Tuesday, December 06, 2005

No Righteousness of My Own

It is a blessed thing to be a man with no righteousness of my own. To some this may sound silly. To people of the world who care nothing for God, it may not even make sense. What does "righteousness" mean, and who cares about it? To the average religious person, it seems to be a foolish statement. After all, what good could there be in being a man who has no righteousness of his own? Wouldn't it be better to be able to say you have some righteousness? Wouldn't it be better to try and find some, somewhere, or better oneself so that we may establish some. A little personal reform can go a long way. No one wants to be without righteousness of some sort.

And here remains both a truth and a lie. The lie is that there is such thing as "some righteousness" before God. It is even more of a lie to believe that we can establish some for ourselves. It will be righteous in our eyes, perhaps, but it will be an abomination in God's sight -not just because our best deeds are tained with sin, but because we have the audacity to present our righteousness before God in such as way as to think that God should be bound to bless our filth as though He were our Debtor. That makes it a thousand times more insulting to the Holy One who made all things. If the stench of our past sins were not enough to provoke Him to wrath, then certainly our bold arrogance of making God in our own image so that He should be pleased with us is more than enough.

I wish it was always so clear to me that I have none. I want to know all the time that I have no righteousness of my own, and I don't want to be setting up my own righteousness against the righteousness that is by faith. Yet, since I am still a sinner, I do. I create these little islands around me. Perhaps it is a religious pretense, some kind of Christian piety, something I hope someone sees in me, something good I do that exalts my name before others, whatever.

I am glad every time I am reminded of how woefully I lack righteousness in myself, righteousness that stands on its own before God. I am glad because then I see all the more clearly the grace of God in providing righteousness in Jesus Christ. I welcome this epiphany. It is a moment of peace when I hit the bottom again. It is a joyful sound when my bones break, and I give up. Strange? No, blessed! It is there that I drop every false pretense, every false piety, every false religious glory I assign to myself. It all melts into nothing, and when there is nothing left in my hands, then I look up again and see Christ enthroned, lifted up, the righteous One, the Mediator, my true and only righteousness.

Oh, Father, let me start each day reminded of the fact that I have no righteousness of my own -that I may renounce every claim and recognize afresh that I truly am dependent upon your grace alone in Christ to be justified and remain yours into glory.


Anonymous said...

wowzer. that sounds really amazing. If only it were true.

Tim said...

Why is it not true? Do any of us have righteousness of our own that would dare to attempt to stand before God's holiness?

Anonymous said...

Not at first. But once we become saved, we must maintain our salvation, which comes by graces infused into us. Salvation comes by good works that God's grace inspires us to do. That's what many verses indicate. I had great peace when I believed in imputation, but now, as a Catholic, I often feel like Luther before the Reformation, always struggling to show God I love him.

Tim said...

I was going to say... you describe what Rome teaches. Many verses? I'm sorry. I wish you would return to what you apostasized from. I do not deny God's working in us, the necessity of mortification of sin, good works, as I hope you know, but all of these flow from that wonderful fact that believers have, as Paul said, a righteousness not our own (Phil 3:9): an imputed, not infused, righteousness based upon the merits of Christ. He who seeks to be (or remain) justified by works of the Law is under a curse -"cursed is everyone who does not do all the things written of in the book of the Law". The road you are on leads only to death.

The reason you struggle to show God that you love Him is because you don't love Him as you ought, you know it, and you never will in this life. How can you claim a footing upon such a faulty righteousness? You cannot.

My friend, you have apostasized from the Gospel itself! Please consider the weight of the Scriptures and the weight of God's Law. Does it not condemn your conscience, does it not show you that your righteousness is filthy, even the deeds done in righteousness (such as those by infused grace)? (Titus 3:5-7) I pray so, so that you will flee to Christ.

Anonymous said...

well, i would like to come back to protestantism and stop "apostatizing from the Gospel," but there are still some things in the way i need to resolve: like apostolic succession held since the earliest times in the church.

it's not like it's my fault that i became convinced by catholic apologists. anyway, good blog. i have OCD, too. it's a huge struggle.
take care

Tim said...

I really don't want to make you defensive, but I take it very seriously about your soul. I know that some of the Roman Catholic arguments for apostolic succession *sound* very convincing, and that is probably because most evangelicals have no clue about how to answer them -but there *are* real answers to this stuff. When you were confronted with these arguments, did you truly seek to find answers by reviewing the best counter-arguments you could find? Most Christians are completely ignorant of what they even believe, much less Church history (and I'm not claiming to be an authority), so it is often easy, though not entirely true, to say "I used to believe this... then I came to see the light". The reality is that the person believed certain things but had no real reasons why, no firm foundation, and then something comes by that deceives them and overpowers their flimsy foundation they are swallowed up. I really hope you reconsider and turn to the Gospel. May God's Spirit bring you.

OCD is horrible. It is a daily battle, as I'm sure you know. Thanks for stopping by. If you are truly interested in seeing counter-arguments (not just dismissing them out of hand), then I can direct you toward a number of resources and ministries that will be able to help. Just let me know.

Tim said...

Or sadly... that it is a case of the sower and the seed -that the seed seemed to be ok, but then it was snatched up.