The Believers Perfect Righteousness

Last time, young people, we considered the wisdom of God in choosing Christ as our Saviour in the way of His cross, so that we might be lifted to the highest glory that is possible for the creature. And undoubtedly you remember that we are considering the five points that Paul presents in I Corinthians 1:30, 31. There he wrote, “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let Him glory in the Lord.”

This time we are going to consider that second element, namely, righteousness. And we do well to notice that Paul mentions God’s wisdom first and then righteousness, sanctification and redemption. For it was God’s wisdom that prepared this perfect righteousness for us, this sanctification and redemption. And as we consider this righteousness – and later the sanctification and redemption – we will more fully appreciate that wisdom of God at which we looked last time.

Now to be righteous means to be right with God in a legal sense. It means then to be without any guilt of any kind or to any degree. We have no marks of sin against us. In God’s book there is not one sinful thought, desire or act recorded against us. Yes, it means that we are as free from the guilt of sin as God is Himself. For it means that we are like Christ, His Son. Just look once at II Corinthians 5:21. There we read, “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.’’

Now when Paul says that Christ was made to be sin for us, he does not mean that Christ became a sinner. It means that He came to represent sinners, take their punishment upon Himself so that He could make us perfectly righteous before God. Paul puts it very emphatically when he says that we are made to be the righteousness of God in Christ. A more complete, a more perfect righteousness there just cannot be.

Let us put it this way: If someone asks you, “Are you right with God?’’ Then you say, “Yes”. To be righteous means that you can say in answer to this question, “Right? Yes!’’ To be righteous is to be able to say, “Right? Yes!’’ It is to be legally right before God.

Bear in mind this truth, and then it is plain that you see the wisdom of God in sending His Son as the tool whereby He set out to make us righteous. As pointed out last time Christ is the only man Who is sinless since the fall of Adam in the beginning of history. But remember also that Christ, though He is one Person, has a divine and a human nature. And both of these are absolutely essential for our righteousness. Only as a sinless man can He suffer what sinful men deserve. He must be a man in order to represent man. An angel cannot do that, nor surely can a beast of the field. Lambs and bullocks were pictures and types of Christ in their sacrifices and in the shedding of their blood; but they cannot represent man, nor suffer the punishment that man’s sin demands. That is even true of angels. They cannot represent man, nor suffer the punishment man must in body and soul. The fallen angels will be cast into the lake of fire; but their punishment will not be exactly and in every sense like that of man. For one thing they never lose bodies, never have our diseases and never know the misery of bereavement.

Still more, to make us righteous Christ must bring to an end an everlasting death, an endless torment in hell! Yes, He must have a perfect life to offer up to God. He must bring to God all the works of love that we did not bring to Him. But consider carefully the fact that the penalty for our sins is an everlasting punishment. What mere man could bring that to an end? And God did not choose a mere man to do this impossible thing. In His wisdom He sent His own eternal Son Who could in a life of 33 1/2 years perform a work that had infinite, everlasting value. He could cry out on His cross, “It is finished.’’ That explains our righteousness. He brought to God a perfect work of the obedience of love, and He suffered fully the torments of hell to blot out all the guilt of all the elect children of God.

What a tremendous work that was! Consider once that in Psalm 90:10 the days of man are threescore and ten and by reason of strength may be fourscore years. And now take that lower figure of seventy years and multiply it by three hundred and sixty-five days in each year. Be very conservative and say that we sin only once a day. That still is 25,550 sins in a life time! But we have to add more sins and multiply each day by twenty-four, for surely we sin every hour of every day. What is more, even if we take literally the one hundred and forty-four thousand saints of Revelation 7:4, we must multiply that times the number of hours in the life of a man; and then we see what a tremendous work Christ performed on His cross to make all those people righteous. And that is putting it mildly, for there is an innumerable host that is made righteous; and their sins are not an average of one every hour, but far closer to one every minute or second. We walk, we live in sin, as we are by nature. What a righteousness God in His wisdom wrought!

What is more, young people, take hold here too of that beautiful truth of the Reformed Faith, and in that second of the Five Points of Calvinism. There is unconditional election that decided for whom Christ died and whom He made righteous. It was eternally decided for whom He would go to hell, and for whom He would fulfill the law of God. Man does not decide for God whom Christ will represent. Election is eternal. As Paul writes in Ephesians 1:4, we were chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world.’’ And that is also why in the third point of those Five Points of Calvinism we believe in a limited, that is, a particular atonement. The atonement realized on that cross was not of limited power or value. It was limited to a certain number of

people. And that is why it is better to call it a particular atonement. And it is exactly because we were chosen in Christ before we even existed, and before Adam was created, and we belonged then already to Christ, it is because of this that God could send His Son to pay for our sins. Eternally He represented us in God’s counsel; and let no one tell you that our righteousness is an afterthought of God to undo what Satan had spoiled. That is an unrighteous thought and makes God dependent upon man, and limited by what Satan can do. God did NOT send Christ to make it possible for all men in the world to have a chance at being made righteous. By nature, we are all guilty with trillions of sins. And that they are all gone and we are right with God is because He sovereignly planned it that way before there was any sin in the world, in fact before there was a world.

Now the question is whether you have evidence in your life that God chose you eternally and sent His Son in His wisdom to realize righteousness for you. The question is not whether you have lived a sinless life. We have an answer to that question. Yes, there are men who are mentioned in the Scriptures as children of God of whom not one sin is listed. Of Abel and Enoch we do not read of one sin. Children sometimes die before they are born and never broke one of the ten commandments. But do not forget that, as Paul wrote in Romans 5:18, “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men to justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” The whole human race became guilty in Adam its head; and the elect are made righteous when Christ, their Head, fulfilled God’s law for them and brought their everlasting punishment to an end.

But whether Christ made you righteous or not will be evident in your walk of life. You will not earn righteousness by walking in love to God; but such a walk will reveal that because you are made righteous in Christ, God has begun the work of salvation in you. In fact He has already caused you to be born again with that sinless life which is that highest good that He chose for you.

We plan next time to get into that when we deal with the third point that Paul presents in I Corinthians 1:30, 31, namely, sanctification. But at the moment take hold of that truth that righteousness will manifest itself in sanctification. These two, namely, righteousness and sanctification go hand in hand. They are two sides of one picture. You NEVER have only one of them. And sanctification will reveal righteousness, or, if you want to call it such, justification. Justification makes us righteous. But, the Lord willing, we will talk about that matter next time.