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.
I. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS ACCEPTABLE
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.
II. CAN WE PRODUCE A PERFECT
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
III. HOW DOES GOD MAKE US RIGHTEOUS?
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).
IV. OUR CONDUCT AND OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
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
V. JESUS CHRIST IS OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
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
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.