The Gift of Righteousness

Lion Reflection in MirrorTake this quiz to find out who you are in Christ!

Popular on Facebook today are quizzes to determine different aspects of your personality. Ranging from the outrageous, What does your belly button say about your personality, to the more ordinary Which cartoon character are you, these quizzes are a light-hearted and fun way to entertain. In that vein, let’s begin this month’s article with a quiz entitled, Who are you in Christ? Take this short true/false quiz to find out!*

  1. A good description of a Christian is a “sinner saved by grace.” T/F
  2. Christians can sin and not know it. T/F
  3. It is easier for a Christian to do wrong than right. T/F
  4. You get closer to Christ through actions of righteousness. T/F
  5. Sainthood is attained in few Christians. T/F

Would you be surprised to learn that all of the answers are “false”? Curious to know why? Continue reading the article for explanations.

1-A Pitiful Description

If you answered true to statement number one, you are not alone. How many of us have heard Christians describe themselves this way? The truth of the matter is that this is probably the most pitiful description ever of a believer in Christ! Why is it that we describe ourselves in a way totally opposite to the way God describes us? Paul tells us that God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). “Sinner saved by grace” and “the righteousness of God” are not synonymous terms. Continuing to call ourselves sinners after experiencing salvation is inaccurate.

2-Biggest Lie of All

How many of us have lain on our beds at night in prayer, asking God to forgive us of “all the sins I did not know I was committing”? A kind of blanket statement to keep a “short account” if you will. It may surprise you to learn that this is found NOWHERE in the Bible! How ludicrous to think that we, as temples of the Holy Spirit, could sin unknowingly! This mentality causes us to focus on ourselves and our behavior rather than focusing on Jesus, the One who has forgiven us ONCE AND FOR ALL for ALL of our sins. It is ONLY the blood of Christ that brings forgiveness. Thinking that it is somehow our responsibility to “appropriate” forgiveness implies that Christ’s sacrifice was not enough. Only the enemy of our souls would want us lose sight of the finished work of Christ.

3-Birth Determines Identity

Christian, do you not who you are? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17—If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Just as by birth, we became partakers of Adam’s sinful nature, making us sinners before we had even committed one sinful act, by our rebirth in Christ, we have become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and are saints in God’s eyes before even committing one “righteous” act (Romans 5:19). God exchanged our old Adamic nature for Christ’s. We are who we are by birth, not behavior. In Adam, we were enemies of God, living a life characterized by sin, condemned as children of Satan. In Christ, however, we are friends of God, living a life characterized by faith, innocent children of God who are righteous saints in His eyes. Therefore, doing anything contrary to this new nature (sinning) is not easy! Our struggle as Christians, is not against our new nature, but against our flesh (see prior newsletter for more on flesh). It is the “job” of the flesh to get us to choose to gain our identity from the soul or the body, as opposed to the spirit, where our new identity is found. So when we make the choice “to walk according to the flesh” (sin) in any given circumstance, we are really going against our new nature, and we are miserable. Walking in the Spirit is the “natural” thing for us to do now—it is simply being ourselves, walking in the actions and attitudes that God prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

4-Can’t Get Any Closer

Ever run around looking for your glasses when they’re right on your face? Feels ridiculous, doesn’t it?  Well, that’s essentially what a lot of Christians are doing when they are trying to “get closer” to God. If you are in Christ, you cannot get any closer to God than you are right now. As recorded in John 14:20, Jesus said I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. How much closer can you get than that? Christian, stop trying to get something that you already have!

5-Not Just for a Select Few

What would you say if I told you that you are a “saint”? Feel uncomfortable with it? Perhaps you would regard such a statement as almost blasphemous? Many of us have believed that sainthood is achieved through our performance and reserved for only a few select Christians, like Mother Teresa. Comparing our performance with that of hers and others who have been declared saints posthumously, we feel unqualified for the title. Well, let’s clear up a few things. First of all, sainthood is not “attained.” It is not something we earn on our own merits by good works done in our own strength. It is a gift of God bestowed upon us when we accept and believe in the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ. Secondly, it is not a position determined by man, but a position determined by God. Over and over again in the New Testament, believers in Christ are addressed as “saints.” Ephesians 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:2, Philippians 1:1, and Colossians 1:2 are just a few places where the greeting Paul uses to address the Church is “to the saints.” The origin of the word “saint” is “to consecrate”—which is what has been done to us! We have been set apart, declared holy, and been made complete in Him (Colossians 2:9-10a) and can stand before God, holy and blameless, as though we’ve never sinned!  We do not need to wait to “become holy” any more than a newborn baby has to wait to “become human”! Thanks be to God!

Now What?

Why is it that we have no trouble believing that the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins, yet we ignore the fact that he also convicts us concerning righteousness?  In order to live the abundant life found in Christ, we just need to get good at believing what He says is true of us! And what is true of us? We are righteous saints, who don’t want to sin because of the new nature we received at salvation, and who have everything we need for life and godliness because we’re in Him, He’s in us, and He’s in the Father. Can’t get any closer than that! Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15) See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are (1 John 3:2)!  Believe it!

*Quiz questions and answers taken from “Turkeys and Eagles” by Peter Lord found in The True Life Discipleship Counseling Notebook.