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Worthy lives: live like Paul in Christ’s righteousness

March 20, 2024

Daily Scripture

Galatians 2:19-21, Philippians 3:9-11

Galatians 2
19 I died to the Law through the Law, so that I could live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I don’t ignore the grace of God, because if we become righteous through the Law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Philippians 3
9 In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. 10 The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death 11 so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The apostle Paul used strong language in Galatians. Before Jesus met him, he had trusted in external rituals to make him right with God. Faith in Jesus and trust in the Holy Spirit, not dutiful rites, had changed his life, and he had taught the Galatians that. That was always personal, never abstract. He wrote a remarkably similar message to the Philippian Christians about how making Jesus his Lord, and the source of his righteousness, had changed his life.

  • In Galatians, Paul wasn’t thinking of a technical detail. Scholar N. T. Wright wrote, “It isn’t a matter of a few twists and turns in the interpretation of the gospel, or… of the Jewish law. It isn’t simply about one style of missionary policy as against another. It is a matter of who you are in the Messiah. It’s as basic as that.” * Do you tend to call on Jesus only when you need to, or have you come to see your whole identity rooted “in Christ,” in the Jesus who died for you?
  • “In Christ,” Paul wrote, “I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith.” Rather than relying on his own achievements, what basis for confidence and self-worth did Paul claim? Is whatever righteousness you believe you have “your own,” or does your confidence, your very identity, rest fully on God’s gracious gift of divine righteousness through Christ?

Lord Jesus, as I read Paul’s description of his life, my prayer is, in the words of the classic hymn, “Live out thy life within me, O Jesus, king of kings.” Dwell in my heart and keep shaping my existence. Amen.

GPS Insights

Elijah Herrell

Elijah Herrell

Elijah Herrell serves as the modern worship leader at Resurrection’s Downtown campus. A worship leader, musician and songwriter, he was originally based in Hickory, NC before moving to the Kansas City area in 2013. Over the last 10 years, he’s served with various churches and ministries all over KC as well as recorded multiple albums with his band “Familiar.” He loves most all things Dolly Parton, has strong feelings about cereal and looks forward to fostering a dog as soon as his landlord allows.

As a kid, I often feared that I had somehow sinned too much or failed too deeply to still be “saved.” I can recall a handful of sleepless nights where I was meticulously repenting for every sin I could recall or conceive to be a possibility. There was a heavy burden of responsibility I felt to be perfect… or at least the closest thing to perfect a Christian could be.

My terror was rooted in a misunderstanding of today’s passages. One of my favorite reminders regarding my salvation is the thought that “I can’t let Jesus down when I was never the one holding him up.” My righteousness has always been Christ’s righteousness applied to me. Every time my heavenly Father looks at me, regardless of how put together or rough I feel, the only thing God sees is the image of his beloved son Jesus. The blood truly “speaks a better word” over my life than any self-righteousness or lack of sin I could attempt.Ages ago, one of my favorite preachers shared a short word on Zechariah 3. In the chapter, we’re introduced to a dramatic scene: Joshua the high priest is found standing in front of both the angel of the lord and Satan (or “the accuser”). Satan was accusing the high priest of sin (metaphorically depicted as “filthy clothes” in verses 3 and 4.) The scandalous part is that Satan was correct! Joshua had no alibi–the charge that Satan brought against him was completely justified. Regardless of Joshua’s guilt, the Lord still chose to advocate for him and rebuked the accuser. The Lord claimed him as a “burning stick snatched from the fire.” Similar to all who have been redeemed, the Lord gave the high priest new, clean garments (forgave him) and reminded him that he has a place in God’s house.As an adult, I wish I could go back to 12-year-old Elijah. I wish I could read him this passage, hold his hand and let him know that he has no need to worry–Jesus’ work on the cross was enough to cover every disappointment he could muster.I often think of a song when meditating on certain parts of Scripture. These passages remind me of “Embracing Accusation.” by Shane and Shane. It’s a beautiful song about the freedom of being redeemed by Christ and not the law. Click here if you’d like to hear the song–hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Wright, N. T., Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 23). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.