NO RIGHTEOUSNESS OF OUR OWN – EVER

NO RIGHTEOUSNESS OF OUR OWN – EVER

By Fred Pruitt

(This is a long excerpt from “The Intercessions of Paul – Part Two.” I cannot stress this point enough. It is one of the MAJOR KEYS to everything else in the spiritual life in Christ.)

Paul is introducing us to a completely different way to look at Jesus and the spiritual life, a way that does not center on ourselves and what “we” get out of it (salvation and blessings, etc.), but rather a moving into Christ in oneness with Him and all His activities and concerns, thus bringing us into the fatherhood level in Him, in which our lives have lost their self-focusing “what about me?” syndrome (what Christ does for me), and moved into Who Christ is – the spoken “I AM” of the Father now dwelling in us and as us, and What Christ is – the “Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth,” Who lays down His Life even for His enemies, and now we see that THIS is the life that we are now. It is no longer about Christ Who has delivered me, keeps me safe, answers my prayers, blesses mebut Christ by me Who now delivers others!!!!

“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.”

Stripped down to nothing, Paul finds himself “in” Him, and the “dung” which he has discarded has made way for the true righteousness. Only someone who comes to this point can truly understand what it means to “not have my own righteousness.” I cannot have my own righteousness! To do so would completely cancel out true righteousness, substituting it with a pale shadow-wraith pretending to be righeousness!

That “own righteousness” is as subtle as the serpent who came up with it. It seems so innocuous and so completely logical to think that if I work on certain aspects of myself, fix myself up to be more pleasing to God, God will give me a gold star in my crown. What could possibly be wrong with that attitude? Because it is eating from the forbidden Tree! As I said, it is the subtlest temptation in all the world to think I can improve myself enough to make me acceptable in God’s sight. Here is what Eve came to: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise …” (Gen 3:6).

As I heard on a radio show once, “Our teacher will teach you how to live a holy life that God can bless as your reward.”

This is typical around the body of Christ in our day, and it is 180 degrees out of sync with the message of the New Testament. The message of the New Testament is not “Live a holy life and God will bless you for it,” but rather, “God in Christ lives in you and by the Spirit is your perfect inner holiness, and out of you flow rivers of Living Water which comes out of the infinity of Christ WHO IS IN YOU! After all, Paul says in Romans 10:6-10, that we don’t seek to bring Christ down from heaven above, nor do we look for Him among the dead to bring Him back up. “No,” Paul says, “the word is nigh thee … in your heart,” (our innermost dwelling place where God lives in us). If we are His, what I have described above is our current truth. Quit looking for Christ from somewhere else! He is already IN YOU, Paul says, now JUST SAY THE WORD! There is no waiting on “our” righteousness to improve, because we do not have ANY! Now the righteousness we have is the Lord Our Righteousness, and there is no impediment.

If I think I do have even just the teeniest little bit of righteousness of my own, then I can only still be susceptible to the law, responsible to it and incomplete in myself. That is what it means when it says a little leaven leavens the whole loaf. Even if I could keep all the outer commandments, I could still not fulfill the one “law” of the New Testament, love, because love is intangible and has no solid outer measuring stick. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Gal 5:14).

This is one of the deepest and hardest-to-come revelations any of us may receive. We have no righteousness of our own. We have all given lip service to the idea, “Oh yes, we know, it is not by our righteousness,” but we don’t really KNOW it yet. The temptation is always there, that we might need just a little tiny teeny weeny itty bitty pinch of our own righteousness now and then, and that is the culprit, right there. It’s the pea under our mattress.

For many, the best and often last hidey-hole in us to reserve a little place for a righteousness of our own, is in the “responsible” self, the self that thinks it is “responsible” to be the last stand place, the final bulwark, that part of us that “decides” to resist temptation or give in to temptation, the final boss inside us (in case the Lord’s upholding doesn’t come and do the job). I call him Mr. Control-Room Self. Orders come and thoughts come and Mr. Control-Room Self makes himself to be the final arbiter or judge of these things, second only to God, of course.

