“And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”
“The righteousness which is from God by faith”
This is the other kind of righteousness, differing from man’s righteousness (3:9a). First, there is the righteousness that we produce. Then there is the righteousness that God produces. The great issue in salvation and the Christian life is God’s righteousness, not our righteousness.
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Ro. 10:3,4)
“There is none righteous, no, not one” (Ro. 3:10). There is none righteous in reference to God. No one measures up to God’s righteousness. People are righteous with respect to one another but not to God.
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (Ro. 3:21,22). We can receive God’s righteousness apart from keeping the law.
“But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Ro. 4:5). To become a Christian, a person must stop working for salvation. Work is a result, not a cause, of salvation.
Man cannot manufacture God’s righteousness. God’s righteousness must be given to him. God gives his righteousness by imputation (God “puts” his righteousness to the account of the believer). Imputation means that God reckons to our account the righteousness of Christ. That is God’s arithmetic. That is the way God counts. God does not count human righteousness. He counts divine righteousness.
These two types of righteousness are mutually exclusive; they cannot mix. God does not take 50% of our righteousness and 50% of His and mix them together to give us eternal life. He imputes only His righteousness.
God demands perfection. If God advances us His righteousness, we can properly stand before Him in eternity. He does not tolerate imperfection. He must live with Himself, a perfect being. To do otherwise would compromise His perfection. This knocks the religious props of our righteousness out from under us. Our effort and righteousness cannot stand under the intolerable scrutiny of the laser-white heat of God’s holiness. God’s perfect righteousness precludes human endeavor.
God is the source of His righteousness given to the believer.
It is a great blessing to rest in God’s gifts for us. We cannot earn or deserve God’s favor; we cannot measure up to His absolute righteousness. All we can do is rest in the provision of God’s righteousness through Christ.