I have been putting on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) for some time, but I can still recall the first time I considered my own righteousness. As I routinely said the words I was so familiar with about the breastplate of righteousness the Lord spoke to my heart.
Wait. What?! I’ll be honest. I kinda wanted to argue with God on that one.
I’m not righteous, I thought. I’m a dirty ole mess.
You are righteous because I have made you righteous. Because of me in you, you can be called righteous.
This was a hard pill for me to swallow. I had grown up in a religious system that said, “you’re a sinner!” And that was pretty much what I got out of it all. I knew that my sinful nature made me unworthy of eternal life! I mean, I believed I was going to heaven, but I most identified myself as a Christian by the title of sinner.
How many times have you said, “I’m just a sinner.”
How often do we humbly proclaim our human nature as sinful, but in the process decrease our worth as Christ followers? It is indeed true that our sin makes us less, but we somehow forget that He makes us more. We become so indoctrinated to the idea of our nature being choked full of sin that it overshadows the truth that we are new creations in Christ. When we accept Christ as our personal savior we are made new, but the devil will try to tell us that we’re still unworthy because of sin. And while it’s true that sin separates us from God, the fact is that the blood of Jesus redeems us to the Father.
One of the mistakes we can make as Christians is putting more focus on our sinful nature than we do our new self, the one that is forgiven and made clean. We accept the power of sin in our life, but downplay the power of God to overcome it. As followers of Jesus we are righteous because He is righteous. He makes us more than conquerors. We are a holy people because the Holy Spirit dwells within us. So, when was the last time you considered yourself holy?
If you’re like me you may think words like holy or righteous can’t apply to you. Your past mistakes may especially make you feel undeserving of God’s power in your life. But God’s Word states we are washed clean and made new when we accept His gift of forgiveness. One thing that helped me was to realize it wasn’t something that depended on me. I didn’t have to be good enough or work harder for salvation or to obtain this perfect Christian mantle. It was a gift, the grace of God that saved me and redeemed me.
I could be righteous. I could be holy. I could be one of God’s chosen people simply for accepting His gift of salvation. I was more than my sin. I was a child of God. It wasn’t just about me, but rather He who lived in me. This didn’t mean I could go about my life never worrying about the temptation of sin; it just meant I wasn’t ruled by sin anymore. Instead of lamenting “I’m just a sinner,” you can proudly proclaim, “I am a child of God.”
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.