Monday, July 30, 2012

Not having your own righteousness that comes from the law; Self-righteousness is repugnant


(Philippians 3:8-9 NET)  More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things — indeed, I regard them as dung! — that I may gain Christ,  (9)  and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ's faithfulness — a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ's faithfulness.
Most everyone at some level finds self-righteousness repugnant. Self-righteousness brings about the charge of hypocrisy and justly so. Individually, many Christians are not self-righteous by nature, but let’s face it, Evangelical-Orthodox Christian dogma and doctrine promotes self-righteousness. This doctrine has made Christianity a self-righteous religion. It finds its most repugnant manifestations in the legalistic holiness movement, and the legalistic Christian right. In these forms it is not only repugnant it is actually Christ dis-honoring.

In the above passage you have Paul speaking of what a great Pharisee he once was. He states in verse six that when it came to law righteousness he was blameless. Still, he realizes that he needs imputed righteousness that comes from the righteousness of Christ. Yes, in verse 9 the Greek is pisteows christou… it should be translated *the faith of Christ.* This would make the verse read… “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through *the* faith *of* Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—“ This becomes especially important when one takes a solely redemptive view of scripture. Christ’s faith in God’s grace points our way toward resting in God’s gracious provision. Christ’s faith made way for our faith.

This completely eliminates the need for self-righteousness. It eliminates law righteousness. Thus, as I have stated over and over and over again it becomes the catalyst for love for God that will result in resting in His grace. That in turn is the catalyst for loving others, and spiritual obedience. It all emanates from the faith of Christ and God’s grace.

So then, how one sees the word of God… that is… as scripture or gospel, makes all the difference. This is the reason for the necessity of seeing a solely redemptive focus to the scripture. When one sees the entire scripture as the word of God then the law takes a completely different complexion than when one sees the word of God as the gospel. It is the difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant. It removes the read and do mentality that drives the need for self-righteousness.

When will Christian leaders and theologians gain the moral courage to acknowledge this? Down deep in their heart… when they look in the mirror all alone… they know that the legalistic constitutional reading of scripture promotes the self-righteous spirit. Yet they allow fear and peer pressure to go against the gospel and play the Pharisee.

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