Righteousness, not Religion

Philippians 3:4-9

4If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 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, 9 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,

Verse 4 is split between yesterday and today. I thought it was weird that they did it that way in my study bible, but today I understand. Funny how God does that, isn’t it? We see things we do not understand until tomorrow when He decides to reveal more to us. This is today’s theme as we look at Paul’s history and his thoughts on it.

He’s been talking about being wary of pursuing desires of the flesh and boasting in self righteousness. Now, he turns to himself, for if anyone had the right to boast in his own righteousness, it’s Paul. He was born of the proper bloodline, went to the proper schools, practiced his religion perfectly and defended it with the utmost fervor. What does it amount to? NOTHING.

He counts them rubbish so that he may gain Christ. It’s this religious pride that actually hinders our relationship with Christ. I can see how certain religions created certain rules to help us stay on track. However, we have since focused more on the rules than the reason they were created! It has even created a saying, “he does this religiously.” Meaning constantly, habitually, incessantly. Doing it religiously doesn’t mean lovingly or lovingly, it means doing it like a robot. Is that the way Christ calls us to follow Him? Absolutely not!

It is through doing this incessant rule following that makes us feel righteous, even though we are not. It is another lie of the great deceiver. We must be careful not to fall into this trap. As our pride grows, our focus on God dissipates and we suddenly find ourselves with our backs turned to God and worshipping who we see in the mirror. This is why we must not have righteousness of our own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.

Nothing we do is good enough. Righteousness, faith, forgiveness, grace, worthiness all come from Him. If we hold onto that, not only will our pride subside, but we will willingly serve and not be religious about anything.

What are you religious about?


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