Before entering on the solemn and interesting question of our righteousness, the righteousness of God, I will shortly notice what is objected, and dispose of it, so as to be able then to treat the subject unhinderedly for edification, and not controversy. The principle in question it is well to state; it is, I fully admit, a most grave and important one. Not that beloved and truly godly souls have not been, as I judge, cloudy upon what was really of great moment to their true and godly liberty in Christ, which is the power of a Christian walk; not that they have not been violent, as men generally are, in the sustain-ment of that in which they are wrong. But this does not destroy the importance of being clear. Still, I freely and fully, yea, joyfully, acknowledge (as choice and devoted servants of Christ, whom I respect, and whose devotedness I look up to) persons who have held on this subject doctrines which I believe to be a mistake. I have thus no animosity as regards this point. The point, however, is important, and what saints have held by infirmity of judgment may become a very great hindrance to the progress of souls, and a weapon in the hands of the enemy: witness the Judaism of the early Church at Jerusalem, and the opposition raised to Paul on the very same ground. The principles, indeed, which were then in question are the same which now partially agitate the Church of God, and largely hinder its blessing and testimony, and obscure its faith.
The question is this: Is the righteousness of God legal righteousness? I may state the question in the words of a sermon, which in its main purport and object I can with my whole heart desire a blessing upon, so that I shall avoid an apparent attack upon others, and any supposition of evil will towards him from whom I quote. The statement, too, has the advantage, not always found, of stating that side of the question with peremptory decision. I read in Mr. Molyneux’s sermon (preached July 18th, 1858, at the special services at Exeter Hall), in pp. 17, 18, what follows: “Do you know this, my dear brethren, that no man can enter into the kingdom of heaven unless he is garbed in a perfect robe of righteousness?” So far (save that “the kingdom of heaven” is used “for heaven,” which to the practised mind—practised I mean in divine truth from scripture—betrays the existence of the system to which these statements belong), all is well. Now follows the definition of the general statement: “In plain words, do you know this, that over the gate of heaven is written up, Do this and live? Do you know that if a man is cleansed from his sin in the blood of Christ, and sanctified by the Spirit of God, He cannot then go to heaven? He wants something more still; he must have a perfect obedience. Heaven is suspended on a perfect obedience, not a negative one. God said to Adam, ‘Do this and live.’ He failed. You must present a perfect obedience when you come to God. Have you got it? It is the active righteousness of Christ; it is not His sufferings—that blots out sin; it is not His Spirit—that sanctifies the heart; but it is His perfect righteousness. Listen, ‘By his obedience shall my righteous servant justify many.’ Listen, ‘He brings in everlasting righteousness.’ Again, it is put upon us; it is the wedding garment: ‘Friend, how earnest thou in hither not having the wedding garment?’ That is the righteousness of Christ.” The writer continues on the same point, but this may suffice. “Transgressions are pardoned by blood, the person justified (that is the fruit of Christ’s righteousness imputed), the soul sanctified (that is the work of the Holy Ghost dwelling in you).” The reader must not think that the singular mis-quotation of Isaiah 53 is an error of mine. It is a singular fruit of the bias of the author’s mind, the result of his doctrine. It is singular that the only direct passage which he quotes for the point he is seeking to prove, is a misquotation. The two others are the point to be explained, and no proof of the author’s explanation of the doctrine.
Now I believe, and bless God for the truth, that Christ is our righteousness and that by His obedience we are made righteous. It is the settled peace of my soul, as I trust it is of the author’s. The important point here is the contrast between the death and sufferings of Christ, as winning our forgiveness, and His obedience as our justifying righteousness—what is sometimes called His active and passive obedience. This doctrine, however, is not fully seen until another point is noticed—the legal character of this righteousness. Mr. Molyneux states it in principle as clearly as possible. It is written on the gate of heaven “Do this and live.” That is positively and characteristically, as the apostle teaches us, legal righteousness. “To Adam it was so said.” To enter into heaven legal righteousness is absolutely required. This alone gives a title.
I affirm that the doctrine of scripture is wholly different, and that this doctrine (wholly unintentionally, I admit, so that I do not impute the consequence to those who hold it) denies the extent of” sin and the true character of redemption. Law is perfect in its place. The angels accomplish it in its highest character; he who loves does too, as the apostle teaches us. I say this by way of preface, that there may be no mistake. But that a holy nature does with delight what is in the law is a different thing from the way a sinner obtains righteousness and eternal life. Doing with delight, when in possession of life, is a different thing from doing in order to obtain life. Now what I say is, The law was never given that we might obtain righteousness or life by it, nor ever could have been. It was introduced by the by to convince of sin. A sinless being, who had life, did not want a law of righteousness to obtain it; a sinful creature with a law of righteousness could only be condemned. “Do this and live” is not written on the gate of heaven. It was written on Sinai, which is not the gate of heaven. It is the gate of death and condemnation. It was not said to Adam Do this and live. He lost the life he had by disobedience.
The apostle, on the whole matter, contradicts the statement explicitly. “Moses,” he says, “describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth these shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise … that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” The righteousness of faith is contrasted with that of law, which says, Do this and live. It does not accept its principle and find a means of meeting its requirements by another, but brings in righteousness on another principle. It speaks on another wise. The great evil of the whole scheme is, that it is a righteousness demanded of man as born of Adam, though another may furnish it. The thing furnished is man’s righteousness. If Christ has done it for me, still it is what I ought to have done. It is meeting the demand on me—Do this and live. If it is to be a satisfying the. demand of righteousness on me, it is the doing what is demanded which makes out the righteousness. If “Do this and live” is written on the gate of heaven, it is doing this that is the righteousness, and doing nothing else and nothing more. It may have been, if such be the truth, very gracious of the Lord to have done it for me, but that was what was to be done. Righteousness, wrought out by meeting the demand of a superior, can only be in doing exactly what is demanded. What is else than this has not the character of righteousness. And if we take the law as the perfect rule of what the creature ought to be, as indeed it was, then there can be nothing more; or else the rule is not a perfect one, and the righteousness not a righteousness according to the law, nor a meeting what I ought to do. It is not the obedience required of me. Besides, the whole principle is a mistake; for the law, when spiritually apprehended, reaches the disposition and condition of the heart. It does not only say, Do, but Be. But then life is there. If I say Love and do not lust (the two aspects of the law), righteousness is taken out of the sphere of doing. Doing becomes evidence of a state and nature. But is the motto of heaven a denial of the spirituality of the law? And so far from “Do this and live” being on the gates of heaven, I know of no scripture which shews that a doer of the law was entitled to heaven, or which promises heaven to a doer of the law, as having thereby such title.
