ABIDE IN CHRIST by Andrew Murray
As Your Righteousness
“But of (God) you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and RIGHTEOUSNESS and sanctification and redemption—” 1 Corinthians 1:30
'The first of the great blessings which Christ our wisdom reveals to us as prepared in Himself is righteousness. It is not difficult to see why this must be first. There can be no real prosperity or progress in a nation, a home, or a soul, unless there is peace. Not even a machine can do its work unless it be at rest, secured on a good foundation. In the same way, quietness and assurance are indispensable to our moral and spiritual well-being. Sin had disturbed all of our relationships. We were out of harmony with ourselves, with men, and with God. The first requirement of a salvation that would really bring blessedness to us was peace. And peace can only come with right. Where everything is as God would have it, in God's order and in harmony with His will, there alone can peace reign. Jesus Christ came to restore peace on earth, and peace in the soul, by restoring righteousness. Because He is Melchizedek, King of Righteousness, He reigns as King of Salem, which means King of Peace (Heb. 7: 2). He so fulfills the promise the prophets held out: "A King will reign in righteousness…(and) the work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever" (Isa. 32:1,17). Christ is made of God unto us righteousness. Through God we are in Him as our righteousness. We are made the righteousness of God in Him. Let us try to understand what this means.
When first the sinner is led to trust in Christ for salvation, he, as a rule, looks more to Jesus’ work than His person. As he looks at the Cross, and Christ suffering there, the Righteous One for the unrighteous, he sees in that atoning death the only sufficient foundation for his faith in God's pardoning mercy. The substitution, and the curse-bearing, and the atonement of Christ dying in the stead of sinners, are what give him peace. And as he understands how the righteousness which Christ brings becomes his very own, and how, in the strength of that, he is counted righteous before God, he feels that he has what he needs to restore him to God's favor. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God" (Romans 5:1). He seeks to wear this robe of righteousness in the ever renewed faith in the glorious gift of righteousness which has been bestowed upon him.
But as time goes on, and he seeks to grow in the Christian life, new needs arise. He wants to understand more fully how it is that God can justify the ungodly on the strength of the righteousness of another. He finds the answer in the wonderful teaching of Scripture as to the true union of the believer with Christ as the second Adam. He sees that it is because Christ had made Himself one with His people, and they were one with Him, that it was in perfect accordance with all law in the kingdom of nature and of heaven. Because of this, each member of the body should have the full benefit of the doing and the suffering sharing the life of the head. And so he is led to feel that it can only be in fully realizing his personal union with Christ as the head, that he can fully experience the power of His righteousness to bring the soul into the full favor and fellowship of the Holy One. The work of Christ does not become less precious, but the person of Christ becomes more so. The work of Christ leads up into the very heart, the love and the life of the God-man.
And this experience sheds its light again upon Scripture. It leads him to notice, what he had hardly seen before, how distinctly the righteousness of God, as it becomes ours, is connected with the person of the Redeemer. "This is His name by which He will be called, Jehovah Our Righteousness (Jer. 23:6) "in Jehovah have I righteousness and strength (Isa. 45:24) "Of God is He made unto us righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30). "That we might become the righteousness of God In Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). "That I may be found In Him, having the righteousness of God” (See Phil 3:9).
He sees how inseparable righteousness and life in Christ are from each other: "Through one man’s righteous act the free gift came upon all men, resulting in justification of life (Romans 5:18). "Those who receive the gift of righteousness... shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). And he understands what deep meaning there is in the key word of the Epistle to the Romans: "The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17) He is not now content with only thinking of the imputed righteousness as his robe, but, as he puts on Jesus Christ, and seeks to be wrapped up in Him...to be clothed with Jesus and His life...he feels how completely the righteousness of God is his, because the Lord our righteousness is his. Before he understood this, he often felt it difficult to wear his white robe of righteousness all the day. It was as if he especially had to put it on when he came into God's presence to confess his sins and seek new grace. But now the living Christ Himself is his righteousness...this Christ who watches over, and keeps and loves us as His own. He sees it is now possible to walk all day long enrobed in the loving presence with which God covers His people.
Such an experience leads still further. The life and the righteousness are inseparably linked, and the believer becomes more conscious than before of a righteous nature planted within him. The new man created in Christ Jesus is "created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24). "He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7). The union to Jesus has produced a change in us not only in our relation to God, but in our personal state before God. And as we maintain the intimate fellowship which this union has opened up for us, the growing renewal of our whole being makes righteousness to be our very nature.
When we begin to see the deep meaning of the truth, "(He is) made unto us righteousness," it is hardly necessary to say, "Abide in Him." As long as we only thought of the righteousness of the Substitute, and our being counted judicially righteous for His sake, the absolute necessity of abiding in Him was not apparent to us. But as the glory of "The Lord our righteousness" (Jer. 23:6) unfolds to our view, we see that abiding in Him personally is the only way to stand, at all times, complete and accepted before God. It is the only way to realize how the new and righteous nature we receive can be strengthened from Jesus our Head. As penitent sinners, the chief thought we had was of the righteousness which comes through Jesus dying for our sin. As we become more advanced believers, Jesus, the Living One, through whom the righteousness comes, is everything, because when we have Him we have the righteousness too.
Believer, abide in Christ as your righteousness. You bear about with you a nature altogether corrupt and vile, ever seeking to rise up and darken your sense of acceptance and of access to unbroken fellowship with the Father. Nothing can enable you to dwell and walk in the light of God, without even the shadow of a cloud between, but the habitual abiding in Christ as your righteousness. To this you are called. Seek to walk worthy of that calling. Yield yourself to the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the wonderful grace that permits you to draw near to God, clothed in a Divine righteousness. Take time to realize that you have indeed put on the King's own robe, and that with that Robe of Righteousness you do not fear to enter into His presence. It is the token that you are the man (or woman) whom the King delights to honor. Take time to remember that as much as you need it in the palace, you need it even more when He sends you forth into the world, where you are the King's messenger and representative.
Live your daily life in the full consciousness of being righteous in God's sight, an object of delight and pleasure in Christ. Connect every view you have of Christ in His other graces with this first one: "Of God He is made unto you righteousness." This will keep you in perfect peace. As a result of this, you shall you enter into, and dwell in, the rest of God. So will your inmost being be transformed into being righteous and doing righteousness. In your heart and life it will become manifest where you dwell. As you abide in Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, you will share His position, His character, and His blessedness. "You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” (Psalm 45:7) Joy and gladness above measure will be your portion.