Am I righteous? Does God say I am righteous? Does He know me? Can He see me yell at my kids? Now you try – does He see me (fill in the blank)?
We have discussed that we are known and seen in the post “I am Known.” However, we revisit these questions because it is a constant struggle in many hearts. “How can I be known and loved? How can I be seen and called righteous? How can my sin be looked over?”
Right now in my life, my most obvious and blaring sin is how I yell at my children. Just yesterday in a conversation about how we all make mistakes, my youngest said “like when mommy screams at us.” That hurts, but it is true. It is true that I have let my anger control my words when I feel I can’t control the situation. It is true that with my actions, I say that yelling will be more productive than trusting God. It is true by this one example of many that I am not righteous. This fact that my yelling proves is taught in the Bible in Romans. It tells us that no one is righteous (Romans 3:10).
However, I have tried to walk contrary to this knowledge for a long time. I have spent many years trying to prove my righteousness. I spent many years as a Christian knowing many of the facts of what Jesus had done for me, but still feeling the pressure to know the rules and follow them so I would be in good standing with God. I now see, my actions were based in fear and a search for approval. I would have told you that I trusted in God for my forgiveness but I still somehow attempted to earn His acceptance. I wasn’t fully trusting in God and what He accomplished for me. Instead, I was seeking to achieve acceptance in myself and my actions. I was trying to perform to attain righteousness.
Even with my yelling, I have tried to be enough. I have tried to stop by will power. I have been trying not to yell for years. And yet my frustration and pride comes out in grumbling at my children for their faults. I yell to stop the yelling or fight to stop the fight. I confess this action not because I am proud of it but because it is the truth.
Here is the news flash that many of us need to sink in – We cannot do righteous. However, we can trust the righteous one. We can trust that He is enough. We can allow Him to be our defense. We can trust that He can change us. We can believe that saying “I am righteous,” falls on Jesus’ shoulders and not our own.
Look at Romans 5:19 “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
Many will be made righteous! How? By one man’s sacrifice, we are made righteous.
It is not of our doing. We are not capable of this standard. As we learned about in the last post, we see that Jesus’ sacrifice justified us before a just God and He did not stop there. He didn’t just give us a clean slate from sin but He credited us Jesus’ righteousness! Romans 4:5 “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 talks about the process like this: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
The concept described here is often spoken of as “The great exchange.” Jesus took our sin and gave us His righteous standing that we could not achieve. Our sin laid on Jesus exchanged for His righteousness laid on us. Jesus lived the perfect life that we can’t and we get credit for it while He makes payment for our sin. This offer is the greatest gift that we could ever receive. God has provided so that those who trust in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice for their sins get credited righteousness (Romans 4:22).
This righteousness that is given to us is called imputed righteousness or declared righteousness. It is righteousness that is not earned by our own efforts but is laid upon us or credited to us. This attribute is closely related to justification.
FOR DEEPER THOUGHT AND UNDERSTANDING:
Let’s look at the following verses in different versions.
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. – ESV
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. -NIV
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, wehave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – ESV
Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – HCSB
A correlation or connection between justification and righteousness is that it is not of our own doing by works but instead by faith. Justification is declaring us right in God’s eyes. If we are declared right in God’s eyes, He doesn’t look at you and see your sin. He doesn’t even look at you and see your forgiven blank slate. When God looks at you He sees Christ’s righteousness. If you have faith in Jesus than you have been declared righteous.
We can stand rightly before our Savior confident. The confidence is not because we did enough good or didn’t do too much bad but because it’s really not about us. It’s about Jesus and God’s grace toward us. This gift allows us to relate to God through His righteousness given to us by His grace. We do not need to perform to earn righteousness but are credited Christ’s righteousness.
FOR DEEPER THOUGHT AND UNDERSTANDING:
Do we have to earn this position of righteousness? Do we have to work to attain or keep the standing of righteousness?
Romans 4:22-25 “That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”
Our God, The I AM, was willing to die for you and I. He credited those who believe His righteousness. We cannot work and achieve this standing but yet our Father and God looks on us as righteous.
Philippians 3:9 “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—”
I don’t claim to be perfect or sinless. I can’t claim victory over my every fault. I can’t tell you I raise my kids without yelling. I can’t tell you I put others first. I’d be lying if I said I was worthy to be mimicked in my actions, desires and words. However, because God gave His son to pay for my sins, because He died in my place, because I trust in Jesus as my redeemer and defense, because God looks at me and sees what Jesus has done in my place, I am righteous. Oh, Praise you Father that I am righteous by Jesus sacrifice and completed work.
“By grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone,” I am righteous.
EMBRACING MY GOD GIVEN IDENTITY:
- Can you claim this for yourself? I, _______________, am declared righteous.
- What does it mean to you to be righteous?
Righteousness cannot be found in ourselves. We cannot do righteousness. Only God is righteous and He made a way for us to claim that standing. Jesus died in our place. If you believe He died for you: He took your sin and credited His righteousness. He took your punishment and declared you righteous. His action of mercy and love can bring value to your life because we can now have relationship with God. Though we are not worthy our Jesus is worthy. Though we deserve separation and punishment, we are declared righteous.
When we are searching for significance and identity, our confidence is in God. We don’t have to prove our value. We can rest that our value comes from one who is worthy and righteous.
- If you believe this is true how should it affect your life?
- What action should be spurred by this truth?
- How does this aspect of who God has made us to be, play out in a role/position you hold?
We don’t have to be motivated by fear or approval. We don’t have to put up a wall and pretend we have it all together or do it all right. We can be honest with ourselves and others that by God’s grace, we can be declared righteous not by our own works. We can rest in God’s faithfulness and righteousness- trusting in the worthy sacrifice of our Savior.
Lord, we praise you for your justification and righteousness credited to our lives. Father we are not worthy but you have made us worthy. You have justified us by making payment for our sins and you have made us righteous by declaring us righteous. Cleanse our hearts and continue to change and sanctify us. Lord God, help us to find our identity in You. Help us not to be proud or feel condemned by our own standing. May we rest in your forgiveness and grace. By your sacrifice and your grace, we are righteous. Thank you! In Jesus name, Amen.
If this post encouraged you please pass it along to a friend and tell them of what Jesus has done for them.
This post is part of a series called Who I am and the I AM. If you haven’t been following along and want to catch up it starts here. Praying for you!
 Comes from the passage Ephesians 2:8-9. I grew up hearing this very often in Church and in my home. Though I am unsure of the original quote my dad said it all the time.