“Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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 3:4-11).
The Apostle Paul once thought he had a reason to boast. He felt quite secure in his religious credentials. As the passage above indicates, he paraded these credentials wherever he went, and no doubt drew security from them. But little did he know the turn his life would take. He would later in this passage discard such religious pedigrees in favor of placing his hope in Christ Jesus and the promise of resurrection. In fact, in his own mind he placed all of his good deeds in a massive bonfire, struck a match, and lit it, watching it go up in flames. The Bible is correct: all of our righteous deeds apart from Christ are like a polluted garment (Isaiah 64:6).
All attempts to please God through religious activity, or affiliation, fall short. We all have sinned and fall woefully short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The curse brought dying, death, and ruin, but the resurrection brings final victory over all enemies, including death (1 Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 21:4). What man could not accomplish by idols and false religion, God did by sending His beloved Son to die in our place and rising from the dead.
All attempts to weigh in the balances our sin and our good deeds, will end in misery. We will not feel better; we will feel worse. Our good deeds cannot remove sin, and they certainly cannot speak peace to our souls. Our peace comes through Christ Jesus alone, because He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14-15). He grants a peace that transcends all comprehension (Philippians 4:7).
Even God’s people get caught up at times in man-made solutions to guilt. Sometimes when we sin, we attempt to counter it by multiplying our religious activities. But we can draw no peace from that because we were never granted peace from our religious efforts. We draw our peace from a forgiving God who longs to forgive His children. We then, out of gratitude, serve Him by our good deeds, something God approves of (Titus 3:8; Ephesians 2:10).
Lord, forgive me when I jump back into old patterns of serving You for the wrong reasons. Thank you for forgiving me in Christ, based completely on Your grace. I praise You for digging me out of the pit of a works-based religion, and showing me the riches of Your grace and kindness in Christ Jesus. May Your name be glorified by my life.
Posted on Wed, March 30, 2016
by Sam Petitfils