To continue the thought process begun in yesterday’s post ‘the divine return’ here are more words of wisdom from the book by Major Ian Thomas …
‘Simply urging (human beings) to be good, telling them to draw from the depths of their personality, introducing them to behavioral science, trying to legislate their actions with rules, regulations, and religion, and threatening them with punishment or prison – ultimately none of these can succeed in producing righteousness from human beings.’
Despite our pursuit of self-righteousness and self-glory through strict adherence to the expectations of rules and religion, man’s best efforts will impart neither life nor righteousness … and this statement is both a personal confession and a declaration of Biblical truth!
Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. Galatians 3:21 (NASB)
Consider the following confession of Paul … in his life before Christ the epitome of self-righteousness and the champion of religion …
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship IN the Spirit of God and glory IN Christ Jesus …
(I challenge you to really consider Paul’s next words describing his self-righteous and religious accomplishments)
and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation 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 the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless …
(Now consider the value Paul has ascribed to all those accomplishments)
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found IN Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith IN Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:1-11 (NASB)
Paul counted all those accomplishments as rubbish … as rubbish … as rubbish!
Now consider God’s divine alternative to mankind’s pursuit of being good … as described by Major Ian Thomas.
‘The human spirit is that part of us where God lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, so that with our moral consent (and never without it), God gains access to our human soul. This is where He Himself, as the Creator within the creature, can teach our minds, control our emotions, and direct our wills, so that He, as God from within, governs our behavior as we let God be God.’
If indeed the efforts of man could bring about life and righteousness, then Christ Jesus died on the cross needlessly … but to live to God only truly happens when Christ Jesus lives IN and THRU man … within the believer.
“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives IN me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith IN the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Galatians 2:19-21 (NASB)
For then it is God who is at work IN you and IN me …
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work IN you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13 (NASB)
Be good or be God’s … seems so simple!