From where does the righteousness of the Christian come?

by Mike Ratliff

7 but what things were gain to me, these I have considered loss on account of Christ. 8 But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, 10 to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, 11 that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already been perfected, but I press on if indeed I my lay hold of that for which I was also laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:7-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

From where does the righteousness of the Christian come? If you think that is an unimportant question or one that we do not need to spend much time on, then you could quite possibly be one who is either the next victim of a deceiver or have already been deceived. If we look at the opposition to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by professing Christians, in other words, either apostates or the religious who believe they are Justified through their religion, they claim righteousness comes from some other way beyond what the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ says. Many of these were like I was growing up as a Southern Baptist. My understanding of salvation was that one had to be religious, but it all started with that profession of faith that was followed by Baptism, which I did in the 4th grade (1960). I was not regenerate. I was religious and since it was all works of the flesh in order to please God (law), I could not do a very good job of it nor did I like nor did I keep it up very long. However, my heart goes out to all those like me who grew up like me and did that same thing. I pray that God has mercy on you and draw you into His light and obedience to the Gospel as He did me in 1986. 

1 As to the rest, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not troublesome for me, but is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for dogs. Watch out for the evil workers. Watch out for the mutilators. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus not having confidence in the flesh. 4 Even though I could also have confidence in the flesh. If any other person thinks they have obtained reason to have confidence in the flesh, I more; 5 as to circumcision, on the eighth day, of the race of Israel, the Tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, according to the Law, a Pharisee, 6 according to zeal, persecuting the Church, according to righteousness in the Law, having become blameless, 7 but what things were gain to me, these I have considered loss on account of Christ. 8 But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, 10 to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, 11 that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:1-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

What is the contrast between the opponents of the gospel and the true people of God according to Paul? Those who oppose the gospel are all about attaining righteousness through works of the flesh, but true believers are those who worship by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus not having confidence in the flesh. How often are we tempted to point out our good works to others? They may be evidences of our faith, but they do not attain one iota for us. Paul then uses his own heritage as a Pharisee as a contrast to those who claim such things are worthy when it comes to attaining justification before God. What does Paul say? He not only considers all what he attained as a Pharisee as loss on a account of Christ, but he also considers all thins to be loss on account of whom all things He suffered loss even to the point of considering what the Jewish world would view as the highest gain as σκύβαλα the Accusative, Plural of σκύβαλον or skubalon or “dung.” In other words, Paul considered it all worthless compared to what he had in Christ and that is the point we must learn as well. That point is that we gain Christ and be found in him, not having our own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings conformed to his death, that we somehow may attain to the resurrection from the dead. You see, since I have been involved in “church” since a child, I doubt if I have heard very often a gospel presentation talk about it quite like that.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already been perfected, but I press on if indeed I my lay hold of that for which I was also laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not consider to have laid hold myself, but one thing, forgetting what lies behind while stretching forward to the things that lie ahead, 14 I pursue the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ. 15 Therefore, as many as would be mature think this way, and if anything, you think differently, even this, God will reveal to you. 16 Nevertheless, to what we attained, obey the same rule we are to follow. 17 Brothers join in imitating me, and notice those walking as we walk as an example. 18 For many walk of whom often I was telling you, and now also weeping, I say, “They are the enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with their minds on earthly things.” 20 For our citizenship exists in heaven from where also we eagerly await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transfigure our body of humiliation into conformity with body of his glory according to the working of his power even to the subjecting to himself all things. (Philippians 3:12-21 translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

Again, the true Christian progresses in Christian living, in the Gospel, through Christ, presenting himself as one who continually reaches ahead to see God’s kingdom expanded, but never through the law. Flee from any Christian leader who attempts to portray themselves as already “completed” or “perfected.” If the Apostle Paul wasn’t then I seriously doubt if anyone else in this flesh bound world  (except Christ) could claim such a thing. However, that is no excuse. We must continue to press on, stretching forward to the things that lie ahead instead of being consumed with what has transpired in the past. Why? Jesus Christ has made us his own.

These enemies of the cross are anyone who would attempt to say that righteousness from God can be obtained other than through Christ according to the gospel. Those who teach such things are prevalent in our time. I have had some contact me who insisted that what I was teaching was right, but I needed to also teach complete adherence to the Law of Moses, et cetera. Aren’t passages like this and the book of Galatians enough to show us that such teachings are bogus?

