I liked HuggyBear. Remember him. He was the cool, hip, pimp-like informant friend of Starsky and Hutch. You know, Starsky and Hutch. Don’t tell me that is all before your time. They were the TV detective duo of the 70’s. Cool hair, red and white Torino. You don’t remember Torinos. This is getting us nowhere.
Back to HuggyBear. He had a word that he used when something was so good, so cool, so right on. He would say, “Righteous.” Starsky walks in with a new pair of sunglasses and Huggy says, “Righteous.” Hutch shoots a bad guy and recovers a gazillion dollars from a bank heist. When he opens the case Huggy says, “Righteous.” What a great word!
Imagine my surprise to find out that HuggyBear was not the inventor of the word. Paul says in Romans 8:4, “And so He condemned sin in sinful man in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” A lot of that sounds familiar over the last three weeks, sinful nature, law of the Spirit, but righteous, that’s a new word.
Remember where we are, from verse 1. God does not condemn us even though we are unable to keep His law perfectly because Jesus came and set us free but the slavery of having to keep the law. He justified us (just as if I’d never sinned) by His death and now sees us as though we are pure and perfect.
Here in verse 4 He brings that whole thought to completion by reminding us that the law wasn’t ignored. It was fulfilled by Christ. It’s like this. I get a speeding ticket for driving 70 in a 55. Wait, let’s make this more realistic. Doris gets a speeding ticket for driving 70 in a 55. She goes to court and the judge says, “That will be $130.” Then he says, “I can’t ignore what you did and the fine has to be paid, but I tell you what I’m going to do. I will pay the fine for you and you are free to go.” That’s what God did for us and we are set free from the law of sin and death. Righteous!
Which brings us back to that word. What is the “righteous requirement of the law?” What does it mean to be righteous? What is righteousness? It goes all the way back to the Old Testament covenant that God made with Abraham and with us. “I will be your God and you will be my people.” I am righteous by being in a right relationship with God. When I accept Him for who He is, My Creator, My Redeemer, My Lord, and I realize that He accepts me for who I am, His child that He loves, not because of what I do to please Him but because of what He has done for me then I am in right relationship with Him and I am righteous.
In Romans 4:3 Paul writes, “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” He was righteous not because of what he did but because of who he believed. And the same is true for me and you. God gave us the law to prove to us that we can never be good enough. Then He paid the price of the law to prove to us that He loves us. And finally, He takes away any guilt or shame of that, no condemnation, and all He asks of us is that we trust Him. Not just to take care of our sick kids or to help us pay the light bill. No He asks us to believe that He loves us so much that He sees us as His own, wonderful, dearly loved kids, even when we mess things up. John writes in I John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that He calls us His little children. And that is what we are!” Righteous.
Over the next few weeks in Romans 8 we’ll start seeing what that looks like and how we respond to it. But for now just believe it. Quit trying to get everything just right. You don’t have to be perfect. Your Abba Daddy loves you so much and you are better than perfect. You are righteous.