What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4
The church tends to misinterpret righteousness. It teaches that we are righteous and holy only when we don’t sin, and that makes us perform to avoid sin. As a result, we have all kinds of rules that we follow in order to make ourselves righteous. If you do this you’re sinning. If you do that you’re sinning. If you don’t act like this you’re sinning. If you don’t talk like that you’re sinning. If you drink you’re sinning. Don’t do any of those things, because you have to be righteous.
But that’s not it. We are righteous and holy because of the blood, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “It is finished. I’ve done everything. Now you are righteous and now you are holy.”
If your parents told you that you’re a princess, every single day, you would grow up thinking, “I’m a princess.” Then you would act as a princess, dress as a princess, and talk as a princess. You would be a princess, because that’s what you were told you are. Now, suppose the church said, “Did you know that because of who you are in Christ, you are holy and righteous, all the time?” What if we did that? What if we taught that in church? What if we got people to think that way? Then people would be righteous and holy. All the time!
This is hard to wrap our minds around, and you can see evidence in the Bible that people had some questions for Paul about this. They asked him, “You’re saying grace abounds over sin, so you can just do whatever you want to do and grace will abound?” Paul said, “No, that’s not what I’m saying. The spirit gives birth to spirit, but the flesh gives birth to flesh. So I’m not saying you can do whatever you want. I’m saying that if you understand grace, and you understand that you are holy and righteous, then you will do holy and righteous things.”
Your identity as a Christian counts. If you think of yourself as a sinner, then your flesh will run your life with guilt and shame. But if you think of yourself as holy and righteous because of your identity in Christ, then you will be free. You will make holy and righteous choices, simply because that’s how you think of yourself. This is what the church should emphasize, every single day.