I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” Romans 7:7 (NIV)
God made Adam upright. But he did not remain so. He fell and all his children were born where he landed.
In all the generations that came from Adam, not one person has been born who was truly upright, until God became man in Jesus Christ. The upright one did not arise from the human race. He came to the human race. The Holy Son of God was born of the virgin, Mary.
In all human history, Jesus is the only one who was born upright and remained upright. He lived the perfect life, and then He laid it down as a sacrifice for the sins of others. “Christ Jesus … has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness” (1 Cor. 1:30).
Righteousness is not in us. It comes to us. It belongs to Christ and it is yours when you are His. Don’t ever get the idea that you have lived a largely upright life, and that you only need the righteousness of Jesus to “top off” what’s missing.
God used the tenth commandment to convince Paul of one sin in his life: “I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet’” (Rom. 7:7).
It wasn’t long before Paul saw the whole confederacy of sin in his life, and he came to the conclusion that even his religion was shot through with sin. That’s why he says, “[I want to be found in Christ] not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ” (Phil. 3:9).
Is this righteousness yours today? Jesus offers Himself to you today. He invites you, by faith, to draw near to the Father, standing in the righteousness of Christ’s upright life, a justified sinner, with a humble, grateful heart.