Some people seem to think of God’s grace as just His willingness to forgive sins, but the truth is, God has always been willing to forgive sins, even before He offered grace as a means of salvation.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. Psalm 86:5
Under the Law of Moses, God’s commandments were to be strictly obeyed, but God made a provision in the Law for when His people would fail to diligently keep his commands. A priesthood was setup for administering a year-round system of animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.
…and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet aroma to the LORD. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. Leviticus 4:31
However, the forgiveness was temporary and imperfect, which is why sacrifices had to be made year-round and in perpetuity. The blood of bulls and goats was spilled every single day because God’s people continued to daily transgress His law.
In the book of Hebrews we are told that Christ’s death accomplished a payment for sins that was once for all.
…who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. Hebrews 7:27
Because of Christ’s payment in blood, God is now able to offer us, not just a method to receive forgiveness whenever we sin, but something exceedingly better: a permanent righteousness that stands regardless of our works.
The overarching gift that God offers us today through His grace, is the gift of righteousness.
For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Romans 5:17
Righteousness is no longer something that can only be obtained through our work of obeying commandments. God’s free gift to believers is righteousness accounted to us without having to do any work at all.
Under the law, a limited righteousness could only be obtained by obeying commandments.
Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He as commanded us. Deuteronomy 6:25
But now, under grace, perfect righteousness belongs to us as a free gift without a single law having to be obeyed.
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets; Romans 3:21
Righteousness is given to those who don’t do any works, but simply put their faith in the blood of Jesus.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, Romans 4:5
Regardless of our success or failure to live up to God’s holy and reasonable standard, all who trust in Christ stand perfectly righteous in Him. We have no need to daily or yearly seek God’s forgiveness for our sins as the Jews did under the law. Our transgressions have all been paid for by the blood of Jesus, once and for all time.
There is no law we can break to decrease our righteousness and no good deed we can accomplish to increase it. If the righteousness we stand in as believers was from ourselves, then we could tarnish it, but the Bible says that the righteousness we stand in is from God Himself, paid for by the atoning death of Christ.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
As believers we can either choose to rest, satisfied in God’s righteousness freely given to us or we can labor to earn God’s favor or blessing through our own righteousness. Do we think that God’s righteousness it not enough? Is it not sufficient? Is it not perfect and complete?
If God gave us a perfect righteousness, let’s not set it aside to earn our own.
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. Galatians 2:21