Christ's perfect righteousness as our own
We will never be justified or accepted as holy and righteous before God, unless we stand before Him with Christ's perfect righteousness as our own. After all, that is the only righteousness God will ever recognize. So, how can we receive Christ's perfect righteousness?
It becomes ours by imputation. The heavenly Father imputes it to us through our faith. "Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works..." (Romans 4:6).
Paul quotes David as saying, "The richest, most blessed, most peaceful man on earth is the one who understands he has a perfect righteousness imputed to him -- without works!"
"(Abraham) staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God...And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed..." (verses 22-24).
This righteousness has to be imputed to us. It is not ours by infusion. In other words, God doesn't just pour it into us. No -- it is never our righteousness; it has nothing to do with what we have done or accomplished. It is always His righteousness, imputed to us -- credited to our account.
The word impute means "to regard or esteem, to consider, to attribute to a person something he does not have, to reckon or credit to one's account." When Jesus imputes His righteousness to us, God looks upon it as our very own. No, we did not earn it. Christ did it all -- and He credits it to our account!
This imputation comes by faith alone. We can't work for it or merit it in any way. Rather, because of our faith in Jesus and His redeeming work, the Lord credits the righteousness of Christ to us -- and we are reckoned as perfect in Him. That's right -- you and I are credited with the same righteousness that Jesus obtained here on this earth. By confessing our sins and having faith in Him, we stand before God with an imputed righteousness. And it is a perfect righteousness that is of faith and not of works:
* "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace..." (Romans 4:16).
* "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness..." (10:10).
* "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no (distinction)" (3:22).
* "To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (verse 26).
I ask you: Is there anything good in you that would cause God to send His Son to die for you? No -- it was an act of complete mercy and grace! God initiated it Himself. We were sinners, aliens, against Him. Yet, even then, God sent His only begotten Son to take on all our sins. It was all by grace!
"But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead" (verse 24). Oh, what a wonderful thing the power of faith is!
First, God's Word tells us that Christ paid for the sin of humankind at the Cross, with His own blood; that He fulfilled the law and removed the curse; that He ransomed us from the claims of hell and the devil; that He lived a sinless life, keeping the law at every point; and that He will present us before the Father with a perfect righteousness.
Then the Word tells us we can have Christ's perfect righteousness attributed to us -- that God will consider us as perfectly righteous in Jesus -- if only we will believe what He has accomplished for us! Please understand -- I am speaking of those who have repented of their sins.
Oh, how my flesh recoils at the simplicity and ease of it all! The flesh cries, "No way! It can't be that easy. I have to help -- I have to pay something. After all, I still have problems in my life. I still struggle with sin. I haven't yet come to a place where I believe God is pleased with me. I can't expect Him to consider me righteous I still have so many things needing improvement. I need to clean up my act first."
Certainly there may be tears on our part. We have to be humbled and broken. But a river of tears alone will not save anyone. A lifetime of struggles will not save anyone. God says, "It must be by grace through faith. No flesh shall glory in My presence!"
* "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17).
* "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith" (Galatians 5:5).
* "...righteousness...which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Philippians 3:9).
My faith has to rise above all my fears -- above all satanic lies, all feelings, all circumstances -- and rest in what God's Word declares. And His Word says that by repentance and faith in Christ, He looks upon me as having the perfect righteousness of Jesus. He accepts me "in the beloved" as holy and righteous!