What is the difference between the two? There is one.
Think of it like this:
A known criminal enters a courtroom for trial. The opposing lawyer fails to convince the judge he is guilty even with evidence, so the judge declares the criminal not guilty. Now according to the Law, he has been made right in regard to the charges and free to go. This doesn't mean he acted rightly or will do so in the future, only that in regards to justice, he has been declared innocent.
Righteousness is the verdict handed down to us by God through Jesus. Jesus paid for our sins on the cross (Colossians 2:13-14) and by faith in him we are declared innocent, justified by justice, and made righteous in God's eyes (Romans 5:1).
Holiness is a state of being. It is our actions that make us holy. This is why even the Apostle Peter, Paul, and John say to be holy, even after you come to faith in Christ. (1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 1:5-7, 2:3-6; 1 Thes 4:1-8)
So righteousness is legal standing before God. We are the righteousness of God in Christ.
Holiness is the sum of our actions. We are holy by how we live, either pure and undefiled (holy) or sinfully and impure (unholy).
Being righteous does not exclude us from needing to be holy. But even when we fall short of our holy calling, we are still righteous in God's eyes because that depends on what Jesus did for us and not what we do ourselves.
Good topic. I'm not sure I fully agree with the explanation, but I don't really disagree either. I'm "thinking" about it.
Maybe it's that I think that God's granting us righteousness should lead to holiness.
IDK, I'm kind of just musing "out loud."
I can agree with that. We should out of thankfulness for what God has given us be obedient to him. That obedience in itself is a form of holiness. After all holiness is just conformity to God's will. Or something similar.
i see this a bit differently; holiness is the sum of that portion of our actions that are the result of being led by God. for example, consider this scripture:
Mat 12:1-8 KJV
(1) At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.
(2) But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.
(3) But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
(4) How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
(5) Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?
(6) But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.
(7) But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
(8 ) For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
the priests worked on the sabbath, profaning the law by doing so from man's perspective; but because they were following God's specific instructions, they were blameless. the israelites clearly violated God's commandment 'thou shalt not kill' from man's perspective when they took they land of Canaan by killing all the inhabitants, but since they were following God's specific instructions, they were blameless.
holiness is about focus - the pharisees were outwardly holy, but because their focus was to obey God's laws according to their own understanding, their focus was actually on themselves and not God.
Think about it this way. Let's say you had to cross a minefield, and you had two things available to you to help you keep from getting killed. You have a map that shows the approximate location of all the mines, and you have a headset through which you can hear the leading of someone who can see the actual location of all the mines through some kind of radar. If you try to listen to the voice through headset without looking at the map, there's a good chance you'll misunderstand and step on a mine. If you try to go by the map without listening to the voice through the headset, there's a good chance you'll misunderstand the map and step on a mine. But if you use the map to confirm what you think you hear through the headset, and take no step until you are sure that both agree, you'll be able to dance through the minefield without harm :)