If the work of Christ involved just dying for our sins, he would have paid the penalty and cleared our debt due to sins before God, then we may just be in a state of neutral innocence, but that is not enough to be accepted before our righteous God. Hence, Christ not only removed the wrath of God on our sins by his substitutionary death but by living a perfect life, he became our righteousness and made us whole and acceptable before God.
Default mode of all fallen human beings is self righteousness. We are so addicted to it, even as believers if we don’t watch out in attitude of faith, we automatically tend to fall into that mode. We generally think if I avoid a particular sin, and pray more, read more Bible, we can get closer to God. Frankly, what is that but self righteousness? It is true we have to grow in holiness by killing sin. But does our standing and relationship with God dependent on our own righteousness or Christ’s perfect righteousness? Will our tiny little self efforts bring us closer to a perfectly holy God? If we have just a minute little sin in our being, that is enough for a burning holy God to banish us in hell forever.
Hence, if we want to have any true and consistent communion with this perfectly righteous God, we need to learn great truth of Christ our righteousness. Isn’t this the great re-discovery of reformation – justification by faith and not by our own works.
- What is righteousness and how Christ becomes our righteousness?
Generally, righteousness is spoken as an attribute of God. Our God is perfectly righteous and he loves righteousness, he is so infinitely righteous that no one without perfect righteousness can ever stand before him. God created man in his own image, perfectly righteous, without any flaw or sin. Adam was a representative for all human race. If Adam would have lived a righteous life, his righteousness would have been imputed. Sadly because he sinned, his guilt was imputed to us because he was our federal head.
Adam, and all his would-be children in him, having broken the law, fell from the perfect state and become depraved and unrighteous. Oh how great and irreparablewas that fall! We became fully depraved in every part of our soul and body; fell to an extent where our redemption seemed humanly impossible. We have broken God’s righteous law, and were under the curse of that law. Until justice of God is satisfied, and the honour of the broken law repaired; heaven’s gates were shut, and eternally barred against man and all his descendants. In this deplorable condition, we could never ever approach God, the wrath of God almighty was ready to break upon our heads; we became slaves to sin, enemies to God, sentenced to physical and spiritual death, subjected to not only a temporal life of vanity, misery, and curse, but awaiting as prisoners to be eternally condemned in hell. State of humanity was most tragic and pitiable condition before a God of inflexible justice.
God could have justly condemned mankind after their fall. Here Calvin beautifully says here God’s attributes struggled with one another. Justice saying “Is the law broken, damn the offender, and send him to hell.” At the same time, the mercy of God, his darling attribute, cries out, Oh pity, show mercy “Spare him, spare him.” The wisdom of God designs glorious way in which justice might be satisfied, at the same time mercy can be offered. How was that?
When no eye could pity mankind, when no angel or archangel could rescue, just as when God’s justice could have crushed us and given the fatal blow, just as the knife was put to the throat of mankind, (as Abraham about to kill his own son), The eternal Son of God, the dear redeemer, Lord Jesus Christ in his infinite love and pity to perishing sinners, steps in as a Mediator and Substitute. Halts the justice of God saying, “Father, spare the sinner; have mercy and let him live. True man has broken your law, and violated your covenant: man deserves to be damned forever; but, Father, I have compassion on this human race. If you will prepare me a body, in the fullness of time I will go and do your will What Adam could not do, and I will do. He has broken your law, but I will go and keep it perfectly, that your law may be honored; I will give a perfect unsinning obedience to all your commandments; fulfil all righteousness, and earn spotless perfect righteousness by which you may justify the ungodly without any stain to your justice. I will not only go down and obey you law, but I will bear the infinite suffering due for their sins and bleed; die for him.Father, I will step in between you and sinners as a theirmediator and surety fulling all you demand from them to be reconciled to you. Let your wrath fall on me, sword of justice pierce my heart, drain my blood, but spare and forgive the sinners!”
Behold the love of the son of God! It is not only the death on the cross that saved us, but he had to take our place under the law and live a life of spotless purity for 33 years and as he said to John the Baptist, ‘we have to fulfil all righteousness.’ He lived a righteous life in the midst of terrible sinners, senseless disciples, and mortal enemies who thirsted for his blood chased him all his life.
So what is the righteousness of Christ? It’s Christ’s righteousness purchased by Christ by his active obedience to law – by keeping the law perfectly, and of course his passive obedience by undergoing sufferings for our guilt and sins imputed to him. Christ righteousness is an act of amazing grace of God, instead of demanding personal satisfaction, God not only admitted a substitute, but also provided one, and laid upon him all demands of law and justice.
Now how does Christ become our righteousness. A man receives this righteousness when as a response to the gospel, he repents and puts his faith in Christ and his finished work. A man is justified by faith alone, no works is needed. Because Christ’s righteousness is perfect.
This righteousness of the Surety is conveyed to us by imputation; God reckons what the Surety did to us; so that his righteousness becomes as much ours and we are justified before God, as though we had obeyed the law perfectly, and satisfied justice in our own person. There is a blessed exchange of places between Christ and the sinner who puts his faith on him.
- Glorious attributes of this righteousness.
a)It is in every way perfect and spotless righteousness:
b)It is a meritorious righteousness.
c)It is an incomparable righteousness.
d) It is a soul-beautifying righteousness.
e) It is an everlasting righteousness.
- This righteousness lifts the sinner from below greatest evil.
i) From the condemning power of the law.
ii) From trails and accusations of the world.
iii) From the power and malice of Satan.
iv) From death itself.
- This righteousness lifts the sinner to the state of greatest blessings.
i) Reconciled to God and peace with God.
iii) Fellowship and very closely familiarity with God and access to him with holy confidence and boldness.
iv) Endless glory.
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