The Righteousness of God: What Is It? 6

Romans 3:21‑26  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 7
AN expression in the beginning of Rom. 8 illustrates the immense importance of the resurrection-side of justification: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them” —for whom Christ died, is it? No. For whom Christ shed His blood? No; but “to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
Redemption by His blood we have seen—not pardon only, as some too often say, but justification by the blood of Christ. It is the value Godward of Christ dying for us; but in that aspect there is no such thing as being “in Christ.” But here is another character of privilege, because our justification is not only by the blood but in the life of Christ risen from the dead. Accordingly not only has the believer Christ for him on the cross, but he is “in Christ.” What is the effect of this? “No condemnation.” To justify therefore is not, as some teach, “to declare judicially the innocence of the party justified.” For innocence, the condition of man unfallen, once lost, is gone forever. But God, as always, brings in something better. The gospel accordingly is no return by law to the first Adam condition, even if it were conceivable, but the gift of relationship by grace in the Second Man, founded on the judgment of sin (root and fruit) in the cross, and displayed in the resurrection, of the Lord Jesus.
Now let us just turn to the scene where this victory was achieved for us in the grace of God. There are those who will tell you that there is nothing beyond the precious blood of Christ. This I fully own, that for depth of vindicating God, for thorough clearing of our sins, and for intense manifestation of His love, such as never else was conceived of, nothing equals the cross and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. But if you mean to affirm that there is no privilege founded upon His blood beyond pardon and cleansing—if you mean to deny that there is any new region of life and liberty for us to be ushered into, as God's sons, I cannot but infer that you labor under a profound mistake. It is to exalt, not to depreciate, His precious blood, if we follow Him into resurrection, and know ourselves one with Him glorified in heaven. Christ dead, risen, and ascended, alone gives us, through the Holy Ghost sent down, the true place of a Christian, and of the church. No doubt His blood is the foundation, but His life in resurrection is the new character in which the believer stands before God.
Behold here one blessed effect— “No condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” Why so? “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” It is not the blood of Christ, but the Spirit of life in Him after redemption was accomplished. The blood of Christ was the sacrificial basis on which the freedom is conferred; but He, risen from the dead, is the spring, pattern, and fullness of the freedom He confers. His blood cleanses from all sin. “This is he that came through water and blood, Jesus Christ; not by the water only, but by the water and the blood.” But all this, indispensable as it may be, is not the same thing as the life of Christ risen. Upon the cross I see our divine Savior suffering for our sins; there too I see the heavens in darkness, and earth a scene of utter confusion and rebellion against Him; yea, not even God espousing His cause, but on the contrary forsaking Him—the true God, His own God, abandoning Him, the Holy One, Whom He made sin for us. Does this give me my conscious peace, and joy, and liberty? Peace I never could have without it; but were there only the cross thus seen, how could we enjoy it? Absolutely needed not only for us, but to vindicate and glorify God, as the cross is, it seems plain that we ought to be in the darkness, the grief, and the shame of the cross, yea, that we ought to abide there still, if God had only thus dealt with His beloved Son. Why should we expect more? What right could we have to look beyond, were this all?
But if we behold the resurrection, what a new and pregnant fact! The same God Who smote Jesus raised Him; the same God Who then forsook Him now ranges Himself on His side, and, not satisfied with raising Him up from the grave, takes and sets Him “far above all principalities and powers” in the very highest place, “at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” And what is all that, you ask, for you, me, and all who believe? Beloved friends, it is Christianity. It is not merely the cross, though the cross be the sole sufficient foundation; but you cannot separate Christianity from the person of Christ exalted on high consequent on redemption. That risen Second Man in the presence of God it is Who determines the acceptance of the believer now. The Lord Jesus is the object of the perfect favor of God; and His work has brought every Christian into the same place of favor and relationship. “You that were sometime alienated...yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight.” Such is the cloudless grace in which all now stand who believe. There is no difference whatever as to the standing of the Christian. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” If there was no difference as to sin, there is none as to acceptance; for Christ is all and in all.
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation,” &c. Thus the apostle in Rom. 8 triumphantly closes his comprehensive unfolding of justification. There is no weakening, modifying, or hesitation about the doctrine. Death and resurrection, or their results, remain, as ever, his theme—the security for the believer, no less than the ground and character of divine righteousness.
Thus in our baptism we owned ourselves dead with Christ, buried with Him unto death, that like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life; we reckon ourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord, and delivered from the law, being dead to that wherein we were held. In the Lord's Supper it is His death we show forth till He come, not His living for us under law, which is nowhere said, but eating of His body broken for us, and drinking of His blood shed for us. So again, under the pain and pressure of our daily path, we have His intercession for us at God's right hand, His ever living on high to plead for us; nowhere a repairing of our faults in the flesh, as on earth and under law. There is no going back for comfort there; “for such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” It is all in pointed contrast with an earthly legal state. For us it is the Son perfected for evermore. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Most sweet it is, that if any sin, “Jesus Christ the Righteous” is the advocate we have with the Father; and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.
(To be continued, D.V.)