circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”
Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees. He tried to obey God’s law with every fiber of His being. He killed people because he thought they were disrespecting and disobeying God’s law. Paul made other Pharisees look like they were just playing at religion. I can almost hear him talking to me. “Stephen, you think you’re impressive because you lead worship on a Sunday? You think God is impressed with you because you maintain a blog? You think you’re pretty good because you read the Bible? Stephen, you’ve got nothing on me.”
Then Paul says the most shocking words. He says, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” Paul was willing to throw away all his works so that he might know Jesus Christ and be counted righteous in Him. Paul was willing to count all his hard work as garbage so that he might have the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Why? Because Paul knew that all of his good works were like putrid, stinking garbage compared to the glorious work of Jesus Christ. Paul knew that God was deeply pleased with obedience of Christ, not the obedience of Paul. And so Paul says, “I’ll throw away everything I’ve ever done if I can have the righteousness of Jesus.”
Friends, today let us join Paul. Let us throw aside any hope we have in ourselves, and cling to the righteous of Jesus Christ that was purchased for us on the cross. Paul knew that all his righteous deeds were filthy when laid side by side with perfect obedience of Christ. Do you feel the same way?