June 15, 2011

Beautiful Exchange

“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.”
2 Corinthians 5:21

A divine exchange, a beautiful exchange took place when Jesus was on the cross.  Now I know that may sound odd to use the word beautiful to describe the violent death of Jesus, but what took place on the cross was incredibly beautiful.  It was the ultimate expressions of love. 

When Jesus was nailed to the cross, every one of our sins fell upon Him and He became our sin.  All of His righteousness was placed upon those who believe in Him and we each became righteous.  In that moment, God gave us a gift, which is the gift of righteousness that comes only though Christ when we receive Him into our lives.

We know that sin originated in the garden.  Because of the sin of Adam, we are all unrighteous and sentenced to death. (Romans 5:17-18) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12) We do not become sinful because we commit sins.  Instead, we are sinful because it is our nature.  We are born sinners.

Why is righteousness so important to us as Christians?  Righteousness means that we are in right standing before God.  He sees us through Jesus because of what took place on the cross. When God sees each one of us, He sees the person He created.  It is not only important that God sees us as righteous, we it is imperative that we see ourselves as righteous.  If we fail to recognize ourselves as righteous before God, then we will most likely develop a consciousness that is full of shame and guilt.  Instead of a guilty conscience, we will have a sin conscience.  We will be bombarded by the guilt and shame of our sins and draw away from God because we feel inadequate.  Hebrews 10:39

We cannot be both righteous and unrighteous (a sinner).  Even though, we commit unrighteous acts, and sin, we are not unrighteous.  Because of Christ and His sacrifice, we have the promise forgiveness.   

There are churches everywhere that teach us that we are nothing more than 'sinners'.  When we walk around with this mindset, we fail to recognize the amazing sacrifice Jesus made for each one of us.  We miss that God sees us in Christ Jesus and He sees us as righteous.

This thinking is dangerous.  Our faith becomes ineffective and fear becomes our motivation. We practice false humility and take it upon ourselves to judge all that others say and do.  We end up living under a dark shadow of guilt become quick to condemn others.  In the end, we rob ourselves (and others) of being able to have an intimate relationship with God. 

There is a great advantage to acknowledging the gift of righteousness in our lives.  Suddenly the world around us begins to change.  Our faith is energized and we find a freedom we never knew existed.  We are empowered when we have a close relationship with Christ, and find that we are able to worship and praise Him in Spirit and in Truth.
Our righteousness is not a license to sin but it does make us right before God, regardless of our works or our failures.

“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.  People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood.  This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past.”
Romans 3:25

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