Read 2nd Corinthians 5:21 again. — “For he hath made him sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” The righteousness which the Lord God makes redeemed sinners to become, the righteousness by which we are accepted and with which we are made worthy of heavenly glory (Col. 1:12) is always called “the righteousness of God.” It is the work of Christ alone. It is that righteousness of which all men by nature are ignorant. And the proof of their ignorance is that they go about to establish their own righteousness (Rom. 9:33-10:4).
According to the Book of God, it is the life obedience of Christ that constitutes that righteousness with which we are clothed and made to become before God. His death washed away our sins, and his life covers us from head to foot. His death was the sacrifice to God, and his life is the gift to man, by which all God’s elect have satisfied the demands of the law.
Only in this way is it possible for the law to be honored and our souls accepted by God. Many who appear to be perfectly clear about the merits of Christ’s death do not seem to understand the merits of his life. Remember, from the moment that our blessed Savior broke his mother’s womb, until the hour that he ascended up on high, he was at work for his people. From the moment that he was seen in Mary’s arms, until the moment that he was in the arms of death, when “he bowed his head and gave up the ghost,” he was performing the work of our salvation.
The Lord Jesus Christ completed the work of his obedience in his life, and said to his Father, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4). Then he finished the work of his atonement in his death. And, knowing that all things were accomplished, he cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Throughout his earthly life, the Savior was spinning the fabric of that royal, priestly garment in which we are robed, and in his death he dipped that garment in his blood. In his life he was gathering precious gold, and in his death he hammered it out to make for us a garment of wrought gold. We have as much to be thankful for in the life of Christ as we do in his death. In his life Christ Jesus rendered perfect obedience to the law as our Substitute. And in his death he satisfied the claims of the law as our Substitute. Therefore, the prophet of God declares of Christ, “This is the name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness,” and of us, “This is the name whereby she shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness.”
That is the message that is set before us in 2nd Corinthians 5:21. The Lord Jesus Christ is our only righteousness, and it is our joy to confess that he is. — “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:30-31).