And now mark the effect of the discovery of the spirituality of the law. It becomes not a claim to do, but a criterion of the state of a man. Its very nature and effect is changed: by it is the knowledge of sin. A command for qualities in a man, love and no lusts, ceases to be a command to do, and is condemnation and death, and nothing else. The whole ground and principle of my standing is changed. “I through law am dead to law.” That is not looking to another to fulfil it for me, because I have failed. What I find in scripture is this, that man, the Adam race, has been as such tried and tested. Failing when innocent, he has been tried without law, and was lawless; under law, and was a law-breaker: I may add, tried by the presentation of divine goodness in Christ, and he hated it. The more we go into detail, the more we shall find that exhibited, as in priesthood in Aaron’s sons, in obedient royalty in David’s, in supreme power in Nebuchadnezzar’s.
But the great moral principles of it, the three stages of sin, suffice here: lust; lawlessness in will, or transgression; and hatred of God Himself as goodness. The first Adam, the flesh, is thoroughly and wholly condemned. Another Adam is set up—the Second man: God looks for nothing from the first. He sows (this is just the truth of the parable of the sower; He brings something by the word of life); He does not look for fruit. The fig-tree in His garden, after all His pains, only cumbers the ground. It is, for faith, cut down, and will be so, in fact. Leaves it had, but no fruit; and the judgment of the Lord is, not only that it had not produced fruit, but “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever.”
It may be said This was Judaism. True, but Judaism was flesh under law. And this was what judgment was here pronounced upon. Flesh was judged—Adam and all that sprung from him. Not only was evil fruit condemned, but no fruit (which the Lord, in a probationary way, looked for) was ever to be borne by it.
The false principle of all this system is, that it is making out the righteousness of the first Adam under the law, instead of putting us in the Second entirely and absolutely, and treating the first as dead and gone. Had I then no personal responsibility? Not indeed under law, as a Gentile—still I had. Sin reigned over me and death. Hence Christ was, in sovereign grace, made sin for me and died, not to build up the old man again, after death, when it was dead, and confer righteousness on it, but to put me in a wholly new position in the heavenly man, who is my righteousness; to set me in the righteousness of God, seated in heavenly places in Him. Christ was the root and spring in life of the redeemed race; and the first is wholly set aside, judged, condemned, and dead. Christ is of God righteousness to us. All is wholly new, though we are personally brought into it only as quickened with the fife of the second Adam, having Him for our life.
This is the special doctrine of Paul: no thought of a righteousness of law acquired by another for us. There is atonement for sin, in which we lay, which we had committed as in the first Adam; but I repeat, no conferring of righteousness on it, but closing its history, and being before God in death, in which He in grace took its place, in respect of the judgment due to it. “lam dead to the law, by the body of Christ, being married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead.”
Hence, there was no connection of sinners with Christ under law. A corn of wheat, except it fall into the ground and die, abides alone; if it die, it brings forth much fruit. We are united to Christ in His new position, where He is the righteous man at the right hand of God, when He has died unto sin once, and is alive unto God. But if the corn of wheat die alone, as come amongst the family of the first Adam, death is written on all that is of Adam. It has ceased to exist, so to speak, before God.
And when the Spirit of God, in the Ephesians, speaks, in its full extent, of the blessing we are called to, He does not speak of men as having lived in sin, or being condemned under law as having a life in which they had to keep law. Man was dead, wholly dead, in trespasses and sins; the Jew is viewed not as a transgressor, but as by nature a child of wrath, even as others. But what is the first object then presented? Christ dead (i.e., in the place, by grace, where we were), raised far above all principality and power, and then we, “quickened together with him, raised up together, and made to sit in heavenly places in him.” In view of the counsels of God there was, so to speak, no living man at all. There was man dead in trespasses and sins, but a Christ dead there too; and as God raised up Him, so us with Him who descended for us there. When God deals with us morally, as responsible beings, He does see us living in sin, breaking law, despising goodness. This last is the way the point is looked at in the Epistle to the Romans. In the Ephesians it is simply a new creation when we are dead.
To make this a little more clear—there are two ways I can deal with the point of the relationship between God and man. I may simply take the counsels of God and begin with them. This is done in the Ephesians. Or I may take the actual state of men as responsible children of Adam, and shew how grace meets this state. The result is blessedly confirmatory of the other, but the point of view different. This last is the view taken in the Romans—the ways of God in His moral government met by grace. In the first, man is found dead in sin. All is God’s work from beginning to end. Christ is seen—to bring about this blessed counsel in grace—dead; and we, dead in sin, are brought back up to God, according to these counsels, with and as Him. In the Romans, man is proved to be dead, dying under the effects of sin and his moral condition as a living responsible being, a child of the first Adam; and this responsibility, as a sinner who has ruined himself, met by grace.
But before I unfold the Epistle to the Romans in its bearing on the point which occupies us, under the added light of that to the Ephesians, I would gather the statements of scripture as to righteousness to see how far it has to do with law, in the case of a believer. Of course a man under law could only be righteous by keeping it. But is this the way (i.e., the making good legal righteousness in any way) in which righteousness is obtained by the believer—his title to be in heaven? Turning to Romans 3:21, I read, “But now the righteousness of God without the law” —not without the man’s doing it, and by another doing it for him, but apart from law entirely, charts nomou. It is witnessed by law and prophets, but it is another kind of righteousness, made out independently of it. “To him that worketh not”—well, what instead?—but believeth on him that has wrought it out for him instead? Not at all: “but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly” (chap. 4). It is opposed in kind. So, further on, the promise that he should be heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed by law. It was not on this principle. It is not that it is on this principle, but that another had to carry it out: but it was not on the principle, not by law. The law entered by and by (chap. 5:20). We are not under the law, but under grace (chap. 6). Why, then, must I have it fulfilled in my place? We are become dead to the law by the body of Christ (chap. 7:4). How held to its fulfilment, if I am dead to it, and consequently it has no more dominion over me? So, further on, we are delivered from the law, being dead in that in which we were held. Then he enters into its power as a means of convicting of sin, which is not my object here, but of which I purpose speaking further on.
