Posted January 14, 2013
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
If someone asked you why God should allow you into Heaven, what would you say? When you think of standing in God’s presence, what case would you make that would give you the greatest confidence before Him? What items would you add to your spiritual resume in hopes of standing blameless before him? Baptism? Your prayer life? Giving to the poor? Community service? Faithful attendance at church? Adherence to the Ten Commandments?
Just prior to these two verses in Philippians, Paul had just rattled off an impressive list of all the things he had accomplished religiously that showed him to be a spiritual stallion in the eyes of any Jew. However, verse 7 takes an interesting turn and he says that he counts all those things as loss and rubbish (street filth or dung) for the sake of Christ and gaining Him! Why did Paul say this? Because he realized that none of the items on his resume were sufficient to get him right standing before God! Only Christ would do. In his commentary on Philippians, J.A. Motyer says, “Man at his most privileged, his most moral, his most religious, his most zealous and devoted, is yet not thereby made fit and acceptable to God. Paul had no recourse but to add up his advantages and achievements one by one and admit that the total was zero.”
At the end of the day, each of us has two choices as we come before God. First, to come with faith in our efforts, our fickle obedience & good deeds before the Living God and be found wanting. Or secondly, to come with faith in Christ’s efforts, His perfect obedience in life and death on a cross & good deeds before the Living God and be found accepted. Acceptance before God is ironically not found by more effort on our part, but precisely by giving up our efforts and putting our trust & reliance in Jesus’ efforts and knowing Him. If your answer to the question of why God should allow you into Heaven started with, “Because I...” you have not understood the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must learn to answer, “Because God...” (see Donald Whitney’s book “How Can I Be Sure I’m A Christian?”)
This week, take time to meditate on these two verses from Augustus Toplady’s hymn “Rock of Ages":
Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy law's commands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; thou must save, and thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.
This week’s artwork was created by Jonathan Lindsey (http://cargocollective.com/JonathanDavidCreative) and song was written by Ryan Smith and produced by Chris Clark.