Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us that God made Jesus, Who knew no sin, to be sin for us “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” As believers in Jesus Christ, we are the righteousness of God Himself! What is righteousness? It is not a “goody-goody” way of acting or something which can be attained. Righteousness is a free gift of God, provided by Jesus at Calvary through the grace of God. I am not referring to our own righteousness. The Bible says that in the eyes of God “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6). However, we have been given the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. Through our traditional thinking, we have confused righteousness with holiness. We think righteousness is the way you act, but this is not true. Holiness is your conduct—righteousness is what you are.
The word righteousness translated literally means to be “in right-standing.” We have been put in right-standing with God. Jesus is the mediator between God and man. When a man accepts Jesus, he moves into a position of new birth. He enters into the kingdom as God’s very own child and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. Consequently, there are certain privileges, rights and freedoms that we have as children of God because we are in right-standing with Him.
We didn’t get in right-standing with God by being good and acting right. We got there through faith in Jesus Christ and His redemptive work at Calvary. When we accepted the sacrifice of Jesus and made Him the Lord of our lives, then God accepted us. He had to! God had already accepted His Son’s work on the Cross. He judged it as good, glorified Jesus, and set Him at His own right hand. He called Jesus “God” and inaugurated Him into the highest office in the whole universe. Therefore, the Father is obligated to accept us when we accept Jesus. Our conduct has absolutely nothing to do with it!
“To wit [or to know], that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them…” (2 Corinthians 5:19). This verse is saying that God does not hold our sins and trespasses against us. Very rarely had the whole gospel been preached—only pieces of it! We have heard that God will not forgive a sinner until he confesses his sin, but this is not true. God has already provided forgiveness and is not holding our trespasses against us.
This teaching about confession of sin stems from 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us….” However, this letter was written to Christians for the purpose of their maintaining fellowship with God. The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:1-2, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” John was referring to the sins of a Christian and was instructing his fellow believers to partake of Jesus’ advocate ministry.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son….” God loved us and Jesus gave Himself for us while we were in sin. God is not holding our trespasses against us, He is calling us to make Jesus our Lord. He accepted us on the basis of Jesus’ right-standing and, in turn, made us in right-standing with Him. The only sin keeping anyone out of the kingdom of God is the sin of rejecting Jesus and what He has provided (John 16:9).
-Your Right-Standing with God (Kenneth Copeland)