Righteousness – God’s Gift That Jesus Paid for

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What is 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

“…that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

What exactly is this righteousness? An important question that we can only answer by going back to the beginning. Forefather Adam was made in the image of God, a spiritual being untainted by sin, therefore righteous, and worthy to stand in God’s presence. The Lord even came down to visit him in the garden to fellowship with him. Imagine that!

Scripture tells us God made the first man to be the manager of His handiwork, empowered by His blessing. Life was good in the garden; Adam and Eve lived fulfilled lives with no limits — except for one — a single tree they had to avoid. The rest was all theirs to enjoy and to rule over. They knew no lack, there were no hindrances, they had no problems. As a matter of fact, they were unaware that evil even existed.

Righteousness is the ability to stand in God’s presence with no obstacles that block access to Him, and no feelings of inferiority or shame. It is life under an open heaven in fellowship with God without any effort on our part to receive His favour — that is the blessing Adam and Eve received on the day they were created.

Righteousness is also the ability to stand in the presence of our accuser, the devil, who knows every bit of our sinful past without guilt, inferiority or shame; it is a state of mind with no consciousness of sin.

All of this was lost though when Adam disobeyed God, and not only that, the bitter fruit of sin appeared in their lives. The blessing that was so rich was now replaced by a bitter curse — an endless list of suffering we are all too familiar with. Hard work, pain, a murder and the very first grave, and a runaway son introduced life without God’s blessing.

Man was on his own now to make life work to the best of his limited ability. With it came sin consciousness — the knowledge that God was inaccessible, with no possibility to redeem themselves. Adam and Eve were completely cut off from God, and had to navigate life in a world under an unbearable curse. Moreover, when Adam chose to obey the serpent, he abdicated his stewardship of the earth to the devil, as Paul explained in his letter to the Roman church:

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteous-ness? Romans 6:16

Slaves have no options, and it doesn’t matter how good you try to be, you will still be a slave. In one moment Adam went from God’s steward to satan’s slave, and the consequences followed immediately, just as Jesus said:

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. John 10:10

This is exactly what life became under the rulership of the devil. God, in His love for mankind, reached out with a plan to alleviate their suffering, but it fell far short of what they were used to, and it was only temporary. Even though His judgment was harsh, His love found a way around this great impasse — at His own expense:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

God was not about to just cancel the curse, but to place it on His Son to bear, and so fulfill the righteous requirement of His law. There is a penalty to be paid for the trespasses done by man, and it extends far beyond life on earth into eternity. But Jesus stepped into our place and took the weight of our sin upon Himself:

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

Christ became a curse for us, which is why He cried out, as He breathed His last, “My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He became sin with our sin, and experienced what Adam did at the forbidden tree.

An exchange took place at the cross: Jesus took our sin and gave us His righteousness, and now we have right standing with God again.

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption… 1 Corinthians 1:30

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:2-4

The work has been done, the penalty is paid, and we have been justified. We are guilty no more, heaven is open above us, and we have a standing invitation to enter the Throne Room:

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:115,16

God did it all with no contribution from of us. However, there remains something that we must do now: accept His offer in the same measure that He paid our debt: all of it. Renew your mind to this glorious truth, and replace your sin-consciousness with righteous-consciousness. Stand boldly in His presence without guilt, inferiority or shame — and face your accuser the same way.

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience… Hebrews 10:22

Engrave this truth in your heart and mind:

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

The righteousness of God! You did not earn it, you were not good enough to be rewarded, and you contributed nothing to it: it is the gift of God. It is free you, but Jesus paid for it. Begin to see yourself ass God sees you:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:2-4

The world, in its hopelessness and confusion, needs the righteous new you. Dare to take bold steps in faith, knowing the way to God is open. The stumbling blocks of sin have been removed. God’s blessing now empowers you to do what He expects of you to do!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16,17

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