I just started reading The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson. Matt Chandler is the Pastor of The Village Church, a multisite church, located in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. He was diagnosed with brain cancer several years ago so he understand how precious life is and how fragile. This man was passionate about the Gospel. He is even more so today.
In the introduction he made a statement that I wanted to share with you.
The idolatry that exists in man’s heart always wants to lead him away from his Savior and back to self-reliance no matter how pitiful that self-reliance is or how many times it has betrayed him. Religion is usually the tool the self-righteous man uses to exalt himself, (p. 14-15).
He cites Philippians 3:4-9 when the Apostle Paul talked about his religious pedigree.
though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 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. 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, (ESV, emphasis mine).
Rubbish = a great big pile of dung. That is what our “religious achievement” is worth.
The Gospel leads us however from self-reliance to our Savior…
all your church attendance, all your religious activities, your Sunday school attendance medals, your journals, having a “quiet time,” reading the Scriptures – it’s all in vain if you don’t have Christ. When you read Paul’s texts together you get a feel for his attack on the Christian, moralistic, therapeutic deism of his day. We are saved, sanctified, and sustained by what Jesus did for us on the cross and through the power of the resurrection. If you add to or subtract from the cross, even if it is to factor in biblically mandated religious practices like prayer and evangelism, you rob God of his glory and Christ of his sufficiency. Romans 8:1 tells us that there is no condemnation for us, not because of all the great stuff we’ve done but because Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death. My sin in the past: forgiven. My current struggles: covered. My future failures: paid in full all by the marvelous, infinite, matchless grace found in the atoning work of the cross of Jesus Christ, (p. 15).
Self-reliance will get us nowhere. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t be good enough. Praise God that we don’t have to rely on self, but on Jesus.