Romans 8:1 “ Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”
2 Corinthians 5:21 “ God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
The New Birth is the greatest miracle that mankind has ever known. It is God taken a wretched, wicked and sinful man and turning him into the likeness of Himself. Such a person is then able to stand in the presence of God as if he/she has done no wrong, to be called a child of God, and to call Jesus brother. The core of the person’s being is changed to that of a new man, and like Jesus he can stand before God without a sense of guilt, condemnation or inferiority. This experience is not a physical, mental, or metaphysical experience; it is purely spiritual.
The New Birth experience is not a product of man’s own effort, but it is a gift from God. It is all God; no man can take credit for it. It is God who woos the person to Himself and changes the person’s nature. Ephesians 2:8 reveals this fact “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”(NIV)
Now look again at Scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:21, it says Jesus was made to be sin, bearing the punishment of sin as a substitute for the one who comes to God for a heart change. This wretched, sinful man who comes to God is then made to be righteous in the sight of God. I find that many people today do not understand the meaning of this word “righteousness”. Righteousness is a legal term which means to be in right standing or to be rightly positioned. In legal matters, one who is righteous is one who stands right before the law―he stands un-condemned and guiltless.
Now let’s take another look at 2 Corinthians 5:21 “He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus” Now you the seeker may ask ‘so are you saying I am righteous?’ That’s exactly what the Scriptures say about the one who will come to the Father in humility, through the Name of Jesus. ‘Does this mean that I stand right before the father?’ Absolutely! ‘Does this mean I am not condemned?’ You’re very correct! ‘Does this mean that I am…not a sinner!’ You got that right! Selah….
The sense ruled mind cannot understand this and cannot accept this because such a person does not see how he/she can stand before God un-condemned. They have tried everything in their own power to be accepted given God’s standard of righteousness, but have failed. This is self righteousness; no man can ever be good enough before God in their own strength. You may be the best behaved person, but the moment you stumble on one aspect of it, you are guilty of breaking the entire Law of God and you are condemned (James 2:10). But when you accept salvation through Jesus Christ, you are made righteous. Jesus becomes your righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). Your standing before God is not based on what you did or will do, but based on what Jesus did. He lived perfect in the eye of the Father and became our substitute.
At this point it will do us some good to review some portions of the Great Redemption chapter, Isaiah 53. The chapter gives a vivid picture of God’s redemptive sacrifice for the redemption of man
“But he endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne. All the while we thought that his suffering was punishment sent by God.
5 But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did. We are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received.
6 All of us were like sheep that were lost, each of us going his own way. But the Lord made the punishment fall on him, the punishment all of us deserved” (Isaiah 53:4-6,GNT)
This is a picture of substitution. Jesus lived a perfect life, but yet when He was being crucified His accusers thought it to be the wrath of God upon Him, but it was our punishment He bore. This is a pictorial representation of a spiritual reality. All of humanity was guilty before God, “but the Lord made the punishment fall on him, the punishment all of us deserved”. This was God’s will and plan to bring righteousness to all men (Isa.53:10).
You see, the feeling of guilt and punishment are valid for the one who has not accepted this sacrifice. It was either me or Jesus to suffer, but God chose Jesus. After that it is an insult on redemption to feel I have to bear the same punishment that my Lord bore. I no longer see myself through my own eyes, but through the eyes of the father. No wonder Paul in Galatians 2:20 could say “I am crucified with Christ”. That is truth! I take my stand in identifying with Him because that’s how the father sees me. It is condemnation thinking to think otherwise, and it is this self-condemnation thinking has been the problem of humanity and even carnal (sense ruled) Christians.
Through redemption, we have God calling the whole world to Himself to be righteous through Jesus, but man in his own corrupt wisdom and strength resists the ‘free gift’ and chooses to work for righteousness. He tries to be accepted by his own doings, but in Christ Jesus you are already accepted (Eph.1:7). With each failure in man’s attempt at right standing before the Father, condemnation is reinforced in the mind of the person. This increase in sin and guilt consciousness is what has driven men to make their own way to the Father, but God clearly reveals that there is One Way, Jesus (2Tim.1:5, John 14:6).