So in Galatians, as many as are of works of law are under a curse—not as many as have broken it: all under it had; but that is the position of one under it. No man is justified by the law; for the just shall live by faith, but the law is not of faith. That is, our justification does not proceed on this principle, whoever may meet it. And how are we redeemed from its only effect—a curse? The curse is taken by another. It is not met by another’s fulfilling it; not a hint of it. After faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. I have nothing to do with it as a way of righteousness. How was another to be my righteousness by keeping it? I must have righteousness; but I am not under law, so that righteousness should be claimed in that way. If righteousness came by law, Christ is dead in vain. How could this be said if it does come by law, Christ having livingly fulfilled it to be our righteousness? And mark, His death is appealed to. Christ is dead in vain, if law is the principle on which I have righteousness. For faith, in the death of Christ, the very nature is dead in me from which the righteousness of the law would have been expected. “I am crucified with Him; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Is He under law? If not, I am .not. If I am justified, says the apostle, by works of law, why have I cast it all down? If I build law after Christ, I am a transgressor in leaving it to come to Christ. But I through law (says he) am dead to law (i.e., not bound to it), that I might live unto God (which no one under law ever did: it is weak through the flesh); for by works of law shall no flesh be justified, be he Jew, or Christian, or who he may, or whoever may do them. No one is justified by works of law. We are set on a wholly different ground—dead and risen again in the second Adam. We are in the presence of God through the rent vail. Again, Christ is become of none effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law. You are fallen from grace. It is on another principle. It is not Do this and live.
As regards walk, even, it is the same setting aside of law. If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under law. If led of the Spirit, they were going right, yet they were not under law. We are not children of the bondwoman. The whole of the system on which I am now commenting, and which places man on the ground of legal obedience, flows from not apprehending the truth of being in Christ. But of this point in examining the Epistle to the Romans.
These quotations will give not a particular, difficult, or contested passage, but the well assured view of the Spirit, often expressed. The Epistle to the Romans, to which I now turn, will give the great principle on which this depends, and how the saint passes from the old state to the new.
What I find in the scripture is this: when I read in the Ephesians of the counsels of God, I find nothing of the law at all. All is God’s work, and all is in Christ, who is not spoken of as alive down here, but is first viewed as dead, then exalted, and believers exalted in Him. It teaches unity now of all saints in Him, when taken out of death.
If I turn to the Romans, I find the responsible man in flesh proved guilty, not seen dead; but no remedy for his condition by making it in any way good, but death brought in; at which point we arrive at the beginning, so to speak, of the Ephesians, but making thus the state of man uncommonly clear. We do not find even Christ exalted in the Romans (save in one passage which does not apply to this point and confirms the general view I am presenting), nor the counsels of God as to the Church. The result of the union of its members is presented in one practical passage. The Epistle to the Romans places the individual on the ground of righteousness, and thus of true liberty in life, but does not reach the union of the body with Christ. Hence, death and resurrection, which suppose man to have had to say to sin in life, are its theme. After stating that its purport was God’s good news, it begins with a divinely powerful display of the wickedness and evil state of man, alike terrible and true; and terrible, because true. Gentile conscience must quail before its plainness, telling things as they were; and Jewish hypocrisy, too, laid bare by the edge of that very word in which it made its boast, seek to hide itself in vain in its anger. All the world is guilty before God.
But grace meets this. By deeds of law none are justified; by law is knowledge of sin. But now righteousness of God is manifested. What is this? The first idea, so to speak, which is given us of God’s righteousness (Rom. 1:17), is exceedingly abstract. In other passages we shall see the way it is brought about and made good as to us; but here I do not doubt it is its general nature and character. It is God’s, not man’s. It is—has its character, quality, and source—from God, not from man. It is what it is that is spoken of, not how it is. It is a righteousness after this fashion, not man’s. It comes from God for man, not from man for God. Hence it has the character and qualities of its source, whoever may be given to profit by it.
So wrath of God from heaven: it is not human wrath or justice on earth ending there in its nature and quality, nor even divine wrath exercised in an earthly way by earthly instruments. It is divine, from heaven.
It is not “the” righteousness of God, a fact, an existing thing, which is spoken of, but “righteousness of God”—this quality of righteousness. But hence it must first be found in God Himself, or it would not have that essential quality. Hence we are after God as to the new man created in righteousness and true holiness.
“The righteousness which is valid before God” (which is the sense put by Luther and Calvin on the expression) is utterly astray, because legal righteousness, where it existed, would be valid before God. If accomplished, it would be accepted. Man would live in doing it; but then it would be not God’s righteousness, but man’s: whereas the whole point on which the apostle insists in this expression is, that it is God’s, and not man’s.
I would also state here, that it is not inherent righteousness— an expression of very questionable character as to any consistent meaning. Indeed, on this subject, it is rather a contradiction in terms. “Righteousness” is indeed used for the quality which is disposed to judge and act righteously; or at least “righteous” is (as we say, a righteous man). But, in general, certainly righteousness is a relative term: that is, it refers to conduct towards another. Hence, inherent righteousness is a very loose expression, as inherent conduct towards another is evidently very little exact. However, to take it as it is meant, as the quality by which man is disposed to be righteous, although this cannot be separated from the righteousness here spoken of (because if Christ is our righteousness, He is our life also; it is a justification of life), yet here we have nothing to do with inherent righteousness. The question of Job, “How can man be just with God? “is that to which the Epistle to the Romans gives an answer. When it is said the Jews were going about to establish their own righteousness, and did not submit to the righteousness of God, it is clear that it is not submitting to inherent righteousness. So when it is said, “Now the righteousness of God is manifest”— “to declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness”: these words cannot apply to inherent righteousness. It is righteousness before God which the epistle treats of.