Where is the citizenship of all who are in Christ? It is not here in this flesh bound place. No, it is in heaven where Christ is. When we are united with Him forever, we will also be resurrected. Our bodies will be transfigured into conformity with His according to the working of His power.

Soli Deo Gloria!

10 thoughts on “From where does the righteousness of the Christian come?

  1. I’ve talked to a couple of people just like this very recently. They thought that you were supposed to follow some part of the law, basically the ten commandments and the festivals, beyond faith in Jesus Christ. One said that it was a requirement for salvation and the other said it was good to follow these laws, but not required for salvation. They kept talking about the law in terms of the Torah or being Torah-compliant. I understand these beliefs to be a part of the Hebrew Roots Movement. The one that believed it was a requirement for salvation changed his name to some Hebrew sounding name and his Facebook says he is from Babylon, but that he currently lives in Israel. Babylon is the United States in Hebrew Roots circles. I tried to quote everything that the Apostle Paul said and examples from the other Apostles that we are not under law but under grace, but then they proceeded to tell me that I was reading it wrong or something. Basically that I wasn’t looking at it from a Hebrew perspective. They sounded so much like the Pharisees in Acts 15. Ultimately, you can throw all the truth at some people that you can find and they will still stand on what they were erroneously taught.

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  2. Phil, yes, I have some “friends” on FB who I once went into debates with who I can no longer be with because they have succumbed to the Hebrew Roots Movement to some degree. They changed their names. They change their emphasis from the Church to Israel. They tell me that my understanding of the Greek is wrong because I must first understand the Hebrew behind it (nonsense). What you mentioned in your comment is very true. Those who enter this movement also seem to become blind to the truth. Very telling.

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  3. Yes. The best places are Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians as well as Acts 15 to counter, refute, and combat the Hebrew Roots movement and the neo judaizers and legalists. They are wrong. Those are the things Paul the Apostle warned us about. They put themselves under the yoke of the law as pertaining to salvation and righteousness, thus nullifying grace. It’s fine to do something because you want to do it (such as eat kosher, etc. as there is liberty here, and there is a distinction between OT and NT as well here regarding ordinances, and no of course murder isn’t okay because it’s not mentioned in Acts 15…), just don’t think it is tied to your salvation. Salvation is by grace, through faith, in the saving work of Christ on the cross alone, and nothing else, lest anyone should boast. (See sections above.) So we are first saved, then given the power through Christ to live righteously to His glory, not ours, so that we can’t boast (if we want to do extra things, fine, just don’t think it’s necessary for salvation), and that’s basically what it says in a nutshell. But the Hebrew Roots, etc. is another branch of the apostasy. It’s like they come under this deep fog and sleepwalk towards the end times deception in a trancelike state. Literally.

    Blessings!

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  4. Pingback: From where does the righteousness of the Christian come? - Stand Up For The Truth

  5. Oh, Mike. I’m shocked to see another precious soul having been baptised, like I was, but no regeneration. What did you do when you became one of the Lord’s? Did you feel you had to be re-baptised? I really need to get my head around that one.

    I once knew someone on Facebook who must have been into what you’ve talked about, here. He insisted on calling Christ “Hayah”. He insisted on sinless perfection, (can’t be done, except by Christ alone). Anyone who tried to correct him got short shrift. Phew, these times are badder than we can possibly imagine😦

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  6. Jennifer, I was I little kid that first time and I was manipulated into the whole thing during a “Revival” at our SBC church. I was in the 4th grade at that time. In any case, When God saved me when I was in my 30’s it was the real deal. Again, I was a Baptist so I did what Baptists do, I got baptized.

    There are many false conversions. I am convinced God allowed that so He could use me to minister to others who have gone through the same thing. I refuse to be part of the high pressure tactics those self-styled evangelists use to manipulate kids into doing what I did. Also, how many of those kids are found in the Church just a few weeks after that evangelist leaves town?

    Sinless perfection? Nonsense…. What we are describing is manipulating people for the sake of numbers instead of actually making disciples which is what the church is supposed to be doing…

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  7. English religion is frightening. I’ve actually written something which covers what happened to me. It was a Baptist congregation, I was in my young 20’s. Because I have no church at present, I wonder how I can achieve proper baptism. Doesn’t look like it’s ever going to happen as people are so reluctant, it seems, to do it, now, as, it seems,is making disciples, as well.

    I’m 52 years old, Mike. I have never seen the Holy Spirit doing anything in any church I’ve ever been to. Surely, that’s got to be a judgement?

    Frightening days, Brother. Thanks so much for your reply.

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