I once read a wonderful illustration in the book Classic Christianity. The author, Bob George, describes a time when he spoke at a seminary:
"In the course of discussing the Christian's identity in Christ, I asked a series of questions. "How many of you," I asked, "are as righteous and acceptable in the sight of God as I am?" Every hand in the auditorium was raised. "How many of you," I asked again, "are as righteous and acceptable in the sight of God as Billy Graham?" This time about half of the audience raised their hands. "How many of you are as acceptable and righteous in the sight of God as the apostle Paul?" There were around ten percent of the hands raised. "Now here's the really tough one," I said. "How many of you in the sight of God are as righteous and acceptable as Jesus Christ?" Only three hands were raised out of an entire auditorium of seminary students.
"I..told that group of students..."If you are a true Christian, then you are as righteous and acceptable in the sight of God as Jesus Christ!"...2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."
"Righteousness (a right standing of total acceptability before God) is a gift. You don't work for it. You don't earn it. You don't deserve it. Like any gift, all you can do is accept it or reject it. And once you have it, it's yours.
"Those seminary students,able to effectively defend the doctrine of justification by faith, were too timid to state in so many words that they are as righteous as Jesus. And yet to say one is to say the other. The word "justified" means to be "declared totally righteous." (Bob George)
For many years as a Christian, I never felt God accepted me, and that was all I was searching for, all I wanted, just to know He accepted me. I always felt He was disappointed with me. I felt He must be thinking, "Oh, I love you but I wish you could just do better"...it sickens me now to think of that LIE I was under!
I also suffered for years under the burden of trying to get "right" with God. Every time I sinned, I felt I was not "right" with God. So I assumed I needed to pray and confess and somehow show I was going to really be dedicated this time, and then maybe He'd forgive me and I'd be "right" with Him again - ugh - another LIE! (As Bill Gillham says, I rededicated my life to Him so many times that my "rededicator" got worn out! And all along it wasn't my dedication that mattered but His - He is dedicated to us! That's why this whole Christian life thing is so sure!)
Yet here was "justified" being defined as being declared RIGHT/righteous, and here was "righteousness" being defined as being ACCEPTABLE to God and in RIGHT STANDING with Him! As I read that, it just all clicked together suddenly! I'd been a Christian for so many years and I didn't even know what those words really meant! Ever since I'd become a Christian I'd been RIGHT with God and ACCEPTED by God. Ever since that day! Every second! No matter what! I had been accepted and right with God all along! What a relief - I can't explain it! It stills feels so wonderful,
If you have believed in Christ, you are right with God and accepted by Him now and forever! Nothing can change that! You have been welcomed in and received into His arms of love for all time! You are acceptable, okay with God, totally righteous, in right standing, - however you want to say it, everything is all right now between you and God! You're perfect for Him and in intimate relationship with Him. He delights in you. He adores you! He embraces you completely! Isn't grace the best thing going? Grace is something I think we'll be celebrating for all eternity! He saved us to show us His kindness and grace for all eternity - isn't that wonderful!