In the previous newsletter we embraced the first half of the gospel: 2 Corinthians 5:21a “For our sake, he made him to be sin, who knew no sin…”
But we still have more good news to encompass. 2 Corinthians 5:21b “So that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.”
I have understood how Jesus took my place, and my sin, through His death on the cross. I think I have had a pretty fair grasp of justification. But my eyes were opened this past summer as I read the second half of that powerful verse. So that “In Him”, we might become the righteousness of God.
I am eternally thankful that God took away my sin. That is good news, tremendous news. My slate is clean. He has “blotted out my transgressions, washed me thoroughly from my iniquities, and cleansed me from my sin!” Psalm 51:2
That fact is enough to inspire praise for eternity. But the revelation of His great love continues. He not only pays my debt, but transfers His assets to my account. Let’s pretend that I have a massive personal debt the size of the U.S. debt. I will never be able to pay it in a hundred lifetimes. Then Jesus writes a check and cancels my debt. Incredible! Fantastic! Great News!
But then I receive my bank statement, to my everlasting surprise I see that not only has he eliminated my obligations, he has transferred the assets from His account into mine. This news is mind boggling. I am now a rich man. This is good news beyond my ability to take it in. Since I am now “In Him”, I have become the righteousness of God.
Let’s move beyond the money illustration and consider the state of my soul. When God looks at me now, clothed in Christ, He doesn’t see my sins, for they have been separated from me as far as the east is from the west. They are gone, forever. All of my bad deeds have been paid for and eliminated.
What He does see is Christ, the righteousness of God. Credited to my account are the good deeds of Jesus, His righteousness. He sees Jesus raising the dead, feeding the 5,000, healing the lepers, opening the eyes of the blind, casting out demons, and teaching the multitudes.
I confess that I did not grasp the completeness of the gospel. I viewed justification as a new beginning, and my life as a blank slate. Now, with God’s help I would write a legacy to be proud of, and endeavor to live a life that was well pleasing in His sight. I would make my life count for Christ and hopefully earn His “well done.”
But now looking back, I would have to admit that I haven’t lived up to what I perceived are His expectations or my own. Even though I KNOW He loves me, I fear that deep down He is probably disappointed with my efforts.
As I pen these words I am embarrassed to admit how hollow and unbiblical they sound. I sound like a foolish Galatian. Galatians 3:3 “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
I began well by embracing the gospel of forgiveness, but then sought to live for God and find His favor by contributing to building His kingdom.
BUT, or NEVERTHELESS (a wonderful biblical word). I now see that I am ALREADY pleasing to Him. I am in Christ, and am thus seen as the righteousness of God. My account at salvation was not a black slate, but a complete, fully funded, overflowing inheritance.
By God’s grace, I hope I never lose a zeal for the kingdom or a desire to run the race set before me. But knowing that I am already well pleasing because of Jesus is huge. I am not a disappointment, I am His son. I am not a well meaning failure, I am loved, and liked, with an everlasting love.
Furthermore, nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39. May God enlighten our hearts and minds and give us faith to really believe the good news.
Now as I read the good news throughout the New Testament, I see two components, instead of just one. Consider Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Justified by faith AND peace with God through Jesus Christ.
In Romans 5:17 notice the second half of the good news “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.
Another similar passage is found in Romans 5:10 “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” I love that expression “much more”. This is what I have seen this year, how “much more” good news there is for each of us as believers.
I can only echo John. 1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
I am so thankful I am not only free from sin, but am now “In Christ Jesus”. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13