And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
We have no righteousness of our own. In and of ourselves, we hardly have anything except the nature to sin. But we do have the ability to come to Christ. We can make a choice to accept His righteousness by faith. And as we submit to Him, surely the one who has power over death can have power over our lives. Surely this kind and gracious Savior, full of all righteousness, shall impart to us the ability to change our ways, to be different than we were before we knew Him.
The law causes us to say, “Look what I have done and how I have obeyed. Look at how good I am at following the rules.” Whereas faith causes us to say, “Look what God has done for me, because I could do nothing righteous on my own without Him.” It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on ourselves and what good things we have done or what bad things we may have avoided, maybe comparing ourselves to others and feeling like we’ve done less bad and more good than those around us. The proper focus is on God and what He has done for us, how He works through us, and how empty and meaningless what we do is without Him in the center of it.
Do we really want to know Christ and not just know about Him? Is it more than a phrase that we repeat in church that we know Christ as our personal Savior? Exactly how personal is He to us? Jesus suffered and died on the cross and then rose in power, but He gives us first His power and then asks us to die to self. It might hurt a little bit to dig out all of the sinful things that have gotten so ingrained in us, but it’s worth it. What are we really gaining by clinging to our old life when He wants to make us into something new?
Jesus is righteous, and we are not, but He imparts His righteousness to us. And when we are willing to identify ourselves with His death, when we are willing to give up who sin made us into and become who He wants us to be, then we experience His power in a real way. Without Jesus, death would win every time, but He gained the victory, and He shares that with us, too. If He could conquer the one thing that mankind could never overcome, then He can defeat everything in our lives that seems too big to beat. What a richness is in our Savior. And if we’re willing to give Him all that is in us, He will give us all that is in Him.