“To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).
I was recently asked to write a letter of recommendation for someone who was applying for a job. This person is gifted and hard-working, so it should not be that difficult of a task. But as I thought about it, my mind turned in another direction. What if I was required to have a letter of recommendation to present to God? What would I want it to say? What could I have it say that would have any impact on God?
God is holy and His standard is perfection. In Scripture, the standard response to being in the presence of God was one of being overwhelmed. The prophet Isaiah, when seeing a vision of the Lord, cried “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5). Not only is God holy, but He calls His people to be holy (1 Peter 1:14-16). This is a very high standard, and it is one that we cannot accomplish on our own.
We have no qualifications to stand before God. The Lord has made it clear that no one, in their own righteousness or goodness, can stand before God. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Even the good things that we attempt to do are tainted by our sinfulness in this fallen world. Our own righteous acts are as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6-7). Scripture makes it clear that none of us can present ourselves before God based on our own merits. There is no negotiating and no balancing act of presenting our good works to God and hoping they outweigh our failings. God’s standard is perfection – 100% holiness. This is an impossible task. However, nothing is impossible for God.
We stand before God based on the worth and works of Christ alone. On our own, we have no hope of satisfying the requirements of God. However, by receiving the gift of God and trusting in Christ alone for our salvation, we enter into God’s presence as heirs together with Christ (Titus 3:3-7). This is grounded in the grace and mercy of our God, having absolutely nothing to do with our own goodness and good works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, we have absolutely nothing to boast in except the greatness and glory of our God, Who is compassionate to those who do not deserve it. And as unbelievable as it sounds, we are commended by God (2 Corinthians 10:17-18). As we stand before God, He looks upon and commends us a righteous. In a sense, when we hand God our resume folder, He opens it and sees the resume of Jesus Christ. Our resume, with all of it weaknesses, failures, and shortcomings, has been run through the shredder and it is no more. If we are in Christ, God applies the work of Christ over our lives, and we stand before Him in Christ’s righteousness.
Jesus has made us His own possession, so we press on toward the goal. “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14). We have been declared righteous by receiving the sacrifice of Christ, but our perfection is not fully realized. So, we press on until that final day. Why? Because Christ has made us His own! Did you catch that? We are His own! And because we are His, we can press on in pursuit of Christ and our glorious future, forgetting the sins and failures of the past. We can leave behind our failed attempts at pleasing God on our own, and run the race in confidence, knowing that our position in Christ is secure. We have this hope and assurance based on the eternal character of our Father and the work accomplished through Jesus Christ.
So, as the apostle Peter declared in 2 Peter 1:1, we stand in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a letter of recommendation without parallel. It is a resume written in the holy blood of Jesus Christ. It has been presented on our behalf. We have been sealed in the righteousness of Christ. So, let us run the race that is before us, pursuing the joy that is found only in Christ.
Together for His glory…