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Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky
Orthodox dogmatic theology

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Righteousness is understood in the word of God and in its general usage as having two

meanings: a) holiness, and b) justice.

Holiness consists not only in the absence of evil or sin: holiness is the presence of higher

spiritual values, joined to purity from sin. Holiness is like the light, and the holiness of God is

like the purest light. God is the “one alone holy” by nature. He is the Source of holiness for angels

and men. Men can attain to holiness only in God, “not by nature, but by participation, by

struggle and prayer” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem). The Scripture testifies that the angels who surround

the throne of God ceaselessly declare the holiness of God, crying out to each other, Holy, holy,

holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory(Isaiah 6:3). As depicted in Scripture,

the light of holiness fills everything that comes from God or serves God: “His holy name

(Ps. 32:21; 102:1; 104:3; 105:46); “His holy word(Ps. 104:41); “the law is holy(Rom. 7:12);

“His holy arm(Ps. 97:2); O God, in the holy place is Thy way(Ps. 76:13); “His holy throne

(Ps. 46:9); holy is the footstool of His feet (Ps. 98:5); righteous is the Lord in all His ways, and

holy in all His works(Ps. 144:17); holy is the Lord our God(Ps. 98:9).

The justice of God is the other aspect of God's all righteousness; “He will judge the peoples

in uprightness(Ps. 9:9). “The Lord wall render to every man according to his deeds, for there

is no respect of persons with God(Rom. 2:6, 11).

How can one harmonize the Divine Love with God's justice, which judges strictly for sins

and punishes the guilty? On this question many Fathers have spoken. They liken the anger of

God to the anger of a father, who, with the aim of bringing a disobedient son to his senses, resorts

to a father's means of punishing, at the same time himself grieving, simultaneously being

sad at the senselessness of his son and sympathizing with him in the pain he is causing him. This

is why God's justice is always mercy also, and His mercy is justice, according to the words:

Mercy and truth are met together, justice and peace have kissed each other” (Ps. 84:10).The holiness and justice of God are closely bound to each other. God calls everyone to eternal

life in Him, in His Kingdom, and this means in His Holiness. However, into the Kingdom of

God nothing unclean can enter. The Lord cleanses us by His chastisements, as by providential

acts, which forewarn and correct, for the sake of His love towards His creation. For we must undergo

the judgment of justice, a judgment which for us is terrible: how can we enter into the

kingdom of holiness and light, and how would we feel there, being unclean, dark, and not having

in ourselves any seeds of holiness, not having in ourselves any kind of positive spiritual or moral


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