Readings for the Day
1 Kings 13-14, 2 Chronicles 12, Philippians 3
Verses for the Day
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Thoughts for the Day
Paul gets at the heart of his personal relationship with Christ. His life changing realization was that everything on his religious pedigree was worthless. He had lots of religious accomplishments, but when he realized he was saved by grace, he saw how futile all of his efforts were. In the last verse he concludes, "I consider them rubbish". Literally "rubbish" means "dung" or "excrement". You can come up with your own personal translation!
Paul then makes the key distinction between "self-righteousness" and "righteousness in Christ". "Righteousness" means simply a "right relationship with God". Self-righteousness is thinking that the good things we do can make up for the bad things we do. As the argument goes if the good things outweigh the bad things, they will tip the scale in our favor on judgment day. This is why people try to pile up as many good deeds as possible, so as to make sure they will be on the right side of the scale.
Sounds logical right? There is only one problem. This argument assumes that the good things we do erase the bad things we do. The bible states how forgiveness was obtained in the Old Testament through the sacrificial system. Hebrews 9:22 says it this way, "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." Simply put our good deeds do not bring about forgiveness. Without forgiveness, we still have a sin problem. We still need a Savior.
Paul shares his own journey and how he discovered how his own attempts to please God amounted to "rubbish or garbage". But good works are so alluring because they feel good and gives us a sense that we are in control. We play "God" when we think what we do can save us. In this mindset we don't really need faith in Jesus. If faith is trusting in what Jesus has done for us, then we don't need faith if we can save ourselves. Paul says in another passage, "If righteousness could be obtained through the law, then Christ died for nothing." Galatians 2:21
The classic question is when you get to the pearly gates what would you say if you were asked, "Why have you have done to make it to heaven?" Correct answer .... Nothing!