Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dying to Self - Part 2

I don’t like implying that something as important, complex, or life-rearranging as dying to self can be reduced to a simple process of a few steps. Nothing could be further than truth. But it may be helpful to conceptualize several forms that “dying to self” can and should take. The first one I’ll mention may also be first in priority.

We must die to self-righteousness and live in His righteousness.

I cannot have died to self and live out an attempt to earn God’s favor. Dying to self-righteousness means that I can only depend on the righteousness of Christ.

Pharisees had the whole “being righteous enough to deserve God’s approval” thing down better than any of us. Early in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Paul once wrote “forgetting those things that lie behind, I press on toward the high calling….” (Philippians 3) I have often heard that phrase used to encourage people to let go of offenses and pains in the past. I’ve heard some say that counseling should never discuss childhood issues because we should be “forgetting those things that lie behind.” It’s a complete distortion of what Paul meant.

Paul claimed “if anyone has the right to feel self-righteous, it’s me.” Then he listed his qualifications.

“I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. I lived according to the law as a Pharisee. In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless.”

Then he writes that he considers all that self-righteousness to be a liability (loss). His real righteousness comes from Christ, not from himself. When he talks about forgetting what lies behind, he’s talking about self-righteousness. He’s talking about any worthless claim he might make to righteousness rooted in his own effort.

Die to self-righteousness, live in Christ’s righteousness.

No comments: