John Bunyan in his book Grace Abounding says this about our tendency to forget where our righteousness comes from:
“I also saw that it was not my good feelings that made my righteousness better, and that my bad feelings did not make my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, ‘the same yesterday, and today and forever’ (Heb. 13:8).”
Understanding this truth can be very helpful in our Christian lives. We tend to either “feel good” about how we are doing (often based on whether we read our Bible today or whether we got the laundry done and dinner on the table) or we “feel bad” about ourselves because we got short with the kids and paid a bill late.
Now when we sin, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). We seek His forgiveness as well as our children’s if we were irritated at them; we apologize when our bill is late and we make restitution where needed. But our feelings have absolutely nothing to do with this. Sin is objective. It violates God’s commands, and God’s commands are objective: we can read them in black and white.
Our feelings, on the other hand, are very subjective. They are subject to change based on the weather, our health, our circumstances, our hormones, our age, and how much sleep we got last night. Feelings can lead us astray and cloud our judgment. Of course they are very helpful when deciding whether to have coffee or tea, but they are not to be trusted when it comes to judging our own righteousness or unrighteousness.
Whether I am feeling pretty good about my sanctification or not, my righteousness is objective, not subjective. My righteousness is found in Christ. His righteousness has been imputed to me, and His righteousness is perfect, even on my bad days. In fact, His righteousness has nothing to do with my feelings one way or another. That is why our salvation is safe and secure in Him because He never changes.
What is the conclusion? When you are having a bad day, thank God that when He looks at you, He sees the perfections of His Son. When you are having a good day, thank God that He sees the righteousness of His Son.
To quote my husband: “So our faithfulness is not the ground of our confidence; rather, our confidence [in Christ] is the ground of our faithfulness.”