The thing is, God didn’t invite Mr. Control-Room Self to come and help God run things. Likewise, neither did God set it up for Mr. Control-Room Self to make the determinations of right and wrong or good and evil. In fact, as long as Mr. Control-Room Self keeps trying to help God in running the ship, it kind of leaves out the God Mr. Control-Room Self is trying to maintain a relationship with. Mr. Control-Room Self is on the job, and there is only room for one in the captain’s chair, himself.

As I have repeated it many times, Jesus told the disciples, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33) That includes Mr. Control-Room Self.

“Our own” righteousness is a sneaky thing. I used to pray, “O Lord, You know how much I want You, I want to know You more! I love You and desire nothing but to be with You. Take away my impatience, let me listen better to others, give me wisdom, give me peace and joy, etc etc etc, because I want to be a better instrument for Your use blah blah blah blah.”

One day I heard what I was saying, and I started laughing, because I saw the irony. I saw how absolutely silly it was to think of myself praying “righteous” prayers, or having godly motivations. It was there that I saw how totally caught we each are in our own all-pervasive vanity – in self-focus, independent self, self-will, self-love, etc. And that there was NO WAY OUT (by our own efforts). Even my desire to “get out of it” was tainted by the very selfishness I wanted to escape!

Only a death could deliver me, not another renewed effort to greater devotion or dedication. I saw for the first time, my true state as regards righteousness, holiness, love, etc., and my true state was zero. I had NONE. And in that regard, I had sunk down into “nothing,” except, “to be.” And from then on it has been, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but whatever he sees the Father do, the Son does the same.” What else could the Son of God as Son of Man confess?

This is part of what Paul is describing as “winning” or “attaining” Christ. The Greek word is translated both ways. The sense of it is not that Paul is leaving behind all these things that had been valuable to him in order to impress Christ, or to gain his salvation as a reward for his works through Christ, but rather and more fully, he has an unrelenting inner drive to be a participator in His outpoured Life, “partners” so to speak with Christ, which is found no other way than by grace through faith to enter into the works of Christ, to be doing what Christ is doing, that Christ through the Spirit might live His intercessory Life in and as our human lives. That his (Paul’s) human life would be in the flow of Christ in him, which is nothing other than a laid down life for others. Discovering his own “nothingness” in the equation is the beginning, which then leads here.

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death”

This is a power-packed sentence! This is not Paul praying he would become more spiritual. This is not Paul praying for revelation so he could share deeper things with his followers. This is not Paul praying that he and Jesus would become closer, so that he could know Him better as a buddy sitting on the chair opposite him. Nor is Paul going for great sanctification and holiness, so that one day he might manifest the Stigmata.

Paul knows what he is seeking and what he will find. Do we want to “know Him?” Do we want to know the depths of the Godhead, the revelation of the Christ? Then let us put out of our minds visions of heavenly glory, stars in our crowns or heavenly rewards, lights, angels, colors, sights, wonders beyond our minds and understandings. Let us not make those things our goal. They may yet be ours, but in this exceedingly short moment we are given, there is something infinitely more urgent, more immediate, than the attainments of any heavenly visions or manifestations.

All the sheep have not yet come home. Some are still in chains of bondage, either as slaves still held in Egypt, or brethren still in the wilderness of the bondage of self-focus, independent self – the flesh – awaiting their release from the chains. As the old gospel song says, “None of us are free, if one of us is chained.” There is a debt yet to be paid, not “paying back” the Lord for what He has done for us, which would be preposterous, but the debt which Love owes to all God’s creatures. We have entered the Life which is Divine Love, indebted to the whole world to fill it with itself.

And it is still true, what Paul wrote to the Romans 10:11-15 –

“For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

 

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7 thoughts on “NO RIGHTEOUSNESS OF OUR OWN – EVER

  1. Thank you, Fred. This is indeed a liberating truth. I am starting to understand what it means to be in Christ. However, I am still struggling with one thing. The new testament does talk about effort, not to make us more acceptable to God nor even to please Him or lead Him to reward us. I’m talking about our daily battle, the ongoing process of sanctification, in which we learn to ‘become what we already are’, as John Piper puts it.

    We are in Christ and Christ is in us, but as we learn who we are in Him, don’t we strive to live accordingly, cooperating with the Holy Spirit? Not to be more accepted or to ‘feel’ closer to God, but because we know our new identity in Christ and we want to let His life flow from us. This process wouldn’t be completely passive, would it?

