“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a
Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…”—Philippians 3:20 (ESV).
With the believers in Christ,
them who have their righteousness in Him, there should follow in this life on
earth the fruits of upright living, in obedience to God. These fruits
constitute the good works acceptable to God, which, being works of faith and
wrought in Christ, will be rewarded in the life to come.
But Paul has in mind the
individuals who, rejecting faith in Christ, regard their self-directed lives,
their humanly-wrought works, which conform to the Law, as righteousness
availing in the sight of God. His reference is to them who so trust, though
wholly ignorant of Christ, for whose sake, without any merit on our part,
righteousness is imputed to us by God.
The only condition is we must
believe in Christ; for He became man, died for our sins and rose from the dead,
for the very purpose of liberating us from our sins and granting us his
resurrection and life.
Toward the heavenly life we
should tend, in our life here walking in harmony with it; as Paul says in
conclusion: "Our citizenship is in heaven [not earthly and not confined to
this temporal life only]; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus
If we have no knowledge, no
consciousness, of this fact, it matters not how beautiful and praiseworthy our
human, earthly righteousness may be, it is merely a hindrance and an injury.
For flesh and blood cannot help
relying on its own righteousness and arrogantly boasting in this strain:
"We are better, more honorable, more godly, than others. We Jews are the
people of God and keep his Law."
Even Christians are not wholly
free from the pernicious (evil) influence of human holiness. They ever seek to
bring their own works and merits before God. I know for myself what pains are
inflicted by this godless wisdom, this figment of righteousness, and what
effort must be made before the serpent's head is bruised.
Now, this is the situation and
there is no alternative: Either suffer hell or regard your human righteousness
as loss and filth and endeavor not to be found relying on it at your last hour,
in the presence of God and judgment, but rather stand in the righteousness of
In the garment of Christ's
righteousness and reared in him you may, in the resurrection from sin and
death, meet Christ and exclaim: "Hail, beloved Lord and Saviour, you who
has redeemed me from the wretched body of sin and death, and fashioned me like
unto your holy, pure and glorious body!"
That is your Lifeline,
*This devotion is an excerpt
from Dr. Martin Luther’s sermon on Philippians 3:17-21 titled “The Enemies of
the Cross of Christ”. It has been formatted easier reading. Happy Reformation!