The biggest mistake we make is when we attempt to be righteous by our own energy and strength. Instead of focusing on falling in love with Jesus, and allowing His Spirit to transform us, we try to “behave ourselves.” We try to act like Jesus without being transformed by His power first. We want to be good enough to gain God’s approval. This will lead us to frustration with absolute certainty. The Scripture is clear that with the single exception of Jesus there is no one who is righteous, not even one person! If that is true, then we have a huge dilemma! How can we live up to the demands of righteousness if no one can do it?
The answer the Bible gives us is that because Jesus lived as a righteous man, we too can anticipate living in His perfection as a fruit of relationship with Him. We are told in Philippians 3:9 that righteousness does not come by our own strength, but by faith in Christ as a gift from God. When we acknowledge our failure to live as humans were intended to live, and ask for His forgiveness, God’s power changes us inside. He makes righteousness available to us as a gift. We are granted a new nature, a new kind of life in which righteousness is possible. Because of His sacrifice on the cross, He can impart righteousness to us as a gift, and then give us the strength to grow up into that reality.
The Bible speaks of a reality that is called “righteousness,” and it is the truth of how things really are, rooted in the character of God who created all things. There actually is a standard, an perfect reference point from which every particular thing takes its meaning. That standard is God, whose character is made visible and accessible to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Consider this passage from the writings of Paul:
He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:15-18, NKJV)
Your life is part of the “all things” that Jesus created out of His own desire for relationship with human beings. God chose you before He created the universe, and designed you from the very beginning to look like His Son Jesus, in whose image you were made. You were His idea! Therefore, since God thought you up, there is only one definition of your life that can possibly be right, and that is God’s idea of your life! He has a complete understanding of who you are, and Jesus is in full agreement with the Father about you! He means for you to look just like Jesus, and to the degree that you begin to look like Him in your attitudes and actions, you will begin to touch righteousness. God knows who you really are, and He is determined that you will receive everything you need to be just like He designed you!
Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 that the most important thing is to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. If we will do that, then everything else that can possibly seem important will be added to us as well. Nothing is more important that to come into alignment with how God designed us to be.