Here are the two righteousnesses clearly laid down, in one or other of which we must all stand before God—the righteousness which is of the law, and the righteousness which is of God by faith in Christ. But bear this in mind, that a righteousness to be available before God must be a perfect righteousness. This righteousness no man ever did or could produce by his own obedience to the law, for no man ever yet loved God "with all his heart and soul and mind and strength, and his neighbour as himself;" and if a man do not thus love God and thus love his neighbour, he is accursed and condemned already by that righteous law which curseth "every one who continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
Now the Apostle felt that as this righteousness could not be yielded by himself as a fallen sinner, he must necessarily fall under the condemnation and curse attached to that holy law. Trembling, therefore, in his conscience, as feeling that the wrath of God was revealed against him, and all unjustified sinners in a broken law, and knowing that he must sink for ever under the terrible indignation of the Almighty, if he had no covering for his needy, naked soul but his own righteousness, he fled out of it to find justification and acceptance, mercy and peace in the righteousness of Christ. Thenceforth he "was determined to know nothing, save Jesus Christ and him crucified," and Jesus became to him his "all in all."
When once he had been favoured with a view of the righteousness of the Son of God, he wanted no other for time or eternity. He saw by faith the words and works of the God-man, and he beheld Deity stamped upon every thought, word, and action of that pure humanity with which it was in union, and thus investing them with a merit beyond all conception or expression of men or angels. He saw him by faith bearing his sins in his own body on the tree, and by his active and passive obedience working out a righteousness acceptable to God, and such as he and all the redeemed could stand in before the great white throne without spot or blemish.
As a traveller overtaken by a violent thunderstorm gladly flies to a house by the wayside wherein he may find shelter from the lightning-stroke and the sweeping rain; or as a ship threatened with a hurricane bends every sail to reach in time the harbour of refuge, so does the soul terrified by the thunders and lightnings of God's righteous law, seek for shelter in the wounded side of Jesus, and hide itself beneath his justifying obedience. This righteousness is here called "the righteousness of God;" for God the Father contrived it, God the Son performed it, and God the Holy Ghost applies it; and it is said to be "by faith" and "through the faith of Christ" because faith views it, believes in it, receives it, and gives the soul a manifested interest in it.