Posts Tagged ‘Philippians’

In the Bible study on Philippians  this morning at the Mission, we discussed justification by grace through faith for us sinners in regards to the text:

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith… Philippians 3: 8-9

There are two kinds of righteousness:

active, that which Paul thought he did to save himself by keeping the Law perfectly (he found he wasn’t)

and the passive righteousness that is given in the forgiveness won for sinners upon the cross received  through faith in Christ Jesus.

The passive righteousness is also called justification:  justified, made right by His forgiveness full and free.

I remembered this quote this morning,  on the subject of justification, by Rev. Pr. Lou Smith of blessed memory.  And  Lou said this quite often:

“The Lord justifies  the ungodly,                                                                 but He does not justify ungodliness.”

We want to justify our own sinful behavior, “Oh, I had a bad day…My upbringing was less than self-affirming…etc.”, it’s called excusing my bad behavior/my sin  and apologizing for it.  But apologizing is to forgiveness as a lightning bug is to lightning.  Lightening will strike us dead and so will the Lord’s Law because of our ungodliness.  Pr. Smith wrote concerning this second use of the Law, its spiritual use:

When it comes to the law, the good news is not “God really wants you to try hard. ” When it comes to the Law the good news is “You’re gonna die.”

To stand under the law is to hear its proclamation of our death sentence, with the specific commandments supplying the evidence to sustain the verdict. To stand under the Gospel is to hear the word that raises the dead.

If we preach and teach that the God is telling us to try hard to be good, then we are talking about justifying ungodliness.

If we preach and teach that we can change the 10 Commandments to the point of voting on the truth of them, as liberalizing Christianity has done, then we are about justifying ungodliness in divorce/remarriage, marriage itself, greed, etc.

But this also goes for a liberalizing Christianity that is politically conservative.  For a Christianity whose morality is correctly, say pro-life, will gladly use, for instance,  Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life which is really a manual, a how-to book on trying hard to be a good Christian.  Paul tried to be good, for instance, but counted all as loss for knowing Jesus Christ, see  Philippians 3:7-9.

Then Lutheran Vicar Steven Parks wrote a critique of The Purpose-Driven Life in which he showed the ways Rev. Warren laid out for us to try to be good:

Warren presents readers with the following “simple” instructions: discovering the three insights into your purpose, ascertaining the five reasons to live a purpose-driven life,applying the three metaphors of God’s view of life, learning God’s five purposes for your life, living God’s five plans for your life, enacting the five acts of worship that make God smile, uncovering six secrets of friendship with God, developing the four characteristics of the kind of worship that pleases God,  performing the three important truths of fruitful fellowship, six reasons for being committed and active in a local fellowship, discovering the four principles of real fellowship, learning the four steps to cultivating community, creating a covenant using the nine characteristics of biblical fellowship, following the seven steps to restoring broken fellowship,  promoting six ways to ensure unity, following the three steps to conflict resolution,  uncovering the three responsibilities in becoming like Christ....

It goes on!  And the Vicar in his article footnotes every step, principal and the like above from the reverend’s book. (Read his article, you will also learn a lot about true theology: Lutheran Critique: Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life )  But trying to be good  then is justifying ungodliness and one does not need Christ Jesus.

The Apostle Paul never pretended to be a ‘good Christian’  but knew he was the opposite (see 1 Timothy 1:15!)   Paul was  a man struck dead by God in His Law and shown his sin on the road to Damascus and shown His Savior.  The beginning of  the good news that he could give up pretending to be good  and given the true, good, life in His beloved Son Jesus Christ who justified the ungodly but never ungodliness and Who alone makes us good:  His.

 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:19-21

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