How can any mere human be righteous in God’s sight?
How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman? (Job 25:4)
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one! (Job 14:4)
Why not? There are many good people and good works to be seen – even in a darkening world. Why are we unacceptable to God? Why am I unclean? This is the beginning of the Good News. Good News if we are prepared to accept what God says about us and believe in what God has done to put it right.
The description of sacrifices in the Old Testament points to the problem of human Sin. This is described as wickedness, evil and rebellion. Adam decided to disobey God. Perhaps he thought God needed him to be “a god”? Deluded about his importance, he chose a way that has leaked into every human being. Jesus came into the world to change all that but the majority felt OK about shouting:
“Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:21)
The dismissal of Jesus Christ from human reckoning, belief or service demonstrates this rebellion against God. Yet, God, Who made us in His image, has continued to appeal to us to hear his offer of forgiveness. More than that, He offers to make us RIGHTEOUS.
Jude 1:24-25 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—(25) to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
How is this possible? How can a Holy and Just God overlook our rebellion? More, how can He give us a status of being RIGHTEOUS? This word describes a condition in a trial where a person is acquitted as there was no reason to be on trial. This is more that being found “not guilty” on a technicality – or because someone else took the “rap” in their place. God will justify (declare a righteous) everyone who recognises Who Jesus is (the RIGHTEOUS ONE) and what He has done to turn away God’s wrath about Sin.
We are given an example of this in the life of Abraham:
What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)
Abraham believed many things God told him and proved this by a life that turned around to walk in God’s direction. Because Abraham believed God he was reckoned or declared to be righteous. He wasn’t – we read his story and see occasional lies, doubts and fears. Nevertheless God did not remove the status of righteousness and even called Abraham his “friend”!
The sacrifices of the Old Testament point towards what Jesus would achieve once and for all by His death on the Cross. He fulfilled all the requirements of God about sin and death. So, God is able to declare a sinner righteous on the condition of faith in Jesus Christ. We are accepted in Him. We are forgiven. We are declared to be righteous.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Philippians 3:8-9 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.