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How To Be Right With God
What follows may be the single most important practical truth of God for us to know. This hub will speak of the only possibility for our souls to stand before God, as He would have us to stand. It will answer the most basic question of human life. This question is most vital to life. There is only one correct answer to it. It really counts.
The question is this: How shall I be right with God?
If that is not the question that lies in the pit of our hearts we will know all too well the folly of our own sinful flesh, and we are not living in reality, and our hearts are deceived. We can only therefore refuse to properly reckon with reality - God and sin.
- Romans 10:3: "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Do we "go about to establish our own righteousness"? Or do we submit to "the righteousness of God" which was procured for us by the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary? Was Christ suffering the horrors of Calvary sufficient payment for your sins, or do you still owe a little? Has the debt been settled or not? Was 'Christ crucified' suffcient payment? Did this event satisfy the demands of God's perfect and holy justice on your behalf? Is the correct answer to these questions YES-period or yes-but?
- Romans 3:21-23: "21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"
- 2Corinthians 5:21 "For He [God] hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
How am I to be right with God? The gospel of Christ answers: The righteousness from God through the work of Jesus Christ alone. By Christ’s perfect, complete, finished work upon Calvary's cross, accredited to us by the grace of God and embraced by faith. There is no stand before God or walk according to truth apart from this reality.
- 1John 4:9, 10: "9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [full payment] for our sins."
The truth that GOD LOVES YOU and holds NOTHING against you is at the very roots of your having an intimate relationship with Him, your Heavenly FATHER. You are GREATLY BELOVED and GREATLY BLESSED of God!
- 1John 3:20, 21: "20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God."
- Romans 5:17: "For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive an abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ."
Receiving this gift of righteousness is accepting that the cross of Christ alone is the means for our being right with God. This is the heart of true Christian living, it pumps life into one's practical realization of The Christian's True Identity.
Our common calling is to hold fast to this truth-- that we are already right with God in Christ.
- 1Corinthians 1:30: "But of Him [God] are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
By who's doing "are ye in Christ Jesus"? Can you improve upon what God has already made you to be and where He has placed you? NO! We cannot add to how God already sees us in Christ, nor can we take away from it. Not by our good works and not by our bad works. God's answer to the questions about the sufficient payment of Christ and him crucified is YES-period.
"14 God forbid that I should glory [boast], save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
"15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision [keeping the law] availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision [failing to keep the law], but a new creation ["Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" - 2Corinthians 5:17].
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God [Israel = beloved. We are beloved of God! How cool is that? WAY COOL!]."
What "rule" is verse 16 talking about? Should we guess? Should we inject something that we have been taught? What rule is it that we are to walk by? Hint: Read verses 14 and 15 again, and again, and again, ponder what they are saying, looking to God alone for enlightenment.
Righteousness is in Christ alone:
The words "Christ alone" are crucial. Our righteousness before God is in Christ alone and our standing before God is based upon Jesus Christ’s finished and perfect work. Is it a finished, complete and perfect work, or is it not? Shall we accept it or shall we endeavor to improve upon it? We are complete in Christ.
- Colossians 2:10: "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:"
What exactly does "righteous in Christ alone" mean? It means that according to God's judgment, He does not hold any sin against you, solely because of Christ' finished work at Calvary; in addition, He sees you in Christ as having kept His law and being exactly as you should be. Righteousness before God has to do with our standing before God, our legal position before the bar of His eternal justice. To be righteous in Christ means that God pronounces a verdict from His throne. That verdict is, "You are innocent, you are cleared from sin, you are pardoned, you are not guilty, you may live in peace." It has to do with how God sees us. We read in Numbers 23:21, "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them." To be righteous in Christ alone means that the basis for God's judgment declaring us innocent is not found in any other work or merit except the work and the merit of Jesus Christ.
This is what the Bible means when it teaches us the truth of justification. "Justified" and "righteous in Christ" is the same thing. Justification is God's declaration that we are just, we are righteous, and we are free of debt before Him. It is God's gift to us (The word gift is used six times in Romans 5:15-18 to describe this, the word free is used three times, and the word grace is used three times, in those four verses alone!), it is free to the believer, paid for by Jesus Christ's finished work at the cross. It is God's declaration that the believer is guiltless regarding sin and is righteous in Christ. Simply put, righteousness in Christ means that I have the pardon of my sins, and that God’s Righteousness has been reckoned to my account through the obedience of Jesus Christ.
Many born-again believers are spiritually defeated in this life because of sin-consciousness. They have been saved, but Satan comes to their minds and tells them they are not good enough for salvation because of the many years they lived in sin. This spiritual antagonism and defeat comes when a person does not realize what has been given to him by Jesus Christ. When a person becomes a Christian, he is legally made righteous in Christ.
What is righteousness in a practical sense? Righteousness is the God-given justification whereby a person stands in the presence of God without any consciousness of sin, guilt or shortcomings.
- Romans 8:33: Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's’ elect? It is God that justifieth.
Righteousness is something God imparts; it is something God gave to you when you became His child, when you confessed with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believed God raised Him from the dead.
Romans 10:9,10: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Even though believers receive righteousness when they are born again, many people for lack of teaching still think that they are unworthy to receive the goodness of God. This satanic belief keeps driving deeper and deeper into their subconscious minds. If my being worthy of God depended upon my own strength, I would be a great failure. I know that I am weak in myself and I know that I am unworthy in myself, but Christ has made me worthy. So, no matter how I feel or what my feeble mind tells me, I am strong and in Him I am worthy.
