OUR CREDENTIALS DON’T MATTER
For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.
Philippians 3:3-6 NLT
Paul is reminding the followers of Christ not to allow the legalists to tell them they had to do certain things to be accepted by God. Paul gives his readers an impressive list of his personal qualifications—he was circumcised at eight days old, a full-blooded Jew, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisees (one of the law keepers), and “as for righteousness, he obeyed the law without fault.”
It is the last line that causes me to question. Did Paul just say he was perfect?
I do not believe that this was Paul’s intention. He was listing the benefits of what he had from his birth and the choices he had made when living with the belief that a relationship with God was gained only by obeying the law. His perfection was in the eyes of men because of his outward conduct. But Paul had come to realize that true righteousness starts on the inside, not the outside.
Even today there are those who prefer to start on the outside to show themselves right with God. Unless we are transformed on the inside our outward righteous acts are nothing.
Perhaps you can look at your own life and see some amazing things that you have done. Sacrifices you have made for others. Acts of kindness and service of love. Scriptures you have studied and memorized. But if you are trusting in those things to make you right before God you are missing the point.
We are saved by grace through faith in the work of Jesus on the cross. Our right standing with God is always based on what Jesus did not on what we do.
Paul said he was faultless when it came to legalistic righteousness. In coming days, he will discount all these “acts of righteousness” as nothing.
Holy Spirit help me to always put my confidence in Your work in my heart. Help me to allow You to constantly transform me on the inside.
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