His Righteousness, Not Our Own
*I first posted this almost five years ago. I have updated it by changing the title to His Righteousness, and making it more concise. I also included a quote from Jim Stier’s book The Way of Faith and provided a link to that book.
Years ago, I finally understood something that has changed how I think about what it looks like to glorify God. I saw how much effort I spent striving to do everything right, truly believing that a good witness for Christ could not have glacier-sized weaknesses. I was so tired. My failures brought weariness to my soul, burying me in self-loathing and condemnation. I relied only on what I could see in front of me. My faults were haunting me and keeping me absorbed with myself. This kind of living was fruitless.
One time a friend gently implied to me that I cared too much about image management. Of course I didn’t want to hear it, but it struck my heart in that -the truth hurts, but I needed to hear it- kind of way.
Good works are part of walking out our faith (So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. James 2:17 NLT), but the good that flows from our lives is a work of the Spirit of God in us. Jesus is our righteousness. We are made righteous by His death on the cross where He paid the penalty for all our sin. There is no other way to be clean and free. No amount or quality of our good works can save us.
If we continuously try to earn His love and favor then we are not really trusting in the cross of Christ, and it sends the incorrect message to the lost. He gave His life for me and I owe my life to Him. Our goal in doing good should be to glorify Him, to love Him with obedience, all the while knowing that He alone has saved us. I love Him because He loved me first. The score will never be even between what we have to offer and the righteousness that Jesus freely provided when He laid down His life for us.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Being justified freely by His grace
Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood,
Through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness,
Because in His forbearance
God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,
To demonstrate at the present time His righteousness,
That He might be just and the justifier of the one
Who has faith in Jesus.
Where is boasting then?
It is excluded.
By what law? Of works?
No, but by the law of faith.
It is common for those who haven’t yet made a decision to follow Jesus to possess the notion that they need to get their lives together before they can receive Christ. Maybe some think that we are saved because of the good in ourselves, not understanding that any good in us – His light and life in us – is all Him. That is the miracle of a rescued soul, a changed life and healed heart. That our eyes have been opened and we have turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18), now walking in truth. Would that this be our message – never shying away from the truth that we are completely dependent on Him at all times. We need Him every minute of every day, and He carries us.
The Bible teaches us that no one can ever be good enough to earn their way to God. I pray that we who love Him and want to witness to the world about Him will send a message that we are being held together only by the loving grace and mercy of God. What if the world saw our vulnerabilities and weaknesses and we took pride only in what Jesus has done for us? What if the cross of Christ was what we wanted to show and nothing of our own doing – proclaiming His love and forgiveness and restoration and healing and salvation?
In his book The Way of Faith – Thriving in Your Walk with God (link below – I highly recommend it), Jim Stier writes this:
“On this journey, He’s not counting how many times we fail but watching whether we’re continuing our journey of faith with honesty. Faith gives us the strength and security necessary to be done with pretending. It dispenses with the need to protect ourselves through masks of hypocrisy. When He who is absolute glory and greatness has adopted and filled you, it is no longer important to impress anyone. He is your security and identity.”
I am a sinner who has been redeemed, rescued, and changed by the grace and love and forgiveness of the One True God through Jesus’ death and resurrection, saved for all eternity – may that be my witness.