Christ's Active Righteousness (3) It's Necessity
At the end of the last post on this topic, we had come to an agreement that Jesus actively kept the Mosaic Law to be our savior. This is because if Jesus had sinned he could not have been our Savior. And at the time Christ was on the earth if he had broken the Mosaic Law He would have sinned. But does His active righteousness have anything to do with our salvation besides making Him fit to die for our sins?
One thing that is clear throughout scripture is that man is under a time of testing by God. In fact this is one of the main aspects of the dispensationalist’s seven (normally seven) dispensations and it is the main point of the covenant of works that is found in covenantal theology. Even in Adam and Eve’s time of innocence in the Garden they were under a test. As we know they failed this test when they ate of the tree, and because of it they died, but what if they had passed the test? It seems that because of the presence of the tree of life in the garden, that they would have been rewarded with eternal life if they had remained sinless for the length of the test. Genesis tells us…
Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden,
Nothing has really changed, even in the New Testament age, we are under a test from God, and there are still two ways you can obtain a righteousness that will make you worthy of heaven. You can either obey God perfectly, or since no one other than Christ can do that, you can partake in His righteousness by faith. Since we all fail the first option the second is mandatory for salvation.
In either case obedience is required to be accepted by God. If you do not have obedience to God, you do not truly have righteousness. Now some may say that Christ paid for the wrath of our sins but did not give us His active righteousness. In other words our sins were imputed to Him but His righteousness was not imputed to us. If this were the case then we would only be innocent as Adam and Eve were in the Garden, but they were never declared righteous. Righteousness is more than guiltlessness.
Christ, by His active obedience, earned something that He did not need, in order to give it to His bride. To reject the necessity of Christ’s active obedience is to reject that God must be obeyed perfectly for man to be declared inherently righteous. Since this cannot be the case, because there is no way to explain how a man could disobey God and still be righteous, we need Christ’s perfect obedience to be imputed to us.
Now I realize that the main objection to this may be that the law cannot actually give us righteousness. And with this I will agree in one sense. I cannot give righteousness to someone who is a sinner, but to someone who has the power to keep it and not sin, it can. Paul tells us this.
Rom 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
What was it that the law failed to do? It failed to give us righteousness because we are sinful, but through Christ the righteousness of the LAW is fulfilled, and it is imputed to us.
And in a more clear statement of the perfect obedience earning eternal life, we see…
Luk 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
Had the lawyer fulfilled this, he would have eternal life, but he had not done this that is why he went on to attempt to justify himself.
Perfect obedience is necessary for eternal life. You can do it yourself (hypothetically) or you can have Christ’s imputed to you.