Life and Righteousness

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
“IF you whitewash your cabin, it gets dirty again, and you must give it another coating. And lo I it gets dirty again. So it is with confession and absolution (so far as that goes). Trespasses and sins return, and you go again; and so it goes on like the whitewashing.
Now ask any one that is anxious to please God, and whose sins are a real trouble to them, whether this is not so. Is it not, therefore, a poor remedy that never brings a surer cure?
“But if the walls of your cabin had a pure and living cleanness in them, would they not be freed continually from this growing dirt, and be purified continually.
“So it is with the heart that receives Christ into it by faith, and loves to have Him there, that looks to Him as the true and living righteousness given to us freely of God. Such a one shall find a living cleanness springing up in their heart, purifying them continually, and they rejoice in Him who bore all their sins.”
YOUR result in the tract paper (i.e., fourth paragraph) is all right, but the third seems to me to confound a little the water and the blood. We have both in Christ. Living cleanness is practical, but does not cleanse from guilt, though the two cannot be separated, because Christ is both, and cannot be the one without being the other. But one is not the other; and if an exercised and troubled conscience had to find the “living cleanness quite white” in order to know forgiveness (i.e., non-imputation), the soul of such an one might be perplexed and cast down, as is often the case. It is mixing internal and living righteousness with non-imputation.
Being quickened with Christ, I have part in the righteousness in which He is before God; but the working and effect of that life is not the measure of that righteousness before God, nor for peace of conscience. Conscience will be exercised where the Spirit is, as to the living righteousness; but it rests on Christ as its unchanging righteousness before God. We are righteous by faith objectively before God, not subjectively by experience, though there will be experience according to the working and judgment of the Holy Ghost in him who is righteous by faith. The Holy Ghost witnesses to one and works the other in us, or refuses inconsistencies contrary to it, But it carries on this moral discipline within in those that are at peace through the other: otherwise judgment of failure always puts us, and must put us, under law.
Whenever we believe on Christ, or on Him that raised Him up, righteousness is imputed to us. It is not a question of progress; it is always simply true of the believer as such. It is God's judgment on his behalf of the value of Christ's work, and His position as risen before Him. But grace reigning by righteousness is the principle on which the whole matter rests. It is the principle of Christianity.
Righteousness does not reign: it will in the day of judgment. Grace reigns yet. God cannot but maintain righteousness; but Christ has accomplished it in a divine way, and it is settled forever in heaven, and this not for any temporal blessing or particular promise, but for eternal life. Grace reigns. Sin has reigned through man unto death. Had righteousness thus reigned, it was everlasting ruin. Now God, who is love, has had His work, and grace reigns and righteousness has now been established—divine righteousness through Christ. Believing on “Him that raised Him” is not merely a confidence in power to be employed (as Abraham), but in power already employed in deliverance—already accomplished in the very place and matter of our bondage. It is a God of love who has come down in such sort in power to our estate to take us out of it in Christ. God acts in love and power; and the work of deliverance by it is accomplished.
But death for offenses and resurrection for justification is not a stage past; it is a work done outside us of eternal efficacy. No doubt of the grace that reigns through it; for now, righteousness being accomplished and established for us, love is no longer straitened, as it was till God's claim of death was satisfied and Christ baptized with that baptism. And grace reigns through righteousness, and all blessings, even to the fullness of glory, flow from and are dependent on this.
But Rom. 4 gives us the same basis: only here we have the source and principle which was at work and has triumphed so as to have all its own way in this time, and govern forever in them who are brought in by it. God and His work have taken the place of man and his, as the ground of our relationship with God. Hence, of course, all blessings flow.