“ I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” – Luke 5:32.
In the 60s, most dads carried a handkerchief in their pocket. It was typically a simple square of white cotton that was folded a few times before unceremoniously stuffing it into the back pocket of his pants or tucking it into his coat. The hankie was used to wipe up our spills, clean sticky fingers, and polish shoes, but the main purpose was to clean up runny noses. The idea was to fold the dirty part to the inside and slide it back into his pocket so when the next child needed it there was a clean spot for him or her to use. But the handkerchief did not come to mind when it was time to do laundry, so occasionally they got pretty gross and served as an illustration for Isaiah 64:6: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”
The handkerchief is no longer in vogue, but our righteousness is still pretty gross. Are we fundamentally capable of living righteously? The answer is no. No human being is “good enough” to earn righteousness in God’s sight. The Bible confirms what we already know: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23). Because we all sin, it is impossible to be “right” with God based on our own merits. Our lives are so full of sins, shortcomings, and failures. We sin far too often to be righteous before God on our own.
We need a Savior. We need Jesus. Jesus bled and died so that we could become righteous. Romans 3:21-22 says, “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” Romans 5: 17 says, “For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 adds, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
Isn’t that amazing? It seems beyond comprehension to imagine that a holy, righteous God would take our sins upon Himself so that He could cover us with His righteousness. But if He didn’t do so, we would have no hope. God could have chosen to let us remain nasty handkerchiefs, but He didn’t. Instead, He offers us the righteousness of Christ.
- How would you define righteousness?
- What are some advantages of righteousness?