Many believers are still confused about sin and righteousness today because they base their righteousness on action rather than on who they are in Christ Jesus. Do you know that the phrase “sinner saved by Grace” is a wrong thing to say? When you did not receive Christ Jesus and His finished work, you were a sinner. But now that you are in Christ, you are no longer a sinner. You are righteous, not because of your actions, but because of Jesus and what He has done.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says:
“God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Isn’t that so clear? Righteousness isn’t based on your behaviour – righteousness is who you are, because you are in Christ Jesus.
So why is knowing this truth important then?
The reason why so many believers today are struggling with sin is because they are still “sin” conscious. A lot of preachers keep on telling them, “You must search heart for the sins you are struggling with and ask God to help you change…” And while that sounds religious and somewhat ‘right’, this statement is actually dangerous because the more you examine yourself, the more you become sin conscious because you are more aware of your actions than what Jesus has done for you. And what’s with “asking God to help you”? You mean that you’re doing something and that He’s just there to add something to complete what you’ve been doing? The reason why you had to receive the finished work of Christ Jesus was because you couldn’t do anything in the first place! Remember, you weren’t just a sinner, you were dead.
Colossians 2:13 says:
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ.”
You were DEAD. A dead guy can’t do anything, and as such that statement of God helping us is incorrect and most of all, blaspheming the finished work of Jesus. You were made alive only in Christ, and therefore, the you is gone.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Beloved, that new you isn’t you, it is Christ living in you. God doesn’t help you to change, He IS changing you. Your actions are merely a result of what you already have on the inside.
Romans 8:9 says:
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”
Who do you have on the inside of you? Isn’t He the Holy Spirit? So this means that you are not of yourself anymore; you are in Christ. And as Jesus is, so are you in this world – right now!
The point I’m trying to land here is very simple: you can’t be a sinner and righteous at the same time. It is either you are a sinner, or you are righteous in Christ. A lot of theologians have the terms “positional” righteousness and “practical” righteousness, but if you study the New Covenant, there are no such things. You are either righteous or you are not.
Why is this important for the believer?
If you keep on believing that you are a sinner, you become sin conscious – and when you are sin conscious, that’s what you’ll keep on doing. This is why your thinking has to be changed.
Romans 12:2 says:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Did you read that clearly? Transformation happens when your mind is renewed. When you change your thinking, you change your life. And please don’t think of the results of righteousness as something that only affects your behaviour; righteousness is an all-package deal, which means it will affect every area of your life – spirit, soul and body.
Let me give you this simple illustration to drive the point:
Let’s say that you have been working as a janitor for a company for around twenty years. You lived like a janitor, you acted like a janitor, and you were treated like a janitor. But one day, you found favor with the owner of the company and He, out of the good will of his heart, decided to promote you to become the company’s CEO.
Now, even though you have become the CEO of the company, aren’t you still prone to acting like a janitor? It’s what you’ve been doing for fifteen years, so your thinking has been that of a janitor. Even though you are now the CEO, you still act like a janitor. But let me ask you this question: does that change the fact that you are the CEO? Are you both a CEO and a janitor? How are you being paid? As a CEO or as a janitor? And how are you treated by the company?
You see, even though you may still act like a janitor, it doesn’t change who you are. You are the CEO, and that’s how you are treated. The issue now is, how to make that CEO manifest in your life. So how does it happen? By telling you to stop doing the actions of a janitor? Or by constantly reminding you that you are a CEO, that you have been promoted, which will then change your thinking and cause your actions to change into that of a CEO?
It’s the same thing with our righteousness in Christ. You see, it is very crucial for you to stop being sin conscious and start being righteousness conscious; in other words, being Christ conscious. The reason why many believers today are still struggling in their Christian life is because they think that they are still sinners. I hear this often: “Yes, yes, we are righteous in our position, but we are still sinners because we still sin.” And because they are more conscious of their sinful actions, they start doing what they believe they are – sinners.
Beloved, what does God say about our sin? Hebrews 10:17 says:
“Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’”
Isn’t that clear? God doesn’t see your sin anymore. Even if you commit sin after reading this or in the future, God won’t see it because He already saw all our sins in the body of Christ Jesus. So if God doesn’t see your sin anymore, then who do you think you are to see your sin?
Jesus said in Luke 7:47:
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Couldn’t it be more clearer? What should your consciousness be? The sin that you just committed, or the forgiveness that you have in Jesus?
Beloved, I know that this quite a mouthful to swallow because of the many things that you have been taught in church. I used to believe the same thing too before. I used to think that in order for me to change, I had to consciously think of my sinful actions or ‘sinnerhood’ and ask God to help me out. But the Bible doesn’t support that.
Philippians 1:6 says:
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Be conscious of Christ Jesus and His finished work, not your sin. You see, the reason why the Bible says that the righteous lives by faith is because in our everyday life, we will commit mistakes, and we have to constantly believe that even though we commit mistakes, it doesn’t change the truth that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. And when you start believing that you are righteous, you’ll be astonished one day that you’ll see that righteousness manifest in your life. You’ll live healthy, you’ll live whole, you’ll live prosperously, and you’ll find yourself free of the ‘sinful actions’ that you were struggling before, and start ‘doing’ the righteous deeds that God has already prepared for you.