The paradox of Christianity is that God considers all of humanity since the fall of Adam and Eve unrighteous sinners worthy of condemnation, BUT those who have the spirit of Christ inside them are righteous and worthy of eternal life.
You see, God doesn’t want us to be condemned. He wants us to have eternal life. But there is a law of nature, a principle of the world that says all are unrighteous. It’s inherently a part of our nature. So a long time ago God gave his people a “how-to” for becoming righteous. It’s called the Old Testament law.
But the problem is it’s impossible to be righteous because of our sinful flesh. It’s like you got an instruction book that told you how to build something and you had to have eight hands to do it… It’s impossible because you are limited by having only two hands. Righteousness is equally impossible because you are inherently unrighteous.
So God had to make a way for us to be righteous in spite of our inherent unrighteousness.
“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4).
Since the how-to instruction manual for righteousness could only be followed by someone who was already righteous, God (inherently righteousness) sent his son into the world in the form of man (inherently sinful), in order to fulfill the law.
He was able to condemn sin and meet the requirements, the how-to of the law, because his righteous nature (his divinity) was greater than the sin nature of his flesh (his humanity). Because he came and lived the life he lived and died the death he died, now we can obtain righteousness if we walk according to his spirit. Or, you could say, because we live with his righteous spirit inside of us overpowering our sinful unrighteous nature (our flesh).
“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His… But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8: 9,11).
As Christians we still “sin.” We do unrighteousness, because we are still in this world and in these bodies. But we don’t live in a state of sinfulness or unrighteousness. God actually transforms our nature to become more like his.
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God… you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:13-16).
There’s that paradox again. We’re unrighteous as long as we remain in this world, but God is transforming our nature to be like his nature. He’s adopted us and we’ve taken on his name and his nature, but it’s not fully realized yet.
“But we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it” (Romans 8:23-25).
The good news is that where ever you are along this path, once you have the Spirit of Christ inside you, God has adopted you and the righteousness that is through Christ becomes your own. There is hope and peace and joy in knowing that we are not condemned, and that God is giving us eternal life.