Forgiven vs. Righteous

Something God has been speaking to me about recently is the whole idea of being forgiven and how it is viewed by the church. It seems to me that there are many Christians who proclaim this forgiven status over their lives daily, who keep it at the forefront of their minds and almost view it as a validation of who they are. Given that the forgiveness of God is a big deal when we come to Him, would you then be willing to move past the idea of being forgiven into something even better?

Before I take you there, consider this: Have you ever made a mistake and been forgiven by another person and then have that person never let you forget it? That other person who continues to say “I’ve forgiven you” and by doing that keeps you in a state of contrition and awareness of your mistake? This walk of faith, Christianity, relationship with God can sometimes seem a bit like that.

However, 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Romans 3:22 puts it like this: This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Romans 5:1to 11 is also worth a read. V11 states: We take pride in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the one through whom we have a restored relationship with God.

So back to being forgiven.... When we claim and proclaim our “forgiven” status, what we are actually doing is making sin the reference point for our identity/Christian walk. We’re partially defining ourselves by our worst moments.

I read a story once about a woman who went to her priest and told him that she was hearing directly from God. The priest was sceptical but the woman continued to insist that God was speaking to her. Eventually the priest asked for proof…he told the woman that he had confessed a particular sin to God the week before and that if she could come back and tell him what it was after asking God then he would accept that she was hearing from God. Sure enough the woman returned the following Sunday and approached the priest, who asked what she had discovered. The woman then reported that she had asked God to reveal what the priests sin had been and God had replied “I don’t remember.”

God chooses not to remember our sin and so we need to stop using our sin as the reference point for our identity because that’s not what God wants us to reference and, considering what the passages above say, it’s not what the bible tells us either. We have become the righteousness of God, not because of anything that we have achieved, but in Christ. Our relationship has been restored and our reference point for who we are should be Jesus.

It’s interesting that believers in the New Testament are often referred to as “saints,” and yet there are religious phrases that have been bandied about for decades that focus on the very opposite of this [such as “we are all sinners, saved by grace”].

Don’t get so stuck on the facts that you miss the reality. At Open Skies last year, Ferg Breen made this statement “there are facts, and then there is the truth.” The fact is that we have all sinned, but the truth is that in Jesus we have become the righteousness of God. I know which one I’d rather focus on.

As you ponder these things, my prayer for you is this [John 6:13]: “that the Spirit of Truth will lead you into all truth” and that you will stop taking sin as the reference point for your identity but instead look to Christ as your reference point and put on the garments of righteousness that He has prepared for you.

Catherine McKee