Read Philippians 3:5-7 (ESV)
...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.
What does your spiritual resume look like? Does it have any power to save you?
Consider all of the spiritual things you’ve done throughout your lifetime and write up a “righteousness resume.” If you went to church growing up, you get one point. If you are still going to church as an adult, you get another point. If you regularly read your Bible and pray, points for you. If you serve or volunteer regularly at church, go ahead and give yourself another tally. If you tithe, even more points for you. If you went to a private Christian school, more points— plus bonus points if you have a college degree from a Christian university. And go ahead and give yourself a point for not committing any of the “biggies” like murder, adultery, or theft. How are you doing so far? Do you look pretty good on paper?
In today’s verses, we see that Paul looked pretty good on paper, too. As a Jew, he was accomplished. He was well-born, well-educated, and well-behaved. In fact, he considered himself “blameless” because he was so obedient to the law. He knew the law inside out and he followed it to the letter. Additionally, he was so zealous for the Jewish faith that he persecuted anyone he considered to be a threat, like Christians.
And yet Paul says that whatever gain he had, he counted it as loss for the sake of Christ. Why? Because he realized those accomplishments were worthless. His pedigree and resume didn’t count for anything in God’s economy. On the contrary, those things are often a source of pride and entitlement. His achievements actually had more power to damn him than save him.
You see, God is not just concerned with outward obedience. God is concerned with total and complete holiness. That means that even if you haven’t outwardly committed any of the “biggies,” God sees your heart. In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, He made it clear that holy attitudes and pure intentions are just as important as the appearance of holiness. Jesus said that if you have ever been angry towards another, you are guilty of murder in your heart. If you have ever looked at another lustfully, you are guilty of adultery in your heart, etc. (Matthew 5:21-48).
Remember your righteousness resume? What if you added a sin column? Given the criteria that you have to be spiritually clean on the inside as well as the outside, does your righteousness outweigh your sins? Probably not. In Psalm 130:3, the Psalmist put it this way, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” In Romans 3:23 Paul said that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Friends, Paul didn’t count his spiritual accomplishments as gain, and neither should you. He knew that no matter how righteous he appeared to be, he was a sinner in need of a Savior. He could not save himself no matter how good he looked on paper. Paul knew that knowing Jesus Christ was the only thing worth writing on his righteousness resume. A relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved. Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ? If not, why not do it today?
Jesus, thank You for being my righteousness. I know that no matter how many good deeds I perform or how religious I am, I still fall short of Your glory. I am still a sinner and I need Your grace and forgiveness! I accept Your sacrifice on the cross on my behalf and I am so grateful that You paid the debt I owed due to my sin. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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