“Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;” —John 16:10
On the night our Lord was betrayed, He taught His disciples several things, although He refrained from disclosing a great many things because they did not have the capacity to bear them at the time (John 16:12).
One of the incredible truths that He did reveal, however, was this truth concerning Himself when He spoke of the necessity of His departure so that the Holy Spirit would come. In John 16:7-11 it is recorded that Jesus said,
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”
Jesus told His disciples— He tells us today— that His righteousness is as high as the heavens above. His righteousness is superlative and beyond the best virtues of the best of men. As the Holy Spirit reproves men of righteousness, the Holy Spirit reveals the glory of Christ in the standard required to stand before a holy God: Jesus Christ, the Standard, is a standard that is very equal to all the righteousness of God in every way, form and manner.
At that point in history, Christ’s utterance says that His humanity, born of a virgin, growing in wisdom, stature and favor before men and with God, anointed in baptism, fulfilling the scriptures of the Messiah’s prophetic role and credentials, is altogether holy. Though Jesus is flesh and bone man, tempted and afflicted in every way that we are, yet without sin, His sinless life is unique; His righteousness one of a kind. His righteousness as a man was capable of standing before God with a righteousness that displays and demonstrates the very righteousness of Almighty Jehovah, yet, without removing the slightest honor and glory from the eternal and infinite God of all creation. Jesus did not rob anything from the deity of God by being in the form of God as man; neither did His equality with God viewed as something to be grasped or attained, as if earned (Philippians 2:6).
Imputed Righteousness Essential. At the first Passover following the Lord’s entering His public ministry, Jesus told Nicodemus, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man” (John 3:13, ESV). Although this was prior to the Lord’s ascension, it is a truth that tells us that no one else has ascended; for no one else can ascend to heaven, to stand before the Father in righteousness as the only one qualified to do so is He who came “from heaven, the Son of Man.” To be born again, or literally, born from above, is the condescension of God to impute Christ’s perfect and holy righteousness on behalf of the soul that God is justifying. It is all of grace because Christ is the standard of righteousness for all humanity to stand in perfect communion and fellowship with Almighty Justice. If Justification comes not by God’s gracious, merciful and condescending imputation, counting Christ’s righteousness to be upon the sinner saved by grace, there is no standing with God at all— there can be no peace with God, nor reconciliation from God for the descendents of fallen Adam. The best of every goodness in the best of men falls short of the glory of God because it falls short of the righteousness of Christ.
Imputed Righteousness Enough. To diminish the righteousness of Christ would be to present the character of Jehovah God as unjust. It suggests that there are sins that may be committed that do not require God’s perfect and holy justice. Additionally, to increase the worth of our best earthly efforts to be equal with, or God forbid, even greater than the righteousness of Christ, is a sin of the first order. Arrogant pride, in the corruption of man’s fallen nature, lusts to exalt every positive deed done upon earth. Yet, the distance between the dust of the ground and the brilliant light of the Lamb upon His heavenly throne is exactly the distance between a man’s good acts and the righteousness of Christ. When we remove faith in the grace of God by Christ’s righteousness from our deeds done on earth, the deed is utter sin and has no place in heaven, neither crown for casting at the feet of His majesty. His imputed righteousness is entirely sufficient for all we think, say, and do; and when our flesh creeps in unawares, and we have lapsed or succumbed to sins in the flesh, His imputed righteousness received by God’s grace is altogether sufficient, as it is written, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
Imputed Righteousness Effectual. The truth of Christ’s righteousness is powerful and effective. Its necessity and sufficiency should stir within our hearts joy unspeakable. Yet, Christ’s righteousness and its imputation by God is not a mere declaration of a change in our status from sinner to saints in Christ, and from strangers to sons and daughters of the Most High, but God’s decree also carries with it His empowering authority. The supernatural power that comes by the Holy Spirit’s enabling and equipping through the illumination of the Word of God aids us to grow in grace and grow stronger in faith. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).