Christ is the sacrifice for our sins so that we may obtain forgiveness for our sins (Ephesians 1:7-8),
live in Him both now and after our physical death (John 3:15 and John 10:10),
and by living a righteous life and dying for us, He is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Jesus was the sacrificial lamb slaughtered on the cross as an offering for our sins.
A lot of folks LOVE this. I personally love this. I think anyone in their right mind who realizes they are a sinner loves this. But there is a crazy thing about offerings people don't love too much:
You can never receive the blessing of an offering sacrificed on the altar of God without offering something of yourself on the altar as well.
Go back and check any of the offerings in the Old Testament. To receive the blessing of the offering that is sacrificed, the person had to offer something on the altar.
Now you may argue that isn't the case with the goats on the Feast of Atonement because the priests presented those and the people didn't. Sort of. The people sacrificed land to the priests. They also gave part of their offerings for the priests to live off of. The people sacrificed something to make the sacrifice possible.
Honestly, this reality isn't popular in today's church culture. People don't like the idea of giving something up to get eternal life. But Paul is very clear in Romans 6
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
This isn't some high and lofty theological concept. It's as plain and practical as it gets.
"Sin shall not have dominion over you." That is not addressing forgiveness of sins. It is saying quit living like hell.
"Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." In other words, quit holding onto that self-right(eous) mirage you've built and choose the righteousness of Christ instead.
Now THAT sounds high and lofty theology, so let's talk about how this might look in real life.
Let me give you an example from my book of "Wow. I'm really ugly at times, aren't I?"
A few weeks ago my family started attending RCIA classes. In short, these are introduction to Catholicism classes. I didn't want to go. I honestly saw no reason to go. I'm not Catholic. I'm a Protestant pastor. Why do I need to go to these classes?
First class the priests asks, "Why are you here?" I tried to answer with respect while still being clear that I am not Catholic. "Catholicism has spiritual disciplines Protestantism has lost, and I want to learn about them." Honest answer. The priest talked some, and whatever he said, I took it as, "Glad you finally got a clue."
Notice I didn't say he said that. I said I took it that way. Self-right(eousness) does that. It rewrites and misinterprets as needed so I am the one who is right and the other person is offensive. It is, after all, the only way to be right all the time.
That night when I lay in bed trying to sleep, I tried to pray my way through the emotional mayhem I felt. "God, why do I need to be in that class? I don't even believe like they do. I've researched their beliefs. I don't agree. I'm just going to be a distraction. This really isn't a good thing. Why am I there?"
As loud and clear as you can hear a shofar on Rosh Hashanah, I hard, "You are there to learn to love them. Right now, all you see are Catholics who aren't like you. I want you to see people with hearts that can ache as much as yours has. I want you to see people who seek truth, want answers, and don't understand. I want you to see people who are just like you, and I want you to love them."
I honestly wanted to vomit at that moment. Not because God wanted me to love a Catholic, but because until that moment, I had no idea how prejudice I was. I had no idea how arrogant I was. I had not idea how much mental and emotional distance I kept between the two of us.
I had no idea that I saw "Catholic" and not people.
So you know what I did?
I confessed my prejudice and arrogance. I confessed my lack of love.
I asked the Lord to forgive me.
I asked the Lord to show me anything else that needs to be confessed and forgiven.
And, I mentally pictured myself as I crawled up on that bronze altar, lay down, and said, "Don't let me up until every piece of this stony heart is gone and I love them like You do."
I won't lie. It is hard. We see very differently on some things, but when we see differently, I ask the Lord to show me how they see Him and show me His heart for them.
Here is the thing. My theology may be right, but if my heart isn't, then I'm missing the heart of Jesus. How can I be righteous in Him if my heart toward others is wrong?
So I give up my right to think like I want and sacrifice it. I offer it to God, not because it makes me righteous. Nothing I do will ever make me righteous, but when I am willing to offer up my right to think and feel what I want, then I step into the sacrifice of Christ, take up His mind and His heart...and His righteousness.