When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior and choose to follow Him, that is when we truly live. We must then learn who we are in Christ (i.e. our identity, position and inheritance in Him) and who He is in us (our Healer, Deliverer, Righteousness, Provision, Protector, High Priest, Advocate with the Father, Intercessor, etc.) to be victorious and live the abundant life. An important first step is that we realize we have been established in the righteousness of Christ once we have received Him as our Savior.
After Jesus took our sin on the cross, He gave us His righteousness – a Divine Exchange. This is called imputed righteousness (assigned to us what He possessed). Jesus needed to pay the penalty for our sin because God’s standard is perfect righteousness and this was unattainable to us except through the cross of Jesus Christ because He is the perfect Son of God. We are not able to keep the law but He could (Romans 3:21-26)!
He died in our place and took all the righteous vengeance of God’s wrath for the punishment of our sin and lawlessness on Himself at the cross thereby satisfying God’s justice (Romans 10:4). Romans 3:10-12 reminds us that there is no man righteous except Jesus. We cannot seek to establish our own righteousness (comparative righteousness which says I am better than you) because it still misses God’s mark (Matthew 5:20).
“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Matthew 9:13 (NKJV)
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. Romans 10:3 (NKJV)
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. Philippians 3:9 (NKJV)
We did no righteousness, but we became His righteousness. What is righteousness? It isn’t right behavior. It isn’t anything that we have done (1 Corinthians 1:30). It is right standing with the Father; the clearance of all our guilt which makes us able to stand before Him. It is a gift given to us by God ( Romans 5:17).
God didn’t show favor to His Son; but when we received Jesus as our Savior and we received His righteousness – we received God’s grace, His favor of all His blessings, status and identity through our relationship with Christ (Romans 4:13). Now we can say “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus”!
We can expect God’s favor in our lives because of the cross and the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ who gave us His righteousness. Being established in our righteousness in Christ, and depending on God’s unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor, results in a life of success, peace and practical holiness.
Jesus not only died for us, but lives for us. He kept the whole law perfectly. When we try to keep the law, we fall short of God’s grace. We are not under the law but under grace therefore sin can’t dominate over us (Romans 6:14). The more we actually try not to sin or try to keep the law, the harder it is to do. The law is demand. James 2:10 says, whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, is guilty of all. It demands perfection which no man can keep.
The whole idea of the law is to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we realize we can’t keep it and then cry out to God for help. Praise God that the gospel of grace through Jesus Christ is supply! He gives to us freely what we need that we couldn’t do by ourselves. He lives for us as our Savior, Healer, Deliverer, Provider Righteousness and High Priest.
It is important that we realize we have been established in the righteousness of Christ once we have received Him as our Savior (2 Corinthians 5:21) because it will determine how we respond to the voice of accusation from the enemy.
In righteousness, you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. Isaiah 54:14 (NKJV)
“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the LORD. Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16, 17 (NKJV)
I had grown up in a church that was very legalistic. Legalism in Christian theology is the act of putting law above the gospel by establishing requirements for salvation beyond repentance and faith in Jesus; in other words, by your works or performance. I had always felt that I had to be perfect in order to be accepted by God. I tried to be good enough and perfect but I never could be.
However, I now realized that I couldn’t live my life like this. My righteousness was not good enough and that through Jesus’ finished work on the cross; there had been a divine exchange of my sin for His righteousness when I received Him as my Savior. He had paid the penalty and took the full wrath of God for my sin and gave me His righteousness or right standing with God and all that He has (i.e. healing, wholeness, deliverance, protection, provision, preservation, etc.). I was now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21)!
When I started applying the Word of God to my life with this fresh revelation of His grace and righteousness my life changed! I started living in the abundant life He came to give me. The Bible tells us to pursue righteousness (Proverbs 21:21; 1 Timothy 6:11; Matthew 5:6, 10; 6:33). There are great rewards when we walk in righteousness (Psalm 55:12; Proverbs 10:2; 11:18, 19; Isaiah 61:10; Hebrews 12:11; James 3:18). It is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to walk in righteousness.
The Holy Spirit started revealing to me in the Scriptures the inheritance of the righteous. Let’s look at a few verses now. I would encourage you to do a search to find more verses (Psalms and Proverbs have a lot) that tell you who you are and what your benefits are as a righteous person. Declare them over yourself. Remember, it isn’t based on our works or performance but on Jesus’ finished work on the cross (Romans 4:5; 5:19)!
For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield. Psalm 5:12 (NKJV)
The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. Psalm 34:15 (NKJV)
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19 (NKJV)
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Psalm 92:12 (NKJV)
Surely, he will never be shaken; the righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. Psalm 112:6 (NKJV)
The LORD will not allow the righteous soul to famish, but He casts away the desire of the wicked. Proverbs 10:3 (NKJV)
Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked. The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot. Proverbs 10:6, 7 (NKJV)
The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked. Proverbs 10:11 (NKJV)
The labor of the righteous leads to life, the wages of the wicked to sin. Proverbs 10:16 (NKJV)
The hope of the righteous will be gladness, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. Proverbs 10:28 (NKJV)
The righteous will never be removed but the wicked will not inhabit the earth. The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked what is perverse. Proverbs 10:30 – 32 (NKJV)
He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage. Proverbs 11:28 (NKJV)
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30 (NKJV)
The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26 (NKJV)
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:22 (NKJV)
The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul, but the stomach of the wicked shall be in want. Proverbs 13:25 (NKJV)
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10 (NKJV)
The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7 (NKJV)
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16 (NKJV)
My prayer for you:
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9 – 11 (NKJV)