There are only two ways you can become ‘righteous’. The first is through trying, and the second is through trusting. When you try to earn God’s approval by your performance, you can never rest because you can never really be sure you’ve done enough to please Him. But when you place your trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross, the Bible says you enter into God’s ‘rest’ (see Hebrews 4:3).
Paul writes, ‘If anyone is in Christ, the new creation (something that didn’t exist before) has come: The old (appetites and actions) has gone, the new (appetites and actions) is here!’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) You don’t have to struggle to be seen as righteous in God’s eyes. The moment you placed your trust in Jesus, God made you ‘the righteousness of God [in Christ].’ (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)
Why did He do it that way? Because any righteousness you could achieve through good works and keeping rules falls so far short of what He requires that He sees it as ‘filthy rags’ (see Isaiah 64:6). So God credited His righteousness to you (see 2 Corinthians 5:18). Paul writes: ‘David also spoke of this when he described the happiness of those who are declared righteous without working for it: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight… whose record the Lord has cleared of sin.”’ (Romans 4:6–8 NLT)
Hymnist Edward Mote wrote these words: ‘Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.’ Rejoice! That’s how God sees you—made righteous by faith!