“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” — Romans 3:21-22.
Righteousness is a gift from God. When we repent of a life of sin and accept the price that Jesus Christ paid on the cross for us, we receive the gift of righteousness. God wipes away all our sins, justifies us, and declares us righteous in His sight.
It’s this imputed righteousness that gives us the boldness to come before God’s throne, even when we know that our works and ways are imperfect. Every time we go before Him, we reckon that He accepts us as clean because He sees upon us the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He accepts as the perfect sacrifice for every human sin.
It’s imperative that we only approach God on the basis of the blood of His Son. We shouldn’t approach Him on the basis of our good works or deeds. We shouldn’t think, “I did this or that good deed; therefore, I am qualified to stand before God.” Neither should we think, “I am accepted in God’s presence because I successfully resisted so and so sin.” The Bible says that all of our good works are like filthy rags before Him (Isaiah 64:5-7); they will never be good enough to qualify us to stand in His presence.
But God’s gift of righteousness does something else for us—it empowers us to live righteous lives. It gives us both the will and ability to live according to God’s standards. When faced with temptations, we do not obtain victory by the mere exertion of our will. In fact, if we rely on our willpower, we will likely fall into the temptation sooner or later.
However, if we call on the Lord for help and thereafter rely on the life of Christ within us to manifest itself outwardly, we will find ourselves victorious over temptations again and again. In those circumstances, the Spirit of God ministers great grace to us, grace that transforms our desires and leads us toward decisions that keep us on right paths. Such decisions are always ours to make, because God never forces us to choose what is right. He gives us reprieve from the pressure to sin and shows us right paths to walk in, but we have to choose to follow the paths He shows. As we do, we find ourselves living righteously and having dominion over sin (Galatians 2:20).
Prayer: Father, I thank you for your precious gift of righteousness. Please help me to approach you at all times by the blood of your Son. Teach me to depend on you for the will and power to live a righteously. In Jesus’ name, Amen.