    I cite J.C. Ryle:

    The very same Apostle who says in one place, “The life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,” says in another place, “I fight – I run – I keep under my body;” and in other places, “Let us cleanse ourselves – let us labour, let us lay aside every weight.” (Gal. ii. 20;1 Cor. ix. 26; 2 Cor. vii. 1; Heb. iv. 11; xii. 1)

    I know there is thin line between cooperating with the Holy Spirit (letting Christ be us) and becoming a legalistic Christian who relies on his own efforts to attain a holy life. As you said, there is indeed no righteousness of our own, but does that mean when we “fight the good fight of faith.” (1 Timothy 6: 12)?

    Well, I would really appreciate your comments on this.

    Ricardo França

    • Hello Ricardo! Good to meet you and to hear from you. I’m sorry I haven’t been as prompt as I like in answering you. And even now I’m going to have to put you off a little while longer. But it must be for the moment. Always behind, yet always perfect timing! Bless the Lord! Anyway, I am looking forward to answering you soon. God bless ….!!!

      • Thank you, Fred. No worries. Just to clarify: I’m not asking you this because I like theological discussions. I am actually struggling with this issue. God bless you, man!

      • Ricard, Believe it or not, I have your reply finally. Sorry it has taken so long. I have to go over it a little bit more but should have it to you this evening some time. Blessings!

