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
We can never remind ourselves of this verse too much. It is only out of our right standing in Christ that we have a relationship with God, our Father. It is only because God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sins, that we have nothing that stands between us and God. This is the identity Christ has given His blood for us to receive. And without understanding the righteousness that is ours in Christ, we are hindered in our relationship with our Father. We aren’t free to come to Him in our time of need.
Jesus didn’t just symbolically take our sins. He, in fact, became our sin. Then He suffered the wrath of God for our sins. He became what we were so we could become what He was. When we say that we accept and receive His payment for our sins but then do not accept what He offers us (the righteousness of God) is like saying you will take the heads of a coin but not the tails. They are both sides of one coin. You cannot possess one side of the coin without possessing the other side.
In order for Jesus to pay the price for the redemption of our sins, He had to be sinless (Isaiah 53:9; John 8:46; Hebrews 4:15, 7:26; and 1 Peter 1:19). How was Jesus able to escape the sin that had been passed down from Adam?
Romans 5:12 states, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
Sin entered the world through Adam. Jesus was sinless because He was born of a virgin and of God. In Genesis 3:15 the Lord declares to the devil that the seed of the woman would crush his head. The virgin birth guaranteed the sinless nature of Jesus and overlooked the fallen nature that had been passed down through Adam because Jesus did not have a human father.
Many Christians have accepted the first part of 2 Corinthians 5:21, but have trouble accepting the second half. They believe Jesus bore their sins, but don’t believe He gave His righteousness to them. They believe that His righteousness is something that is only received in the future in eternity. However, Paul made the forgiveness of our sins and our receiving the righteousness of God in Christ part of the same package. If one part is true, then the other part is true. Just like that coin. You possess both sides of it.
The righteousness of God credited to us was predicted in the Old Testament (Genesis 15:6), Psalms 32:1-2) and referred to by Paul in Romans 4:23-25. It was revealed in the New Testament through the Gospel (Romans 1:17). This righteousness in Scripture is revealed as the righteousness of faith (Romans 4:13, 9:30, and 10:6), the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21), the righteousness of God without the Law (Romans 3:21), Jesus being made righteousness for us (1 Corinthians 1:30), Christ as righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4), everlasting righteousness (Daniel 9:24), the Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6), the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17), the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), and being found in Him (Philippians 3:9).
As believers, the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus has been credited to us. We receive it by faith in Jesus Christ alone. It is righteousness apart from anything we do. It is His gift to everyone who believes. We have everlasting righteousness. We clothe ourselves in the righteousness He has given us. We are found in Him. He is our new identity, and we live Christ’s holiness because we have none of our own.
To reject this gift of righteousness given to us through Christ’s atonement is referred to by Paul as being ignorant of God’s righteousness (Romans 10:3). Paul also refers to not believing in the righteousness Jesus has given us as trying to establish our own righteousness (Romans 10:3 and not submitting to God’s righteousness (Philippians 3:9).
We don’t have to toss a coin and choose one side. Both sides of the coin are ours. God convicts us of the righteousness He has given us. He convinces us of our new birth and our new identity. When we allow the Holy Spirit to convince us that we are the righteousness of God in Christ, we believe we are free to come boldly into God’s presence because nothing stands in our way (Hebrews 4:16).
This is our freedom—knowing what it means to be made righteous because of Christ. God is no longer the God who waits for our next sin. He is the Father who no longer remembers our sins. He is the Father who raises us up. When we believe that sin goes against the righteousness He has given us—when we believe we are new creations in His love, we are no longer two-sided. We are whole. We are healed.
© 2023 Lynn Lacher