I read a blog post recently where the writer says:
“Holiness and righteousness are not characteristics that come easily to us as mere mortals.”
They do come easily because they’re given to us as ‘a gift’ from God’s ‘abundant provision of grace.’ (Romans 5:17)
We can’t achieve righteousness ourselves. It’s impossible.
“Not of yourselves,” says Paul. “It is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
If we believe we can become righteous by ourselves we are missing the gospel.
That’s not the good news at all.
This is the good news:
We are perfect, righteous and holy because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
“By one sacrifice He made perfect forever those who have been made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)
He made us.
Not we made ourselves.
Isaiah says the same thing when he says:
“I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For He has dressed me in clothes of salvation. He has draped me in a robe of His righteousness!” (Isaiah 61:10)
You can gear Isaiah’s excitement. But notice he doesn’t say he dressed himself – he says ‘He has dressed me’.
Trusting our self to be ‘righteous’ (rather than trusting Christ) is by definition ‘self-righteous.’
And we can’t make ourselves righteous, no matter how hard we try, for compared to Christ’s righteousness:
“All your good deeds are like filthy rags,” says the Lord (Isaiah 60:36)
When Paul says:
“Christ in you – the hope of glory,” (Col 1:27)
he’s saying because Christ is in us we can say with a ‘joyful confidence’ that we have God’s glory in us.
Now ‘glory’ means ‘a beauty and majesty distinctive to God.’
We can’t give ourselves God’s beauty and majesty! It’s not ours to give.
Now wonder Isaiah was so excited! And Paul was just as excited when he realized he was ‘righteous by faith’.
“I consider everything rubbish compared to knowing Christ…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law but that which is through faith in Christ!” (Philippians 3:9)
We can never dress ourselves in Christ’s righteousness. We can never impart to ourselves God’s beauty and majesty. Only God can.
So He did, as a free gift, through the sacrifice of Jesus.
But when we try to earn it, when we try to be righteous by striving to be ‘good’, it’s like taking the gift back, saying:
“”Um…great gift Lord, The Cross…really appreciate the thought an’ all that – but if you don’t mind I really want to earn my righteousness on my own.”
But we can’t do it – no matter how hard we try.
“Not by works, so no one can boast,” says Paul. (Ephesians 2:8)
God’s righteousness is God’s righteousness. And we have it for free!
Although to God it was expensive.
If you bought someone an expensive gift and they gave it back to you saying it wasn’t good enough, how would you feel?
Imagine how God feels when we reject His gift. It wasn’t just expensive. It cost Him everything.
His precious blood.
Thanks to Jesus’ obedience at the cross we are blameless before God – not because of our own obedience, but because of His.
We are righteous because of Christ.
We have His righteousness.
It’s not about what we do – but all about what He did for us.
This is the good news.
This is the gospel!
As Paul says:
“In the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
By faith! All we have to do is believe and receive.
So let’s not reject God’s bloody gift – our robe of His righteousness – but accept it and wear it like Isaiah… overwhelmed with joy!