All of us who are mature should embrace this point of view. And if you think differently about some issue, God will reveal this to you as well.
Paul, The Apostle of Grace
In Philippians 3, Paul clearly and courageously teaches that righteousness (complete forgiveness by God and total innocence before God) before God comes by faith alone in Jesus, not through religious activity or morality. Paul’s “point of view” regarding righteousness was that a person stands cleared before God of any sin and clean before God as if he has never sinned simply by grace through faith in Jesus, not by religious or moral conduct, but only through the cross.
Religious leaders, whom Paul warned the Philippian believers about in Philippians 3:1-2, promoted themselves as spiritually mature, yet they were promoting a message concerning righteousness that was works based. They taught that righteousness before God was earned through religious activity and morality, rather than received as a gift of grace by faith (Romans 5:17).
The teaching of a works-based righteousness was a common problem Paul continually faced and refuted. This works-based righteousness was the belief, taught by the religious leaders, that righteousness was achieved through good works rather than received by grace through faith in Jesus. These religious leaders appeared spiritually mature, but their teaching on righteousness revealed their immaturity (Hebrews 5:11-14).
Paul encouraged the mature believers in Philippi to embrace his teaching on righteousness...a righteousness that is a free gift of God’s grace and comes simply by faith in Jesus (Romans 3:19-24, 5:17; Galatians 2:21). He was confident that those in Philippi, who were still in the process of understanding that righteousness is a free gift of God received by faith in Jesus, would receive revelation from God concerning righteousness. He was certain God would reveal the truth of righteousness to these people.
Just as in Paul’s generation, there are those in our generation who promote themselves as spiritually mature. However, they preach an immature message that is a works-based righteousness. It is a message that says righteousness is achieved through a combination of grace plus works, rather than simply received by grace through faith in Jesus.
They may teach, as many do today, a "positional righteousness" and a "personal righteousness". However, the Bible makes no such division in righteousness. It is just another way of teaching a works-based righteousness.
Once I was with a small group of seminary students preparing to be pastors. I was teaching on righteousness that comes by grace alone through faith alone. I asked these future pastors a question:
“On a scale from 0-10, how righteous was Jesus?”
Of course, everyone said a 10.
Then I asked, “How righteous are you?”
There was a variety of answers. The answers fell between -1 to a 7. This alerted me that these future pastors studying in one of the top seminaries in the world had an immature view of righteousness. They possessed a works-based righteousness.
The truth of righteousness is that a person is either a 0 or a 10. The Bible teaches that Jesus was a 10 in righteousness...he was 100% righteous, internally and externally...in his desires and in his deeds. The Bible also teaches that every person, apart from Jesus, is a 0 in righteousness. Apart from Jesus, we are 0% righteous (Romans 3:10). Apart from Jesus, we are 100% unrighteous!
The law, the Ten Commandments, reveals our unrighteousness, leaving us in need of grace (Romans 7:7-25). Through faith in Jesus, a person is declared righteous by God (Romans 3:10-24). This righteousness is a gift of grace received by faith (Romans 5:17). This person, then, stands 100% righteous before God.
The good news of grace is that Jesus took 100% of our sin upon himself at the cross. He took 100% of our unrightousness by becoming sin for us. When we place our faith in Jesus, God gives us the very righteousness of Jesus...100% of it! We become eternally 100% righteous before God. This righteousness comes by faith, not through religious activity or morality. Therefore, on a scale from 0-10, the person who has received God’s free gift of righteousness is a 10 in righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
In reality, there is no righteous scale, as if a person can work himself up a righteous scale through religious activity and morality. That is an immature view of righteousness. A person is either a 0, having no righteousness, or a 10, having the very righteousness of Jesus. Any other score on this non-existent scale is false humility (“I am in the negative in righteousness”) or pride (“I am in the positive in righteousness”). Even a person saying he is a 1 is prideful because he is saying he has worked himself from a 0 to a 1.
A mature view of righteousness is held by those who believe they are a 10 in righteousness because God has declared them to be righteous...100% righteous. On our good days we are 100% righteous...on our bad days we are 100% righteous. This is because our righteousness has nothing to do with our religious activity of morality, but has everything to do with what Jesus did for us...he became 100% unrighteous for us at the cross, so that we could become 100% righteous before God by faith.
Some will say, “I am not righteous.” Yet they are looking at their conduct. God doesn’t determine your righteous through your conduct...he determines your righteousness through the cross of Jesus. As long as we look at ourselves, our religious activity and morality, we will come to wrong conclusions:
Conclusion #1: “Look at me! I am doing pretty well in righteousness. God accepts me!" This is pride.
Conclusion #2: “Look at me...I am doing bad in righteousness. God rejects with me.” This is pity.
Yet there is only one conclusion we come to if we look at Jesus and the cross he bore for all of our sins...where Jesus took 100% of our unrighteousness upon himself:
Conclusion: “Look at Jesus! He took 100% of my sins, 100% of my unrighteousness, and gave me 100% of his righteousness. I am eternally forgiven by God, innocent before God, and accepted by God. Thank you Jesus!” This is praise.
For those whom the Lord has opened the eyes their hearts to see the revelation of righteousness that come by grace through faith, let’s continue to embrace this biblical truth. For those who have yet to see this marvelous truth of grace, I am certain the Lord will give you revelation of the righteousness that comes as a gift of grace and is received simply through faith in Jesus.
This is the continuation of my teachings through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. To read my other teachings, see my FB page or website: www.simplygrace.info
Click below to see my teaching page of Philippians.