Isrealies were meant to be a holy nation, seperate from the rest of the world, God's precious possession. God's standard for what is set apart for Him though is what may have made Holy synonymous with rightous and pure.

Rightous I think was a term to be right by God. Often enough it was through faith as much as it was through being pure in deed. In fact if a person wasn't pure in deed, like King David when he took another man's wife and let the other man die needlessly in battle, when that happens and they repent from their sin even after their consquences it seems that God forgives them and is willing to call them rightous again.

Pure I think is from being innocent, to being moral by following the law. To follow God has the calling to be pure as well.

That's from the understanding that I've come to understand. But a study of the word's origins might serve you better then a layman's organization of figuring stuff.
 

OzSpen

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I heard once that Holy meant set apart. Kind of a special distinction from everything else common. Six days were for regular days and to work regularly, but on the sabbath the seventh day the Isrealites were meant to keep it holy and seperate for God, so they were instructed not to work. Other thinks were set apart as holy, the upticks and places of worship that were set up by the priests either by the tent of meeting where God let the high priest come into his presence, or later to the temple that replaced the tent structures. Even the Isrealies were meant to be a holy nation, seperate from the rest of the world, God's precious possession. God's standard for what is set apart for Him though is what may have made Holy synonymous with rightous and pure.

Rightous I think was a term to be right by God. Often enough it was through faith as much as it was through being pure in deed. In fact if a person wasn't pure in deed, like King David when he took another man's wife and let the other man die needlessly in battle, when that happens and they repent from their sin even after their consquences it seems that God forgives them and is willing to call them rightous again.

Pure I think is from being innocent, to being moral by following the law. To follow God has the calling to be pure as well.

That's from the understanding that I've come to understand. But a study of the word's origins might serve you better then a layman's organization of figuring stuff.
It would be good for you to engage in some exegesis of the biblical text. There are lots of resources to assist you on the Internet, including availability of commentaries online.
 

Edward

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Due to the low amount of responses to this thread, I can surmise some confusion & greyness on this topic. Myself included.

Can someone esword these words for us and post them? Thx.
 

Ph8th

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They are all attributes of God as He is we become as we are formed and shaped into His image.
Righteous - 1 John 3:7 (NASB)
Holy --------- 1 Peter 1:15 (NASB)
Purity ------- 1 John 3:2-3 (NASB)

This did not answer your question but.............. It moves me towards a good study
thanks
 
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OzSpen

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Due to the low amount of responses to this thread, I can surmise some confusion & greyness on this topic. Myself included.

Can someone esword these words for us and post them? Thx.
I did cover some of this in #2? Understanding the etymology of the words does not solve the issues of the differences among them. One has to examine Scripture in context to help with the explanation.

I'll attempt to provide brief explanations:

1. Righteousness
In English righteousness and justice are 2 different words but in the Hebrew OT and Greek NT that is not so as there is only one word root behind both 'righteousness' and 'justice'. So the meaning of this word is that God always does what is correct/right and God determines the standard of what is right.

These verses teach us this meaning of righteous/justice (emphasis added):
  • Gen 18:25 (ESV), 'Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?'
  • Deut 32:4 (ESV), 'all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he'.
  • Isa 45:19 (ESV), 'I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right'.
  • Paul tells us that God's sending Christ as a sacrifice for the punishment for sins in Rom 3:25-26 (ESV), it 'was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus'.
This is reason for us to praise God that in everything he does, all his ways are righteous. They are just; there is no injustice in Him. Question: How does God's justice harmonise with the killing of all the inhabitants of Ai (Joshua 8:24 ESV)?

2. Holiness
Psalm 99:9 (ESV) states, 'The Lord our God is holy'. God is called the 'Holy One of Israel' (Ps Pss 71:22; 78:41; 89:18; Isa 1:4; 5:19, 24; etc). When God says he is holy, it means he is separate from sin.

However, using his own holiness as an example, God commands, 'Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy' (Lev 19:2 ESV). We find a similar message in 1 Peter 1:16 (ESV), 'since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”'. Also, in the New Covenant, 'Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord' (Heb 12:14 ESV). Heb 12:10 (ESV) reminds us that God 'disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness'.

So, God disciplines us so that we may share his separateness from sin. As we grow to be more like Jesus, we will more and more be separate from sin - performing acts of sin. This is related to sanctification, but that is another topic.

It does raise the question: How can any believer be separate from win in a world that is contaminated by sin?

3. Purity
Do you remember the problems that Paul had with moral impurity in churches? See the church of Galatia (Gal 1:6-9; 3:1-5) and the church of Corinth (1 Cor 3:1-4; 4:18-21; 5:1-2, 6; 6:1-8; 11:17-22; 14:20-23; 15:2; 2 Cor 1:23-2:11; 11:3-5, 12-15; 12:19-21).

2 Cor 12:21 (ESV) states, 'I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practised'.

The word translated 'impurity' relates to 'those who sinned'. It is a sin. It will separate the sinner from worship of God and involvement with God's people. These could be the libertines of Corinth who could state, 'Food for the stomach and the stomach for food' (1 Cor 6:13 NIV). A follow on to this philosophy could be that other physical satisfactions were also permitted - including impurity.

So, purity, being the opposite of impurity, can have this meaning: Wayne Grudem provides this definition, 'The purity of the church is its degree of freedom from wrong doctrine and conduct, and its degree of conformity to God's revealed will for the church' (Grudem 1999:371, emphasis in original).

Purity in Christian conduct thus deals with acceptance and practice of God's standard of doctrine and behaviour.

I hope that this rather lengthy post will help to get us going with some discussion on these important topics that don't seem to be discussed much in churches in my part of the world. My pastor is an expositor who has been preaching through 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians (he preaches on 2 Cor 13 next Sunday), so we are naturally exposed to what these books teach on purity, impurity and immorality.

Oz

Works consulted
Grudem, W 1999. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. J Purswell (ed). Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press (by special arrangement with Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House).
 

OzSpen

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After I made the post at #7, my wife and I then had breakfast.

For our devotions after breakfast, we are currently using John F MacArthur, Jr., Drawing Near (1993. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books). Today's reading may be helpful as we consider the meaning of 'righteousness'.

John MacArthur – The Lover of Righteousness
December 15

“‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy companions'” (Heb. 1:8-9).

As the eternal God and King, Christ loves righteousness and hates lawlessness.

In these days it’s difficult for us as Christians to be totally supportive of our governmental leaders when we see so much of what God calls righteous compromised or ridiculed. But the King of kings—Christ Himself—is the only leader who has a perfectly right attitude toward righteousness.

Christ rules from an eternal throne, and He rules eternity as God and King. The scepter He holds is symbolic of His rule, particularly as a rule of righteousness.

But there’s more to it than that: He just doesn’t act righteously; He loves righteousness itself. How often have we obeyed without joy, expressing an attitude of willing condescension? But Jesus gives us a different model.

James 1:17 says, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.” True righteousness never varies from what is true, just, and good. And 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” God is total light and total righteousness. Everything Jesus did resulted from His love of righteousness.

Because Christ loves righteousness, He hates lawlessness. Since He loves what is right, He must hate what is wrong. The two are inseparable—one cannot exist without the other. You cannot truly love righteousness and also like sin. When there is true love for God, there will also be true love for righteousness and total hatred of sin.

The more you and I become conformed to Jesus Christ, the more we will love righteousness. Our attitudes toward righteousness and sin will ultimately reveal how closely we are conformed to Christ. Check out your attitudes and actions. How are you doing?

Suggestions for Prayer; Like the psalmist, ask God to show you any hurtful way in you (Ps. 139:24).

For Further Study; Read Psalm 119 and note how many times the psalmist makes reference to either his love for God’s law or righteousness.
Oz
 

Classik

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I see a Christian is imperfect or incomplete without the 3.

(I didn't include 'perfect' in the OP. I think it is a term that describes only God.
 

OzSpen

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I see a Christian is imperfect or incomplete without the 3.

(I didn't include 'perfect' in the OP. I think it is a term that describes only God.
However, Matt 5:48 (ESV) states, 'You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect'. So believers need to be perfect in some way that is parallel to that of the heavenly Father's perfection.

Why doesn't someone do the exegesis to determine what that means for Christians to be 'perfect'?
 

Classik

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However, Matt 5:48 (ESV) states, 'You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect'. So believers need to be perfect in some way that is parallel to that of the heavenly Father's perfection.

