Have you humbled yourself before God, turned to him and trusted in the blood of Jesus to cleanse you from sin and guilt? If you have, then the Bible says that you are God’s righteousness.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Some might protest and say, “Well I don’t feel like the righteousness of God and I certainly don’t look like it.” However, believing this truth is something absolutely essential to Christian maturity, growing in your relationship with God and living for Him.
Two Kinds of Righteousness
There are two kinds of righteousness spoken of in the Bible: Self-righteousness and Imputed righteousness.
Self-righteousness sounds inherently bad because referring to someone as self-righteous has a negative connotation meaning they think of themselves higher than they ought. However, in a literal sense, self-righteousness is simply having an upright status because of upright living. You’ve done something good and so you are declared good and free of guilt.
Imputed righteousness is when you have a good standing accounted to you, regardless of what you’ve done, good or evil. Imputed righteousness is not something you can earn, but is something you can receive as a gift from God, and every believer who has put their faith in Christ is declared and accounted to be righteous by Christ’s blood.
The Covenant of Works
The Law of Moses was a covenant of works between God and the nation of Israel. He gave them a set of commandments and told them if they obeyed they would be declared righteous and receive life, but if they did not observe his Law they would bear the curse of guilt.
And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us. Deuteronomy 6:24-25
Under the covenant of law, God was willing to forgive those who did evil, IF they turned from their sin and began to keep His law. In contrast, if a man who lived uprightly, turned from God’s commandments and turned to wickedness and evil, he would come under the curse and condemnation of the law.
But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Ezekiel 18:21-24
The Covenant of Grace
In the book of Galatians we read about a change in regards to God’s dealing with his people. While the old covenant was strictly with the Jewish people, God began to offer a way of righteousness to the Gentiles that was totally different than what he had offered before (Romans 11:11, tells us He did this to make the Jews jealous). Instead of requiring the observance of the Law as a basis for right standing, God offered a new way of righteousness that is simply by faith, believing God’s promise to us.
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. Galatians 3:23-25
Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted as righteousness. Romans 4:4-5
It’s actually pretty scandalous, because everything from our conscience to our family and friends may tell us that we are anything but righteous. Yet God has given us a righteousness that we dare not neglect. Instead of striving to observe a set of commandments to earn our right standing before God, we can simply rest in God’s promise of imputed righteousness, knowing that our right standing with him depends solely on the atoning blood of Christ, the Lamb of God.
God wants you to believe Him today, regardless of what your senses tell you. Begin to see with the eyes of faith and, regardless of your daily success or failure to live uprightly, declare with boldness God’s enduring promise that you are the righteousness of God, in Christ Jesus.