February 8, 2017

Proud? Or Crucified?

Another characteristic of pride is striving to be righteous. The Gospel says that I have the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ and in the heart of God, I have been justified. Why then those years of trying to be ‘a perfect’ Christian?

I know the teaching of the Gospel, yet kept skipping that part that said I was already righteous, sort of like reading a book and skipping the paragraphs that describe the scenery. Pride skips over what God has done and seeks it by performance.

The Jews made the same error. They tried to become what God wanted them to be by rule-keeping, but it did not work. Paul described their efforts like this . . .  

“For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:2–4)

However, the Christians were doing something like it. The Galatians who believed tried to become what God said they already were. Instead of resting in the righteousness they had been given, they struggled to be justified by their works. Paul rebuked them . . .

“Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2–3)

We who know Christ can make the same error as unsaved people by pridefully striving to earn favor with God. It is a weary-producing, frustrating task because that is not the way it works. In a nutshell, God put my sin on His sinless Son, and put the perfect righteousness of His Son on me. I am righteous and because I am in Christ, God is already pleased. Duh!

The challenge is to live according to who I am. My problem is not only believing who I am, but remembering it in every situation. I am a child of God who needs the Spirit of God to live out that which God put in. The world, the flesh, and the devil don’t want me to live that way, and neither does pride.

This morning’s devotional was about assurance of salvation and included the following familiar passage. Jesus gives the invitation, and I always thought it was about being exhausted from serving Him, but now I realize it is about being tired from prideful effort to please Him, forgetting that He is already pleased . . .

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)

Jesus, thank You that all my self-effort is already forgiven. I know that I must obey You and live a righteous life, but also know that this will never happen by laborious striving and trying harder in self-effort. God the Father imputed Your righteousness unto me. The Holy Spirit moves that perfect righteousness from my heart out through into my life. It is an easy yoke, not a burden because it is not something I do; You do it for me. For that, I can rest in You, thankful that “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

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