Author: Ron Graham
Saved by a Superior Righteousness
—The spiritual mind continued
We continue looking at Paul's theme, "We worship God in the Spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3).
In this study, we consider what righteousness saves the spiritually minded. The spiritually minded are...
1 They obediently work out their own salvation (Philippians 2:12-15)
There are two mistakes regarding righteousness.
- (i) The notion of merit points. This is the idea that the merit, which God recognises in their righteousness, can somehow pile up sufficiently to be worthy of Heaven.
- (ii) The notion of utter worthlessness. This is the belief that there is nothing people can do to help themselves gain eternal life, and their own good works are thus totally irrelevant.
It is true that we cannot merit our salvation, and we rely upon the righteousness of Jesus who became the perfect sacrifice for us, and rose from the dead to empower us for eternal life (Philippians 3:9-11). But that doesn't mean we can neglect righteous works.
We could hardly express reliance upon Jesus by being "crooked and perverse" like the generation among whom we live. We must rather do his will and shine for him.
While our "shining as lights" (Philippians 2:15) will not, by itself, merit our salvation, it is certainly essential to it, and we must be among those who "work out their own salvation" —else we shall forfeit it (Philippians 2:12).
2 They follow the example of Jesus (Philippians 2:5-13)
Because the spiritually minded rely on the power of Christ, they try to transform their thinking into the mind of Christ, and reflect such thinking in living as Christ taught them to live —humbly, obediently, righteously, and as a servant.
It is foolish to say that this has no value or merit in God's sight. God applauds it and his grace teaches it (Titus 2:11-15).
When we set ourselves "both to will and to work" to imitate Christ, we do it not only by God's power but also "for his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). So of course God values our obedience and that's part and parcel of his grace toward us.
3 They rely on God's grace through faith (Philippians 3:9)
Although Christians are obedient to God, they don't put their trust in themselves, but rather in the power of the risen Jesus.
So many people have confidence in themselves and rely on their own righteous like Paul himself once did. They think they have no need of Jesus. They think they can answer to God for themselves on their own merits. Or perhaps they think they are answerable only to themselves because God, if there is one, has no personal interest in them.