We can never be reminded too many times of the gospel of grace. It is a message that is not just information, but also food, and light, and warmth—it is a message that is effectual. And there is a word we should all love more than we do—effectual.
Our condition apart from Christ is one of utter helplessness. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. We were slaves to sin, having to do its bidding, and we were free from the control of righteousness. All our efforts to cease being unrighteous just created a different kind of unrighteousness—the religiosity of the carnal man. This religiosity always veers to some form of works righteousness, because the energy for such religion comes from pride, and not holiness. But pride is our sinful condition. We are dead in our sins, and the name of that death is pride, self, me. And for all the striving that it generates, the word for such religiosity is ineffectual.
But while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. While we were steeped in our unloveliness, Christ came down from Heaven in order to love us. He abandoned His will to the will of the Father—the very thing we had refused to do—and was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. He was stripped, beaten, flogged, nailed to a cross of wood, thrust through with a spear, taken down, laid in a tomb for three days, after which point He came out of that tomb with your forgiveness outstretched in His two hands. The thing about it is that when hands like that have been pierced in that way, whenever they are carrying forgiveness of sins, they are incapable of dropping it.
So He came out of that tomb carrying our righteousness, our justification, our perfection. And He offers it to us here—free grace—in the gospel, in the declaration, in the preaching, in the Supper. And so this is the message summed up—that we, the unrighteous and filthy, are given the grace to be able to say, without fear of contradiction, the Lord our Righteousness.