Why doesn't someone do the exegesis to determine what that means for Christians to be 'perfect'?
Perfect?
Alright. thanks. I think my definition is centered on the fact that Christ is without sin, and only Him is without blemishes.
 

OzSpen

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Perfect?
Alright. thanks. I think my definition is centered on the fact that Christ is without sin, and only Him is without blemishes.
Classik,

So, what then is the meaning of 'perfect' in Matt 5:48 (ESV) if 'you therefore must be perfect'? How can you and I be or become perfect?

The word used in the Greek, teleioi, is from telos, which means end, goal or limit. So, the standard to which we are called - the goal - is the Heavenly Father's standard. The word is also used for a relative perfection of adults when compared with children.

The parallel verse is with Deut 18:13 (ESV), 'You shall be blameless [upright, sincere] before the Lord your God'. So God is perfect in the sense of being true and upright in how he deals with us. That is the model we have to follow. In the Hebrew of Deut 18:13 (ESV), the word sham is used for 'blameless' and has the sense of being complete like a whole number, the full time, an animal without blemish or deformity.

In Matt 5:48 (ESV), it is the English understanding of 'perfect' as sinless that causes us to miss the meaning. We know that sinlessness is not not the meaning of 'prefect' because in Matt 5:6 (ESV), the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his disciples (and us) that 'blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied'.

It is unfortunate that the English does not seem to have a single word that conveys the idea of the Greek of aiming for the goal. Yes, that goal should include loving our enemies and friends but this love will have blemishes in it as we reach for the goal.

So to become perfect is not referring to perfectionism. That will never be possible in this life. It is referring to reaching for the goal of becoming like our Father. He is infinite in his attributes. We are finite. Becoming more like Jesus in our thinking and actions should be our aim. This is called progressive sanctification; becoming progressively more like Jesus is our goal.

Oz
 

Classik

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Classik,

So, what then is the meaning of 'perfect' in Matt 5:48 (ESV) if 'you therefore must be perfect'? How can you and I be or become perfect?

The word used in the Greek, teleioi, is from telos, which means end, goal or limit. So, the standard to which we are called - the goal - is the Heavenly Father's standard. The word is also used for a relative perfection of adults when compared with children.

The parallel verse is with Deut 18:13 (ESV), 'You shall be blameless [upright, sincere] before the Lord your God'. So God is perfect in the sense of being true and upright in how he deals with us. That is the model we have to follow. In the Hebrew of Deut 18:13 (ESV), the word sham is used for 'blameless' and has the sense of being complete like a whole number, the full time, an animal without blemish or deformity.

In Matt 5:48 (ESV), it is the English understanding of 'perfect' as sinless that causes us to miss the meaning. We know that sinlessness is not not the meaning of 'prefect' because in Matt 5:6 (ESV), the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his disciples (and us) that 'blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied'.

It is unfortunate that the English does not seem to have a single word that conveys the idea of the Greek of aiming for the goal. Yes, that goal should include loving our enemies and friends but this love will have blemishes in it as we reach for the goal.

So to become perfect is not referring to perfectionism. That will never be possible in this life. It is referring to reaching for the goal of becoming like our Father. He is infinite in his attributes. We are finite. Becoming more like Jesus in our thinking and actions should be our aim. This is called progressive sanctification; becoming progressively more like Jesus is our goal.

Oz
Thanks a lot.
I see I think the English language or words are limited. Perhaps I need to learn the Greek, Latin etc

Another example is the term: born from above
 

OzSpen

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Thanks a lot.
I see I think the English language or words are limited. Perhaps I need to learn the Greek, Latin etc

Another example is the term: born from above
Latin is not a primary language of the Bible.

I suggest you start with Koine Greek as it is easier than OT Hebrew (so my son tells me; he has a MDiv and studied both languages). I only know Greek. I'm too old to start on the Hebrew. Besides, I'd have to drive for an hour in busy Brisbane traffic to attend a College that teaches OT Hebrew. I'm not up to that now. For Hebrew, I'd want to be in a classroom to learn the nuances of the language.

For 'born from above' or 'born again' in John 3:3 (ESV), take a read of A T Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, HERE. Even though Robertson uses the Greek characters for the words, I think you'll be able to discern its meaning from one who was one of the most outstanding Greek exegetes from the 20th century.

