OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS IS GOD'S GIFT
By the abundance of God's grace and the influence of His Spirit, we have obtained a priceless and glorious gift of righteousness in Christ. Through Christ's obedience unto death and the reign of grace, this gift came to us free of charge.
Reference: Romans 5:17 English Standard Version (ESV) "For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ."
I want to draw our attention to the phrase, 'the free gift of righteousness'. Our righteousness in Christ is a gift, not our doing. Now that you are in Christ, walking in righteousness is not subject to how much you strive to become perfect or how hard you work at changing yourself. It is contingent on the person of Jesus. This is what being the righteousness of God in Christ means. It means that right now, God assesses you and sees you based on the perfection of Jesus Christ. Today, you are as righteous as Jesus because your righteousness is of God (see 1 John 4:17). Christ obtained it for you at the cross.
Sometimes, pastors, ministers or teachers can write to encourage the people of God who are at a certain stage of their Christian faith where they still struggle with their identity in Christ, but it does not mean everyone needs encouragement. Just like Paul encouraged the brethren in his epistolary expressions, we do so to strengthen the simple minded until they stand firm in their identity in Christ. By 'simple minded', I mean those who are lacking in insight in relation to who they really are in Christ, such that it could affect their stand when they enemy challenges their faith. When you truly recognise who you are, you'll understand that our righteousness in Christ does need additional element to supplement it; it is perfect and complete in nature. And by embracing your true identity, you become an encouragement to others. So you must know this: As the righteousness of God, you are pure, stainless, faultless, sinless and complete in Christ.
Why is it so? It is because the righteousness is not of your own making or holy behaviour; far from it. Looking at our referenced Scripture, it is a perfect gift from God. 2 Corinthians 5:21(NIV) says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Did you notice that its not your own righteousness? In Christ, we became God's righteousness. It's His perfect gift. That's why we don't grow in righteousness. Yes we grow in faith but not in righteousness. This is because faith comes by hearing; the more you hear God's Word, the more you increase in faith. As for righteousness, it is not by hearing. Its by responding to Christ's perfect sacrifice on the cross of Calvary and through the gospel, it is revealed in our lives from faith to faith (see Romans 1:17 NASB). So the righteousness of God is not something you obtain or achieve by your doings or 'dos and don'ts'; it can only be received by your right believing in Christ and your confessing Him as Lord.
Let's look at it this way: If you have just received a gift, for instance, a brand new car, everybody around you will recognise the gift. So they know you have that car and remember, that's your gift. Any day you leave your house without driving it, it does not it mean you no longer have the gift. People might see you out there without it but that gift is permanently yours. Such is our righteousness in Christ. It's not based your performance or record-breaking perfect lifestyle. It is Christ's precious blood and performance on the cross that purchased the gift for you.
God acted out of His unconditional love, sent His Son, Christ Jesus, who had never sinned in any way, and made Him to become sin. Jesus' death then paid the price for sin, eradicated guilt and sinful nature, to make it possible for us to become God's righteousness. Today, those who come to God through faith in Christ are given credit for righteousness, as a result of Christ's performance on the cross. We now live a sin-free life. Also when you come to Christ, you don't just become "God's righteousness", you are reconciled in your relationship with Him.
Scripture Reading - Romans 3:21-22; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Romans 1:17; 1 John 3:7.
Guided Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I thank you for the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness which I have received by faith in Christ. On the grounds of this gift, your surpassing glory is evident upon my life, and I reign in this life by Christ Jesus. I am totally dead to sin, and through my constant fellowship with the Holy Spirit, looking steadily at the mirror of the Word, I'm transformed from one level of glory to another. I'm forever grateful that I have Christ in me - the hope of glory - and I'm blessed, favoured, victorious and fruitful in Jesus' Name, Amen!