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Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Changed from the Inside Out


But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

—Philippians 3:7 


Before Paul met Christ on the Damascus Road, he was proud of his numerous accomplishments as a Jew (Galatians 1:14). He was circumcised and had obeyed the Law of Moses. Concerning the outward observance of the Law, he was blameless (Philippians 3:6). He believed his position as a descendant from Abraham gave Him favor in God’s sight. All that was necessary for his salvation, Paul thought he had accomplished. He had done all the right things and avoided all the wrong things, but when he met Jesus he saw how wrong he was. 


The outward appearance of Paul’s natural circumcision was nothing after he met Jesus. True circumcision is of the heart (Philippians 3:2). The Law focuses on outward behavior. Jesus didn’t come to change outward behavior. He came to change the human heart. In the changing of the human heart, behavior changes from the inside out. It is His work within us that changes us. 


The natural lineage from Abraham meant nothing after Paul met Jesus. Only the spiritual lineage—the new creation He was in Christ had meaning (Galatians 6:15). The observance of the Law would not save Paul. Legalistic righteousness was to no avail and was as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). 


Paul gladly renounced his faith in himself and his own accomplishments so that he might receive Christ by faith. After His conversion, Paul still had the same accomplishments, but with faith in Jesus those accomplishments were surrendered to God. Those accomplishments didn’t define Paul anymore. Jesus defined Paul’s accomplishments. Now the Holy Spirit could use the natural accomplishments that Paul had once achieved for the glory of God. 


Philippians 3:7 reads in The Living Bible, “But all these things that I once thought very worthwhile–now I’ve thrown them all away so that I can put my trust and hope in Christ alone.”


“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).


Paul counted all his self-righteousness as rubbish (as “dung” in the KJV) in comparison to knowing Christ. This gives us quite a picture. All our self-righteousness is as dung—it is as manure—in comparison to knowing Christ. Paul didn’t boast in any of his accomplishments. His only claim to fame was faith in Christ.


“And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:9). 


There are two types of righteousness: our righteousness and God’s righteousness. Our righteousness complies with the requirements of the Law. God’s righteousness only comes as a gift and is received by faith in Jesus. God’s righteousness is perfect. Our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).


Our self-righteousness is dependent on how much we comply to the Law. Christ’s righteousness is ours by faith in His finished work of grace. It is righteousness that we only receive by faith—by trusting Jesus’ righteousness more than our own. The righteousness that we receive by faith in Jesus is more in quality and quantity than our outward righteousness and is the only righteousness God accepts. It is the only righteousness that justifies us to God. 


The righteousness that is acceptable to God only comes through the faith of Christ, not just faith in Christ. Yes, we put faith in Christ, but Philippians 3:9 stipulates a righteousness that was produced by the faith of Jesus. As we place our faith in Christ, then the righteousness that He obtained through His faith and holiness is given unto us as a gift (Romans 5:17).


You can’t make yourself acceptable to God through anything you do. It is faith in Christ alone that makes you acceptable to God. When you are convinced and believe Christ has taken all your sins—all your accomplishments—all your self-righteousness to the Cross and given you His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), you live out of the righteousness that He has given you. Just as Paul after meeting Christ, your heart is changed. And just as Paul after His blindness was removed, you believe everything is new in you from the inside out.


© 2023 Lynn Lacher





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