Over the past month, or so, I have been addressing the problem of Pharisaism–the self-righteous attitudes and thinking that every one of us as sinners battle to one degree or another. This blogging emphasis has been sparked by my reading of Extreme Righteousness: Seeing Ourselves in the Pharisees. Rightly so, the author wraps up his book by taking us to a key New Testament passage of Scripture in order to direct our attention to six keys to unlock the prison of self-righteousness that, ultimately, if not repented of, reveals the absence of true salvation.
Since our justification is based upon a righteousness outside of ourselves–the righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:21)–genuine conversion requires the relinquishing of confidence in any righteousness of our own. That is the apostle Paul’s main point in his own conversion testimony, which we find in Philippians 3:7-9. Let’s look at the whole context.
Read Philippians 3. Then think through these 6 exhortations.
- Beware of false religion. God’s spokesmen–the prophets, apostles, and Christ himself–have always opposed those who added to the gospel or externalized religion (v. 2)
- Forsake any confidence in the flesh. Religious acts will not get us to God before or after our spiritual salvation (vv. 3-6).
- Recognize your spiritual wealth. In Christ we have our only eternal asset. We must guard and cherish our relationship with Him (vv. 7-9).
- Develop your love relationship with Jesus. We know Him better by spending time with Him and experiencing life as He did (vv. 9-11).
- Pursue Christ passionately to know Him deeply. Like an athlete in a race, we are to be active in seeking to deepen our relationship with Jesus (vv. 12-16).
- Avoid the pull of the world to libertinism. We must be careful not to overreact to legalism by embracing license, as the world does (vv. 17-21).