I remember very recently I mentioned to a friend that a sinner is not a sinner because he told a lie or robbed a bank. He is a sinner because His nature is sin! I looked at my friend as she tried to understand what I had said. I stretched her theology a little further when I went on to say as a Christian, if I told a lie and the rapture occurred the very next second that I would still make it to heaven and there it was, a violent reaction. She couldn’t accept it, she blurted out saying “that’s a lie…that’s not possible…how can you say that!” I smiled being confident in the truth and I opened the Scriptures, and read from John 16:8-9:
“When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me.” (NIV) It’s clearly written in there, the world is proved to be wrong of sin because they don’t believe Jesus. Notice Jesus said ‘sin’ and not ‘sins’. The one sin the world is guilty of is the sin of rejecting the Lordship of Jesus and His redemptive sacrifice.
I watched as she stared at me puzzled. Then I opened more Scripture, the famous John 3:16. Many quote John 3:16 so many times but have never really heard what the Spirit is saying in that verse of Scripture:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life”.
There it is again, the promise of eternal life is guaranteed to the one who will believe in the Son.
To reinforce righteousness by faith in you, notice what Romans 3:21-22, GNT says:
“But now God’s way of putting people right with himself has been revealed. It has nothing to do with law, even though the Law of Moses and the prophets gave their witness to it.22 God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ, because there is no difference at all”
There it is again, it is not keeping the requirements of the Law that puts us right before God, but rather our faith in Jesus. The faith that we have in Him says that we understand that in our own strength we cannot keep the requirement of the Law, yet Jesus was able to adhere to the strict standards of God’s Law and was yet found to be without sin before God (Heb.4:15). The punishment for sin is death through the shedding of blood (Rom.6:23, Heb.9:22). His blood was shed, He suffered the punishment of sin, and the claims of justice were met! I come before God helpless over sin, and God reckons my sins to the account of Jesus, and credits me with His righteousness (Rom.4:7-8, 25). Then my sin nature is destroyed, and my heart is changed; now I am righteous (Rom.3:26; 10:8-10).
The sin nature is what produces sin. The sinner sins in accordance with his nature just like a dog would bark so will a sinner sin. I think many people have this idea that there is an angel with a great big pencil and eraser that writes and erases from the Book of Life the names of that one saint that has not learned to be steady in holy living. Righteousness is your standing before the Father, and it is from this righteous nature that holiness proceeds. The Christian who after New Birth falls short of God’s righteous standard is has missed the mark, and the Father has made provision for such errors. He says to confess it and forsake it! A stumbling Christian is not less a child of God than you and I. It is a family affair, the church is the Father’s family. He does not disown us at our ever shortcoming.
I find it so appalling when I hear people say ‘I live better than most Christians’. That may be true but Jesus in Matthew 11:11 that none ever lived who was greater than John the Baptist, but the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than him. This means that God’s righteousness through the New Birth is greater than any attempt at self-righteousness. You may be a stumbling, fumbling Christian, but in Christ Jesus, you are greater than John the Baptist. Like Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, you are saved for as long as you hold on to the truth of redemption through your faith in Jesus (1 Cor.15:2)
The church needs to grow in the fruits of righteousness. Notice I didn’t say grow in righteousness. You cannot grow in righteousness because that would be an attempt to be more righteous than Jesus Himself. Your righteous nature is given to you by God, so you can’t grow beyond the level of God’s righteousness. Think about it, the believing Christian is grafted into the body of Christ. Would it make sense to have parts of Jesus’ body rotten? No! Both Jesus and His Church are of one nature―righteous.
