Christ, Our Righteousness

We continue our meditation on 1 Corinthians 1:30:

“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God
–and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”

Jesus is our righteousness!

I recall that growing up we celebrated Easter by getting some chocolate and new clothes. As a youngster, the candy was the greater gift! In my parent’s eyes, the clothes were more valuable, fitting us for our attendance at the special service at church.

As a believer in Christ there is a special garment that you wear, that was purchased for you on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Isaiah describes it this way:

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).

This is a beautiful picture of the work of God whereby He declares righteous the believing sinner. The doctrinal name for this event is justification.

Paul described his experience of justification in Philippians 3:4-9. He there lists his religious credentials which could not merit salvation. Then he confessed,

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”

Through saving faith, Saul of Tarsus became Paul the apostle–wrapped in the garment of Christ’s righteousness!

This change is true of you if you received Christ as your Lord and Savior through repentance and faith. God declares us righteous by His amazing grace:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness… “(Rom 3:23-25).

I read an account of a man in California who pleaded guilty to a traffic violation. The judge declared the man guilty of the misdemeanor and pronounced the fine. Then a surprising thing happened. The judge immediately left the bench, walked around to the defendant’s side and paid the fine for him! This is a glimpse of what God has done for us. As the just and holy Judge of the universe, God must condemn sin, yet He left heaven’s glory in the person of Jesus, and paid the price for sin on Calvary. More than a traffic violation, we have fallen far short of the glory of God, yet Christ “tasted death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).

However, this pardon for sin is not automatically credited to the whole human race. There is a condition: we must be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20). Notice the step we must take to have peace with God:

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5:1).

Have you made the personal commitment of receiving Christ personally? I heard someone say, “We should not ask Christ to be our Savior; He already is.” Some theological perspectives place such an emphasis on infant baptism and education that they assume that being a Christian is handed down as an ecclesiastical tradition. But, notice the Scripture’s emphasis on our personal responsibility:

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12,13).

Perhaps you have heard justification defined as “just as if I had never sinned.” Although it is a handy definition, it misses the second aspect of “being declared righteous.” Not only does God wipe our slate clean at salvation (Titus 2:14), but He also credits to the believer the very righteousness of God!

“For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Forgiveness restores us to innocence; justification imputes to us the positive obedience of the Lord Jesus!

An additional aspect of Christ, our righteousness is that the believer has a regenerated spirit. The “new man” is a new creation. Therefore, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind … put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

This insight is foundational for abundant living. Consider how author John White came to rest on this truth.

“For many years I grappled with the problem of how to live a holy life. I attended spiritual life conferences of different kinds in different countries and received conflicting counsels of various degrees of temporary help. I read every book I could get my hands on about ‘victorious Christian living’. Often I would feel I had turned a major corner in my life and would seem finally to be in possession of the secret of sanctification. But I could no more hang on to the secret than capture a sunbeam in my pocket … Light began to break over me when I realized in the depths of my spirit that I was cleansed, accepted, justified because of what Christ had done for me and not because of the depth of my yieldedness.”[1]

No wonder one of the titles of our Savior is “The LORD our Righteousness”! (Jer. 23:6). Through God’s grace this blessing is credited to His people also, so restored Jerusalem is given the same title (Jer 33:16).

Is Jesus your righteousness?


We thank you, Lord, for the forgiveness You have given to us in Jesus Christ. We rejoice that You have credited Your righteousness to us though Your amazing grace. Guide us to rest in this standing and walk worthy of it. In Your name, amen.

Part 2 of 4 in a series on 1 Corinthians 1:30

[1] John White, The Fight: Practical Handbook to Christian Living, p.184,86.

Copyright 1999, 2011 by John Woodward Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use when source credit is given. Biblical quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (copyright by Thomas Nelson).

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