September 1: “Forgiven and Righteous”

8 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Job 40:1–42:17
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Psalm 45:1-17
Proverbs 22:14

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT): “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

Reflections from Scripture:

Merely being forgiven of our sins isn’t enough to get to Heaven. We must be completely perfect. We must obey every single applicable law in Scripture.

Matthew 5:20 (NLT): “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”

Matthew 5:48 (NLT): “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

It’s not enough to be forgiven. We must also be thoroughly righteous.

When we trust in Jesus and rest in what He did on the cross for us, we are saved. We are instantly forgiven of all our sins against God and His holy law. Jesus’ death is the payment for the sin debt of everyone who will put their trust in Him.

Yet, forgiveness isn’t enough. We also need to be righteous, a status that can only be obtained by obeying every applicable law in Scripture.

That is how we are saved through Jesus’ life. If the cross was all that was necessary, then why would Jesus wait 33 years to get there? Why wouldn’t he have died as a young child if forgiveness of sin is all we needed?

As we read the Bible, we come to realize that His life was absolutely essential. Why? Because it was in His life that He obeyed every single applicable law of God. He gained a righteousness for Himself that He can credit to our account when we trust in Him.

His cross offers forgiveness. 

His life offers the righteousness that we need.

His cross can free us from the guilt of sin.

His life can enable us to be seen as perfect in God’s eyes.

That’s what 2 Corinthians 5:21 is all about. It refers to the Divine Swap. At the moment we are saved, Jesus takes our sins while He also credits us with His own righteousness. 

So, we get forgiven of disobedience and then credited with fully and completely obeying every applicable law in God’s Word.

It’s not just forgiven people that get to Heaven. Only righteous people can get there. And if you are saved, both of these things are true of you.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT): “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

Friend, if you are saved, God doesn’t just see a forgiven sinner when He looks at you. Instead, He sees someone who has perfectly lived according to every relevant law He has commanded us to live by. That’s because Jesus has forgiven us and then credited us with His righteousness.

(I know that I keep repeating myself, but this point is too good to miss.)

So, live that way! Don’t live in defeat! Don’t feel as if you are a disappointment to God! When God looks at you, He sees Jesus, and He smiles!

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for saving me. Thank You for forgiving me of my disobedience against my Heaven Father when You enabled me to place my trust in You. But I also want to thank You for crediting me with Your perfect righteousness. Thank You for (as Steven Curtis Chapman used to say) “making Your experience my history.” Help me, Lord Jesus, now to live like who I am – forgiven and righteous! I pray this in Your Name, Amen.


Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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