Even the best Pharisee of Jesus’ time came to the understanding, it does not matter how good you are, your righteousness is still filthy rags compared to what Jesus did for us on the cross. If Paul realized he could never measure up with his works, why do so many Christian religions today hold on to their acts of righteousness in effort for their members to establish themselves? We need more of an understanding of Jesus’ perfect work on the cross and the power of God’s grace in our lives.
Philippians 3:4-7 “4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.”
These verses are the epitome of a person that if works were possible to gain righteousness, he would be able to make it to heaven without the blood of Jesus. Paul was God’s perfect man at the time for the call to go to the Gentiles with the gospel of Jesus Christ. A brief overview of Paul and his life up to his Damascus conversion is needed to fully understand my statement. For starters Rome was the conquering political force in that time. The Romans were in total and complete control over the lives of everyone in that region. To be a Roman citizen was to have immutable rights over the life of any other nationality and citizenship could be bought with a price for those now born Roman. To be a Roman was next to being a god here on earth and many Jewish religious leaders played the harlot with the Roman Empire for the power it gave them. Paul was actually born a Roman citizen which was considered a greater honor over the one who purchased his citizenship. As a Roman citizen he could travel unrestricted to any region controlled by Rome and would be protected by Roman law and harsh penalty if harm came his direction. In addition to his Roman citizenship he was “the” premier student of the Law of Moses, a Pharisee among Pharisees. As such he could walk into any synagogue without hesitation and would receive the highest honors. Paul had such zeal for the Law of Moses that he personally sought to crush “The Way” which was the term used then for those who followed the teachings of Jesus’ crucifixion for redemption of sins and not the Law of Moses. In the natural Paul had it all together, but spiritually he was a walking dead man and no different than any other man that did not have Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Paul immediately began to preach the gospel when he became born again with the expectation that he would be received by the Jews as they would want to know the truth; the fact was it almost cost him his life. (Acts 9:20-23) I was compelled to bring up Paul’s life with such emphasis because today we are no different. Today most people hold their accomplishments in life up before all man to be seen, and these accomplishments either exalt or deplete our personal worth. Neither should be the case. It is not what you accomplish in your natural life that has any weight in eternity. True a rich man will have more money to spend while alive, but he too will eventually die and his offspring are the ones that will be playing with all of his hard money. For contrast a poor man will die and leave lack and despair as his legacy to his offspring. The bottom line is both men die and time after death is always longer than life on earth so where do you want to spend forever? There is much more than just eternity at stake that Paul is referencing too by counting all loss for Christ. Jesus came to give life and that more abundantly, (John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”.) So the question here is what are some of the abundances the Jesus spoke of when He made this statement? Romans 14:17 points us to a deeper truth regarding life and actually down plays the acquisition of “stuff”; “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” This is not to say, as some modern day Pharisees proclaim, that Christians are not to have wealth! The fact is that God wants to bless us abundantly while here on earth, so long as He gets the glory and our walk is one that brings Him honor. Paul is telling us that he has denounced everything religious he has accomplished in the natural and accepted all of the glory from Jesus Christ by “faith”.
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