Life in Jesus
Isaiah 29:13-14: The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.
Philippians 3:3-6:For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh--though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more. Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
Words are words, and they have power, but when it comes to our righteousness, are we fully relying on Jesus, or our own works, our own righteousness? God the Father knows all things, and especially our hearts, which is what He longs for.
I believe that God shows us this in scripture from Isaiah, and is pointing directly at Paul. He says this in Isaiah, so that we can see by the example of Paul who had probably the single most epic transformation for Christ.
Paul tells us clearly that he is the Hebrew of Hebrews, and all the I's are dotted, and the T's crossed. He even calls himself faultless in legalistic righteousness. So why would he, Paul decide to drop all that he worked so hard to become, for a life devoted to the message of Jesus Christ? All that Paul is referring to, opposes that legalistic righteousness.
Because his wisdom perished, and his intelligence vanished. The wonder upon wonder that the Father is referring to is the process of becoming blinded, a conversation with Jesus, and the scales coming off of his eyes. He goes on from there in the full knowledge of Jesus Christ, and writes two thirds of the new testament that we read in our bible.
Do we think that we could compete with the righteousness of Paul? It would be difficult if not impossible to have the perfection of the law, works, the knowledge, the zeal, all of it. He tells us that if we put confidence in our own flesh, he ( Paul ) has more than us!
So why would we think that we could rely on ourselves for righteousness?
We don’t have to. Not only is it a difficult task, it seems that it leads us away from the heart of God. We all long to please the Lord, to be set apart as a special child of God, and we are, each of us are special to the Lord. We don’t have to rely on our righteousness to get the Father's attention though. We don’t have to work for the attention. We only have to point to Jesus, and rest in Him in all situations. When we see ourselves in Jesus at all times, leaning on His sacrifice, on His love, on His salvation, we are free to be who we are created to be. We don’t have to do what we, in our flesh think God wants us to do. We only have to draw closer to Jesus through our hearts of love. The things God calls us to do will become evident in the Spirit as we worship in the Spirit.
God does not work off of lists of rituals that we have to go through to be close to him. We don’t have a checklist of items to become "right with God." We have been brought up to recite creeds, and make gestures, and to do this for that, and that for this, in reality a heart filled conversation with the Father will do. Jesus paid the price for us to go directly to the Father with all our requests, and all of our praise, worship, and love. We no longer have to be a perfect Christian, abstaining from the list of no, no's as if He were Santa Clause with a naughty list, and nice list. I don’t mean to be negative to well-meaning Christians, but we have to be free in Jesus Christ to be who we were created to be, faulty and filthy as we are, we are wearing the white robe of righteousness in Jesus Christ. This is not an approval to sin, but it is to release the power of fear, and the hold that sin has on some of us as Christians. We are all the same before the Father through Jesus Christ. That means no more striving to be better than anyone else so that we may boast. We boast in Jesus Christ, and know that we have right standing before the Father through the amazing works of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Take it from Paul who was the closest to being righteous in the Law, and yet gave that up in the knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ.