Boil the matter of righteousness and acceptability with God down to its holy essence, and only two pathways exist. Since His standard is absolute perfection, we can seek to be pristine in our thoughts, attitudes, words, and deeds from the moment of our conception and forevermore. Or, God can impart to us the spiritual and moral purity of the Lord Jesus Christ as the freest gift we will ever receive.
"Ye shall therefore keep My statutes, and My judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD" (Leviticus 18:5).
"He hath made us accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).
The former path dooms us. The latter path delivers us. Our rightness with God originates and forever exists in the righteousness of our blessed Savior. He justifies us, and then He indwells us by the Holy Spirit to motivate and empower in us the fruits of His holy character and nature. The saving message of the Gospel declares that Christ died for us. The sanctifying and ultimately glorifying declaration of that same Gospel is that Christ arose from the dead and now lives in us. He constitutes for us the reality of righteousness and acceptability with God. "To live is Christ" affirmed the Apostle Paul who had sought to establish his own perfection, but who crashed upon the rocks of utter failure when He beheld the pristine Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (Philippians 1:21). "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" proclaimed Paul thereafter (Philippians 3:8). Those who join our brother of old find acceptance with God, freely given. Those who don't, don't.
In essence, the Lord Jesus is humanity as God made humanity to be. If we can be just like Him, again, from conception until forever, God accepts us. If not, some other way must be found, or rather, God must provide and reveal the way. He has, and He continues to shine the spotlight on His Son as our hope - the only hope - of human hearts. "This is My beloved Son, hear Him" (Luke 9:35).
We must be as Christ, in every way.
Or we must be in Christ, by wondrous grace.
One path to darkness, the other to light,
one to destruction, the other gives life.
By the way of ourselves, or the way of the cross,
only two options, of great gain, or sad loss.
As Christ or in Christ, of works or of grace?
We find the answer, as did Paul, when we look in Christ's face.
From conception and forevermore in pristine spiritual and moral perfection - this is the standard. "As for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31). We either achieve our own righteousness, or we believe in the imparted righteousness of God's Son. The former is obviously impossible for all born of Adam's fallen race - "in Adam all die." The latter is assured for all born of the Holy Spirit through faith in the Lord Jesus - "in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:22). Two paths, to futility or fruition. Christ is the issue. He achieved the fulfillment of the standard so that we might believe in the freely given righteousness of His saving grace. We tread the path of the cross and the empty tomb to favor with God, or we follow the path of our own doings to our own destruction.
"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)
Weekly Memory Verse
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.