Jesus: The Righteousness Of God
In our last article, we considered the righteousness and acceptance that God bestows upon people who embrace His Son Jesus Christ. What is the connection between a person embracing Jesus, and God counting that person righteous? Jesus lived the righteousness of God, and because of that, those who embrace him are graciously and lovingly accounted as righteous by God because of his life.
It is said of Jesus in Romans 3:25 that his life ‘declared God’s righteousness’, which simply means that he, from the beginning of his life to the end of his life, said to the whole world that God, everything about Him, and everything He has ever done, is right. It is said in the book of Romans that anyone who puts their faith in Jesus and agrees with that declaration to the degree that they confess Jesus as the love and Lord of their life, is counted as righteous before God. This is the message of the Gospel.
God Really Is Right
The aim of this article is to try and simply explain how Jesus declared God to be right. To do this, I want you to imagine you had the task of convincing the world that a particular person, and everything about them, is right. How would you do it? You could tell the world continually day in and day out, you could write advertisements, you could get on social media, you could write books explaining why they are right and campaign for them relentlessly. But, in the end, the greatest way to declare another person to be right, is when you give your own life entirely to making it their life; when you yourself are so convinced they are right, it is your delight to give away whatever your life could have been to have their life; when you build everything you are around everything they are. The most convincing evidence of another’s righteousness is a person who says, ‘So much do I believe that this person is right, I’m going to give my existence entirely for living their existence’.
This is what Jesus did with God! Look at his words when he came into the world:
“I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” – Psalm 40:8; Hebrews 10:7;
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.” – John 4:34;
“I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” – John 6:38;
“[Jesus] fell on his face and prayed. saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will”… again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done”’ – Matthew 26:39,42
The Beginning Of The Creation Of God
Finally a man arrived on the earth to acknowledge the true value, worth and righteousness of God from the beginning of their life to the end. Finally a man had come to do what mankind were made to do, and what is best for them both now and eternally – the will of God. Finally a man came to ‘declare God’s righteousness’. And so Jesus is called, ‘The beginning of the creation of God’ (Revelation 3:14); ‘The image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation… He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent’ (Colossians 1:15,18).
By his life, Jesus said this to the world: ‘Everything God is, everything God is about, everything God does is right. It is my delight to seek His glory in all things, because He is worthy of all glory, all praise, all honour, all love, and all obedience, even if it means a horrible death. My life is a testimony to my belief that God is right, and my love for God above all things’.
By delighting in and living God’s will, Jesus’ life also proclaimed the reverse: All other wills which are not God’s are valueless. Jesus’ life for the will of God alone to the exclusion of any other will, proclaimed all others valueless. A will is only shown to have value if it is pursued and exercised. By only ever living the will of God, the will of sin was rejected and condemned as fruitless by Jesus. And because of Jesus’ total life of love for God’s will, God raised him from the dead and glorified him with His own immortal glory.
What effect does this have on anyone else? Hebrews 10:10 goes on to say, ‘By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’ – In other words, ‘By Jesus Christ’s obedient death to his Father’s will which expressed completely his delight to do God’s will, people who embrace Jesus in faith and love are sanctified!’ God was declared right in a man who delighted to His will, and all who embrace that man will be accounted as righteous before Him.
Let’s conclude with another beautiful piece of writing which explains exactly this — the way we become righteous in Jesus:
“For our sake God made Jesus to be sin, who knew no sin, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21
Do you see what this is saying? God made Jesus part of the race to which sin belongs, but despite this, Jesus didn’t do what everyone else in the sin race does — sin! For what reason did God do it like this? So that we could be made what Jesus is, though we didn’t do what he did — the righteousness of God! This verse is saying, ‘Sin was mine, not his. And righteousness was his, not mine. But because he shared in what I am, I can share in what he is!’ Salvation and righteousness has been achieved in him, and because he was related to me and my sin, when I trust in him, I become related to him and his salvation and righteousness! It’s as if Jesus said this: ‘I have been sent to you from God sharing what you are, but not doing what you do, so that you can embrace and share what I am, even though you haven’t done what I did, so that I may bring you back to God forever!’
God extends His very own righteousness to people who haven’t lived it through His Son who did, because of his common relationship to those people. Because Jesus’ delight was always to do God will, God saved His Son and saves all others who take hold of His Son and delight in His will also, despite their many failings.