For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made right. (Rom. 5:19)
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Eph. 1: 4) God's Word teachers that every believer is holy and righteous. It does not say that we are holy and righteous in ourselves. It says we are holy and righteous because God has made us this way. These concepts must be firmly planted in our hearts if we are to understand our true spiritual identity. As believers, our fundamental nature is now identified with God and His Spirit.
Therefore, it should not surprise you that God identifies us this way. It is not as though anyone earns this status, as if our works could do that for us. Rather, our spiritual identity, by grace, is now wrapped up in God's very person. Since that divine power now lives in us, we are, in a very real sense, holy. It does not mean that we are morally perfect like God or that we are sinless. God alone is in that category. But we are associated with the divine person and strive to live holy lives by the power of God.
Hard to Be Holy?
To many, this may seem impossible. But possible it is. The Bible declares it. The two most common words for "holy" applied to believers in the New Testament are holios and hagios. Holios literally means "consecrated" and "associated with divine character." Hagios means "sacred," "pure," and "blameless." So when God declares us "holy," that is exactly how He sees us.
And as holy ones, we are to live that way, as well. Some may respond to this declaration by saying, "If only I had more strength to resist sin" or "If only I were around the right ministry or church, maybe I could live more holy than I do now." This totally misses the point of who we are in Christ. In 2 Peter 1: 3,4, Peter Declares that, as partakers of the divine nature, we have everything we need for life and godliness. That means right here and right now. We do not have to do anything to be holy. We already are holy. We sincerely have to rest in this biblical truth.
I know this is too wonderful to believe. But believe me, dear saint, it is true. You may not always live like you are holy, but you are holy, no matter how you may feel about yourself. Here is another truth almost too wonderful to believe. If you receive this truth, your behavior will conform to your belief. The Spirit in you will bring His thoughts to bear on your life to convict you of sin and enable you to repent and become the person God intends for you to be. He makes everything beautiful in its time (Eccl. 3:11).
How can all of this be true? Simple. When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, His righteousness is given to us. It's like receiving an inheritance. When someone passes away and wills you a sum of money, you receive the money, not because you've earned it, but because it is the will of the one who died that you should have it. It becomes yours through no effort of your own. So it is with Jesus' righteousness. When we accept Jesus as Lord, He gives us His righteousness. We do not earn it. It is simply ours. When God looks at us, He does not see our earthly righteousness, or the correctness we desire in ourselves, but only the perfect righteousness of Christ.
Put another way, because Jesus is righteous, His righteousness is imputed to us through our faith in His death for our sins. "To impute" is an accounting term that reflects a credit being applied to an account. 2 Corinthians 5:21 sums it up well: "God made Him who had no sin to become sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." Unbelievable! We have become the correctness of God. Repeat this to your inner man over and over again. Say, "I have become the righteousness of God."
With this foundation, let's look again at 1 John 3: 7 (KJV), that jewel of a verse: "He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous." No matter how we look at this verse – forward or backward – it is true either way. Let's start with forward. A person who does righteous things is a righteous person. That is why he does righteous things. But that person's righteous deeds are not of himself. Those deeds are only made possible because of the correctness of Christ. He is the source of all righteousness. Now backward. Jesus is righteous. Based on His righteousness, we also have become the righteousness of God. Now it is natural for us, as God's righteous children, to walk correctly before him. It makes sense forward, backward (or even sideways), fellow believer.
Living Up to Your Identity
You are holy and righteous. Instead of becoming proud in these biblical truths, however, we should be very humbled to realize what new creatures we have become. We are totally made of new stuff now. The heavenly DNA is taking hold of us and we are aliens of this world. Once we are made correct, we should normally strive to live up to this identity, especially if we are living and walking in the Spirit.