Without The Law
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (Rom 3:21)
In seeming contradiction the Bible speaks of a righteousness which is “without the law.” If righteousness is defined by the law, how can there be righteousness, “without the law” as Paul describes?
The simple answer is that Paul describes it in this way because our becoming righteous by this means has nothing to do with whether or not we have kept the law or done what is right – not because the law has not been kept, but because it is not we who have kept it. This is God's own righteousness, a righteousness which is equal to God Himself, a purity which implies perfect, unblemished right-doing, yet which amazingly, becomes ours absolutely without any effort or work, or doing on our part. It is ours by the simple expedient that we believe in Christ.
The question is, what is the legal mechanism by which God makes me righteous apart from my works? How can He fairly and justly declare that I am without sin, that I am blameless, how can He restore me to friendship with Himself and grant me the gift of eternal life when all my life I have done absolutely no good? How can this be right? Notice that the Bible declares that this gift of righteousness is “by faith of Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 3:22) and that we are made the righteousness of God, “in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21).
There is only one person who has kept the law perfectly and I mean absolutely perfectly. There is one who fulfilled every requirement of the law. This person of course was Jesus Christ. Nobody else has ever done this. But how does this help me? He has done it, I have not. The answer lies in the phrase, “in Him.” We are made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).”
Condemned in Adam
We can only understand this when we recognize mankind's natural condition and learn how it is that we came to be in that condition.
When Adam sinned at the beginning, he affected the entire human race. His actions were not only effective in his own experience, but they affected all humanity. On the basis of his actions, all his descendants were doomed to be born,
a. Sinful, weak, naturally bent to evil.
b. Degenerate, mortal, sickly, infirm.
c. Alienated from God, unaccepted by God, naturally his enemies.
d. Condemned, that is doomed to die and to remain dead forever.
No honest Bible student can deny these facts, though many find some of them hard to accept. It is easy to see that Adam's degeneracy was passed on to his children. That is a logical consequence of the fact that the laws of nature dictated that it should be so. Adam's children would be weak, sin-prone, sickly, infirm by inheritance. These things would be passed on to them in their genes.
Righteous in Christ
In the same way, the new human race was in Christ when He lived here, died and was resurrected. All of the new humanity was there and this new humanity lived righteously, kept the law of God perfectly and therefore it is perfectly legal, reasonable and logical that all who have become a part of this new humanity, all who become a part of this new human race should inherit, should partake of the benefits available in it. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to those who believe in Christ and this is not simply a make-believe situation. It is not a matter of God pretending that things are so, although they really are not so. No, this would not be justice. It would be unreasonable and illegal for God to judge men as righteous merely because another was righteous. But the truth is that God is able to impute the righteousness of Christ to us because we have indeed BECOME a part of Christ's own existence!! This is why we are now able to keep the law perfectly.
Oh the wonder of it all! This is not pretence, we have been baptized, immersed into the very body, the life of Christ by means of the imparting of the holy spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). We are truly a part of the very life of Christ, the new humanity, or the last Adam. Therefore we are made the righteousness of God IN HIM!! We are a part of His body, members of His “flesh and of His bones (Eph. 5:30). Therefore, He is our righteousness. His righteousness is our righteousness. Because we are one, we are the same, we are of His body, of His life, of His existence.