Over the past month or so I’ve been reading a lot of Paul’s letters. I’ve been reading other parts of the Scriptures too. Over the past few Sundays I’ve heard sermons from Philippians. I’m going through a devotional in Romans with my lovely girlfriend. Along with this, I’m apart of a Bible study that has been going through Colossians. In all my Pauline reading over and over you see the same thought. You need righteousness that isn’t your own.
I’m at all these different places in the different letters. In Colossians we’re only on chapter one verse six and we’ve been studying for a month now. In Philippians I just jumped in with the church in the middle of chapter three. I’ve made my way to the third chapter of Romans today in the devotional I’m going through. In all these studies, I find I need Jesus. I’ve read all these letters countless times before. Yet the truth of the gospel remains afresh with every reading. But what stands so prominent now is the righteousness of Christ.
When you come to Philippians 3, you find a man who by the worlds standards has every reason in the world to boast. He once was of the most elite family background, was a political and religious leader of a nation, and had affiliation the best and greatest. Religiously he had all the reason to boast and was extremely pious in his own eyes and in the eyes of the people. Yet he says of all his boasting in the the flesh
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:8-11
All that Paul could have considered righteousness he considers worthless in light of what true righteousness is. Paul’s ultimate goal and striving in life is to be like Christ. Paul knows we need the perfect sacrifice of Christ the make us right before the one true living God. When all is said in done, its the work of Christ and his righteousness that matter most in life. All of our piety outside of Christ is blasphemy at best. Our strivings to worship apart from Christ isn’t worship at all. We need the perfect sacrifice of Christ for an aroma to rise before Almighty God, and by his perfect aroma the Father sees Christ and we stand before the throne justified in the righteousness of Christ. This is worth abandoning all and following. In the gospel of Christ is a treasure worth having. There is nothing more beautiful. It is what allows us to take all that we can boast in that is in and of ourselves and say ‘worthless’ apart from knowing Jesus.
The pastor this past Sunday said, “Without the righteousness of God, we are completely undone.”
What a truth! Praise be to God because of Christ Jesus that we can approach God in confidence because of his perfect sacrifice on our behalf. And praise be that his righteousness doesn’t just preform a justifying work, but that it causes continual transformation for those whose identity is Christ.
May we take heed to Dr. James M. Boice as he reflected on Romans 2:23:
“If you have been trusting in anything other than Jesus Christ and his death on the cross in your place, throw whatever it is completely out of your mind. Abandon it. Stamp on it. Grind it down. Dust off the place where it lay. Then turn to Jesus Christ alone and trust him only.”
Hallelujah, All I have is Christ.
Hallelujah, Jesus is my life.