An array of commentaries on John 3:3 (ESV) is available HERE.

However, basically, 'born from above' means 'new birth' when a Christian is regenerated by faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. It's a miraculous inner change that God (from above) brings to every new believer. If we have not experienced a new birth - been born from above - we cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Are you bothered by some aspect of being born again?

Oz
 
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Edward

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I did cover some of this in #2? Understanding the etymology of the words does not solve the issues of the differences among them. One has to examine Scripture in context to help with the explanation.

I'll attempt to provide brief explanations:

1. Righteousness
In English righteousness and justice are 2 different words but in the Hebrew OT and Greek NT that is not so as there is only one word root behind both 'righteousness' and 'justice'. So the meaning of this word is that God always does what is correct/right and God determines the standard of what is right.

These verses teach us this meaning of righteous/justice (emphasis added):
  • Gen 18:25 (ESV), 'Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?'
  • Deut 32:4 (ESV), 'all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he'.
  • Isa 45:19 (ESV), 'I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right'.
  • Paul tells us that God's sending Christ as a sacrifice for the punishment for sins in Rom 3:25-26 (ESV), it 'was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus'.
This is reason for us to praise God that in everything he does, all his ways are righteous. They are just; there is no injustice in Him. Question: How does God's justice harmonise with the killing of all the inhabitants of Ai (Joshua 8:24 ESV)?

2. Holiness
Psalm 99:9 (ESV) states, 'The Lord our God is holy'. God is called the 'Holy One of Israel' (Ps Pss 71:22; 78:41; 89:18; Isa 1:4; 5:19, 24; etc). When God says he is holy, it means he is separate from sin.

However, using his own holiness as an example, God commands, 'Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy' (Lev 19:2 ESV). We find a similar message in 1 Peter 1:16 (ESV), 'since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”'. Also, in the New Covenant, 'Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord' (Heb 12:14 ESV). Heb 12:10 (ESV) reminds us that God 'disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness'.

So, God disciplines us so that we may share his separateness from sin. As we grow to be more like Jesus, we will more and more be separate from sin - performing acts of sin. This is related to sanctification, but that is another topic.

It does raise the question: How can any believer be separate from win in a world that is contaminated by sin?

3. Purity
Do you remember the problems that Paul had with moral impurity in churches? See the church of Galatia (Gal 1:6-9; 3:1-5) and the church of Corinth (1 Cor 3:1-4; 4:18-21; 5:1-2, 6; 6:1-8; 11:17-22; 14:20-23; 15:2; 2 Cor 1:23-2:11; 11:3-5, 12-15; 12:19-21).

2 Cor 12:21 (ESV) states, 'I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practised'.

The word translated 'impurity' relates to 'those who sinned'. It is a sin. It will separate the sinner from worship of God and involvement with God's people. These could be the libertines of Corinth who could state, 'Food for the stomach and the stomach for food' (1 Cor 6:13 NIV). A follow on to this philosophy could be that other physical satisfactions were also permitted - including impurity.

So, purity, being the opposite of impurity, can have this meaning: Wayne Grudem provides this definition, 'The purity of the church is its degree of freedom from wrong doctrine and conduct, and its degree of conformity to God's revealed will for the church' (Grudem 1999:371, emphasis in original).

Purity in Christian conduct thus deals with acceptance and practice of God's standard of doctrine and behaviour.

I hope that this rather lengthy post will help to get us going with some discussion on these important topics that don't seem to be discussed much in churches in my part of the world. My pastor is an expositor who has been preaching through 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians (he preaches on 2 Cor 13 next Sunday), so we are naturally exposed to what these books teach on purity, impurity and immorality.

Oz

Works consulted
Grudem, W 1999. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. J Purswell (ed). Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press (by special arrangement with Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House).
Yes you did Brother, and very well also, however, I'm stuck with a dumb phone right now and my hard copy concordance is still packed away in a box because I just moved. So I'm itchin' to study it out from the original language...
 

OzSpen

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Yes you did Brother, and very well also, however, I'm stuck with a dumb phone right now and my hard copy concordance is still packed away in a box because I just moved. So I'm itchin' to study it out from the original language...
Edward,

I did some of that exegesis for you at #7 and #14.
 

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