THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF SALVATION
One thing we have to know is that before the Lord Jesus died, it was unrighteous for God to forgive our sins, but after the Lord Jesus died, it would be equally unrighteous for God not to forgive our sins. Without the Lord Jesus’ death, God’s forgiveness would be unrighteous on His part; He could never do this. With the Lord Jesus’ death, He would be held equally unrighteous if God would not forgive. Please remember, a redemption without blood is unrighteous. On the other hand, when one has the blood and is denied salvation, this is also unrighteous.
Once I went with a brother to Kiukiang. While we were on the boat travelling and sharing the Word with others, I began to speak to a person about our faith. At the same time our brother spoke to another person, who was Moslem. During the conversation, our brother asked the man if he had any sin. The man tried to tell him how good Mohammedanism is and how great Mohammed was. But our brother said, "I am not asking you about these things. My question is this: Do you have any sin?" He confessed that he did. Our brother then asked him, "What then are you going to do about it? Is there any way that you can be forgiven?" The man answered that if he wanted to be forgiven, he had to feel remorseful at heart and do good, and do this and that and many other things. After the man had listed all the things that should be done, our brother said, "This is precisely the point of controversy. You have said that when one sins, remorse can bring in forgiveness. But I say that when one sins, there must be punishment. Without punishment, there can be no forgiveness. You think that a sense of remorse will earn someone forgiveness. But I say that forgiveness only comes through judgment. If I have sinned in this city and I escape to a far away country, I can be remorseful over there, and I can perform many charities. I can be a nice man there. But none of these will revoke my sin. Your God is a God who forgives without judgment. But my God is a God who forgives only after judgment." The Moslem then asked, "How can you be forgiven then?" "This is why," said our brother, "You need to believe in Jesus. Only by believing in Jesus will you be forgiven. Your sins have been judged in the Lord Jesus, and when you believe in Him, you will be forgiven." Here is the righteousness of God. Today men consider whether or not God is love. They do not realize that God is not only love, but He is also righteous. It is not that God only wants to forgive man’s sins. He has to forgive them in a way that will not conflict with His nature and His righteousness. This is what men fail to see.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)