Imagine attending a funeral of a friend where the preacher and friends and family members all have a chance to say something good about the person. Each one gets up and says that they can’t think of anything bad the person did. He didn’t drink or smoke or lust or swear or steal or cheat or lie or anything else. In fact, each person can tell a story of how this deceased friend avoided doing something bad even though tempted. Then the funeral is over.
Now, wouldn’t you find that just a little disturbing? Doesn’t a good life consist of something positive, rather than just a lack of negative?
So often we think of a righteous life as one without sin. To be righteous, according to most people, is to avoid the negative. Righteousness is an empty account before God. I think this is in the minds of many believers because all they have learned of righteousness is that it is the avoidance of unrighteousness.
But is it a joyful thing to stand before God with an empty account? To have nothing?
Even grace teachers communicate this. We often teach that the righteousness we have worked for in our lives is as nothing before God. We have done nothing to earn His love or acceptance. This is a true teaching, in fact an important teaching. Otherwise, we allow people to think they have earned their way into God’s favor.
But when you and I stand before God, we stand in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, our Lord. That is much more than the lack of bad things. That righteousness is everything good. Our account before God is full of good!
If you look into the gift box that came with your salvation, you will find, lying close to the top, the righteousness of Jesus. It’s yours. It’s part of the gift. And it isn’t just an empty thing. It is something full and alive and good.
We do have an account with God, a moral account, I suppose. Before Christ came into us, every sin was in that account. The Scripture says that whoever is guilty of one sin is guilty of them all. Many preachers have made that clear to us. There is no hope of trying to live a life good enough to deserve salvation. The accounts of the lost are filled with debt.
But that isn’t true for believers. Not only are our debts wiped away, but our accounts are filled with the generous goodness of Jesus. Paul says that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, placed in our accounts. He says, in 1 Corinthians, that Christ is our righteousness. So our accounts went from as negative as they could be to as positive as they could be. We went from being destitute before God to being rich in His goodness.
The righteousness of Jesus is something! And it is yours because of Him.