Do we need to measure up to God's standards, or does God accept us... as we are... based on the fact that he is the one that made us? The mission of Jesus, stated so well in Isaiah chapter 53, tells us that God provided a way for us to be justified, made right. God did not need Jesus to fulfill Isaiah 53. We did!
Yes, because of the fall, which gave us the ability to to know good from evil, we erroneously always judge ourselves evil. This is mainly because of the fact that we do not accept God's original declaration about us in Gen 1:31. We are born into the world with unbelief. We are born not sure of our relationship with God. We are born without proof that God exists. We are born unsure. We are born into mortality, and relatively soon find out that at some point we will die, and with that knowledge, we desperately want to justify ourselves. But, when you and I are alone, no one around, looking in the metaphorical mirror, we know that we fall short on so many levels, and cannot truly find justification within ourselves. This makes us want to survive as long as possible, and all of our selfishness streams from this. Genesis 1:31 is nice, but it cannot cleans our conscience. I would say that the most self-assured of us, down deep, feel inadequate and unworthy. It may not show. We may even over compensate. But at the lower level where reality collides with our conscious mind, WE ALL, sense we somehow fall short. I am simply identifying the problem to which Christ is the solution. The prophets have addressed this and Isaiah himself says that all of our righteousness are as filthy rags, (menses cloth's.)
Here in lies the need for imputed righteousness and justification from a source outside ourselves. I especially want to get to the "goody-two-shoes" of the world that are so confident that they are following God's plan and pleasing him. Can I tell on them for a minute... down deep inside.. they live in constant fear. They fear that they are not really pleasing God, and all of their religious machinations, are toward that end and completely in vain. They seem to fail to comprehend the words of the Apostle Paul saying that "by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified." The worst of this element are the preachers and teachers that keep other more ignorant saints in bondage to this phenomenon, and likewise keep them in the clutches of "their" hands to manipulate and use. I think this is why so few really preach the gospel. They fear that the gospel will actually set their victims free.
Let me show you just how the Righteous Servant will justify many. Hebrews 9:14 NIV "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" Christ offered himself to God, before the foundation of the world, that is before creation to go through the pain of death and be resurrected to show us that we are eternal and eternally loved. As Paul wrote in Romans 5:1.... "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," You can never justify yourself by acts. You can only be justified by faith, and the faith your are justified by is not your faith but the faith of Christ. It was his faith that justified the many. Look at Isaiah 53:11 again. By his knowledge of God... He justified many. His knowledge of God was informed by absolute and perfect faith. He alone was the only one who could really use the knowledge of good and evil in a justifying way. His perfect obedience was His perfect faith.
Now then, when by the gospel, the Holy Spirit convinces us that we are justified... we then develop a true peace with God that in turn generates a genuine love for God, and from this love, all of our obedience flows. Not from fear. From love! You cannot keep the love generated by justification if you are continually being put in the position of trying to please God. Fear will ensue, and love will dissipate and bondage will return. Oh the reality is you are free, but if you do not know it... if someone is keeping you following regulations, you will NEVER reap the benefits of love and peace that the gospel was meant to give.
Hebrews 10:14 NIV "For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Read this carefully, you have been made perfect. You are being made holy. How are you being made holy? By believing the gospel; By the peace you have with God from believing that you are justified by Jesus Christ! Don't let the doctrines of men snooker you! You are being sanctified from the knowledge that you have been made perfect. God said it in Genesis 1:31, but the knowledge of good and evil in us made it so we did not believe it.... Isaiah 53 begins with "who has believed our report" BELIEVE THE REPORT!!!