Thursday, December 16, 2010

How Righteous Are You?

How righteous are you today? Now before you answer that take a good hard look at the question again. I’m not asking you how righteous you feel today. I just want to know if you know how righteous you are right now if you are in Christ Jesus.

In Christ and by that phrase I mean in a personal relationship with Christ in which you are completely identified with and in Him and His saving work on your behalf you are completely righteous, whether you feel righteous or not. In fact, the Bible teaches that if you are in Christ you possess a righteousness, not of your works derived from obedience to God’s law but rather a righteousness derived from God Himself through the person of Christ (Philippians 3:8-9). This righteousness obtained from God is very interesting in that it is the very righteousness of God. This is exactly what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21. Paul writes: He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Therefore, if you are in Christ you possess the very righteousness of God. In other words, in Christ and because of Christ, you are as righteous as God is right now. Now I know that this sounds radical and some of you are probably wondering if I haven’t gone a bit too far in making the claim that the true child of God, the person who is “in Christ” is as righteous as God is. But, isn’t this what Jesus said was required to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated rather emphatically to his audience that unless their righteousness surpassed that of the scribes and Pharisees they would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:20) Then in verses 21- 47 of Matthew 5, Jesus gave several examples of the Pharisee’s righteousness and showed the huge difference between theirs’ and God’s righteousness. And then in verse 48, He made His point by saying: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” If you missed His point—keep reading Jesus’ words until they sink in. Jesus, in no uncertain terms, told His audience and us by extension that the righteousness needed to enter Heaven is a much greater righteousness than man can produce as evidenced by the religious Pharisees. The righteousness required to get into Heaven is perfect righteousness—God’s righteousness. To be perfectly blunt and clear—you and I need to be as perfect (righteous) as God is if we plan on taking up residence in that celestial city some day.

The good news of the gospel is that in Christ you not only possess perfect righteousness—you possess His righteousness. Thus, you are, in Christ, as righteous as God is Himself. And that’s why you’ll be able to go to Heaven when you die.

So, again, let me ask you, just how righteous are you today?