Righteousness is "the quality of being morally right or justifiable"; defined as "justice, uprightness, rectitude; conformity of life to the requirements of the divine or moral law; virtue, integrity." To be righteous is to be "morally right or justifiable; of a person, morally good; virtuous. A righteous person is "just, upright, virtuous; guiltless, sinless; conforming to the standard of the divine or moral law; acting rightly or justly."

“Righteousness is honor, loyalty and integrity combined.”

Righteous, as a translation of the Hebrew tsedeq, is also defined as "right, righteous, just, innocent, honest, upright, pious, and God-fearing." A righteous person is a tsaddiq. Righteousness is uprightness of character, being on the plumb line with God, in syzygy with the Creator.

Righteousness, which is a quality of the Godhead, is an absolute and abstract principle, a law of being — you must be righteous — and a law of doing — you must express righteousness in all our dealings — and a virtue of the upright before God; you begin perfecting righteousness under the Master Degree.

Righteousness is honor, loyalty and integrity combined, the state of consciousness of learning to be right, not through opinion and prejudice, but with principle and the love of God. It is a state of grace, living by your highest ideas, living with the Christ. Righteousness misused as self-righteousness is hypocrisy.

Edna Lister on Righteousness

The Psalmist says, "Never have I seen the seed of the righteous begging bread." – Psalm 37:25. – Edna Lister, January 24, 1933.

Righteousness is the right use of the great absolute principles of Love, Wisdom and Selflessness. – Edna Lister, January 26, 1935.

The ways of the righteous are not made too easy lest through satisfaction they forget God. The ways of the righteous are planted in the desert places of earth to make them blossom into beauty through creative processes within the soul, which the soul calls forth upon need. – Edna Lister, August 15, 1938.

Walk in the Way of Righteousness and "all things shall be added," all promises shall be fulfilled, all delights of Spirit shall be given to you. – Edna Lister, December 26, 1938.

When you feel self-righteous in comparison with another, you immediately place yourself below the one whom you judge. – Edna Lister, September 30, 1948.

In judgment, or what we call righteous indignation, you put on the black cloak of death and lose credits because you kill the vibration. – Edna Lister, June 21, 1951.

The righteousness of the Almighty God is a true vision of heaven. – Edna Lister, July 24, 1955.

Righteousness is a state of perfection, a process of making you completely right with God, including all your cells, nerves and the subconscious mind working in harmony. – Edna Lister, Nor Shadow of Turning, July 15, 1956.

Righteousness is honor, loyalty and integrity combined, the state of consciousness of learning to be right, not through opinion and prejudice, but with principle and the love of God. – Edna Lister, Lights and Colors, July 17, 1956.

Unwise speech, or self entering when righting wrongs, leads to self-righteousness indignation. One cannot be self-righteous under pure discrimination and discernment. – Edna Lister, December 20, 1956.

You release great Power when you fold your hands over the "breastplate of righteousness" — your chest — in defense. Cross your arms in a natural way to invoke this protection, and it will rout any enemy. Use it only when someone is outrageous, dictatorial, demanding, or when you are in physical danger. Use the left over right arm position to quiet another. – Edna Lister, March 7, 1957.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; for they shall be filled." – Matthew 5:6. Righteousness is your highest point of soul vision. When your devotion reaches its zenith of expression, you hunger and thirst for God. Righteousness is all-inclusive, the righteousness that flows from God to mankind. – Edna Lister, As I See the World, June 15, 1958.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." – Matthew 5:10. The keynote of "persecution" is "I assume all blame for everything around me, for God’s sake." – Edna Lister, As I See the World, June 15, 1958.

High mastery is righteousness, living up to your highest vision of God. – Edna Lister, As I See the World, June 15, 1958.

Righteousness is a state of grace, living by our highest ideas, living with the Christ. – Edna Lister, April 1, 1960.

Righteous indignation is good, if you are righteous and eliminate the indignation. – Edna Lister, November 27, 1961.

True righteousness is right judgment. – Edna Lister, August 13, 1962.

"Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees [the self-proclaimed righteous], you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." – Matthew 5:20. The highest righteousness is right use of all law. – Edna Lister, January 3, 1965.

You are not called on to like that which is unlike God, but you must not judge unrighteously. – Edna Lister, June 25, 1965.

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New Testament on Righteousness

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. – Matthew 3:13-15. [It becomes us to fulfill all righteousness.]

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. – Matthew 6:33.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. – James 5:16.

The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth. – Ephesians 5:9.

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Old Testament on Righteousness

And [God] brought [Abraham] forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness. – Genesis 15:5-6. [Believe in the Lord, and He accounts it to you for righteousness.]

Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. – Exodus 23:1.

Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked. And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. – Exodus 23:7-8.

Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor. – Leviticus 19:15.

The Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us. – Deuteronomy 6:24-25.

Thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God. – Deuteronomy 25:15-16. [All who do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord God.]

The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. – Psalm 1:5-6.

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. – Psalm 4:5.

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. – Psalm 15.

The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me. I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity. Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight. With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; with the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward. – Psalm 18:20-26.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. – Psalm 19:7-9.

The Word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. – Psalm 33:4-5.

Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. – Psalm 37:5-6.

A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lord upholdeth the righteous. The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever. – Psalm 37:16-18.

The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth. – Psalm 37:21.

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. – Psalm 37:25.

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. – Psalm 55:22.

The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. – Psalm 103:6.

Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. – Psalm 119:142.

The Lord gives wisdom: out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He lays up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. He keeps the paths of judgment, and preserves the way of his saints. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path. – Proverbs 2:6-9.

The labor of the righteous tends to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin. – Proverbs 10:16.

The wicked works a deceitful work: but to him that sows righteousness shall be a sure reward. As righteousness tends to life: so he that pursues evil pursues it to his own death. – Proverbs 11:18-19.

He that speaks truth shows forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit. – Proverbs 12:17.

In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death. – Proverbs 12:28.

It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness. Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaks right. – Proverbs 16:12-13.

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. – Proverbs 20:11.

Self-righteousness: Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord ponders the hearts. – Proverbs 21:2.

To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. – Proverbs 21:3.

He that follows after righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor. Proverbs 21:21.

A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring. – Proverbs 25:26.

The wicked flee when no man pursues: but the righteous are bold as a lion. – Proverbs 28:1.

An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked. – Proverbs 29:27.

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Righteousness in Other Sacred Writings

Love righteousness, think of the Lord with a good heart, and in simplicity of heart seek Him. – Wisdom of Solomon 1:1.

The holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit, thoughts that are without understanding, and will not abide unrighteousness. – Wisdom of Solomon 1:5.

He who speaks unrighteously cannot hide: neither shall he escape punishment. – Wisdom of Solomon 1:8.

God created all things, that they might have their being: The generations of the world were healthful; there is no poison of destruction in them, nor was the kingdom of death upon the earth: for righteousness is immortal. – Wisdom of Solomon 1:14-15.

Sow in the furrows of unrighteousness, and you will reap them sevenfold. – Wisdom of Ben Sirach 7:3.

Because of unrighteous dealings, injuries, and riches got by deceit, a country is translated from one people to another. – Wisdom of Ben Sirach 10:8.

The Lord only is righteous, and there is none other but he, who governs the world with the palm of his hand, and all things obey his will: for he is the King of all, by his power dividing holy things among them from profane. – Wisdom of Ben Sirach 18:2-3.

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 – 1971
The original Christian Pioneering Mystic,
Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of righteous: Middle English ryghtuous, from Old English rihtwīs: riht, ’right’; see right + -wise.’manner, state, condition’.

Righteousness is an abstract principle.
Righteousness is a law of being.
Righteousness is a law of doing.
Righteousness is a soul virtue.


Alcalay, Reuben. >The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary. Ramat-Gan, Jerusalem, Israel: Massada Publishing Co., 1981, 2153.

Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, ed. San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1981.

The Oxford English Dictionary: Compact Ed., 2 vols. E.S.C. Weiner, ed. Oxford University Press, 1971.

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