Introduction: The amazing truth of the Gospel is that God takes broken sinners, cleanses them of their sin, transforms them into new creatures, and accepts them as sons and daughters. In this lesson, we will learn how, as a believer, you were made right with God. You will discover:
§ What happens when you are saved.
§ What it means to be “righteous” and to be “justified by faith.”
§ How being righteous enables you to live a victorious life in Christ.
I. What happens when you are saved?
Both you and God have a part to play in your salvation.
A. God asks you to:
1. Repent-turn from your sin.
2. Believe-turn to God (have faith).
3. Receive-God’s gift of life.
B. God acts to:
1. Regenerate you (“new birth”)-makes you a new creature.
2. Justify you-makes you righteous.
II. What is righteousness?
A. What is righteousness, or what does it mean to be “righteous”?
Three ways that righteousness is generally understood:
1. Some believe it is a standard that everyone must live up to (such as the Law or the Ten Commandments). If I am to be considered righteous, I must live up to the “standard” and obey all the commandments and expectations of God. (God does not accept us on the basis of this kind of righteousness. That is, perfectly keeping the Law or any set of rules does not make us acceptable to God.)
2. Some believe it is moral perfection (never having done anything wrong or evil). If I am to be considered righteous, I must not have ever done anything wrong. (Jesus is the only person who has been morally perfect.)
3. The Bible teaches that righteousness is living up to the terms of a relationship. (I must fulfill what is expected of me in a relationship.)
B. On your own, you cannot live up to the terms God expects from you.
1. As a sinner who has fallen far short of God’s expectations, you know that if God examined your life, He would not say that you are righteous.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NIV).
2. You can do good works and try to live a life according to good moral standards (the Bible calls this the “law”), but that will not make you right (justified) with God.
“. . . by observing the law no one will be justified” Galatians 2:16 (NIV).
C. Knowing your life, how can God honestly “justify” you, or make you righteous?
1. Being made “righteous” is more than forgiveness (cleansing you from your sins).
2. God also gives us Christ’s righteousness (views us as having lived a life of righteousness by “crediting” us with Jesus’ perfect life).
3. You are one with Christ.
a) This is not something that is going to happen or something that you should expect to happen, but it is something that already happened when you were born again!
b) “God made Him Who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
c) “He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with a robe of righteousness“ (Isaiah 61:10).
d) Paul says that his goal is to be found in Christ, “not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9).
III. How can you stand right before a holy God?
A. You believe in Christ.
“We have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by the works of the law shall no one be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
“We are justified by faith” (Romans 5:1).
1. Faith is an instrument through which justification is given to us (like a conduit).
a) Faith is not simply mental agreement, but a firm reliance, trust, and a leaning and depending upon God and His promises.
b) Faith shapes my character and affects my decisions and actions.
2. Why did God choose faith? Why not love, joy, contentment, wisdom, or humility?
a) Faith is the one attitude of heart that is the exact opposite of depending on ourselves.
b) With faith, we are saying essentially, “I give up! I can’t do this on my own!”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God-not because of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
B. You receive the gift of righteousness.
“Those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness (will) reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17 NIV).
IV. Live in victory as a righteous child of God!
A. Take your place as a child of God.
1. You don’t have to earn your standing before God-in fact, you can’t earn it-it is a gift.
2. Your motivation for what you do has changed. You are not working to earn God’s approval through prayer, Bible reading, witnessing, or other good works. You do these things because you love God, you thirst for His presence, and you want to please Him. You are not trying to earn His favor (John 20:31, 1 John 5:3-5).
B. Latch on to the promises of God.
1. You are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (II Corinthians 5:2 1).
2. You are seated in “heavenly places with Christ” and have victory over sin and the devil (Ephesians 2:6).
3. You can approach God with confidence, knowing He accepts you (Hebrews 10:22).
4. You can live at peace with God (Romans 5:1,2).
5. You are set free from sin and are now a servant of God, Who gives life (Romans 6:22-23).
6. Tribulation and hardships are not signs of God’s disapproval, but opportunities to have Christ-like character developed in you (Romans 5:1-5).