Certainly, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin, and in His crucifixion the Lord exchanges His righteousness for our unrighteousness. Putting it another way, the Father now considers us righteous because Jesus paid the penalty of our sins (past, present and future) on our behalf. No sin we commit will undo His work of grace.
During my devotions this morning, the Lord brought me to an interesting passage in Colossians.
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. ~~Colossians 1:21-23 (ESV)
The preceding verses highlight the wonderful truth that the Father qualifies us to share in the inheritance of the saints by reconciling all creation to Himself through His Son. Now in verses 21 and 22, Paul tells us that Christ has reconciled us to God, consequently presenting us to the Father as holy, blameless and above reproach. He proves that our reconciliation is genuine when we remain in the faith, not deviating from the Gospel.
The insistence on anchoring our righteousness solely in what the Lord did for us on the cross must remain in the forefront of our minds. So often, we try to take credit for His work of righteousness in us, mistakenly thinking that He requires us to maintain our salvation. We obey His commands with an attitude of self-righteousness, patting ourselves on the back for being such good little Christians.
So yes, we can rest in Christ’s finished work on the cross, assured that the Father sees us as righteous.
I’ve seen evangelicals pervert God’s grace into license to sin. They reason that, since the Lord declares them righteous because Jesus died for their sins (past present and future), they can live in any way they please. Lately, they describe this approach to life as authenticity. In their estimation, they’re being true to themselves, convinced that the Lord is fine with it.
Yet the Bible teaches something entirely different, doesn’t it? Although Jesus has indeed borne the eternal consequences of our sins and therefore the Father sees us as righteous, the Lord now claims us as His property. Let me show you a passage written specifically about sexual sin that applies to sin in general.
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ~~1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)
Dear sisters, God’s grace frees us from sin, but it also places us under obligation to Him. Rather than being authentic to ourselves, we must now be true to Him. Not that we in any way earn or maintain our salvation. Christ has already taken care of that. But in gratitude for His sacrifice, we need to recognize our obligation to live in ways that honor Him. We must reflect, however imperfectly, His holiness. At least we ought to desire to reflect His holiness.
Authenticity shouldn’t give any Christian an excuse to indulge in shameful thoughts, attitudes or behaviors. Instead, the wonderful grace of God should fill us with grateful devotion that inspires our joyful obedience to Christ.