As Christians we know and believe that Christ died for our sins. We believe he lived a perfect life that deserved no punishment, even though you and I have a terrible record. And on the cross, God transferred my record to Christ and punished him in my place. So as I am joined with Christ by faith God counts my sins as paid for by Christ on the cross. This is very good news!
But I believe there’s a second part of the gospel that we sometimes forget. Jesus had a record too, didn’t he? Yes, a perfect record. And when I believe in him, his perfect record is credited to my account legally. Now, before God, my legal record is perfect.
In Romans 4:3 we’re told that “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as forgiveness.”
Right? No, it doesn’t say that. It says his belief was counted to him not as forgiveness, but as righteousness. There’s a significant difference between forgiveness and righteousness, isn’t there? Forgiveness is a great thing, but righteousness is even better.
An honest man will tell you that at times he has an argument with his wife. Now, in that argument, would he rather be forgiven or would he rather be right? If he’s really honest, he’ll admit he’d rather be right. That’s the reason for the argument in the first place – two people who want to be right!
Before God, I don’t just want to be forgiven. I want to be right. Being forgiven is wonderful, but being declared ‘right’ is even better. When I stand before God today, it’s not just that my sins are washed away – though they are! There’s a second part to the story: I have a righteousness that is not my own. It commends me to God and it makes me acceptable in his sight. He is delighted and welcomes even me into his presence. And he does this for the righteousness of Christ.
That’s good news! That’s the gospel. And it is changing my life because having that relationship with God as a gift moves me. Knowing His love moves me to love him and want to be like him more and more.
This post is adapted from Message 3 of the Sonship talks.