If you are breathing and in touch with reality you know for a fact that we, as believers, are not truly “righteous” in the sense of doing “right” ALL the time (in other words, being PERFECT)……even though Romans 3:21-24 clearly states that there is “a righteousness of God to all, and upon all those believing”. (Young’s Literal NT)
I certainly don’t understand how it’s done, but God, as a FACT and as REALITY, actually sees us in this light because of Christ’s sacrifice and our gift of faith.
So, why would Paul look forward to receiving the “crown of righteousness” mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:8 (notice: he doesn’t look forward to a crown of “celestial gold and/or jewels”!!)? And, in Galatians 5:5 he says we saints “do wait for a hope of righteousness” (Young’s). How does this square with Romans 3:21-24….seems contradictory.
The answer appears to be this:
Paul wanted to experience a “real” righteousness (not just the “imputed” mentioned above) to its fullest extent and a crown symbolized this accomplishment….in other words, being able, AFTER THE RESURRECTION, to be as perfect as Christ Jesus, without the possibility of EVER sinning again…..ALWAYS being able to think and do the right thing out of pure, Holy love. (Reference Philippians 3:12)