“If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:” – Philippians 3:4
There isn’t a single person on this earth who enjoys the feeling of guilt. A guilty conscience is a heavy burden. Human beings will do everything in their power to feel innocent. Those who recognize personal failures and mistakes in life will eventually seek a form of redemption. Even if that means they pursue the lies of religion until they convince themselves of spiritual purity. Paul referred to this as having confidence in the flesh. He knew this practice all too well.
“Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” – Philippians 3:5-6
Paul’s past experiences were often a means to relate to his audience. He was once a man who believed that with enough effort, he could eventually grab hold of holiness, righteousness, and self-justification. After all, he was a pharisee and a leader of the Jews! A shining example of how a Jew must fully dedicate themselves to the law and tradition. Like most people today, he believed himself to be “good enough” for God’s affection and love.
Once Paul’s eyes were opened to the truth of Jesus, he recognized that the justification he longed for, was no longer on his shoulders. He found spiritual freedom in the cross of Christ! This new-found freedom put a fire under his feet to preach the truth.
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:7-11
If Paul, in all his religious perfection as a Jew, was still unable to obtain right-standing with God by his own means, how much more do people without Jesus fall short of God’s glory?
May God convince and convict us as He did Paul. That we may reject all other paths that lead us away from Jesus and the grace of God. Let us deny any inclination to trust our “own” goodness. There is only one good person and that is God.