When Two Become One

Not long after we were married, with a glint in her eye, Catherine began reminding me one of the fundamental rules of marriage (from a wife’s perspective): “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine.” 

I was reminded of this today, reading Martin Luther and a sermon he preached called, “Two kinds of Righteousness.” The first kind of righteousness is the kind we work for ourselves (or the kind God infuses into us by His gracious work in the Spirit). This kind of righteousness makes us better people than we were. It is the work of sanctification. It is the birthright and the experience of every true child of God. 

But there is another kind of righteousness. One that doesn’t make any difference to the kind of person we are. One that only changes the kind of person God says we are. This is the kind of righteousness imputed to the Christian by faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. It is the kind of righteousness by which God justifies the ungodly (Rom 4:5).

We are used to hearing those words, but they should shock us. How can the Judge of all the earth do such a thing? How can He declare sinners righteous? And the answer, of course, is by exactly the same logic that He declares Jesus guilty on the cross. He is guilty because of His union with us. We are innocent because of our union with Him.

It is the logic of the marriage ceremony. “What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is yours!” So Luther, preaching on the 28th of March, 1518, said: “Mine are Christ’s living, doing, and speaking, his suffering and dying, mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, suffered, and died as he did. Just as the bridegroom possess all that is the bride’s and the bride all that is the bridegroom’s. For the two have everything in common.”

This is how God sees you this morning, Christian. In Christ. Only in Christ. Always in Christ. You are lovely by association. Lovers cherish locks of their beloved’s hair. Those few strands of keratin came from them and they are lovely because of them. For exactly the same reason God loves you this morning, Christian. You might well think, God surely finds nothing in me that is lovely? No doubt this is true, but He finds everything in Christ that’s lovely. He is the altogether lovely One. When He looks at you, you remind Him only of Jesus. He sees you and smiles. How could He do anything else!

Christ Covenant Church