Unfortunately, I have been guilty like many Christians of living and modeling to the world the lie that we must maintain our salvation by our own righteousness as if Jesus did part of the work and then watches to see if we qualify to get into heaven. The truth is, Christianity is NOT about OUR righteousness. It is all about HIS righteousness. Jesus did not come to see if we can qualify, He qualified us.
Giving thanks to the Father, WHO HAS QUALIFIED YOU to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:12-13 ESV)
Naked on the Cross
After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Matt 27:35
As Christians, we can tend to act like we never have problems, as though our flesh, which must die and will never be perfected, has it all together. We show up at church all dressed up mustering a smile even in those times when our insides and life are in turmoil. We tend to hide our issues thinking we are presenting a good Christian image, but in reality, we are imprisoned by our fear of man and missing out on real life while misleading the lost.
Trying to cover up our flaws as we do is a holdover from our old man, the creation we used to be. We do it to hide our imperfections just like we did before we were saved. It is like Adam and Eve who covered themselves with fig leaves in an attempt to hide. If we tend to be legalistic in our Christian beliefs, we do it, even more, displaying OUR righteousness, right actions, before all to see, giving the world, the wrong idea of what Christianity is about with our dead works.
Just ask someone out in the world, our actions give the impression that Christianity is all about keeping rules to not get in trouble with an angry God, to maintain our salvation that we claim is a gift. Can you see the mixed message they are hearing and seeing from us?
Now intellectually, Christian’s agree that salvation is all about Jesus. A gift from God by grace through faith to all who believe the gospel. But wherever the word of God is preached, Satan comes in an attempt to steal the word, to create doubt that leads to fear and worry. Some believers fall hook, line, and sinker for his lies and live a life filled with dead works, trying to clean themselves from sin that Jesus has already fully cleansed. They keep rules and laws out of the fear of punishment, living like a slave instead of a child of God. Being deceived like the Galatians, they adhere to and preach rules and laws to all who will hear, spreading the Old Covenant law of Moses message and the fear of punishment like a wildfire. They preach it in sermons and from rooftops and give the world the impression it is all about OUR righteousness while giving lip service to HIS righteousness.
If our righteousness could do the job, Jesus would have never come.
This is why many of our neighbors want nothing to do with Christianity. They call us hypocrites when we sin because we have given them the impression that it is about OUR righteousness. With Satan’s help, we have presented to the world a totally false image of our Heavenly Father and salvation.
Jesus told us to crucify our flesh, but instead of hanging naked on the cross with all of our faults exposed and boasting in HIS righteousness alone, we want to look our best on the cross and hide our weaknesses with dead works.
Paul boasted in his weakness, can you imagine doing that?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
Why would Paul want to boast in his weakness, naked to the world for all to see?
So that the power of Christ would rest upon him! Wow, think of that. Do you want the power of Christ to rest upon you?
Weakness’s meant his sins and failures. We know this because the Bible tells us that God replaced the Old Covenant with the new because of the weakness of man, his inability to keep the law.
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, Rom 8:3 ESV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Heb 4:15 ESV
We also know that under the New Covenant we are told we can boldly approach the throne of grace in our time of need or weakness. In Romans 7 and other places, Paul was very honest about what was going on in his life, naked for all to see so they could relate. So, all could know that salvation is not about OUR righteousness. He wanted to save as many as he could and left his life an open book. When our message is the truth, that it has nothing to do with us, that we still fail and it is all about HIS righteousness. All about salvation by grace through faith, all about Jesus, there can be no accusation of hypocrisy. It is only when the world thinks it is about OUR righteousness that our failures lead them to call us hypocrites. The early church presented the truth of the gospel to the lost; this is why we never see Jesus or the apostles calling a believer a hypocrite. In fact, believers in the gospel are never called hypocrites in the Bible. If we boast in the Christ alone and not in our works, there is no possibility of being called a hypocrite, read here and here.
Paul boasted in something else too, Jesus Christ crucified.
For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— Phil 3:3 NIV
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal 6:14 ESV
The Power of Christ rested upon Paul
So, Paul boasted in his weakness and boasted in Christ crucified. This combination is what let the power of Christ rest upon him or anyone who does likewise. Paul is very clear that we should not sin just because we are no longer under the law but under grace, but he never boasted in his ability to keep the law, nor acted in a manner that would send this message. This would mean he would have never done anything to place other believers under the law also. He boasted of his inability, his weakness and the power of God in Christ.
so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Cor 2:5 ESV
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor 1:18 ESV
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Rom 1:16 ESV
but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor 1:24 ESV
What if we were more like Paul, unapologetically naked for the world to see our faults and failures, to hear our boast in Christ alone. A clear image of the truth of the gospel that has nothing to do with OUR righteousness and everything to do with HIS righteousness.
What if our lives acted out the truth of why we trusted Jesus in the first place? What if we displayed the saving power of the gospel and the incredible love and grace our Heavenly Father has for all who run to Him?
I never said I was perfect like Jesus; I said I need Jesus. I tried for years to do better and be right with God by my works. I failed. Even today as a believer in Christ, I cannot keep God’s perfect standard. I still fail, I still sin. The good news for me and anyone who trusts in Jesus is that my salvation has nothing to do with keeping rules or my own righteousness. My flesh will never be perfect. This is why I need a savior to this day. So, when you see me fail again, and I will, you will understand this is why I have placed my trust and faith in Jesus righteousness and no longer my own. The freedom I have found in Christ is available to you too, just call out to Jesus, salvation is all about Him.
May the power of Christ rest upon you as you communicate the truth of the gospel in words and life, just like Paul.
Many more New Covenant Bible studies HERE.