Updated: May 29, 2022
Many Christians do not know how good God has been through the Gospel.
He has made us righteous. The scripture is very clear that you cannot be righteous through works or deeds. It is only by faith in Christ can one be right with God.
As we explore part 2, we see five more reasons some believers have a hard time understanding the righteousness that God provided for them at salvation.
(Read part one here: https://www.thegospelperspective.com/post/10-wrong-ideas-that-keep-the-believer-from-understanding-their-righteousness-in-christ-part-1)
“How am I righteous if I still struggle with sin every day?”
Romans 4:3-5 (KJV) “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Our performance never determined our righteousness in the first place. Grace determines our righteousness and that is the unearned favor of God upon us because of our faith in Jesus’ performance, not our own. A righteous heart produces righteous behavior, but righteous behavior does not make you righteous. Let us not confuse the two and get it backwards saying that you must behave righteously to be righteous. No! You have a righteous heart through faith in Jesus. There was a spiritual operation that God performed at salvation and he made you the righteousness of God in Christ. We do good works because we are good not because we want to be good. Our identity is not defined by what we do it is defined by what Jesus did. People who are not believers can certainly act good and do good works but that does not make them righteous or right with God. Only faith in Jesus Christ and his finished work can do that. We are righteous by birth and not by behavior.
Romans 7:20 (KJV) “Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.”
There are external forces at work that are not who we are, like the flesh and sin. These are not us, but exterior forces to our spirit that plague us. We must deal with and overcome these, but we are not the flesh, and we as believers are not sin. Sin is sin. The flesh is the flesh. The believer is complete in Jesus and is a new creature.
“Jesus is my standard, and I do not match up to Him in my behavior.”
Put plain and simple: Jesus was your vicarious performance of the Old Testament Law, and now that is fulfilled. He did that so that you would not have to, and so you could be free from the ordinances and laws that kept you in bondage. It wouldn’t make any sense then to compare ourselves to Jesus instead of the Law. We would never have matched up to the 613 laws of the Old Testament. How can we expect ourselves to match up to the character of God Himself? We are indwelt by Jesus, but we are not Jesus. Jesus is Jesus. He is our master, and our guide through life. He knows our inabilities and ineptness, and without him we can do nothing. The point of Jesus being within us is the fact that Jesus can be Jesus through us! We shouldn’t put ourselves back into the bondage of trying to measure up but rather allowing God to express himself through us by His Spirit that dwells in us. God wants to paint a unique picture with your life. He will do that by using you in all of your different aspects (personality, intellect etc.) by His Spirit. We see that in the way that the apostles penned the scriptures under the Inspiration of the Spirit. They did not sound just like Jesus, nor did they take on his personality. We can see that God used them as individuals by His Spirit. We do not need to be “less like ourselves and more like Jesus.” No, we can be ourselves and allow Jesus to shine through that. Jesus wants to express himself through you in a unique and powerful way.
“I was doing great, but something happened that effected my performance.”
As Christians, our adversary would love to take a piece of bad performance and discourage us with it. The scripture paints a different picture of how God views a mistake on our part. Romans 5:20 “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:”. Grace abounds. Where our sin was great, His grace was so much greater. Remember that Grace means that God gives His favor to you because of your belief in His Son’s works and not your own. Your already forgiven. All you need is Jesus. Keep pressing into the Grace of God.
The sin that hurt you is not bigger than God’s grace. We can brush ourselves off and rest assured that God has still declared us righteous and holy, and we can still walk after that even after making a big mistake. God’s grace is not contingent upon our performance but based on the performance of Christ on our behalf. My friend, that is what the New Testament is all about. Your righteousness came from Jesus and now because he caused us to be righteous we can now live that way.
“I have to believe I am righteous to be righteous.”
Our obedience and performance is all over the place as Christians. Many times we like to compare ourselves to Old Testament Israel in our backsliding. In and out, in and out. Certainly at times it can be difficult to believe that Jesus became sin, so that we could be reborn and made righteous from the heart. Our performance, however, doesn’t determine our identity. Who/what we are, and what we do are two different things. In Christ, you go where He goes, you sit where he sits (Ephesians 2:6), and you are what He is… righteous. You are that way because He is that way. Righteousness is not appropriated by the law, it is appropriated by Jesus Christ himself. Believe it or not.
“My thoughts are bad so I must be bad at my core.”
Romans 6:11 “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Not every thought that entices the believer comes straight from the core, or identity of the believer. We are new spiritually. We are to reckon (consider) ourselves dead to sin. This is not figurative but literal. The believer in heart is dead to sin, and is alive unto God as a beautiful new, righteous creature in Christ. The flesh, the devil, sin, and the world may come at us and influence our behavior from every angle, but in the inside our righteous heart, new nature, and The Holy Spirit are guiding us toward living a profitable life with liberty in Christ.