Not all of us have a dark past with a made-for-movies conversion story; plenty of Christians have a history they could be proud of.
Paul was an accomplished man. He so shone in his early career as a Pharisee that even as a follower of Jesus he pointed to his early confidence. However, Paul considered everything as rubbish compared with knowing Christ.1 Paul was living in a new dimension; his old dependence on adherence to the law was finished, he had a new identity.
Through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal. 2:19-20)
What have we depended on to make us feel confident about ourselves? Perhaps it is being a nice, agreeable person. Good deeds get credit in many circles, as they should. Maybe significant influencers have set standards into our minds that we now try to live up to. However, confidence in any of these things is mistaken.
The truth is that Paul’s confidence was never justified; the most law abiding Pharisees among us never achieve a spotless record. We all fall short in some way and fail to do enough to satisfy God. If that were the end of the story, we would be toast.
But the story continues. Jesus died a punishing death as a penalty for us having broken God’s law. Because Jesus paid our penalty, only one thing is required for renewed confidence—faith.
Paul’ decision to believe in and follow Jesus involved discarding his trophied life for a life of faith. His old life, including all his accomplishments, died with Christ on the cross; his confidence switched to Jesus.
It’s the same for us. For the rest of our time on earth, our lives are focused on God. We live by faith in Jesus, and, in answer to faith, He lives through us. There is no place for pride. Think about it, inside you is an extraordinary power—the life of someone who rose from the dead. With Jesus in us, we had better plan on living an extraordinary life.
Do you know someone who would benefit from pieces like this? Please share Bible Maturity with them.
- Gal. 1:14; Phil. 3:4-9 [↩]