Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.
This passage of scripture contains the ideal relationship that should exist between the Christian and Christ our Savior. It speaks of the righteousness of God which then leads to an intimate and practical knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason why Paul speaks of not having his "own righteousness" is because God can only accept perfect righteousness which is to be found in Jesus Christ. Even though we are encouraged and empowered to do good works, yet without the perfection of Christ's character and sacrifice, our good works do not merit us a passport to heaven, neither do they bring us into favor with God. It is very important for us to remember this.
There is a phrase that is gaining widespread popularity across the globe and even right here in America, which reads "good without God". This slogan erroneously suggests that there is goodness dwelling inherently in human nature, a belief that is directly contrary to the teachings of scripture. It is a fact that our life experiences are often tainted by sin, and even though good acts may have been done, yet because of our sinful nature these good acts in and of themselves cannot recommend us to God, neither do they make us good. An atheist can give his neighbor a loaf of bread, and people belonging to any religion can do charitable works such as feeding the poor. While these are good and should be encouraged, yet in and of themselves they stand completely powerless to absolve us from sin, or guarantee us an entrance into heaven.
The Bible speaks very plainly on this matter so that our concepts and belief systems can be molded by the truth. Let's read:
Psalms 14:2 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
What this passage of scripture means is that our good works are tainted by sin and therefore are not meritorious in God's sight. Furthermore the Bible states that there are many, even among Christians who have done many good works, but who will be lost eternally, because they depended on their "own righteousness" for salvation. Let's read:
Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
This particular syndrome is what the rich young ruler was suffering from, even though he did not know it. He was what we would describe as being an honorable member of society, a regular church-going person who was admired by those in the lower and higher echelons of society, yet within himself he felt a void, an insufficiency that he just could not explain. It was this emptiness of soul that then prompted him to ask the all important question. Let's read:
Matthew 16:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
Jesus then responded with the answer "keep the commandments". This answer came as a surprise to the young man, for as far as he was concerned, he was walking in obedience to all the laws of God, as evidenced by his answer, Matthew 16:20 "The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?"
Jesus then pointed out the plague spot in his character, which was his relationship with his fellow man, and Christ also specified the necessary remedial actions to be taken, upon hearing which, the young ruler turned his back permanently on Jesus. Even though he was a frequent attendee at church services, and was in good and regular standing in society, yet his "good works" were destitute of the grace, power, and righteousness of God, and thus constituted his "own righteousness".
In our day we need to be very careful of the trend to establish "our own righteousness" apart from Christ. All efforts in this area without the perfect righteousness of Christ will end in major disappointment when Jesus comes the second time, and thus we are cautioned by God not to trust in our good works that are tainted by sin. We therefore end with a short parable that explains the attitude God desires to see in all of us. Let's read with the understanding:
Luke 18:9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
May every one of us learn the important lesson of walking humbly with God, not having confidence in our "good works", but rather trusting to the imputed and imparted righteousness of Christ. "Good night" and God bless!