“If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.” (I John 2:29)
When children are asked the question in Sunday school, Vacation Bible School or even youth group, “Why did Jesus come to earth”? The answer usually and correctly given is, “To die on the cross in order to save us from our sins.”
However, that answer is only half correct for it only addresses the passive obedience of Christ while He was on the cross fulfilling the Father’s will. There is also an active obedience that Jesus fulfilled and that was in perfectly obeying the law of God throughout His life leading up to and including His crucifixion on the cross. It was Jesus’ active obedience in His life which qualified Him to be passively obedient by His death.
The Apostle John says that “He (Jesus Christ) is righteous. This means that Jesus Christ, in His being, is continually being in accordance to what God requires. This should not shock a believer because the Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1-2). It is this righteousness which God imputes to the believing sinner by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.
Dr. C. Sproul explains that, “The only righteousness that meets the requirements of the Law is the righteousness of Christ. It is only by imputation of that righteousness that the sinner can ever possess the righteousness of the Law. This is critical for our understanding in this day where the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is so widely under attack. If we abandon the notion of the righteousness of Christ, we have no hope, because the Law is never negotiated by God. As long as the Law exists, we are exposed to its judgment unless our sin is covered by the righteousness of the Law. The only covering that we can possess of that righteousness is that which comes to us from the active obedience of Christ, who Himself fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law. His fulfilling of the Law in Himself is a vicarious activity by which He achieves the reward that comes with such obedience. He does this not for Himself but for His people. It is the background of this imputed righteousness, this rescue from the condemnation of the Law, this salvation from the ravages of sin that is the backdrop for the Christian’s sanctification, in which we are to mortify that sin that remains in us, since Christ has died for our sin.”
The believer in Christ evidences they have received Christ’s imputed righteousness as they practice Christ-like righteousness. These are they who truly display that they have been born of God.
It can be correctly concluded that God not only delivers the sinner from the penalty of sin (justification), but He also delivers the believer from the power of sin (sanctification). The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
It is regarding that day which Paul spoke of which we will examine when next we meet. Until then, may the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!