Matt. 5:6 says, “Blessed (supremely blest, fortunate, well off, & happy) are they which do hunger (crave, famished,) and thirst after righteousness (justification): for they shall be filled (gorged, filled to abundance, satisfied). Luke 6:21 says, “Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.” Although the Gospels are considered part of the New Testament, we must remember that the bulk of them took place under the Old Testament - until the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, when exactly would we be filled with righteousness? When Jesus became the propitiation (appeasing sacrifice) for our sins, and the Holy Spirit came to permanently indwell the Believer, making us new creations in Christ (Rom 3:25, Jn 7:37-39, 14:17, 2Cor 5:17).
At the moment of conversion, we are made new creations. This is the new birth. We are not made righteous when we get to heaven. We are made righteous at the new birth. We become the very righteousness of God in Christ. Many Christians will mentally agree with this truth, but do not practically live before God in this truth. We most often relate to God as the old creature, who God “pretends” is righteous. The Old Testament word “atonement” meant covering. God covered the sins of the people with the blood of animals. Their sins were never removed.
However, in the New Covenant, the word atonement means exchange and reconciliation (Rom 5:11). Our sins are not covered over - our sins are removed. They are gone. The great exchange was Jesus becoming sin with our sin, that so we could become righteous with His righteousness. We are now reconciled completely to God through faith in Jesus. We have become righteous with His very own righteousness. We have been created righteous and truly holy. Jesus is our own righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and redemption (2Cor 5:21, 1Cor 1:30, Eph 4:24)
Before faith in Christ, we not only did unrighteousness, but we were unrighteousness. We did not merely walk in darkness, but we were darkness. Now, through faith in Jesus, we have become righteousness. We have become light (2Cor 6:14, Eph 5:8, 1Thess 5:5). We must awake to righteousness (1Cor 15:34). Awake means to arouse out of a stupor. In large, the church is in a stupor of sin consciousness. We need to awake to a righteousness consciousness. We are not to walk with a sin conscience, for we have been purified from our sin (Heb 10:2). We are now to acknowledge every good thing in us in Christ Jesus (Philm 6).
A righteousness conscience produces righteousness. A sin conscience produces sin. The church has stressed, “Don’t sin”, without first stressing, “You are righteous” (1Cor 15:34). It has stressed, “Walk in light," without first stressing, “You are light” (Eph 5:8). We have mistakenly communicated you must do to become, instead of you are, now do. When we truly grasp who and what we are in Christ, it will change what we do. If we try to change what we do, without knowing who we are, it will lead to hopelessness, despair, rebellion, legalism, and a host of other negative products.
Righteousness is a gift. It is free. It cannot under any circumstance be earned, merited, or worked for. It can only be received (Rom 3:24, 5:15-19). If you try to earn any part of it, you frustrate (reject, set aside, violate, neutralize) the grace of God. The death of Christ becomes vanity (without cause). If you could earn righteousness, you would not need God to give it as a gift, but it is - it must be - a gift (Gal 2:21). Jesus’ death was essential, not convenient.
Righteousness can only be received by faith (Philp 3:9, Rom 4:3, 21-25, 5:1). As Abraham was declared righteous by faith, so we must be the same. Abraham did not earn righteousness. He simply believed the promise of God. We must do the same. It cannot be by good deeds. It is only by God’s mercy and grace, and our faith in it (Titus 3:5).
Read Romans 9:30 - 10:4 carefully. The church today often makes the same mistake Israel did. It has a zeal for righteousness, but not according to knowledge. When it seeks to be justified (declared righteous) by its works, it does not submit itself to the righteousness of God. Bow the knee to Jesus. You cannot make yourself righteous by anything you do - not now, not ever. But you can receive the gift, and become a brand new righteous creation through faith in Jesus Christ. How long will the Christian work for what they already have? How long will we live with a sin conscience? When we truly learn who and what we are in Christ, we will live the abundant life Christ came to give us (Jn 10:10). Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!