"Just and Righteous"
It is possible to consider justification and righteousness in merely principled terms of fact. A complete pondering of the truth, however, begins, continues, and concludes with a profound devotional meditation that must surely overwhelm our hearts with wonder, awe, humility, and the most heartfelt response of grateful love.
"He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21).
In order to redeem us into being who we are, the Lord Jesus Christ had to become who He was not. First, He had to become human, a condescension of stunning magnitude when we consider the Biblical revelation of the Divine and human natures. By Scriptural definition, the Infinite should not be able to unite with the infinite - "the heaven and Heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee!" (I Kings 8:27). As the Apostle Paul declared, "Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh!" (I Timothy 3:16). The human existence of the Lord Jesus required a miracle, the wonder of Incarnation, of God as man and man as God. In both Heaven and earth, there is none like unto Him,
O Mystery great, o wondrous grace!
That glory Divine might shine
in a human face!
As wondrous as such glory may be, we must journey beyond the mystery and the miracle to our Lord's experience as Divinity resident in humanity, as Infinity housed in the finite, as God dwelling in and as man. Eternally possessed of a being that transcends space and time, God compressed the Son of His love into the realm of limitation and restriction. Perhaps this explains the statement of the writer of Hebrews: "a body Thou hast prepared Me" (Hebrews 10:5). What would the pressure of such spiritual, moral, and even physical constraint involve? The fact of God as man constituted the Lord Jesus as "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" even before He experienced the rejection, ridicule, and horrors of the cross (Isaiah 53:3). We do well to often give thanks for the Incarnation, which will endure forever in the holy Being of our Savior. Indeed, for our sakes, our Savior will always be human without in any manner minimizing His divinity. "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus… Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever" (I Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 1:8).
If we are to rightly consider our justification and righteousness, we must look upon the cross where Christ "bore our sins" (I Peter 2:24). Even more, however, we must see that God made His Son "to be sin". I try to think about this often, and to even on occasion write or speak about it. However, I find the subject to be far too holy for overmuch consideration. Scripture does not explain the somber truth it so plainly states - "to be sin". What can this possibly mean? What flames of horror ignited in the soul of "the Sun of righteousness" when for our sakes, He became everything that He is not? (Malachi 4:2). The fires raged on, of course, as the One who so pleased the Father became the object of His Father's wrath, rejection, and indignation (Matthew 3:17; 27:46). What measure of grief, agony, and brokenness of heart ravaged the Christ who had to become sin before He could become our Savior? No answers offer themselves to our hearts and minds, nor will they ever. It is enough to simply know, to be aware that for you and for me, the One who "loved righteousness and hated iniquity" became the very essence of everything He was not…
"…That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." We must never view our justification and righteousness in Christ as merely a matter of being and standing. It is doctrine, but as with all authentic Truth, the flame shines brightly, warmly, gloriously, and personally in the hearts of all who realize the cost of Christ's redeeming work on our behalf. Indeed, to the degree that Lord Jesus was smitten and forsaken on the cross of Calvary, all who believe are received and "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6). Such truth can only motivate deep and heartfelt desire to love our Lord as He so loved us. Moreover, we seek to know our justification and righteousness not simply as a matter of accepted principle, but also as adoring piety and applied practice. The goal? To honor, reveal, exemplify, and please Him as our justification in Christ increasingly manifests itself by a righteous walk through Christ. The Apostle John proclaimed our response to such holy grace in profound simplicity, "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19). Here we conclude our consideration of justification and righteousness, in the love that provided such grace at such cost, and in the love whereby we respond in grateful devotion, heartfelt affection, and the echoing of the Apostle's prayer…
"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Weekly Memory Verse
He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.