Christ, Our Righteousness, Part 3
I can see this is going to be a very valuable series, at least for me. I hope and pray you benefit from it as well. It helps me to get my thoughts down on paper (even if it’s on “electronic” paper like a blog) because that’s what helps me to internalize it. Thanks for joining me on this theological journey.
In part 2 of this series, we spoke of a number of things. We spoke of the fact that Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3 that all people are automatically under God’s condemnation. There is nothing we can do to help ourselves or extricate ourselves out from under the wrath that is appointed to all people because of our sin nature. We have no ability to excise that sin nature or make propitiation for it. Only God can do that and in fact, has done that. God’s redemption is available for all people. That redemption includes eternal salvation – literally the sealing of the Holy Spirit within us until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). We’ll eventually get into why that seal cannot be broken by anyone, including God, who has promised that He will not break that seal.
We also spoke of the fact that our faith in Christ’s atonement is what allows God to label us legally speaking as righteous. This label is not reversible, as I believe we will see. It is a constant, ongoing, present-tense perfect fact of our salvation. It is what defines our salvation from a legal standpoint as far as God is concerned.
Our responsibility toward God is to believe Him, to have faith in His work and promises on our behalf.
If we look at a number of individuals throughout the Old Testament – Abraham, Moses, David, as just a few – it should be clear that they gained salvation because of their faith in God. It was that simple and sublime. Faith was the only requirement for which God would then count them righteous. Even when they sinned later on – and let’s just look at Moses, Abraham, or David – they did not lose their salvation. In David’s case, he yearned to once again experience the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51:12), but there is no indication at all that David actually lost his salvation. None.
The same is true for Moses, who should have known better due to his very close walk with God, yet in a weakened moment, allowed his own anger to get the best of him and ruined what was to be God’s imagery of the 2nd Coming of Jesus in power. In Numbers 20, the second incident of water from the rock was before the Israelites. Once again, they complained and once again, God provided the answer. However, in this second case, Moses was supposed to only speak to the rock, not strike it! The first time he was to strike it (cf. Numbers 12), which painted a picture of the suffering Servant of Isaiah 52-53. The first time Jesus walked this planet, He did so as a humble servant, where men spit upon Him, treated Him cruelly, and eventually killed Him, a complete innocent.
However, when Jesus returns to this planet, He will do so in power and as Judge and King. No one will dare to touch Him! Moses ruined the moment by striking the rock (a picture of Jesus) during the second incident instead of simply speaking to the rock as God had commanded Moses. This is why Moses’ sin was so grievous. Though God forgave Moses, the consequences of his sin would remain and he was not allowed to enter the physical Promised Land.
Need we talk about Abraham? If Abraham had not taken his wife’s advice and slept with Hagar, the Arab people (via Ishmael) would not exist today. Imagine how different the world would be without that animosity. Yet, according to Hebrews 11, Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness. No amount of sin can apparently obliterate or change the label of righteous once God applies it to the Christian’s life. There is nothing we can do that will remove us from His hand. We are not strong enough to break that seal, in spite of what some would like to believe.
Salvation is gained by each person when God sees faith from them to Him. When people believe God (His promises, His redemptive work, in essence, in His Son), that is all that is required for God to be able to apply God the Son’s righteousness to that person’s life…forever. As I noted last time, we cannot earn His righteousness. It is simply given to us when God sees the requisite faith in Him. It is that simple.
We cannot emphasize enough that this becomes our new position or standing before our Holy God. He actually sees us with God the Son’s righteousness, in spite of the sins that we may end up committing or dabbling with after that point.
The people who believe salvation can be lost believe that if/when a Christian sins, if they do not repent, they are not only out of fellowship with God, but they are in danger of losing their salvation. In essence, if the Christian continues in sin, thoroughly rebelling against God, loss of salvation is a surety. What I believe these people are failing to understand is something I tried to bring out in another recent article, “Today I Was Reminded that I Have a Sin Nature.”
There are two sides to our salvation. There is the legal judgment or ramifications of our salvation. This is where God is able to officially declare us righteous and this is based not on any works we have done, but purely on our faith – our ability to believe that Jesus has paid the price in full and He is all we need to gain salvation and a place with God for all eternity. We are saved by faith alone, because of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-10). Faith is not a work. It is an attitude, an understanding (however small) that God and only God can change our status from “CONDEMNED!” to “RIGHTEOUS!” Only God can do that. Our faith is what opens that door (Revelation 3:20).
When we exercise faith in God’s provision, God, the Eternal Judge delights to stamp our case as “RIGHTEOUS!” He rejoices that He does not have to continue to see us as “CONDEMNED!”
Think of someone coming to us out of the blue and said, “Look, I understand you’re having financial difficulties. Here’s a note that you simply need to take to your bank, give it to the teller and money will be transferred into your account that will cover all your debt!” That might be really difficult for us to believe, but what would we have to lose? Many people might walk by laughing at the person, thinking it’s a scam. A few might be desperate enough to take a chance. Those who do would find to their delight that what they were told was in fact true.
They took the note to their bank and their account went from “IN THE RED” to “IN THE BLACK.” All it takes is a willingness to believe that was said was true. The person accepting the infusion of cash into their account did nothing to deserve it or make it happen. However, when faced with the opportunity, they chose to believe the person and it turned out to be true. What began as faith turned into fact.
Everyone who receives God’s salvation available only in and through Jesus is declared RIGHTEOUS. This fact remains true for all eternity! There is nothing we can do to change this FACT.
But Paul, very aware of the potential to live in a licentious way, wrote the book of Romans (as well as Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, and others) to help Christians understand that there is a huge difference in simply having salvation (as wonderful as that is) and living a life that is in keeping with that salvation! This cannot be overstated. There is a huge difference and one that causes a tremendous gap in the way many of us live as Christians today.
I want to leave us with Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 1:30 (NET):
He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption…
The “He” there is obviously Jesus. Because we have salvation, we are 1) in relationship with Him, and enjoy 2) righteousness, 3) sanctification, and 4) redemption. These are just four things we enjoy from being “in” (in relationship) with Jesus.
God declares us righteous. That is something He does based on our faith in Christ’s work on our behalf. We are (present, ongoing, perfect-tense) righteous! That will never change! The only thing that can and often does change is how we choose to live, or whether or not we enjoy constant, broken, or non-existent fellowship with God.
We’ll talk more about that next time.
Entry filed under: christianity, eternity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: christ is our righteousness, we are declared righteous.