Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 3

Righteousness through faith in Christ

Philippians 3:9

Righteousness means perfect goodness. No person can claim to be perfectly good (Romans 3:10). However, God can only accept the person who reaches that perfect standard (Psalm 15). So, our wrong and evil thoughts, words and deeds separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2). No person can achieve a right relationship with God by their own efforts (Romans 4:1-8). In other words, nobody can obtain their own righteousness; we can only receive righteousness as the gift of God. That is possible because of Christ’s death: he died so that God can forgive us (Isaiah 53:4-6). After we receive Christ into our lives, we still do not stand in our own righteousness; rather we stand, or trust, in Christ’s righteousness.

Paul used to believe that he could achieve his own righteousness, by his efforts to obey God’s law. After he became a Christian, he still approved of God’s law. However, Paul no longer placed his trust, or faith, in his own efforts to obey it. Instead, he placed his complete trust in Christ, and what Christ did for him by his death. Paul was no longer trying to establish his own righteousness. Instead, he lived by the righteousness of Christ, in other words, the righteousness that comes from God.

Paul knew that, even as a Christian, he was not yet perfect (3:12). God still needed to complete the great work that he had begun in Paul’s life, as in the lives of other Christians (1:6). They must continue to trust Christ through their lives on earth (Galatians 3:1-5). In the future age, their relationship with God – and God’s goodness in them – will be complete and perfect (Romans 8:14-19).

Next part: To know Christ and the power that raised him from death (Philippians 3:10)


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© 2020, Keith Simons.