2 Peter 3:13But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
As Peter contemplated the coming day of the Lord, he focused on the future. According to God’s own promise, there will be ‘new heavens and a new earth.’ This better country, this heavenly land, will be one in which ‘righteousness dwells.’
When most people think of heaven, they tend to focus on streets of gold and gates of pearl. They think of angels and archangels, and of the myriad multitudes worshipping together around the throne. But how many think of the fact that righteousness will reign supreme in this heavenly land?
First off, we must define what we mean by “righteousness.” One of my seminary professors used to stress that righteousness is doing the right thing – especially as God defines ‘the right thing.’ Righteousness is both active and relational – it is actively doing right things in relation to others – to God and to our fellow man.
The opposite of righteousness is, of course, unrighteousness. That means sin practiced toward God and man, doing the wrong thing to the hurt and harm of others. Unrighteousness is iniquity, transgression and evil-doing. There will be no unrighteousness in the new heavens and the new earth.
So in what sense will “righteousness dwell” in this heavenly country – in God’s new order? I believe there are three respects. First of all, Christ is ‘our righteousness’ and He will dwell with us in the new heavens and new earth. So Christ’s presence is implied by this verse.
Second, we have been made righteous through the completed work of Christ. Having both his active and passive obedience imputed to us, the righteousness of Christ is now ours. We will be perfected in holiness, and our righteousness will be completed and fulfilled. So not only will Christ our righteousness dwell with us, but we will be the fully and wholly righteous people of God, dwelling with Christ in the glory land.
Third and finally, righteousness will be the atmosphere and the environment of eternity, like the air we breathe. No hint of evil will remain. Satan and his followers will be consigned to eternal damnation in hell. Human hearts will be purged of the last vestiges of sin, and we will not be able to sin again. There will be no possibility of wicked actions to hurt others. Instead, the new heavens and the new earth will be ruled by peace, goodness, justice and obedience to God’s will.
Living here on earth, we can grow understandably weary of all of the shenanigans of our fellow men. Their iniquitous antics can drive us to despair. When the men of earth are driving your crazy, think on the promise of that better country, where uprightness will be the order of the day. Let your heart be encouraged, and your eyes lifted to the purple hills of eternity.