John 16:8 said that the Holy Spirit will convict the world, not just of sin but also of righteousness. In other words, the world, which does not know what sin really is, does not know what true righteousness is, either.
Unconverted people imagine that external morality will suffice. They desire not the righteousness of God but their own righteousness. They desire a righteousness that comes from their outward acts, such as obedience to the law of God. But our acts of obedience to the law can never justify us before God.
In Isaiah 64:6 the prophet describes all self-made righteous acts of the people of his day as “filthy rags.” Even our best religiously motivated self-perceived righteousness is in fact the opposite: unrighteousness.
But the righteousness of Jesus is sufficient for us. It meets all the claims of the law of God. It counts with God the Father. And we can claim it for ourselves through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
The righteousness which is demanded by the law is fulfilled by Jesus’ perfect life. He died in our behalf. Though rejected by those who put Him to death here on earth, He was welcomed by the Father in heaven. By means of the resurrection, God the Father placed the stamp of His approval upon Jesus’ life and redemptive work. Now Jesus lives to intercede for us (Heb. 4:15-16), and He applies the merits of His death in our behalf because we do not have the righteousness needed for salvation.
Thus we can live because He lives in us. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20, NKJV). When Jesus lives in us, we walk by the Spirit (Rom. 8:4) and receive new spiritual life through the power of the Spirit (compare with Gal. 3:2-5; Gal. 5:16, Gal. 5:18).
The Father’s exaltation of Jesus in heaven is revealed in Christ’s powerful presence among us through the Spirit. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, His disciples live in growing conformity to Christ.
|Have you experienced the reality of just how filthy your own attempts at righteousness really are? What does this teach you about your need of Christ’s righteousness instead?|