“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” [2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV].
Yesterday we looked at the first half of this verse – God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us. Today we look at the second half of the verse, that through Jesus being made sin for us, we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
What does it mean that we become the righteousness of God in Christ?
Becoming the righteousness of God has nothing to do with us doing righteous works. There is nothing that we can boast of in ourselves because it is God who gives us His righteousness, and declares us righteous. This is one of the key teachings in Paul’s letters. He teaches that through the gospel we become the righteousness of God [Romans 1:17]. He writes, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” [Romans 5:19]. Righteousness is an act of God when God declares us righteous on the basis of our turning from sin [repentance], and our faith in Christ. God declaring us righteous is known as justification.
Before we become Christians we were under the control of our old nature and the influence of the devil [Ephesians 2:1-3], but when we turned to Christ we were given the very nature of God. Christ is God, and what He is we are [see 1 John 4:17]. On the cross our sin was made over to Him, and now His righteousness is given to us. Our union with Christ is everything! We are in Him and He in us, and that is why God can declare us righteous!
Many years ago I heard a lady from Wales sing a beautiful hymn that helps us to understand this. The words were, “God sees my Saviour, and then He sees me; In the beloved accepted and free.” He sees us as already complete in Christ [Colossians 2:10]. It is a wonderfully liberating truth to see yourself in the way that God sees you, and to recognise that there is nothing more that we can do but what His grace has already done. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus….” [Romans 8:1]
God declares us righteous but this does not give us the freedom to live as we please. We are to honour God in everything, practice righteousness, and love one another [1 John 3:7].
Why do you think it is that so little teaching and preaching is about the righteousness that God has already made us in Christ?
Read Galatians 5:1. What does Paul mean when he says, “Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free?
Why is it so important to see yourself in the same way that God sees you? In what way is this liberating and bring freedom?