Would you feel comfortable saying that you are just as good as God? Would you wear it on a T-shirt? Imagine:
Wouldn’t everyone you know think you were blaspheming? Would all your Christian friends be quick to correct you and to condemn you for your egregious pride? If so, what does this verse mean?
He (God) made the one who did not know sin (Jesus) to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.2 Corinthians 5:21 (CSB)
Didn’t Jesus die for all sin for all people for all time? Of course we would say that He did. But this verse tells us that He didn’t just carry our sin or wear it. He became it. He drank it down to the dregs and became everything we were. Why? So that we would become the righteousness of God in Him.
Notice, Paul doesn’t say that we would wear the righteousness of God through Christ. He didn’t say (like people used to tell me) that when you stand before God you are just a dirty sinner, but all God sees is the blood of Jesus. No, God isn’t blind to sin. Jesus doesn’t camouflage us. Jesus changes us fundamentally. He actually exchanged natures with us. He became as we were so that we would be able to become as He is.
Now, I’m not saying that you act or feel as righteous as God. I am simply saying that you are as righteous as God. You may disagree. But how righteous do you think you need to be to get to heaven? I’d say just as good as God, because no sin will be allowed in heaven. So if you’re not just as good as God, you can’t get in! You’ll be like the parable of the banquet when the one man came in without wearing the wedding clothes he was given to wear. That guy was bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness. He tried to get into heaven on his own merits and God would have none of it. Not good.
If you don’t feel comfortable that you are just as good as God, it may be because you’ve tried and failed so many times, and now you don’t trust yourself to be that good. But you see, I’m not talking about your behavior. I’m talking about your new nature.
If you received Jesus as your Savior, He didn’t take away your ability to sin, He merely took away your ability to enjoy it. Jesus didn’t remodel the old you. He killed that person off. You are dead. Dead. There is no resurrection for that old guy.
Then He gave you His own new life to live. Right there, in your mortal body, lives the life of Jesus Christ, Son of God. He didn’t wipe your memories. He didn’t erase your personality. He didn’t change your preferences (unless you had a preference for sin). He simply put His new life into your old DNA.
And here is where we find our problem. Our spirit is made brand new. It was dead before, but now it is alive. But our minds (the soulish part of us) are still based on the old brain that formed sinful habits and had sinful cravings. Our bodies (typically) still have the same limitations and physical addictions they had before Jesus. So frequently we act out of habit and just do what we used to do before we were saved.
When we do sinful acts, it is easy for us to identify ourselves as sinners and to reject ourselves. But this is not the way God sees us at all. We are His children, and He is a good Father. No good parent would disown a child simply because he disobeyed. We might bring correction. We might express displeasure. But the child is still our flesh and blood. We are permanently joined to the child, and his behavior cannot alter his nature.
It is the same with God (only better). If you received Jesus, you got God’s new nature. You are now permanently His child. Nothing you can do can make Him love you less. In fact, nothing you can do could make Him love you more. You are His absolute beloved. It is your job to be loved outrageously. And He is your Lover. Your weakness and fear can never change that. You are His treasure, and He has invested everything to get you. He’s not going to give up now!
Sometimes we think that to claim the goodness of God as our own would be prideful. But pride is thinking of yourself differently than God does. It is the height of arrogance to believe that you are a sinner when God calls you a son. Your sin is not more powerful than His grace!
Some people say that they could never deserve God’s love. But what does that have to do with anything? God loved us when we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). He didn’t love us only after we did some reform work. If you believe you don’t deserve God’s love you are thinking totally wrong about it. It is not what we have done but because of what He did that we are righteous (Titus 3:5). If we can claim ownership of our sin, then we could also claim credit for our righteousness. Both claims are anti-God, anti-Gospel! If our sin had the power separate us from God then our righteousness alone could get us to God.
Yet it is obvious that we do sin from time to time. Does this change our state with God? Not any more than misbehavior could cause your child to lose his place in the family. What God has redeemed He is able to keep. If He paid such a huge price for you, why do you think He would so quickly discard you?
When we sin is when we must come to God for cleansing. We confess, He cleanses (1 John 1:9). Notice, God doesn’t tell us to ask for forgiveness again. We already asked when we came to Him the first time. He said “Yes.” Now we walk in that “yes” forever. But we do need to confess our sins. Confession simply means to say the same thing God says.
God says you are holy. God says you are His priest (1 Peter 2:9-10). God made you His child (John 1:12-13), and He hasn’t changed His mind about you. When we confess our sins, we do not claim to be sinners! We simply note that our behavior did not comport with our identity. And we drop it. That is repentance: simply turning from our sin and toward God.
So, now would you feel comfortable wearing a T-shirt that says you are just as good as God? If not, maybe you need some work to remind yourself of what God did for you. It never was your behavior. It always was His accomplishment. Now you are free to be as He made you. And if ever you find your actions are not like Jesus, you have the right to stop, drop it, turn back to God, and get up and walk in righteousness.
That’s the Gospel. That’s the good news!
See more in my book The Gospel: God’s Great Undoing, coming March 2021
Blog by Glenn Fink
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