Righteousness in Christ: Part 1
Are you ready for some good news?
I’ve been discovering God’s heart and commitment to restore what has been lost, broken or stolen from His people. Today, we come upon a restorative work of God so full of good news that it bends my imagination. In Christ, God restores our righteousness.
Paul describes the restoration of righteousness succinctly to the Romans:
“For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”” (Romans 4:3, ESV)
Abraham wasn’t declared righteous because of what he did, but because of what he believed. To be “righteous” is to be in right standing. To say God reckoned Abraham as righteous is to say God treated him as if he had always done the right thing.
The good news grows later in the chapter:
“That is why [Abraham’s] faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:22–25, ESV)
Did you see it? “For ours also.”
The Hebrew word for “righteousness” (usually transliterated “tsedekah”) is a covenantal word. It’s not just about morality. It’s not just about doing the right thing for the sake of the ethics involved. “Righteousness” is a covenantal word because it involves relationships.
Righteousness is paramount in any relationship. If I lie to my wife, it isn’t just morally wrong; it is a violation of covenant. The unrighteous lie hurts the relationship. I can’t have right standing with my wife if the relationship is based on a lie.
Christians are forgiven (theologically “justified”) when they accept Christ’s saving work on the cross. But it isn’t enough to allow Jesus to take your sin. In order to be in right standing with God, you also must accept Jesus’ own righteousness as yours. When you accept Christ, you are reckoned righteous, treated as if you had been as righteous as Jesus. It means that you are placed into a relationship with God that has no more impediment than the relationship of Christ to the Father. You may have sin in your life, but in Christ, you’ve already been declared righteous so there must be no fear of rejection from God. And that’s the Gospel!