“ For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11, NKJV)
“ But he who joins himself to the Lord becomes spiritually one with him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17, GNT)
It is sin consciousness and the feeling of guilt that has kept the world trapped for centuries. It has made a slave of humanity. Rather than enjoy the love and grace of the Father, people have run into hiding just like Adam in the Garden. Genesis 3:8-10 gives a beautiful picture of the Father’s desire for fellowship with His children, He came down for fellowship time. A time of embrace, love and grace, but sin consciousness and guilt had driven His children away. In verse 10 Adam said “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” It wasn’t that he had no clothes, but he had lost his garment of righteousness.
‘I see it now’ she said to me, ‘wow, you’re right! I have tried to live the Christian life, and I thought it was so hard until now. I have been my own undoing’. Absolutely! The carnal Christian has not grown in his understanding of righteousness, so they fall victim to every whim of the accuser (Satan). He makes you feel bad for your mistakes. He tells you God doesn’t love you. He tells you you’re not worthy of heaven. Why go to church, don’t be a hypocrite, just stay at home. God doesn’t want people like you in church, you’re not spiritual enough. Because of the myriad of accusations you begin to feel guilty and carry the weight of condemnation. All the while God is waiting for you with open arms to show you His love and mercy and shower His love gifts on you. Have you not read Hebrews 4:15-16 where it says “Our High Priest (Jesus) is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.16 Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.” He understands your weaknesses so He wants you to come boldly to Him!
It is growing in the consciousness of righteousness that gives you strength to overcome sin. When you know your right standing, you can confidently approach God for grace to overcome sin. (Read my article Grace exceeds weakness). I don’t know any healthy relationship that thrives on condemnation. If you hurt a loved one and you sincerely apologized, you expect to be forgiven. As a matter of fact, this is the only way that the relationship can progress healthily. If your significant other constantly reminds you of your wrong and makes you feel guilty about it, at some point you begin to question the authenticity of that love. Your ability to love would be crippled. You will not enjoy that relationship.
Why do we expect less from God? If He loved you so much that He sent Jesus to die for you, wouldn’t it make sense that He is ever ready to forgive your shortcomings? 1 John 1:9-2:1 “But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing…I am writing this to you, my children, so that you will not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have someone who pleads with the Father on our behalf—Jesus Christ, the righteous one.” There it is, the guarantee of a restored fellowship with the Father.
All of this is not a license for you to sin. Shall we continue to sin because of the abundance of God’s grace? God forbid! This is an invitation to a richer fellowship with God. The Father desires fellowship with His children, but if you feel condemned you will keep away. When you are conscious of your righteous standing, sickness can’t lord it over you, neither can poverty, sin and every weakness of the flesh. You will boldly stare the devil in the face and tell him to get lost. You become innocuous to his accusations. You will use the Name of Jesus in boldness to conquer demons and the works of darkness as it is your right, all because you are certain that your standing before the Father is at par with Jesus’. This is why Jesus said you will do greater works (Joh. 14:12,13). He expects you to cast out demons, heal the sick, speak with tongues, all of which are fruits of righteousness (Mark. 16:17-18, Joh.15:8).
You are not proud, but in humility you recognize the benefits you enjoy are because of Jesus love for you. Your natural response is to love Him, serve Him and live a holy life. You will look at sin with disgust because it is beneath you. You are righteous, your nature should produce fruits of righteousness. Where sin could dominate before it cannot, you always have the say. Because of righteousness you can say no to sin. You stand un-condemned in Christ Jesus.
This is the secret to living a successful Christian life, grow in righteousness consciousness. “The wicked flee when no man pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion” Proverbs 28:1, NKJV. The value of the boldness to identify with the Creator of the Universe cannot be quantified. Yet He has said “to as many as received Him, He gave them power to be called sons of God” John 1:12. Take your place in the family, approach God with confidence knowing you are in right standing, now begin to imagine what “Daddy” is capable of doing. He will do it for you because you stand un-condemned!