Once I was talking to a theological student. I said, "The Bible does not say that we have put on the righteous garment of Christ. It only says that we have put on Christ." Galatians 3:27 says that we have put on Christ. Today we have not put on the righteousness of Christ, but Christ Himself. The righteousness of Christ is something that is in Christ Himself, and it is history. Today Christians come to God through putting on Christ. Christ Himself has become our righteousness, and we can come to God at any time because Christ lives forever.
How can we, as sinful persons with so many failures, come to God? Why should God answer our prayer? One sister did not feel that temper was a sin, and she would not deal with it. Later, she could not get over a particular matter, and she wanted to have a thorough dealing before the Lord. She called me by phone and made an appointment to talk to me. I told her to go and pray. She took my word and went to pray. Before she went to God, the subject of righteousness was not in her thought. However, as soon as she turned to God, the matter of righteousness came. She thought to herself, "With what kind of righteousness should I come to God?" Then she realized that her temper was a sin, and she acknowledged that she did not have any righteousness of her own. A new believer very often prays and asks, "What is my basis for coming to God?" Suppose you are in your bedroom. You can dress any way you like, but when you meet a guest, you have to properly attire yourself. No one ever dresses up to go to bed. This is because you are alone when you go to bed, and there is no need to dress up. But during the day you have to meet people; consequently, you have to dress up. In the same way, as soon as a man comes to God, he considers how he should dress. When a certain member of one’s family is sick or in trouble and he is forced to come to God, he often suddenly remembers many sins that he has otherwise ignored.
How do we come to God? First Corinthians 1:30 is a great verse in the New Testament. This verse reveals that a Christian does not come to God through his own righteousness. Neither does he come to God with his many sins. Rather, he comes to God through Christ alone. A Christian’s access to God is not based on his righteousness or his unrighteousness. This verse shows us clearly that Christ has become the righteousness of the believers. It is not something about Christ that has become our righteousness; rather, Christ Himself in His entirety has become our righteousness. Something of Christ can never be as absolute and perfect as Christ Himself. When Christ Himself becomes our righteousness, God receives us.
The experience of many Christians follows a certain pattern: If they read the Bible in the morning and manage to control their temper during the day, they can pray in a strong way at night. But if they fail during the day, their prayer at night is very weak. Actually, even when we sin, Christ is still our righteousness. The fact has not changed, because we are in Christ. If we behave well today and think that we are more qualified to come to God, we are coming to Him by our own righteousness. This is a wrong concept. God does not receive us based on our righteousness, much less on our unrighteousness. His receiving is based on Christ. A Christian does not become more unrighteous through sinning, nor does he become more righteous through doing good. Sin does not diminish a Christian’s righteousness, nor do good works increase his righteousness. Our righteousness before God is not dependent on our conduct, but on Christ Himself. Our righteousness before God never changes. Righteousness is a person; it is not a thing. The righteousness that a Christian has is the living Christ; it is not some dead object. Even if we committed all the sins of the world, our righteousness is still Christ Himself. Sooner or later every Christian must realize who this One is who is his righteousness.
(Christ our Righteousness, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)