      • Dear Ricardo,
        I appreciate you writing me with your questions. I first heard and began to know these truths in late 1980. As even back then the Spirit moved me out to share what God has given us, that drive is still with me now. So after all these years of meeting folks and people writing me, asking questions, sharing insights, still it all remains fresh and new. That is because the Subject we are dealing with is ALIVE, not dead letters on paper or stone, but Living Epistles in each of us, lovingly and meticulously created by the Spirit of the Living God, Who causes each of us to be a unique and perfect expression of God, even through the veil of the weakness of our human flesh.
        Everyone who comes to this fullness in the Spirit asks those questions. They are good questions, or the topic of “my” responsibilities is always a good topic. It is good for at least two reasons. It is good because it leads to the knowledge of the Truth, not in an academic way, but in a “consciousness-way,” where what you “know,” is also “WHO you are.”
        The second way it is good is that it (the topic) defines for us where we are in our understanding or consciousness. To ask questions such as you ask, enlightens us to our current state – that of possibly knowing these truths conceptually or academically, but with us having yet to move into union and oneness with Christ within ourselves. That is to say, it hasn’t become “real” to us yet.
        Well, praise God! We always see the negative before the positive, and here it is. It is actually a good thing to see what we do not yet see, because this is the point when we find the Spirit moving us into a new level of understanding and action.
        I belabor this point, some probably think, and maybe I do, but it is for a purpose. How many times have we heard this scripture quoted or referred to in Christian circles: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov 29:18)? Whenever it is brought up it is almost always (I’ve never heard anyone say anything different) regarding something “outer,” such as a new Word or Exhortation from a prophet or priest, that stirs the people and gives them a new sense of direction. That is certainly a truth I’ve seen happen in one way or another over and over.
        However, when I consider that passage from the standpoint of inner consciousness, it takes on a whole new meaning to me. We may get excited about a project of rebuilding the Temple of Solomon or of repairing Jerusalem’s walls, where we as a family or group function in an outer organized way (and some things must have that) to accomplish our goals. That is a wonderful thing!
        But this inner sight thing is something completely different from that. This is where the Spirit from day one schools us inwardly about Who He is and Who we are. He raises us from infancy in the Spirit where we do nothing but “receive,” to new-found strength in our adolescence in the Spirit, and finally to the inner rest and provision for others that fatherhood produces.
        Each of these is an elevation or change of consciousness, rather than a place to which we arrive by our careful application of kingdom principles and ability to intellectually know and explain the “truth.” If we live by “kingdom principles” or anything like that, we might as well call it “law” and recognize it for what it is. Just as the “law” does, it keeps us always at arm’s length, one-step removed from personal oneness with God.
        But God doesn’t speak through the cold chiseled letters of the law, but in our hearts – our inner spirit centers. He speaks in us only grace, faith and love. We know Him in our hearts more than we know Him in the Book, because we cannot be one with, and were not made to be one with, a Book written in stone. We were created to be one with the Living God, Who is the Son of God, and one with the Father the same way THE SON is one with the Father.
        We’ve spoken about it in reference to Prov 4:23 – “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
        It is the real issue in Prov 23:7 – “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
        Its fullness of meaning is expressed in Matt 6:22 – “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”
        All those passages and many more are speaking of inner consciousness. Who we are inwardly is who we are outwardly. Hear this, because most people, including me a long time ago, believe it is the opposite, that the real truth is “who we are outwardly demonstrates who we are inwardly.” In some cases that is the absolute truth.
        As Paul wrote to Timothy: “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” (1 Tim 5:24,25).
        Without discounting the above paragraph, the real truth is always certain to be what is true inwardly. Who we are in our own consciousness inwardly is the life we live. It may not be the truth about us, the ultimate truth, I mean. But it will be the “truth to us” in the current moment, and until something comes along and changes that truth into something else, it will remain that way.
        Now, please take no condemnation over this, because we have all come this way. And in Christian “truth,” and especially in what we can refer to as “union truth,” we catch the “concept” in the beginning. Maybe we don’t know specifically what we’ve heard, but something stirs us inwardly in the Spirit, producing a new desire, moving us out of where we have been into a new unexplored country. With many of us there has been a period of “euphoria,” like getting “born again, again!” But that doesn’t stay forever, and after that euphoria leaves, who are we then?
        Then comes the period, short or long doesn’t matter – all God’s business – where we learn “how to work it.” That’s where your questions are coming in.
        Now, just a quick (and by no means infallible) take on how your “sight” is going at the moment, based on your note to me. This little adjustment in sight, done by the Spirit and not by you, is all that is needed. When you truly see this, the tumblers will all begin to turn and one by one all the locks start opening, because this one key is the key to everything. Everything.
        First, I hear you talking about your responses and possible efforts and what level of “responsibility” do you have and fulfilling some sort of “our part” that keeps the ball rolling or keeps it from going into the ditch. My observation is that “you” and the “Spirit” in you are in your consciousness still two separate and distinct entities, living somehow within the confines of your body and mind. This may not describe you, but I used to see the Spirit within me living in some sort of little separate compartment inside me, and I saw “my” job as to always do the right stuff, or think the right stuff, which would keep Him pleased and keep “blessings” flowing our way. As far as a “move” of the Spirit, I always saw that contingent on me somehow figuring out the right formula of stuff to do and pray for, which would, once again, “please” God and cause Him to “move” in some sort of palpable way within and without me.
        Ok, let’s go back a bit. I went and looked again at what you wrote and I have wandered away without answering some of your questions. So let’s review that for a moment.
