Christ’s Righteousness

Christ’s Righteousness

The LORDs curse is on the house of the wicked,
but He blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
Proverbs 3:33

This morning, as I was meditating on this passage, I found great comfort in the latter half of this verse. I found comfort, though, for only one reason: the righteousness that God blesses is one that will never leave me, because it does not originate from within me. I’m sure many who read this passage are tempted to read it through the eyes of work. That righteousness before God is something that can be achieved by obedience is a view implicitly held by far too many evangelicals, even though this view is far from evangelical. Yes, obedience is commanded (John 14:15, Matthew 28:19-20), but never in Scripture is obedience a means of salvific righteousness (Rom. 3:20, 28; Gal. 3:10). In fact, obedience is the product of salvific righteousness (Eph. 2:10; James 2:17).
            Paul makes very clear in Romans 3 that “none is righteous, no, not one” (cf. Psalm 14:1-3, 53:1-3). This does not, however, deny the blessing of God on the righteous. But who are the righteous that God blesses, if none are righteous? Those who turn from their sin and look to Christ by faith (Mark 1:15; Rom. 3:21-26). It is the righteousness of Christ that justifies us before God. Without the perfect righteousness of Christ, your works are but soiled rags (Isaiah 64:6). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21) It is only in Christ that I can find comfort in this verse, because apart from Christ, I cannot please God (Romans 8:6-8) and I am wicked.
Please do not be tempted to read this passage and others like it and see yourself as blessed by God because you throw up a “God is good” on facebook, or you say “praise the Lord” occasionally, or you bow a knee and point to the sky after you score a touchdown, or you attend or are a member of a local church. These are nothing more than mere Christian platitudes and are a stench in the nostrils of God apart from Christ, because apart from Christ they are not authentic. They are futile attempts of earning the favor of God. God is not interested in Christianized gestures. He looks with favor upon those who have, by His grace alone, turned from their sins and looked upon Christ by faith alone. Only then can Romans 8:28 be true: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” When we read texts from the Old Testament like this one, we must immediately make a bee-line to the cross of Christ.
As the Preacher from Ecclesiastes teaches us, all work and toil on this Earth is a striving after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14). Only in Christ does our work and labor on Earth carry any value, because the one who looks to Christ works and labors for something eternal. They labor for the Gospel of Jesus Christ as messengers to lost souls, declaring everlasting peace with God. They labor as messengers to lost souls, declaring unending free grace. And they labor as messengers to lost souls, declaring the end of futile, merit-based pursuits of God. You can never stand before God and give Him a list of good works long enough for Him to find any favor in you. It is the work of Christ in fulfilling all the requirements of the law, His death, and His defeat of death by rising from the grave that has acquired salvation and favor for any man.
Looking anywhere else is a declaration that Christ’s work of salvation was not sufficient to purchase total and complete salvation, and makes you an enemy of God. Looking anywhere but to Christ means that the first half of Proverbs 3:33 applies to you, because apart from Christ, all men are wicked. May what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in his first letter apply to all who read this: “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:9,10)

Jonathan Whittle