You Are My Righteousness

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This is a song about how we need Jesus to be more than simply a payment voucher to cover the debt we owe to God because of our rebellion. Even if our record were wiped clean of offenses, we wouldn't have any goodness, credit, or merit with which we might be made acceptable to God. The Christian life is a battle to remain on the way of grace, a battle where we are continually stumbling off the path into one of two ditches. First, we tend to wallow in what looks like contrition, but is actually unbelief that God would forgive us simply because of what Jesus has done. We think that by our tears we can somehow prove that we are sorry enough for God to forgive us. We can also fall away from grace by acting as if we don't need it - because we've got our lives under control and are, essentially, pleasing God by being faithful. We can overlook certain sins and feel proud that we're not flagrantly committing others. The song is a cry for help, a cry that God would give us faith to believe that Jesus is our only hope to be made acceptable before God. By His death He bore the penalty for our failure, and by His perfect life, the credit for which He gives us by faith, His success becomes ours.


Jesus, I need Your grace again
For I feel lost in sin and powerless to win.
Jesus, Your cross I've not revered
But trusted in my tears to cleanse my guilty fears.
Jesus, I know You paid my debt
But help me trust in You the the law is met.

Jesus, You are my righteousness,
Jesus, my failure and success.
Jesus, You are my only hope,
So take my heart, Jesus.

Jesus, I need Your grace again
I've overlooked my sin and thought that I could win.
Jesus, I've manufactured peace
By looking to my deeds to meet redemption's needs.
Jesus, I know You paid my debt
But help me trust in You the the law is met.

Words and music by David L. Ward.
© 2010, admin by Thousand Tongues.


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"Jesus, my failure and success."

I've received a few requests to clarify the meaning of these lyrics. When I first wrote that line I liked it for its catchiness but worried that it might convey the sense that Jesus somehow failed, in other words, sinned. In this line we're saying "Jesus, you're my failure; Jesus, you're my success." In what sense is Jesus our failure? 2 Cor 5:21 says that God "made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf." Jesus took upon Himself our record as those who had failed to keep the law, and bore the penalty for that failure in our place. If we understand sin as a failure to obey God, then we could put 2 Cor 5:21 this way - that God made Jesus, who only knew success, to be a failure on our behalf. Likewise, Jesus gives us His perfect record, His status as a success, one who successfully obeyed the law, to us freely as a gift through faith. That's another way of describing righteousness, as a record of perfect success when it comes to the law. So, to summarize, Jesus is my failure because He took my sins upon Himself, becoming a failure in my place. He is my success because He then gave me His righteousness, the record of successful obedience to the law.
» David Ward on October 12th, 2010

I wanted to share how this song, ignited by day this morning. I woke up tired and just very blah, knowing about the gospel and the joys of remebering it's power in my life, yet I was unmoved. It wasn't until I put in my ipod headphone and listened to this song's opening line, "Jesus, I need your grace again, for I lost in sin and powerless to win." that it all once again clicked. I stopped, repented of sins from the previous day/night and then listened again and was so refreshed that I knew I had to share this with you and thank God for His gifting you in this area of song writing and composing and the joy that comes out of songs which just clearly exclaim the gospel.
Thank you brother,
Brandon Weis
» Brandon Weis on October 18th, 2010

David/ Brandon,
I was sitting at my desk at church preparing for a music workshop and my heart is cold. As you said Brandon, I felt unmoved. I just finished reading a chapter in a book we're reading which talked about hearing objective truths which should create fresh affections for Christ. At the end of the chapter, I felt nothing but despair. God then reminded me of the 2nd verse of Before the Throne "when Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward i look and see him there, who made an end of all my sin.." I then opened my email and saw the link to read the lyrics to "you are my righteousness". The first line says it all and I'm thankful for the encouragement -David for writing it and Brandon for sending it.
Oh how weak we are! He is so gracious!
» Ryan Boudreau on October 18th, 2010
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