But, further, this is viewed, on the other hand, and for the very reason that righteousness before God is treated of, as applied to or judged of in the person who is to be accounted righteous. The man is accounted righteous; righteousness is accounted to him or reckoned to him. Thus, when it is said, Faith was imputed to him for righteousness, it is not the distinct substantive value of his faith which was reckoned as righteousness in itself, and then imputed to him, but that he was accounted righteous, held for righteous before God, because of his faith. The why or how remains. A believer in Christ is justified through faith; he is reckoned righteous; yet it is not the value or strength of his faith which is accounted as itself equivalent to righteousness, and then imputed; yet it is said for us also, to whom it shall be imputed if we believe (who believe); but that he was accounted, and we are accounted, righteousness on the ground of believing. That is, the meaning of imputed righteousness is not a substantive righteousness, apart from the person, and afterwards reckoned to him, but the condition of the person in God’s sight. God views him as righteous, though he be not such as would entitle him to it by reason of anything inherent. It is righteousness reckoned to him, but not thought of apart from him, but his standing before God. They are in righteousness in God’s reckoning, though they are not intrinsically so. Hence it is imputed or reckoned. The whole difference lies in this.
The meaning of imputed righteousness is, not a quantity of righteousness apart from the person, and afterwards reckoned to him in the present sense of the word, as I impute anything to a person; but the state or condition before God in which He sees the person. I beg the reader to remark thatT am examining the force of the scriptural expression “imputed righteousness” —not the scripture doctrine. From all I have said, there may or may not be a quantity of righteousness outside a person put to his account. But the meaning of imputed righteousness is the character or quality in which the person appears in God’s sight, not the cause of his so appearing. It proves it is not inherent, for then there could be no more reckoning of it. Why he is reckoned righteous remains to be proved. The not seeing this has produced insurmountable difficulties where such passages as “his faith was imputed to him for righteousness” had to be considered; for then, if a certain thing in its own value was put to the person’s account and reckoned to him, faith was the valuable thing for the worth of which he was so accounted, and in truth it was inherent.
So, blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, whose sin is covered: Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin. It is not merely that He does not impute the sin done, but he does not view him as in sin, but as in righteousness; for innocence there is no question of. Hence it is not dikaioma when imputed righteousness is spoken of, but dikaiosune—not an act or sum of things done, but a state. He is reckoned to be in the state of dikaiosune: dikaiosune is imputed to him. As the Thirty-nine Articles express it, “We are accounted righteous before God “; so in Romans 4:3, “It was counted to him for righteousness.” Here, as we have remarked, it cannot be the value of something reckoned to Abraham, but the state in which he was reckoned or accounted to be: so we read (v. 11), “Righteousness might be imputed to them also.” Here nothing is spoken of as that which is there to be imputed, and the passage as clearly as possible shews that the meaning of the phrase, “Righteousness imputed to them,” means they were accounted to be righteous. Of verses 21-23 I have spoken. Faith is still here the thing imputed (Gal. 3:6). It is again faith which is imputed for righteousness.
There are eleven passages in scripture which speak of imputing righteousness or for righteousness; in nine of them faith is imputed for righteousness; so that here it does not mean the value of the thing done which is imputed, or our faith would be the merit. They are Romans 4:3, 5, 9, 10, 22-24; Galatians 3:6; and James 2:23. The others, where it is said righteousness is imputed, are Romans 4:6, 11. In Romans 4:6, it is, God imputes righteousness without works, saying, Blessed is the man whose iniquity is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Here, clearly no positive external thing is imputed or put to another’s account, but a man is reckoned to have dikaiosune. Verse 11 leads us to exactly the same result. The Gentile believers were to be reckoned righteous, because faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness when he was uncircumcised.
These are all the passages. An analogous passage (Rom. 2:26) gives the same sense—the uncircumcision is counted for circumcision. That is, the man is accounted circumcised when he is not. Thus, though a person is reckoned to be in a state which he is not de facto in, a quantum of righteousness, ready outside himself, reckoned to him, is not the meaning of imputed righteousness. It means the state in God’s sight of the person so accounted righteous. Righteousness imputed to a man is the same as the man’s being accounted righteous.
Next comes the question, How and why is the man accounted righteous? It is God’s righteousness, by faith in Jesus Christ, towards all, Jew or Gentile, and upon all them that believe. We are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness.” Here we have a very plain principle: God is righteous in remitting the sins of Old Testament believers, as to which He who foreknew all had exercised forbearance, because of the blood of Jesus. He had forborne and forgiven, and how was this righteous? It was now proved and made manifest by the death of Christ. He declares at this time His righteousness. There is this difference in our’s and the patriarchs’ position— not in the substance of the matter, but in our status before God—that we stand in a known revealed righteousness, not in hope of forbearance, great as the mercy may be which grants it to us. He is just and the justifier. Who is just? God. Here there is an all-important principle: the righteousness of God means, first of all, His own righteousness—that He is just. It is not man’s, or even yet some other’s positive righteousness, made up of a quantity of legal merit, put upon him. The righteousness spoken of is God’s being righteous (“just” is the same word), and yet so declared that He can justify the most dreadful sinners.
But it will be said that there must be a ground for this, which makes it righteous to forgive and justify. Right. Righteousness has a double meaning. I am righteous, say, in rewarding or forgiving; but this supposes an adequate claim which makes it righteous that I should do so—merit of some kind. If I have promised anything, or anything be morally due to righteousness, I am righteous in giving it. Thus, that God should be righteous in forgiving and justifying, there must be an adequate moral motive for His doing so. In the sinner, clearly, there was not; in the blood of Christ there was. And God having set Him forth as a mercy-seat, faith in His blood became the way of justifying. This shewed God’s righteousness in forgiving. Thus accepted I stand before God on the footing of His righteousness.
Here we have most important principles—the righteousness of God means, what the words express, God’s righteousness. It is not dikaioma here, some act or complete sum of righteousness by an act or thing done, but dikaiosune, the quality or habit. God is just or righteous in this. Next, this righteousness of God is declared or manifested in virtue of the blood of Christ. God is thus righteous in forgiving and justifying; proved so as regards the former saints forborne with before the blood was shed; abidingly and known so now by faith once for all, when all is accomplished, and the perfect ground of the justifying is declared. Further, by this forgiveness (inasmuch as it is through blood, so that God is just in it), the man is justified, accounted righteous. It is redemption, and God’s righteousness is upon all them that believe. So afterwards (chap. 5), it is said, “We are justified by his blood.” Man is a sinner, without law and under law—and now, entirely apart from law (choris nomou), God’s righteousness is displayed in justifying the believer through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, by reason of His propitiating blood and through faith in it. God is righteous and justifies men that believe in Jesus. We have gained an immense point in understanding that God’s righteousness is the quality or character that is in God Himself, nor an unimportant one that we are justified by His grace through redemption, and that righteousness is declared in remission.
