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Christ Our Righteousness
1 Corinthians 1:30
Many use the words “righteousness” and “holiness” interchangeably, as if they were synonyms. They are not. Righteousness is primarily a legal term. Though it may be and is used to refer to one’s character, it primarily refers to his deeds. Righteousness refers to that which is right before the law, or right in the eyes of the law. Holiness, on the other hand, is a word that is used to describe one’s character.
Yet the Word of God makes it abundantly clear that none are righteous (right before the law) and none are holy in character (sanctified) except the Lord Jesus Christ. And he alone is the Righteousness and Holiness (Sanctification) of his people. If we have righteousness before God, Christ must be our Righteousness; and he must be “of God made unto us righteousness.”
This is the blessed doctrine of the gospel revealed in Holy Scripture. The Son of God came into this world in human flesh that he might magnify the law and make it honorable as a Representative man, to bring in everlasting righteousness for his people. God’s demand is plain and clear: — “Walk before me, and be thou perfect.” It is written, “It must be perfect to be accepted.”
The Lord Jesus Christ did what none of us could ever do. He walked before God all the days of his humiliation in absolute perfection, totally obedient to the will of God and to the law of God. This he did, not for himself but for us, to bring in everlasting righteousness for us, as our Representative, Surety, and Mediator. When he died upon the cursed tree as our Substitute, he met and fully satisfied every demand of God’s law and justice for his elect, and made us, by his obedience unto death, the righteousness of God.
Just as we were made sinners by the disobedience of the first man, Adam, we are made righteous by the obedience of Christ, the last Adam (Romans 5:12, 18-19). That means that every sinner for whom Christ lived and died and rose again is right (righteous) before the law
Christ is made of God unto us righteousness; and we are made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21; Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16; 50:20), by virtue of our union with him. When our Substitute obeyed God’s law and paid our debt to divine justice, we obeyed in him; and we died in him. When he was “justified in the Spirit” by his resurrection from the dead, we were justified in him and raised up from the dead in him.
Christ is our righteousness in such a sure way and with such everlasting value and efficacy that being one with him and redeemed by his blood, we have his righteousness by right and title as the purchased possession he obtained for us, when he obtained eternal redemption for us. It is a righteousness that can never be lost, or even lessened. It is everlasting and everlastingly perfect!
This is the righteousness for which we shall be fully and everlastingly rewarded in heavenly glory. What a blessed thought! It seems too great to be believed. Indeed, it could not be believed were it not written in the Book of God. Even though it is plainly written in Holy Scripture by the finger of inspiration, it can never be believed by any man, until it is inscribed in his own soul by the experience of grace. Yet, when God the Holy Spirit grants a sinner the grace of life, giving him faith in Christ, this is the first and most blessed article of saving faith. — As God has made him sin for us who knew no sin, so he has made us the righteousness of God in him, though we are nothing but sin!