        Here’s one you wrote – “I’m talking about our daily battle, the ongoing process of sanctification, in which we learn to ‘become what we already are’” adding onto that, “We are in Christ and Christ is in us, but as we learn who we are in Him, don’t we strive to live accordingly, cooperating with the Holy Spirit?”
        You quoted an author who I’ve heard of but haven’t read, so I’ve left his name out. I am only responding to the words you wrote and not who said the originally. So first of all, I don’t look at it that way at all. I did up until I saw who I was in union with Christ. I accept that He is my total sanctification and I have no other and never will get any other, and that full sanctification is ‘mine’ now, nothing to strive to live up to anything. I live from rest because He and I are one and the Father that dwells in me does the works. We don’t need to steady this ark when it looks like it might topple over, because we have let go of the control of it. We’re dead, so it’s tough to hold onto control.
        As far as striving to live after the Spirit, that is absolutely 180 out of sync with the truth. He says, “If you believe on Me then out of your innermost being will flow living rivers of water.” Where is the striving in that? He does the flowing! We walk in rest.
        “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30).
        You see, yes, all those, “strive” and “grow” passages are there, but everything doesn’t apply to everybody all at the same time, or meanings of passages change as we pass from one level of understanding to another. Until you see it is the Spirit Who operates your life and is the answer to every question you asked in yours to me, you will continue to strive along in self-effort. That is an up one day and down the next lifestyle, and many faithful Christians firmly believe, having been taught it by others or by personal experience, that they can never get past the continual back and forth striving between flesh and spirit, and that no matter how hard they try they can never live up to God’s standards so that they confess they “sin every day” whether they can think of one or not, and are thus “stuck” in what really is a transitional point between Rom 7 and Rom 8, as if it is a lifelong sentence. I don’t see Jesus worrying about His own sanctification (depending on the Father to supply that!) nor Paul, after this bout he relates in his Romans letter, Romans 7, where he found himself doing things he was willing himself not to do, and never able to measure up. Romans 8 is the permanent answer to Romans 7, and we need to firmly bury the idea that we are hopelessly stuck between the back and forth bondage of Romans 7 and the Spirit freedom of Romans 8. Any honest reading of Paul will find no other mention of this regarding himself in his other writings. No other mention of walking in the flesh and failure, as he related about himself in an historical way in Romans 7. Romans 7 is what Paul left behind, when he moved permanently into 8, our personal freedom and heritage in the Spirit, and onto the rest of Romans where Paul moves into intercession – his life and our lives expended for the benefit of others in the world. A love life.
        The ”Cross” life Jesus refers to when He says, “Pick up your cross daily” as well as Paul’s famous “I die daily” quote, are in reference to intercession, living the Cross-Resurrection Life, where we are daily expended for others in various ways, as Paul says a couple of different ways in 2 Corinthians 4:8-18.
        “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” [We bear the negatives in some way of the world or individuals]
        Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. [ This is what Paul and Jesus both mean when they say “pick up your cross” and “I die daily.”]
        “So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” That’s where we live, and that’s where Life comes from in the world. All this “get sanctified” “strive to be pleasing” etc., stuff, is mostly distraction. Maybe we need a little bit of that in our beginnings as our minds are renewed, but we can stand up and be our full selves in Christ any moment we believe the Word that keeps coming up from within us.
        You ARE HE in your form! Believe that He has been formed in you! It isn’t you, but it is the REAL YOU. You mind can never fully grasp it so it cannot be analyzed. Only lived.
        If you have yet to strive enough to see the total futility of it (and truth be told, the ultimate blasphemy* that it really, really is, but God looks the other way because He knows we’re ignorant of it), that’s okay. The Lord is glad to oblige. He will get you there!
        *(When I say that to strive to cooperate with the Spirit is blasphemy that God for a time overlooks because of our ignorance, I actually mean it. The reason it is blasphemy is because the “striver” takes upon him/herself the idea that one could emulate God and His works by our human striving. That’s Cain 101 as well as Isaiah 14:12-14! The most wonderful thing about it is that it does not stand, but is always shown up for what it is, an ignorant sham at best, a deceitful trap at worst. Either way, it is no more an obstacle for the Sons.)
        One thing I can share that has been a common happening in many of my friends over the years. Especially in the beginning, when there were many of us coming into a union discovery at the same time. We kept running into books about spiritual living in Christ that told many of the wonderful things of union and oneness that we had also discovered. Many seemed to be saying close to the same truths we had been learning. We would get all excited, thinking we had found another who saw it, until toward the end, and so many of them did this. After all this wonderful truth on our identity in Christ and our death and resurrection through the Cross, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 1:27, etc., and we’re reading and shouting hallelujah – and then – the author does a complete about-face, and in a couple of paragraphs pulls the rug out of everything he had taken a whole book’s worth of time to make. After telling the readers who they were and Christ was their inner lives, suddenly author after author after author brought self-effort back in the end. All this wonderful Truth, only available in the Godhead and from the Godhead, and we’re back to the utter impossibility of self-striving to get there! Just like Paul’s problem with the Galatians –
        “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:1-3).
        There is really only one way through.
        “I am crucified with Christ.” That means I died. “What” died? Don’t worry about it – the Spirit will fill that in. For now, it is enough to know you died. “I am dead.”
        “Nevertheless I live.” Confusing as it may seem, here “I” still am. But something is different.
        “Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Again, the Spirit sorts this out. The rational brain breaks down trying to figure it out. It is enough to know your “I” that is still here, is not exactly the same “I” that it was. No longer that “Old I,” but now only Christ!
        So therefore now, the life I now live every day in the real world, in the flesh (meaning bodily, not spiritually), I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal 2:20).
        This is not something to strive and strain over. It is something to know and understand, then to forget about and live.

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