Such is the direct testimony of Romans 3. (Compare chap. 4:6, 7.) But is this justification by blood all? It is not. A very important part indeed of the epistle remains behind—the doctrine of resurrection. It is thus introduced. Gentiles, and Jews under law, had been disposed of and set aside as sinners, but Abraham had not. God accepted him, called out from Gentiles, and not under law surely. But how? He, too, was justified by faith. But faith in what? This is the second great point in the epistle. But the apostle will not give up the truth, that in justifying the ungodly forgiveness has the full value of reckoning righteous without works; nor that death, redemption by blood, is the ground of this. He will give us David’s testimony to this great truth— “To him who worketh not, but believeth on him who justifieth the ungodly”—mark that: not, who substitutes another legal righteousness instead of the wanting legal righteousness in the sinner, but justifies one who has none— “his faith is counted to him for righteousness.” The point is, that it is no debt because of any works that deserved it, but of grace to him who works not. Now, clearly, here the force of the argument is destroyed if it be works which do merit it in another. And what is our David’s declaration? He declares the blessedness of the man to whom the Lord imputes or reckons righteousness without works, choris ergon. It has nought to do with works of righteousness which are done or imputed. And what is this declaration?— “Blessed is the man whose iniquity is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” And who is believed in here? God, who justifies the ungodly. He reckons them righteous apart from works.
But I have said this is not all, and that Abraham is introduced to bring in an additional principle of truth, but not to weaken this (for indeed it is founded on it): no more than this sets aside the additional one. So far from it, if we do not seize what this epistle now goes on to teach, our knowledge of our position before God will be exceedingly imperfect. But before I pursue this second point, let me remind my reader that the ground of forgiveness or justifying which we have been already considering is no light thing, or acquired for us at little cost on the part of Christ. Perfectly agreeable as all He was, thought, and did, was to the Father, yet His death, of which we are now speaking as justifying us, was of all the rest that which had the deepest character and the highest value. He gave Himself for His Father’s glory as for us. “Therefore,” He could say, “doth my Father love me because I lay down my life that I might take it again.” No living act of obedience under law, perfect as all was, rose to the excellency of a dying surrender of Himself, and that drinking the cup His Father had given Him to drink. Still there was another point connected with this cardinal fact of everlasting history to be brought out. He was raised again for our justification, as He was delivered for our offences. This was, with obscurer light, Abraham’s faith too. It is not union with an exalted Christ in heaven. That is Ephesian doctrine, where nothing is said of Abraham. But Abraham believed that God was able to perform what He had promised. We believe that He has raised up our Lord Jesus from the dead, and therefore to us as to him faith is reckoned for righteousness. Thus, as the blood of Christ was that which was presented to us as sinners, as that by which, through faith in Christ, we were forgiven and justified, and the righteousness of God declared, so now resurrection is laid as the ground, and the following chapters are based upon this truth, which yet, of course and evidently, supposes the dying and blood-shedding. This carries us farther than the thought of blood-shedding. That lays the ground on which we are cleared. This puts us in the cleared place and standing before God, which is an entirely new one.
I believe on Him who raised up Jesus; that is, that God, perfectly satisfied in righteousness and glorified by the sacrifice of Christ, has raised Him up in witness of it and given Him a place as alive to Him in resurrection, sin being put away, our offences for which He was delivered buried in His grave, and we alive again here below by the power of His life in an entirely new condition in the favour of God (the present grace wherein we stand), and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God who has been perfectly glorified by Christ. I say, or rather the apostle says, “we stand,” because it is not now simply, as before, the being cleared from sin, but the new place in which we stand as cleared. Having been (for that is the force of the word) justified by faith, we have61 peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand. We walk thus in newness of life. We are not seen here risen with Christ. He is risen, so that we are justified, have a sure ground of confidence, and are alive unto God through Him.
It is doubted if the doctrine of imputed righteousness be not shaken, looked at (as I do look at it) as contrasted with inherent living righteousness in us. In no wise. True it is that Christ is our life, and that we have received a nature which in itself is sinless, and that, looked at as born of God, we cannot sin because we are born of God. It is a life holy in itself, as born of Him. But, besides that, we have the flesh, though we are not in it; and the practical result in respect of our responsibility as to the deeds done in the body does not, even if we have this new fife, meet the just demands of God, if we should pretend to present them as doing so. That is, righteousness is not made out by our being born again. We need, and have, a perfect righteousness apart from our life, though in Him who is our life. Christ is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. No soul can or ought to have solid settled peace in any other way. The whole perfection of Christ is that in which, without any diminution of its value, we are accepted. The delight of God in His obedience is that in which we are received. What we have done as children of Adam, He took on the cross in grace, and entirely put away. And what He did is our acceptance with God. It is needed for us, for otherwise we have no righteousness. It is a joy to us, because we enter, as immediate objects of it, into the delight which God has in His own Son.
What scripture does not speak of is a certain quantum of legal righteousness attributed to us, because being under law we have failed in it; because we are not under law. It is an unholy doctrine, because it is not atoning by the Blessed One’s bearing the curse for breaches of law by those who were under it, but allowing failure under it by another’s accomplishing it. It is one thing to make an atonement for sin, and another to have one’s neglected duty accomplished de facto by another. Besides, if done, it is human legal righteousness, by whomsoever done. Hence the apostle says, “Not having mine own righteousness, which is by the law,” supposing it ever so perfect (for it could be and would be no more than man’s); “but the righteousness which is of God” —another kind and sort of righteousness.
