Read: Philippians 3:1-11
Key Verse: “Yet indeed I also count all things loss …and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is from faith in Christ.”
Dig Deeper: Last week, I was talking with a friend who made a comment about her life before Christ. She said that while she regrets the years she wasted, she is sometimes thankful for how “bad” she was. She went on to explain: because she was so “bad” before she gave her life to Christ, she has a better understanding of the sin in her life, and the grace she received through Christ. She has a better understanding of the fact that she is a sinful person in need of a Savior.
Jesus spoke of this in Luke 7:41-47. The person forgiven the most loves the most. When Jesus talked about it in terms of creditors and debtors, it’s easy to understand. A person with more obvious sin is more grateful for salvation.
However, there is something even deeper to be concerned about. Those who have been forgiven “little” tend to struggle with self-righteousness.
Jesus showed this as well, in Luke 18:9-14. He tells us of a Pharisee who prayed “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” The tax collector, on the other hand, recognized his condition, and came to God with a humble spirit, calling out for mercy. Jesus goes on to say it was the tax collector who was justified, because “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
It’s easy for people who have been “less sinful” to struggle with self-rightousness, thinking they are somehow more deserving of salvation, in essence that they have somehow earned it, even though we all know that’s not possible.
Paul knew this would be a struggle. He says in this passage, “if anyone else thinks he may have confidence, I more so.” In other words, if anyone could have earned salvation, it would be him. But Paul knew that his confidence could never be enough. He had to give that up, exchange his confidence for the grace offered through the cross.
We will never be “good enough.” It’s not possible. God’s word tells us, “by grace you have been saved through faith…not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Even the best person has nothing to boast about, but it’s harder for some of us to remember that.
We are prideful people. No one wants to hear that sin is sin, whether it’s a little white lie or murder. But that’s what God’s word tells us.
The truth is that the “good girl” is just as in need of God’s saving grace as the “bad girl”…she just may not realize it, which is much more dangerous.
Like Paul, we all have to get to the understanding that we are the worst of sinners, in need of God’s saving grace. I cannot, for one second, believe that I am more deserving of salvation. I cannot, for one second, believe that I am somehow better than a “more sinful” person. Because the second that idea takes root, it starts to grow into self-righteousness, which is the enemy of repentance. And only through repentance can we enjoy the benefits of grace. “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.” (2 Corinthians 7:10).