“9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”
Now that Paul has told us what is not important to him, I.e. his resume and what he has been on this earth, he tells us what is important – being found in Him, or abiding in Christ. I have been in a lot of discussions about what it means to abide in Christ, as I’m sure many of you have.
Jesus had quite a discourse at the beginning of John 15 about abiding in Him. He was talking about the vine and the vinedresser. After discussing how the vinedresser will prunes the vine in order to keep it healthy, he relates it to abiding in Him. This tells me that the relationship is similar. The branches of the vine, which would be us, cannot survive without the vine itself. They get all their nutrition – all their life – from the vine. The vinedresser serves the purpose of taking those branches that are not producing and either pruning them or removing them, because a branch that is dormant will rob nutrition from a living branch.
What this passage tells me is that we must be dependent on the Word of God (Jesus) to keep us from day to day. I think of psalm 119, where each verse tells the importance of living with God’s word on a sustained basis. Abiding in Christ means obedience to His word (John 8:31). If your desire is to walk in Christ, you must be obedient to His word.
Then Paul discusses righteousness. We all know that our righteousness is as filthy rags (Is 64:6). We have no ground to stand on when it comes to our goodness or right doing. There are a lot of people who think they will get to heaven because they have lived a good life, and done good things. If you think that, I am sorry to disappoint you, but you are mistaken. The Bible is very clear that your righteousness will not get you there. Only being born again, accepting Christ into a personal relationship with you, will get you to heaven.
When we make the decision to give our lives to Christ, His righteousness then is imputed or given, to us (I Cor 1:30). To me, that means when God looks down at me from heaven, He sees Christ’s righteousness upon me, and therefor accepts me. And I can live in that righteousness by living a life of repentance – always mindful that if I do mess up, I can ask forgiveness and Christ will restore me.
Paul knew His life on its own merit meant nothing. All that he had done and accomplished and been was nothing in the realm of eternity. It was his life in Christ that mattered. How can we ever think that what we do in this life on our own merit will mean anything in eternity? I will most likely never accomplish as much as Paul. May I always remember that I must abide in Christ to truly be effective in any ministry God gives to me.