Ever since man was created, he has tried to work out his own righteousness and tried to do the kind of work which would make himself look good in the sight of God. The basic cry of the heart of man is to be righteous before God; so many Christians do all kinds of work to obtain righteousness, such as confessing their sins, teaching Sunday School classes and keeping the ten commandments. Yet these good works do not make a person righteous. Righteousness is obtained from God through the faith of Jesus Christ.
- Philippians 3:9: And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith [believing].
Righteousness is not by the cross that you bear, but by the cross that Jesus Christ bore for you. Your tears, your toil and all your prayers – your good works – avail nothing in terms of your position before God's throne of justice. The righteousness of God is freely given to every believer, not of works, but by God’s grace which is divine favor.
- 2Corinthians 5:21: For he [God] hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
God made Jesus Christ to be sin for us. Jesus, who knew no sin, took our sin upon Himself so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Everything Adam lost in the fall, Jesus Christ regained for the believer when He died upon the cross. Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God.
Today there is no longer a question of the sin problem. The sin problem was settled in Jesus Christ. What remains for most Christians today is a false doctrine problem. We need to know, accept, and hold onto our identity in Christ, that YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS NOW. By this faith in Christ alone we have no worry, no fear, no feelings of shame, no thoughts of being unworthy; we simply have confidence that we are worthy through Christ Jesus, for God says what He means and means what He says.
Many denominations have erroneously taught that a person can be righteous one minute and unrighteous the next; and if that person does not become righteous again before his death, he will miss heaven and end up in hell. This is not true. When God made us righteous in Christ Jesus over nineteen hundred years ago, we had nothing to do with it. When the Spirit of God in Christ is born within us, we are at that moment and forevermore righteous. We receive the nature of God which makes us righteous right then and there.
- Romans 3:22-25: Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all. For there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [full payment which once and for all satisfied the dept] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, though the forbearance of God.
You cannot and I cannot earn this righteousness. God in Christ Jesus was made righteousness unto you over nineteen hundred years ago. So why do you still say, “I am an unrighteous person” if you are born again?
- 1Corinthians 1: 30: But of him [God] are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
You are not an unrighteous person if you are born of God for you have been made righteous; you have been given wisdom; you have been sanctified and you have been redeemed. This truly is a message of deliverance. Neither you nor I by our own efforts can achieve this; it was “made unto us,” done for us.
Romans 5:8: But God commendeth [favorably introduced] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Christ died for us, not when we were good enough, but when we were bad enough to need Him. And in making us righteous he also spared us from future penalties against sin.
- Romans 5:9: Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him [Christ].
How I love to proclaim this gospel of deliverance and righteousness. As we continue to grow more and more in our conviction of this good news from God we live more and more in what God has made us to be in Christ; then no fear, worry and guilt can frustrate and defeat us. For a believer there is no need for want, or poverty, or sickness, or defeat because the victory over such has been paid for and secured by the accomplished work of Jesus Christ. We are encouraged by God to approach His throne of grace with boldness and claim the things Christ procured for us.
The gospel is always in the minority. For the gospel declares that it is only of God and that it is only of grace. You see, the truth of righteousness in Christ alone is the truth that shatters human pride. It is not of you, but it is of God. For "of Him (of God) are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." (1Corinthians 1:30, 31).
We know why the false message of works is popular. It tells me what I want to hear. It tells me, "You can do it. You can make it." I hear the old lie of the serpent: "Ye shall be as God." But the gospel of Christ, the gospel of grace, humbles men so as to exalt God. All the world is guilty before God. You cannot save yourself! By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight. It is in Christ and Christ alone.
But, you see, the glorious gospel is truth, and it saves the vilest of sinners in God's sight. We cling to the gospel because it is the power of God unto wholeness, and it is the power of God unto wholeness because therein is the righteousness of God revealed...:
- Romans 1:16, 17: "16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.[Why is it the power of God?...] 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."
Upon what do we rely? When we come before God and face Him, to what do we appeal? As God looks upon us and sees through us, what do we say? Do we attempt to justify ourselves? Do we look to something we are of ourselves, something we did, something somebody else on earth did for us? Do we look to our prayers? Do we look to our repentance? Do we say, "On the basis of this that I did, I stand before you"? Do you? There is but one plea - the plea that God places in our mouths by grace. The plea He loves. It is a sure plea. It is eternal life: Righteous in Christ alone, by the mere Grace of God alone! And this is what gives us confidence toward God.
- 1John 3:20,21: For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
So long as man’s heart, his innermost being, is condemning or accusing him for any reason, he cannot get answers to prayer because he does not have confidence toward God. He cannot believe and accept the simple promises of God. Those who are righteous in Christ Jesus and who know that they are righteous have no reason to fear. They can have confidence toward God and therefore think and live victoriously.
Today comparatively few receive the gospel; nevertheless, God by His love for us, and His grace to us, relentlessly pursues us to accept it, for it is truth.
Not the labors of my hands could fulfill Thy laws demands;
Could my zeal no respite know; could my tears forever flow;
These for sin could not atone. Thou must save and Thou alone!
How shall I be right with God? To a believer in Christ, one in whom the grace of God is working, even to him or her this remains the vital question. Peace in every circumstance in life can be found only in the truth that we already are righteous before God in Christ (and forevermore will be).
Our doing right by God is to be a product of accepting that we already are right. It's an Inside Job! This is good news indeed!
For the glory of God and for the only peace that a soul can ever know we accept the good news that WE ARE RIGHTEOUS NOW!