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Friday, March 8, 2024

Both Sides of the Coin


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 no sin that stands between us and God. This is the identity Christ has given His blood for us to receive. Without understanding the righteousness that is ours in Christ, we are hindered in our relationship with our Father. When we are more focused on our sinful failures than on His merciful Grace, intimacy is impossible. We don’t feel worthy or righteous enough to come to Him. But isn’t the point of Grace to give us a restored relationship with God? For us to be able to come to Him unencumbered by sin and shame?


Jesus didn’t just symbolically take our sins. He, in fact, became our sin. Then He suffered the wrath of God for our sins. When we say that we accept and receive His payment for our sins but then do not accept and receive the righteousness He offers is like saying you will take one side of a coin and not the other. 


A coin has two sides. You cannot possess one side of a coin without possessing the other side. Some Christians have accepted the first part of 2 Corinthians 5:21, but have trouble accepting the other half. They believe Jesus bore their sins, but have trouble believing He gave His righteousness to them. They believe that His righteousness is something that they can only earn when they go to heaven. Righteousness cannot be earned. It is the gift we receive when we believe in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for our sins. In this verse, Paul made the forgiveness of our sins and our receiving the righteousness of God in Christ part of the same finished work. 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, Psalm 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, 10:6), the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), the righteousness of God without the Law (Romans 3:21), Jesus being made righteousness for us (1 Corinthians 1:30), and Christ as righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4). He is our everlasting righteousness (Daniel 9:24). He is the Lord, our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6), and He is the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17).


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 are created and established in His righteousness. We clothe ourselves in the righteousness He has given us (Ephesians 4:24). He is our new identity, and we live by faith in the righteousness He has given us. 


To believe we are redeemed from sin and not believe we have received the gift of righteousness is referred to by Paul as being ignorant of God’s righteousness. Paul also refers to not believing in the righteousness Jesus has given us as trying to establish our own righteousness and not submitting to God’s righteousness (Romans 10:3). We can never receive righteousness by what we do. Self-effort is self-righteousness. It places faith in our ability to live holy instead of placing our faith in God’s righteousness. We only receive the righteousness of God by faith in Christ (Philippians 3:9). 


God convicts us with the righteousness He has given us. He convinces us of our new birth and our new identity by the renewing of our minds with His truth (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 12:2). 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 sin does not stand in our way (Hebrews 4:16).


Why did God make Jesus who had no sin become our sin?  So we might have His righteousness. 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. Jesus gave His life on one side of the cross so we might receive His righteousness on the other side. We don’t have to prove what we have received in Jesus. He proved it all. 


If you had been able to make yourself righteous by the Law’s self-effort, then you wouldn’t have needed Jesus to become your sin and die to give you the righteousness of God. You wouldn’t have needed Grace.


But you desperately need the Grace of Jesus! You need more and more of His Grace to not live a self-defeating and self-defacing life. Without knowing in your heart that you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, you live under the condemnation of the enemy and your own heart. Knowing who you are in Christ is your unrestricted access to the Father. You can come freely to Him and lay down any weight of sin. It is His righteousness—His goodness that draws you. The Holy Spirit never leaves you or forsakes you. The Holy Spirit in you hurts when you sin. His righteousness is offended when there is sin. You know in your heart when you are out of the Father’s will. The Spirit convicts you with the righteousness of God that you have received. There is no room for sin in you whom Jesus has made holy. But when His righteousness is alive in you, you choose to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). When you believe you are the righteousness of God in Christ, you do not desire to invite what is unholy into you—the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).


Seek His Kingdom and His righteousness. If you could have received righteousness through the Law, there would be no need for Jesus’ Grace (Galatians 2:21). Never frustrate the work of His Grace in your life.  Your self-effort will never make you righteous. That was attempted under the Law, and Jesus declared self-effort worthless. His Grace declares your true worth—your righteousness. You have both sides of the coin. He who had no sin became your sin, and you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. 

Believe who Jesus says you are.





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