Words of Grace
Some businesses I frequent have awarded me a “preferred customer” status (no, not the donut shop). One time I was at one of the businesses and an employee looked at my name and account and commented, “Oh, you’re a preferred customer!” Apparently that meant something. I was treated with a little more respect after that. In fact, I got some special privileges because of it. I didn’t do anything to earn that status, except to come regularly to the business, but I did enjoy the privileges.
Imagine that God has an account with your name on it. He looks you up and sees one word, “Righteous!” No sins. No special warnings. No caveats. Just one word.
Paul told the Romans that those who trust in the Lord for salvation are counted righteous. Notice the words, “accounted” and “imputes” in this passage:
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works Romans 4:5-6
Those words refer to a determination, like that on an account. God gives righteousness to those who trust in Jesus. That’s what He says. On your account, it says you are righteous.
Never mind what you feel like. Never mind what the preacher says in his sermon. Never mind what your accusing friend says. According to God you are righteous. On the basis of your faith in Jesus, you are righteous.
Now, the theologian explains that when you and I accepted Christ as our only hope for salvation, Jesus became our Life. We died to sin and to this world, and we rose again with His life. Since He is our life, He is also our righteousness. Technically, He is righteous in us and we are righteous in Him. When we stand before the righteous Judge, we will be pronounced righteous because of Jesus.
Absence of sin is not the issue. Perfect behavior is not the issue. Sufficient service is not the issue. None of these will make us righteous. Jesus is the issue. He makes us righteous. Because of Him, we are “preferred customers.”