Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and 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 ESV)
Paul had willingly rejected the value of chasing after earthly gain because he was focused on his eternity. Paul knew that one day he would stand before God to give an account of his life. It was with this long-term view that Paul made his decisions.
We can plan on standing before God after we die and relying on what we have done (and not done) during our life (“righteousness that comes from the law”) as our credentials for getting into heaven; we can try to convince God that we are “good enough”. This will not work [Matthew 7:21-23].
Perfection is the standard for getting into heaven. Sadly, all human beings fall well short of that standard. But God wants us to be with Him forever. So He sent His Son to take on our sin [2 Corinthians 5:21] so that we can be counted as righteous on Judgment Day. The only “catch” is that God will only do this for people who want Him to do it.
This is where it gets tricky because human nature wants to put confidence in self. We want to think we are good – or at least more good than bad. Pride gets in the way of accepting God’s offer – we don’t think we need it.
When someone accepts Jesus’ payment for their sins God attributes Christ’s perfection to that person. Now that person has the credentials to get into heaven because the penalty that would keep them out of heaven has been paid for by someone else (Jesus).
We all have a choice in life, as Paul did. We can choose who we are going to put our faith in. We can put faith in self. Or we can put our faith in Jesus. Even though Paul had adhered to the law of God more than pretty much anyone [Philippians 3:4-6] he came to realize that even that was not going to help him on Judgment Day. If Paul didn’t have the credentials to get into heaven on his own merit, how much less do we?
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