Q. It seems to me that there is confusion among Christians as to what righteousness and holiness are. Most Christians associate it with being sinless – if such were possible (hence, the emphasis on works to try to gain/regain it) – but I see righteousness and holiness as God’s divine attributes that can on only be bestowed upon believers by faith in Him. Am I correct in believing this?
A. The Greek word translated “righteous” means to be innocent, guiltless, and faultless where God’s laws are concerned. The one for “holy” comes from a root that means sacred or pure.
If we were somehow able to prevent ourselves from ever committing a single sin, or even harboring thoughts of such, throughout our entire lifetime, then we could be considered righteous and holy. But our sin nature makes it impossible for us to achieve these qualities on our own. They can only be imputed to us by faith in the Lord’s death on our behalf and his subsequent resurrection (Romans 3:20-24).