Can anyone other than Jesus Christ be righteous? Can anyone other than Jesus Christ be blameless? Can anyone other than Jesus Christ be considered one who wholly follows the Lord?
The answer is both “no” and “yes.”
No, there is not a natural man who is righteous, who is blameless, and who wholly follows the Lord. Paul was not an unnecessary pessimist when he wrote, “None is righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3) Scripture is clear that all are sinners, all are corrupt, all are guilty of breaking God’s good law. Scripture is also clear that there is one exception — the man Christ Jesus. He is the one who can dwell on the mountain of the Lord. He is the one who can stand in the presence of God. He is the only one who can say, “I have loved the Father with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, all my days.”
However, it is possible for sinners to be declared righteous, blameless, and whole-hearted followers of the Father. Jesus Christ is the great legal substitute who takes upon himself the unrighteousness of men, and places upon them his righteousness, blamelessness, and whole-hearted obedience. The technical term is justification, and the result is that some unworthy sinners are graciously declared just and holy by the Judge.
But the good news of the Gospel does not stop with justification, for Jesus Christ is the alpha and omega of man’s salvation. He finishes that which he begins. All those who are declared righteous by the Judge, are progressively made righteous by the Counselor. Those who are declared righteous by God, display righteousness in their lives, and are therefore declared righteous by their Christ-worshiping neighbors.
Examples of this can be seen in Scripture. For example, sinful Noah was declared righteous and blameless by both God and Moses. (Gen. 6:9; 7:1) Both the human and heavenly author of Job called him blameless and upright. (Job 1:1; 2:3) The same can be said of Caleb. Moses, the author of Joshua, and the Holy Spirit considered this earthly saint to be one who wholly followed the Lord. (Num. 32:11; Deut. 1:6; Josh. 14:8, 9, 14)
So, what about us?
Have we come to the conclusion that we are unrighteous sinners who break God’s law everyday?
Have we come to the knowledge of the Gospel — God’s good news of salvation and sanctification? Are we aware that a substitutionary righteousness is available for all who will bow the knee, confess their sin, and kiss the ring of the Son?
Have we a passion to cooperate with the Spirit of Christ in becoming holy in life as we are declared in legislation? Wouldn’t we like to hear the commendation of our Father and our friends? Can we say with clear conscience that, though being sinners, we long to be called righteous, blameless, whole-hearted followers of Christ?
Friends, Christ saved Noah, and then used him to build an ark and save his family. Christ saved Job, and then used him to humiliate Satan before the host of heaven. Christ saved Caleb, and then used him to victoriously conquer the Promised Land. May Christ help us to understand the full-scope of our salvation, and walk victoriously under his authority today.