The Bible teaches that God is all light and glory. He is perfect in righteousness and purity. He is absolutely holy and without sin. The Bible says of God, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness [no sin] at all” (1 John 1:5). Because we are sinful human beings, it is almost impossible for us to understand or even conceive of the holiness of God.

The prophet Isaiah once had a vision in which he saw the Lord God on His throne, and around the throne were heavenly beings praising God (Isa. 6:3). Isaiah was so amazed by what he saw of the glory and holiness of God that he cried out (verse 5).

What caused Isaiah to respond in this way? It was his sense of sinfulness. Isaiah realized that he did not have the righteousness he needed to be in the presence of the holy and glorious God.


To enjoy fellowship with God, we must know not only that we have been forgiven of every sin but that we are clothed with a righteousness that is acceptable to God.

There is a difference between forgiveness and righteousness. Forgiveness is like taking a bath; righteousness is like putting on clothes. We take a bath so that we might be cleansed from all impurities. We put on clothes so that we might be properly dressed to appear before people. What does it mean?

Ellen G. White says, “When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness.”1

When we pray to God or enjoy fellowship with Him, we are, in a sense, coming into His presence. And when we think about coming into the presence of the holy God, we realize that we must be clothed in a special way. We must be clothed with a righteousness that is acceptable to Him.


Can we produce a righteousness that is acceptable to God? No, we cannot. No matter how hard we try, we cannot obey the commandments of God perfectly (Rom. 3:10, 12, 23). Even our “righteousnesses”—the best things we do—cannot make us acceptable to God. The Bible says, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6, KJV).

What we can never do ourselves, God has done for us. He provides a perfect righteousness for His people. The prophet Isaiah rejoiced when he thought about the righteousness which God provides for His people (Isa. 61:10).


God makes us righteous by putting us in Christ. The Bible says, “It is because of Him [God] that you are in Christ Jesus . . .” (1 Cor. 1:30).

The words “in Christ” express the glorious position God has given to His believers. How did we get “in Christ”? God put us there! We could not put ourselves in Christ, but God has done this for us.

When God looks at us, He does not see us as we are; He sees only Christ. Because we are in Christ, we have a perfect righteousness before God. Christ is our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). Our works do not earn this perfect righteousness, and we cannot produce it ourselves. It is given to us as a free gift when we receive Christ as our Savior (Rom. 5:17).

The apostle Paul was a very religious man. He tried hard to produce his own righteousness. But Paul concluded that he could never make himself acceptable to God by his own works. What did Paul do? He put his faith in Jesus Christ and received God’s gift of perfect righteousness (Phil. 3:8, 9).


As Christians, we should understand the difference between our righteousness before God and our daily conduct here on earth.

Our righteousness before God is the way God sees us in Christ. We are made “the righteousness of God” in Christ. This righteousness is perfect. It never changes. When did you receive this perfect righteousness? You received it the moment you received Christ as your Savior.

Our conduct is the way we live on earth. It is very changeable, and it is never perfect. Our conduct may change many times in a single day. Perhaps yesterday we had a good day. We read the Bible, spent time with God in prayer, and did not lose our temper. Consequently, we felt quite good about ourselves, and we felt that God was likewise pleased with us. We felt good about coming to God in prayer and fellowship.

Today, however, is a different story. We did not take time to pray and read the Bible. We lost our temper. We are quite disappointed with ourselves, and we feel that God is likewise disappointed with us. Consequently, we do not feel that we can come into God’s presence with boldness

What are we doing? We are looking at our conduct as the basis of our acceptance with God. This is a mistake. Our acceptance with God is based on the fact that we are in Christ.


In His Word, God commands us to “rejoice in the Lord always.” No matter what our circumstances are, we can always rejoice in the Lord Jesus—who He is and what He has done for us. We can rejoice especially in the fact that He is our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). Our righteousness before God is not something we are or something we have done. Our righteousness is the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). To whom does this verse belong? It belongs to every believer who is in Christ.


We must begin to see ourselves as God sees us—perfectly righteous in Christ. This perfect righteousness is God’s gift to us because we are in Christ. You are not the person you used to be (2 Cor. 5:17).

No truth in the Bible is more important for us as Christians than knowing that we are in Christ and that He is our righteousness. This is something God did for us when we took Christ as our Savior.

1 Ellen G. White, Maranatha, 78.