Faith is complete dependence upon the Word of God, expecting the Word to do what the Word itself says.
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God” (Rom 3:25)
If God has sent Jesus Christ to declare righteousness, upon which there can be complete dependence, can we then receive this declaration, this Word, by faith? Where is this Word spoken? In one place, it is spoken in forgiveness:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
What is the meaning of “forgive?” The word is composed of “for” and “give,” which otherwise is “give for.” To forgive is simply to give for. For God to forgive is to give for sin. What does He give for sin? We just read that He gives “righteousness for the remission of sins.” What is the only righteousness that God can give? It is His righteousness! This righteousness is a free gift! It’s given “upon all men unto justification of life.” (Rom 5:18)
Therefore, every soul who asks God for forgiveness, asks it solely upon the Word of God, which speaks forgiveness. Thus righteousness is completely by faith! Faith in what? By faith in the Word of God.
Remember, “He is faithful and just.” What He says, He does. So when He says He gives righteousness for your sins, He means it. So shouldn’t we thank Him, both in advance of forgiveness and after forgiveness for the righteousness that He freely gives, when we ask Him?
So we see that righteousness by faith is distilled down to this plain and simple truth: ask God for forgiveness of sin, and He declares you righteous. To believe that righteousness is given to us for our sins when we ask for forgiveness, and to thankfully receive that righteousness as the gift of God, all because God’s Word declared it– THIS is what it means to exercise faith. This was the faith OF Jesus.
“Here is the patience of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev 14:12)