The Righteousness of the Believer: Positional Only or Everlasting?

To say that the righteousness a believer has in Jesus is only a positional reality and not  actual one is to contradict what the Bible indicates. Here is why…

(Scripture underline and bold emphasis ours)

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

  • It is stated plain and clear that Christ took our sin (noun, not verb in the original) into himself so we could become (take into ourselves) His righteousness (noun, not verb in the original)
  • The use of nouns imply that Jesus dealt with our state or condition in sin and in exchange gave us God’s state or condition of righteousness.
  • Not positional but actual, real!
  • Otherwise what Jesus did would not be greater than what Adam did, and if that was the case, what would the point of redemption in Jesus then be?

If that is not convincing enough, then let’s ask these questions:

  • Did Jesus only take our sin positionally? or
  • Did He actually and literally take our sin upon himself?

See the point… If Jesus literally did the one, then He literally did the other, otherwise it would make no sense.

Here is another verse that explains this clearly: 

Romans 5:19 (YLT)  for as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted [made – NKJV] sinners: so also through the obedience of the one, shall the many be constituted [made – NKJV] righteous.

  • Constituted certainly does not mean ‘positionally’
  • Mankind did not become ‘positional’ sinners, they became actual, literal sinners
  • In the same way, through the cross we became the actual, literal righteousness of God
  • Looking at the meaning of the original word in the Greek for ‘constituted’ or ‘made’, it says that it actually means a permanent placement!

You see, Jesus came to undo what Adam did, and if Adam through his sin literally made us sinners, then Christ through His redemptive work literally made us righteous. How else would the redemptive work of Christ make any sense?

The context and intention of these verses are the same and not one part actual and the other positional. That would be like us saying that when someone literally marries, they are only positionally married. It makes no sense!

It is only when we embrace this truth that we are able to truly know that we are righteous and thus live righteously. 

Just like when someone embraces the truth that they become literally married at their wedding and accept the reality, it releases and empowers them to become and be just that. But if they only accept this reality as a ‘positional’ truth then doubt and insecurity would consume and prevent them from living out and enjoying such reality. You see, the reality of this truth empowers us to confidently and securely act like we are in Jesus, righteous!

To believe that you are only ‘positionally righteous’ in Jesus is to contradict the true state and condition of righteousness God provided and placed you in. And believing that you are not truly righteous in Jesus allows doubt and insecurity to rob such truth and reality from you, and it will put you on the treadmill of law, not grace. A treadmill of self-dependence rather than Christ-dependence!

Jesus owned our sinfulness so we may own His righteousness. Because of what He did for us, we are and will always be 100% righteous, 100% of the time before God! This is our Father’s love and abundance of grace toward us, and it empowers us to truly reign in life!

Romans 5:17 (NKJV) For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Romans 10:2-4 (NLT)I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God.


  • We don’t attain right-standing with God by conforming our lives to a set of religious rules and regulations but simply by trusting in Jesus Christ and His provision of righteousness.
  • The only righteousness that satisfies heaven’s court is Christ’s righteousness. His righteousness counts for ours before God. His righteousness makes us completely accepted before God.
  • Our fight of faith then is not to be justified or remain justified, but to continue trusting and resting in God’s provision of justification.
  • Personal righteousness (rightness) is the result of resting and trusting in His provision of righteousness.
  • When we realize that God has given us ultimate right-standing, it releases us from trying to earn or deserve right-standing with Him by our own efforts and merit!

This is the truth of the Gospel and a believer’s righteousness!

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