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Passage of the Week – 6/14/2009

June 16, 2009

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

(Philippians 3:8-11 NASB)

Thus begins a practice I hope to continue for as long as I am able. Every Sunday (yes, I know this is Tuesday… so I’m late) I will post a passage and provide a small amount of commentary. I claim no infallibility on my opinions.

 

How often do we consider our works as being something that “pleases God” or credits to our account? This passage should inject all of us with a healthy dose of humility. Paul has just finished recounting all the great things he has done and, one could argue, that he left out quite a bit. However, he considers them all worthless trash.

There has been a tendency in the American Evangelical church to favor righteous living as the goal of the Christian life. A survey of Bible study topics and sermons can tell us that much. What is being pushed from what I can see is a form of behavior modification. What gets lost is the fact that those who are in Christ are already righteous in God’s sight by His grace and the perfect righteousness of Christ.

Do not misunderstand me. I am no carnal Christian. I am not saying that we can go on living any way we want. The Bible is clear that our works show evidence of a changed heart and mind. (James 2) And sometimes this may take serious effort on our part. However, we must never, either in our beliefs or actions, consider those works to be meritorious in and of themselves. What we do in this world only serves to reflect the righteousness of Christ within us which is also a part of God’s Grace. We will continue to struggle with sin and temptation (Romans 7) but the goal of this is to point us to the Cross. We need to pursue obedience to Christ, not from a desire to please God but from a heart of gratitude for what He has done for us.

Is righteous living the goal of the Christian life? I say nay. The goal of the Christian life is, as Paul so rightly said is to “know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.”

 

Recommended Reading:

The God Who Justifies, by James White

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