For some people it is easier to accept that Christ died for our sins than to believe Christ is our righteousness. Both are necessary to understand the gospel of Christ unto salvation.
Realizing it is impossible to pay for their sins, they gladly claim forgiveness through the blood of Christ. Then they dedicate themselves to turning over a new leaf, and living right. They view Christ’s provision like filing for bankruptcy on their old life of sin. It is a fresh start for them to live a better life.
Perhaps you are more familiar with this false gospel being presented as the “God of second chances”. This is a religious idea that Christ’s blood merely provided a second chance for us to prove our righteousness to God.
The only thing preventing these religious minded folks from proving their own righteousness was their sins. Once sins are forgiven through the blood of Christ, then they are free to continue in their effort to earn a righteous standing with God.
They have missed the gospel of Christ!
A Flawed Belief in Christ
Christ paid for sins, but this is not a second chance to save ourselves by our good works.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…” – Titus 3:5
These folks are unsaved and need to understand the gospel. They know they messed up and fell away, but they think God helped them back up. Now that they are standing on their own two feet, they are going to show God they can do better this time.
These unsaved folks say Christ paid for their sins, but their life is all about what “I” am doing to please God. Christ picked up their tab, but they want the glory for doing right.
“I was a sinner, and Christ paid for my sins, but now I go to church, I read the Bible, I love people, I tithe, I am a believer, I am a good boy.”
For them Christ is the garbage man who took out their garbage, but they do not need Christ as long as they continue on the straight and narrow.
They have missed Christ! They are still living under the law. These verses describe them well:
“They have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” – Romans 10:2-3
Christ Our Righteousness
God does not consider righteous works any longer even if they are done in zeal, obedience to the law, sincerity, and love toward God. He accepts only Christ, and those in him.
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” – Romans 10:4
This is why Paul says he wants to be found in Christ not having his own righteousness. He wanted the righteousness that could only come through the faith of Christ.
“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” – Phil 3:9
Christ is not only the provision for our sins; He is the provision for righteousness.
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ…” – Romans 3:21-22
It is an offense to God to attempt to offer our own righteousness before him. No man glories in his presence (1 Cor 1:29-30).
The gospel we preach is that Christ died for your sins, and that he is also the righteousness of all that believe. Christ died for ours sins and rose again for our righteous standing (Rom 4:24-25). Your righteousness works never enter the picture. Christ is our righteousness.
If your salvation testimony includes declaring what you did after Christ did his part, you are declaring your own righteousness, and you do not understand the gospel of Christ. Trust Christ to be everything you need to be saved, your forgiveness, your sanctification, your redemption, and your righteousness.
“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” – Romans 3:26