60. How art thou righteous before God?
Only by true faith in Jesus Christ; that is, although my conscience accuse me, that I have grievously sinned against all the commandments of God, and have never kept any of them, and am still prone always to all evil; yet God without any merit of mine, of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never committed nor had any sin, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me; if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart. Heidelberg Catechism #60
The most important question anyone can ask is this one. How are you righteous before God?
If God is coming again to judge the living and the dead, and if all of the wicked will be condemned, and only the righteous can stand before his awesome throne, how can we be considered righteous?
We can’t do it ourselves. We’ve already blown it. In fact, we blew it even before we were born because of Adam’s sin in the garden.
But beyond that – our own sins. We cannot even satisfy our own consciences. How can we satisfy a holy God who sees the thoughts and intents of the heart?
Well I meant well…keep telling yourself that. You didn’t mean well.
Well I had love in my heart…no you didn’t.
The truest expression of who you actually are is what your conscience reminds you of when all the other voices are quiet.
The fact is that you don’t measure up…and you need to finally admit that before it is too late.
The righteousness that can stand before God’s awesome throne must be perfect. It must not have any flaws. No self-serving motives, but complete purity of thought, purity of motive. Perfect love flowing from a perfect heart into perfect actions.
Have you ever done one thing that fits that description?
So how can we be righteous before God.
It is called “imputation.” Every wicked act, every impure thought, every shameful interaction, every hurtful word, is kept on the books by the righteous judge. And he took them all on himself on the cross. He took your record. In the counsels of the Holy Trinity, beyond our understanding, God the Father imputed your sins to his Only Begotten Son, who took them on himself. This is a single act by the single will of God. Our sins were imputed to Jesus Christ. They were put on his record.
When you read the scripture – the gospels, the proverbs, the law – you see a perfect description of what a human being should be. The scripture gives us a glorious painting of beauty in the pinnacle of the possibility of being a good and wise person. The problem is that no one has lived up to it. (seriously. Be honest here…”)
Except for one. Jesus Christ. He had nothing that he could be accused of. His enemies found nothing to charge him with, even though they looked. His heart was laid bare before his Father in heaven, and there was nothing impure or unclean it it. Every action and every deed and every word was perfect throughout. His only thought was love for God and love for his neighbor.
He didn’t do that for himself. He did it for us. He did it so that he would create a perfect record of what a beautiful, good, wise and holy human could be…and then he put that record on our account, so that is what God sees when we stand before him on judgment day.
Our sins – nailed to his cross.
His righteousness and wisdom – put on our account.
It is finished indeed.
You can’t earn it. You can’t prove yourself worthy of it. You can’t buy it. You can’t be sorry enough for your sins to earn it.
You simply accept it with a believing heart…
But wait – the faith that receives it is not the foundation of that righteousness. It is simply the weak and trembling hand that receives it.
We aren’t even accepted because of the quality of our faith. We are accepted because of the beauty of the Savior.
I just thought you might like to know that.