But have I not, or at least has not one under law, neglected duty? Yes, alas! but this has been atoned for (why then, in passing, also to be fulfilled by another? and if fulfilled by another, why to be atoned for? The whole system is false in its nature), and I am put into an entirely new position as wholly dead, the whole being and nature in which I was set aside, since Christ died for me as in it: and thus my whole condition and being as before God in the first Adam is set aside. I am not in the flesh (my first Adam-standing to which the law applied); and I have an entirely new status before God in resurrection, in virtue of this work of Christ. The risen Christ is the pattern and character of my acceptance, as He is the cause of it. As He is, so am I in this world; and this is by a real living possession of His nature, while at the same time by faith in Him: so that my acceptance is inseparable from godliness of life, as in one dead to sin and alive to God, and yet rests for righteousness and peace on the perfectness of what is before God for us. Hence it is called justification of life.
Hence also our responsibility is not now the making good the failures of the old or first Adam: I am wholly out of it, and, as in absolute and perfect acceptance in the second before God, I am called to yield myself to God as one that is alive from the dead. The old thing is gone—atoned for (so that God is glorified in His majesty and righteousness), but done away. To that it was that law applied, and hence was weak through the flesh; but my first husband, law (if I had been under its power, as the Jew was, and many a one practically gets), is gone, not through destruction of its authority, but by Christ’s dying under its curse. That authority is thus, on the contrary, fully established by Christ’s having met it in death; but then, thus, by the body of Christ, I am delivered from it, having died in that in which I was held, so that I should serve, not in the oldness of letter, but in newness of spirit. Instead of satisfying the requirements of my old condition under law, I am passed out of it (Christ having borne the merited curse, so as to establish its authority), and passed into another—Christ’s —before God, as one alive to God through Him, God having been perfectly glorified.
This is the doctrine of Romans 5, 6 and 7, founded on chapter 4, and the results fully developed in chapter 8. It will be found that the whole groundwork is laid in the death, not in the life, of Christ on earth. See chapter 5:6-11. All is attributed in the fullest way to death. Death and blood-shedding is the theme; only it is thence concluded in the blessed reasoning of the Holy Ghost (who always reasons, not from what we are to what God must be, but from what God is and has done to what must be for us, as One that reveals in grace must do), that, a fortiori, we shall be saved by His life as now risen—life, not before death, but in resurrection, saved from coming wrath. With all this, at the close of the chapter, law is contrasted, when righteousness is treated of. To this I will recur specifically in a moment.
I pursue the evidence of the truth of our new position in the chapters quoted: chapter 5 has applied resurrection to justification, founded, as we have seen, on death. Chapter 6 applies it to life. It it be the obedience of one that justifies, we can do as we please, says the opposer of grace. Nay, says the apostle, you are justified because you are dead, and have now to walk in newness of life. How can a man dead to sin (and that is the way you have justification and life) live in it? If he do, he is not dead, he is in the first Adam, he has not part in Christ at all; for we are baptized unto His death, and it is in resurrection we have life. In chapter 7 this death is applied to our state under law. Law has dominion over a man as long as he lives; but we are not alive, we are dead. In a word, Christ is alive for me before God, and I am justified, but as having died; and thus it is I have a place in this blessing. Hence I am dead to sin; and, further, I am no longer alive in the nature to which law applied. Therefore, he says, in Romans 7, “When we were in the flesh.” I am married to another, I cannot have two husbands at a time—Christ and law. But it is not by weakening the first: nothing glorified it like Christ’s death under its curse. But, if under it, I have died under it in the body of Christ, and thus I am free. Through law, I am dead to law.
I do not enter into the blessed and beautiful unfolding of this true liberty before God and from sin, and the heavenly security which accompanies it (God, as with Noah, shutting us in); not because it would not be delight to follow it out, but because I must confine myself to my subject. The character of the deliverance may be seen in Romans 8:1-11. There the Spirit is life. Thence, to verse 28, He is the Spirit of God personally considered, the spring of joy, the Comforter in the sorrows that spring from that joy itself in such a world as this. It is God in us. From verse 28 to the end, it is the security and sure glorious results afforded by God’s being for us: hence sanctifying or life is not spoken of here—that is wrought in us.
What is, then, the righteousness of God, and how is it shewn? How do we have part in it? How is righteousness reckoned to us? We are said to be the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5). The apostle speaks of having the righteousness which is of God (Phil. 3). But it is not said, God’s righteousness is imputed to us. Nor is Christ’s righteousness a scriptural expression, though no Christian doubts He was perfectly righteous. Still, the Spirit of God is perfect in wisdom, and it would be wonderful if that which was the necessary ground of our acceptance should not be clearly spoken of in scripture. One passage seems to say so (Rom. 5:18). But the reader may see in the margin of a Bible which has references, that there it is “one righteousness.” There cannot be the least doubt that this is the true rendering. When the apostle would say “by the offence of one,” he uses a different and correct form, a different one from that which he uses for “one offence.” Theology may make it “the righteousness of one,” but not Greek. But the expression “the righteousness of God “is used so very often that it is not necessary to quote the passages. Now, it is not in vain that the Holy Ghost on so important a subject never uses one expression (that is, the righteousness of Christ), and constantly the other (that is, God’s righteousness). We learn the current of the mind of the Spirit thus. Theology uses always that which the Holy Ghost never does; and cannot tell what to make of that which the Holy Ghost always uses. Surely there must be error in the whole way of thinking of theology here.
I am satisfied that the source of it all is their notions about law. Law is for the first Adam, for the unrighteous. The apostle tells us so expressly. Righteousness is in the Second man. Christ was born under law here below, that He might redeem those who were under it out of that condition, bearing the curse they had incurred. We are told that law is the transcript of the divine mind: I deny it wholly and entirely. It is the transcript of what the creature ought to be. Can God, speaking with all reverence, love God with all His heart, or His neighbour as Himself? It is simple nonsense. These teachers of the law know neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. The law is not made for the righteous, but for the unrighteous; and never made anybody in the world righteous. It is righteous, but it was given to sinners when in their sins, and never as a law to anybody else—not speaking here of Christ’s coming under it in grace. It entered, pareiselthe, or came in by the by, between promise and its accomplishment in Christ, that the offence might abound. Christ is the image of the invisible God—the transcript of the divine mind, if you please. The law is an imposed rule. “Thou shalt love”: is that a transcript of the divine mind? It does love sovereignly. Christ was made under law, and of course was perfect under it; but in that character was and abode alone. But He was God manifest in flesh, and thus was the image of the invisible God. He that had seen Him had seen the Father. He was love, and was perfect in holiness—holy enough in His being to love sinners as above sin, and further—what law does not and cannot and ought not to do, knows nothing of in its nature— gave Himself up for sinners, which law knows nothing of (for it will have no sinners at all unless to curse them). Hence, when Christian practice is spoken of, we are to be “imitators of God as dear children” — “to lay down our lives for the brethren.” What has law to do with this? It knows nothing of it. The whole doctrine of Paul, and of the righteousness of God, these law teachers are striving against.
Where, then, and what is the righteousness of God? God’s righteousness is His perfect consistency with His own perfect and blessed nature; and that (hence it is said, “if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God”), as it concerns us now, in His dealings with others. “The righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his eyes behold the upright.” God beholds the upright. God is a righteous judge, and God is provoked every day. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; evil shall not dwell with thee. Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness.” The first Psalm opens with this great truth. So when He comes He will judge the world in righteousness, and the people with equity. So Psalms 97, 98, 99, and indeed a multitude of others.
It will be said, The righteousness here spoken of, however essential the principle to the being of God, yet is applied to the law. I admit it, and hence the instruction contained in it ends in the government of this world; and until order be brought about by power there, the state of things perplexed those who looked for it, when they saw the prosperity of the wicked. We are called to another position—a heavenly one, and even as Christ did, to “do well, suffer for it, and take it patiently.” This is acceptable with God. But the keeping of the law is never said to be a title to heaven, still less to sit at the right hand of God. Morally—not personally, of course, I need not say, but—as to the quality of our righteousness we have a title to be there. So, on the other hand, we say as to sin, we “have come short of the glory of God,” and “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” And Christ declares, “The glory which thou hast given me I have given them, that the world may know that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.” Righteousness is shewn in the punishment of the wicked, and in the world’s seeing Christ no more. This is the solemn answer to that vain conceit of love which denies righteousness, and makes of love indifference to sin.
But I do not now dwell on this solemn application of righteousness, namely, that vengeance belongeth to God, as not being our proper subject. How as regards us, in the Christian revelation of it, is righteousness set forth? In the resurrection, no doubt, of Christ. But there is yet more. He shall demonstrate righteousness to the world “because I go to my Father.” God has shewn His righteousness in setting Christ as man at His right hand. There, more fully than shall be in His direct government, though of course it is perfect there, the righteousness of God is shewn. Christ had a title to be there, and He is there. Righteousness is in heaven, it is a divine title to glory, and in man. That is what we want—what is ours. But why is Christ’s being there righteousness? He has title as Son. He was there before the world was. But that is not our point here.
Let us see how He speaks of it. First, He says in John 17, “Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.” This I leave, because it is His personal title, though a just and blessed claim, and characterizing His position, and thus most interesting to us. But He adds a second ground, “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do; and now glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
And when was this done? John 13:31 tells us, when Judas went out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.” He shall not wait till the public government of the world; and His appearing from heaven will glorify Him, according to Psalm 8; but straightway, when He says, “Sit at my right hand till I make thy foes thy footstool” —where He is crowned with glory and honour, when all things are not yet put under Him. But why was it righteousness to do this? Because the Lord had a title to it, to be glorified as Son of man (though He had been in it as Son before the world was); because God Himself in His nature and amoral being had been glorified in Him, and He was therefore entitled to be glorified in God. We have seen when this was: “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” Heavenly glory with God was the righteous consequence. As He says, “If God be glorified in him, God shall glorify him in himself.”
But how was this? Surely it was a glorious thing for a Son of man to maintain—not merely maintain, but make good—the glory of God. Doubtless, He must have been much more to have enabled him to do it. Still, as He tells us Himself, it was as such He did it. Blessed and infinite grace for us that it is so! The more we weigh what the cross was, the more shall we see how God was righteous in raising and setting Christ at His right hand. Sin was come in, disorder in the universe, the government of God unintelligible, angels occupied in conflict in God’s creation, witnesses of the success of evil. Had God judged in righteousness, and destroyed all the wicked, there was no love. Did He spare them, there was no righteousness. It would have been merely undoing the evil if all were restored, or sanctioning it if they had been glorified. Where was His truth which had pronounced death on the offender? where His majesty which had been trodden under foot? The whole character of God was in question by sin. The Lord offers Himself for His Father’s glory, according to the counsels of God. His truth is made good. The wages of sin is death. The cross is an absolute proof of it. It was the paid wages of sin by the Son of God Himself. None escaped but by His dying for them, and He the Son of God.
The majesty of God was vindicated as nothing else would have done it. Christ spends Himself, and submits to wrath to make it good. God’s righteousness was glorified in the full judgment of sin. Yet His love to the sinner was displayed as nought else could have displayed it. What a scene for the moral universe! Nothing next or like it is there in all created history. Things that are have been created, and may be destroyed; but this abides, making good what God is for all eternity. Such was the cross. There the Son of man was glorified, and God was glorified in it. Hence He glorified Christ in Himself—placed Him at His right hand. This was righteousness. No glory amongst men would have been an adequate recompense for glorifying Himself. The true reward for glorifying God was God’s glory. Into that the Lord entered, where He was before the world was made.
This is what displays divine righteousness—the setting the Son of man at God’s right hand. As I have said, it was God’s own righteousness; but as this must meet a title to what is given to make it righteousness, it was such because Christ had done what gave Him the title to be there. But this was done for us, for all that have the faith of Christ—this glorifying God about sin. It was about our sin He did it. Therefore the value of the work is reckoned to us. God righteously receives us into His glory as He has received Christ: for He has received Him in virtue of the work done for us—us therefore in Him. We are made the righteousness of God in Him, for in blessing us in this heavenly and glorious way, in justifying us, He only gives its due effect to Christ’s claims upon Him. Towards us it is pure grace, but it is equally the righteousness of God. Thus it appears that all the value of Christ’s work is reckoned to us, and reckoned for righteousness. He has been made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
Has His living obedience to God nothing to do with this? I do not say this. First of all, “he knew no sin” was absolutely necessary to His being made sin; but the truth is, His obedience is looked at as one whole moral condition or perfection in which He was agreeable to God. He was the obedient one, as Adam was the disobedient. And though His obedience in life was not for sin, it was part of the sweet savour which went up to God, and in which we are accepted. It was finally tried at the cross, and found perfect. This was the perfect man, and in circumstances alone in this nature but perfectly agreeable to God. Once He had undertaken obedience; it was His own duty; but that He accomplished, and glorified God in it, at all cost; but He was alone, and stood alone, that He might take man’s sinful condition on Himself, and therein glorify God. He did not, as towards God, make good God’s character in it, but a divine perfect man’s. He did display God’s character when alive—He was it. But that was addressed to man, not a satisfaction to God for man. He took up man’s cause as born of a woman. He took up the remnant of Israel’s, as born under the law. He was made sin to reconcile the one, and bore the curse of the law to redeem the other from it, and will never bring the lawless under it. As a living man, sinners had no part in or with Him—He abode alone. As a dying man He met their case. There they could come by faith. “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” That was when He said, “The hour is come that the Son of man must be glorified: except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die; it bringeth forth much fruit.”
