Friday, May 28, 2010

The Righteous for the Unrighteous

“The righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18)

This phrase is packed with so much truth and grace that I hope we see the huge significance to these five words. These words are key to understanding our standing before holy God. This is exciting news for sinners who have put their trust in the work of Jesus Christ. His suffering was on our behalf. May we rejoice in the forgiveness found in Christ’s atoning death, “the righteous for the unrighteous.”

The unrighteous describes sinful humanity. All of us are without excuse because we have all failed to be obedient to our Creator’s commands. We have all clearly forsaken our Creator’s perfect plan for life in order to do our own thing. We do not want to submit to his authority because we want to be our own authority. We think our own ideas, thoughts and way of life are best. We ultimately want to be God. We have told God he is not good enough for us so we are going to run our own lives. This is our unrighteousness. This is what has separated us from the perfect, righteous God of the universe. This is not a minor problem but THE problem.

The righteous describes God. In this passage it is more specifically speaking of God the Son, Jesus Christ. “For Christ also suffered [died] once for sins.” The perfect mediator, Jesus Christ, came into this world to be our representative and die for our sins upon the cross. Only Jesus Christ could accomplish this task. We see here “the righteous for the unrighteous” or another translation reads, “the just for the unjust.” This was a work of substitution Christ did on the cross. The righteous One, Jesus Christ, died on behalf of unrighteous humans so that “he might bring us to God.” Remember as sinners we are separated from God. In God’s perfect righteousness and holiness he cannot look upon sin because that would go against his very nature. But in Christ sinners are clothed in his perfect righteousness. “For our sake, he made him, who knew no sin, to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Christ’s substitutionary death upon the cross is how sinners are brought into the presence of God. Jesus Christ is the only possible substitute. All other “rivals” are no rival at all because only through Christ can sinners have their sins paid for and be given access to the kingdom of heaven. Christ proclaimed, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Are you putting your trust in Christ? In God’s word it is clear that Christ is the only way to the Father. Christ did not only die on our behalf but three days later he rose from the grave and defeated sin and death for good. Jesus’ resurrection also backs his claim of being God. Those who repent and believe are not trusting in a dead man but rather a risen Savior who alone has the power to give life to our dead hearts. His work in the life of sinners is one of power, supernatural power. It is said in God’s word that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. God’s power alone is the power to substitute “the righteous for the unrighteous” that we might be brought to God.

Grace upon grace,

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