10 August 2012

Righteousness By Faith

Philippians 3:7-14

Too many people associate righteousness with works. In high school, I remember a few boys created enemies for themselves by quoting their mantra "Holier than thou" at a school quite plagued with legalism. I disliked it too, of course, for no one likes to be put down. They were merely attempting to follow all the school rules with hypocritical gumption. And isn't this the danger of holiness through works -- pride?

So it was refreshing to read Paul's definition of righteousness in verse 9: "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."

Paul also talks about the relationship between faith and righteousness in Romans 4. Quoting the Torah, he says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness" (vs. 3).

A few years ago, I tried to discipline myself to exemplify more fruit of the Spirit. I drew a chart and made efforts to show love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. While there's nothing wrong with aiming to live out these good traits, I was missing the point of Scripture's admonition. They are called "the fruit of the Spirit" -- not "the fruit of my discipline." Through failed attempts, I realized eventually that the better method is to follow what the context says in Galations 5: "live by the Spirit."

Likewise, Philippians 3 is about keeping our focus on Christ. Paul talks about his faults and also about his zeal, but then he brings it all to a powerful conclusion: "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (vs. 14).

We need to keep our eyes focused, resolved to seek Christ in every decision of every day. By doing this, by trusting Him and living by the Spirit, we then achieve "righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith."

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