It is an entire setting aside the old man, his whole condition and existence before God, by which we get our place before God: not a keeping the law for the old man. Then you must keep him alive. God forbid! I live by the second Adam only, with whom I have been crucified: nevertheless live not I, but Christ in me. But then, in the new man I am not under law, so there is no question of fulfilling it for me, because I am already accepted and have life. There can be no Do this and live. I am, as even Luther expresses it, Christ before God. If righteousness come by law, then Christ is dead in vain. But if Christ has fulfilled the law for me, it does come by law, and Christ is dead in vain. Law applies to flesh, is weak through it, sets up, if it could, the righteousness of the first man. But I am not in the flesh at all—I am in Christ.
But Romans 5 requires some of its details to be referred to. The subject the apostle takes up is, as we have seen, death, in order to have a wholly new place and standing in resurrection. But this goes beyond the limits of law; for man sinned and died when he had none. Death reigned from Adam to Moses over them who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the image who is to come. Theologians have puzzled themselves with this, ignorant that it is simply a quotation from Hosea 6:7. They (Israel), like Adam (men), have transgressed the covenant. Adam was under a law, not indeed to do this and live, as Mr. Molyneux so unhappily says, but to do this and die when alive; Israel was under law of Do this and live, when he was dead; as indeed the words rightly weighed implied. But between Adam and Moses there was no law—none of either kind, but they sinned and died.
Hence we must go up to the great heads of the two systems— the first and second Adam: not to mend the first by the second, but through death substitute one for the other. I do not speak of the persons to whom it is applied, but the abstract nature of the act. Adam sins, is disobedient, cast out of an earthly paradise, and is the head of a lost, condemned, sinful race. The second Adam obeys, glorifies God in righteousness, is received into heaven, and is the head of a new justified race. In either case, the act causative of the whole condition was accomplished, before the consequences were entailed on those that came under it. It is not a course of action on the ground of the first man, which, accomplished by the second, forms our righteousness as belonging to the first. We pronounce whole and entire condemnation on ourselves, as belonging to the first—children of wrath, Jew or Gentile. Death closes on that in Christ; and, after redemption, we begin before God in Christ, and are accepted in Christ, and Christ in us is our life. We do not go back to seek a legal righteousness in flesh, the other Adam-side of redemption; we may know ourselves only as lost, dead in sin there. It is too late to get a righteousness for our first Adam state: I have fled to Christ because I was already lost by it. By the disobedience of one many were made sinners, by the obedience of One—looked at as one moral whole, perfect in death, His character contrasted with that of Adam’s without any thought of law—many are made righteous. In death He bore the curse of the law for those under it; but this was not keeping it in life. He was obedient all His life, learnt what it was by suffering. He was obedient in death, in bowing to suffering, when it was His Father’s will, where law had no place, though He bore the curse of that too. What law commanded to endure God’s wrath when a person was sinless? He learned obedience by the things that He suffered.
Not only so, but this obedience is expressly contrasted with law, in order to meet the sin of those also who are not under law. This is the great point argued in the chapter. Personal headship is insisted on in Adam and Christ, and on this ground we stand, the law having come in between, occasionally, though to meet important ends. Adam died by disobedience, and Christ as obedience. The law came in by the by, says the apostle (pareiselthe), that the offence might abound. That is, he states the obedience as an absolute perfect quality of the Christ, available for sons of Adam, while the law had merely a special place, which did not come into this question of obedience. It brought out sin in the way of multiplying transgressions, but where (not transgressions, the apostle takes care not to say that; for so the grace would not have applied to those not under law, the very point he was insisting on being that it did apply to them; but where) sin abounded, there did grace much more abound. There was one offence, paraptoma, towards all for condemnation; one dikaioma, act of accomplished righteousness, towards all to justification of life. It is abstract as possible, but, as the following verse shews, to the exclusion of law—that is brought in with nomos pareiseltke, an accessory which had a peculiar effect, and which did not come under his general argument, yea, to exclude which was the effect of his reasoning, in order to let in the Gentiles.
If the one offence swept wide beyond Jews, the one act of righteousness must do so too. The law came in by the by, to do its own work, to produce transgressions (not sin); but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. The purport of the reasoning of the apostle is to get out of the scene of law as to disobedience, obedience, and righteousness—not to bring it in. If it comes in, it is with a special object, by the by, which does not concern the Gentiles, and for the Jew served for increased guilt; but of which Christ has borne the curse for those who believe. I am not under the law but under grace, if I am a believer. I am not in the flesh if I am in Christ: when I was, I was under law, or lawless. In Christ I have entered, be I Jew or Gentile, on a new ground, where I am alike dead to sin and law, and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, made the righteousness of God in Him. It is a very striking fact that Luther should have excluded from the New Testament that on which the apostle everywhere insists as the foundation of his doctrine, the revelation of Christianity (that is, the righteousness of God). Nor does Calvin get a step farther: “I understand,” he says, “by the righteousness of God, that which can be approved before the tribunal of God; as, on the contrary, men are accustomed to the righteousness of men, what is held and esteemed righteousness in the opinion of men” (Rom. 1; so 2 Cor. 5). But his whole statement is very poor. To come short of the glory of God means, he says, in the same way, what we can glory of before God. In Romans 10 he makes the righteousness of God that which God gives, and their own that which is sought from man.
61 Some would read “let us have.” It would only strengthen the truth if it be so.