When Jesus was on the cross, there was a divine exchange between Jesus and the people. All of our sins were put on Him and He became our sin. And all of His righteousness was put upon the people and we became the righteousness of God. This righteousness is a gift of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 3:25&26
Death and unrighteousness came into all mankind through Adam, but the gift of righteousness and life comes in through Christ Jesus to those that receive Him. Romans 5:17&18
Why is this gift of righteousness so important to us as Christians? Righteousness means that we are right before God and in right standing with Him. He sees us through the righteousness that Jesus imparted to us at the cross. When God sees me, He sees me as the person He created me to be. Although, it is imperative that God sees us as righteous, we must also see ourselves as righteous. If we fail to see ourselves as righteous before God, then we will most likely develop a sin consciousness.
In the OT, the practice of constant sacrifice allowed the Israelites to maintain a degree of righteousness. But, this righteousness was temporary and imperfect since it needed continual sacrifices. The gift of righteousness that we have in Christ Jesus, is once and for all.
What is sin consciousness? It is a conscience that is geared toward shame, guilt, and condemnation. The sin conscience person will flee from the presence of God or draw back from Him. Hebrews 10:39
We cannot be both righteous and unrighteous (a sinner). Though, we can commit unrighteous acts, this does not make us unrighteous. We have the promise of confession and forgiveness.
There are churches all over the world that teach us that we are nothing more than mere ‘sinners’. However, this is not how God sees us. God sees us in Christ Jesus and we are seen as righteous by Him.
What is the danger of being sin conscious? Our faith is ineffective and fear becomes our motivation. We practice false humility. We become judges of all that others say and do. We live under a shadow of guilt and shame and we are too quick to condemn others. We rob ourselves (and others) of being able to have a close and intimate relationship with God. Our praise and worship is not in truth and in spirit.
What is the advantage in relying on and remembering the gift of righteousness in our lives? Things around us begin to change. Our faith is energized and effective. We are free to walk in the power of His Spirit and He puts His desires within us. We experience a close and intimate relationship with Him and are empowered by this relationship. We are free to worship and praise Him in truth and in spirit.
Righteousness is not a license to sin, but it is a license to be made right before God, regardless of our works or lack thereof.