“For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
God makes people righteous. That is, He puts people right with Him – forgives them, cleanses them and restores their relationship with Him – through faith in Christ. He did not wait for them to try and achieve a form of perfection themselves through gaining a ‘pass mark’ that was acceptable to Him. That would have involved Him in lowering His standard of holiness, and condoning sin and imperfection. Instead He took the sin, guilt and imperfection into Himself in Christ, suffered the consequences on our behalf and relieved us of the guilt, stain and separation of sin.
Righteousness becomes God’s gift to us through Christ. However it is not just a cloak with which we cover our imperfections, inadequacies and selfishness. It becomes a gift in which we are called to live and which we are called to live out through our faith and trust in Him. God seeks to develop His gift within us so that the righteousness He has given us and conferred upon us becomes a part of our everyday lives. We now seek to live not as we were but as we are in Christ and through faith in Him. And so with the enabling gift of the Holy Spirit within us God seeks to create right ways of living, right ways of doing, and right ways of thinking in the lives and hearts of all His people – including you and me. We increasingly become who and what God has made us (in Christ in heaven) and is making us (in Christ’s body) on earth.
This means that we need to change our thinking in three major ways.
Firstly, God is for us not against us. He has sacrificed Himself for our salvation, called us to Himself and given us His Holy Spirit. He is not a severe judge waiting to score us out of life. He has invested Himself completely in us and our salvation and both desires and works to enable us to live this salvation in our everyday lives. He loves us with an everlasting love.
Secondly, we are called to trust and obey. To trust His great love, salvation and support, even when we fail or sin – and to keep going back to Him for forgiveness and help. He does not expect us to reach perfection in one great stride but to grow a step at a time. He does however hold before us in Jesus a vision of what we a called to, and wishes us to see and respond to it. We are called to obey Him as part and parcel of our trusting Him – acknowledging that His ways are the only right and good ways for us and for our society.
Thirdly, God has, in Christ, overcome the world and the power of sin and evil. No matter how great the challenges and difficulties that we face our God is almighty and already victorious. It does not mean that things will always turn out the way that we hope. It does mean though that God will always see us through and that His name will be revered, His kingdom will come and His will be done on earth as in heaven.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5)
Keep reminding yourself of the greatness and love of God – and of who you are in Him.
Father God, help me to place all my hope and trust in You – and to see myself not through the mirror of yesterday but through Your window of tomorrow. Amen.