Ephesians 3:8 KJV Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
Philippians 3:3 AMPC
“For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances“
As abundant as the grace of God is to all of us who have come to Christ, until we lose confidence in ourselves, we cannot experience the unrestrained flow of this grace in our lives. What has constituted a poor testimony to the church of Jesus Christ today is the few areas of our lives that contradicts the gospel, which is only a reflection of how much we have put our trust in the flesh. Many of our unconscious actions (way of life) only show who really owns our allegiance; whether Christ or self.
Objective vs subjective
If we will humble ourselves, we will realize that most of us do not understand the implications of our salvation. If we do, our choices (thoughts, feelings and actions) will not despise the mighty work of grace that has abounded towards us. At salvation, we lost our own righteousness and gained (or received) the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 54:17).
NOTE: Let it remain permanently imprinted into your mind that your own (and my own) self righteousness is “as filthy rags” before God (Isaiah 64:6, Philippians 3:9).
Now, please pause and think about that! Not your righteousness but God’s own righteousness. How can this righteousness be in you and you are still full of unrighteousness? This is God living in you, how does that make you a sinner? This is receiving the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1, Galatians 2:21). God has never been unrighteous…and you can place a demand on that extent or quality of experience and excellence in your life. His righteousness is what makes Him unchallengeable by sin, why should it produce anything less in you?
“Never allow your previous experiences (or other’s), to interfere in your understanding of God’s grace and righteousness. It is not God’s righteousness that needs to measure up to the standard of man’s experience; rather, it is man’s experience that needs to be upgraded to the standard of God’s word “
God has done a work that will never need any amendment. And nobody who has truly come to Christ has received a watered-down, cheap rate righteousness; we have all received equally, the same quality of grace, the same intensity of faith, and the same gravity of life…such that it should be taken for granted that you can no longer sin (1 John 3:9) or fall away (John 10:28-29). This is true, believe it or not! And this establishes the objective work of God that needs nothing to be added to it or removed from it.
However, the subjective side of things, which is your own side of choice, will determine your fate. That is, in spite of the majesty of God’s work of righteousness in your life when you got saved, it cannot impose on you the way (and life) of righteousness; and once your choices in the long run are against God’s righteousness in you, you are revoking your own salvation. Just as Adam (and Eve) had a choice in the matter of their righteousness in the beginning, and the children of Israel had a choice in the matter of entering Canaan, so also do you have a choice in the matter of righteousness and experiencing the grace of God.
The plague of self-confidence
Now, there is enough grace within the entire salvation enterprise to make any sinner, regardless of the degree (or pedigree) of sin, into a saint, a righteous person. Whenever people fall away from grace, it was never a shortage of God’s grace or sufficiency, it was always a little or no revelation of their own insufficiency. It was always a private estimation of self, translating into confidence in self, that deprives them of the necessary inadequacy that unleashes the grace of God upon a life.
The only condition required to receive the grace of God is to lose confidence in your self. There was a measure of that when you got saved because anyone coming to Jesus to be saved is saying in effect, “I am inadequate, I need help, I can’t help myself, please save me!”. I always wonder why we cheapen that which was the basis of our salvation, later on in our Christian experience, thinking that we can now help ourselves. It is a real mark of maturity to retain throughout my life, the same amount of insufficiency that brought me to Christ. If anything, to even grow in that sense of insufficiency. That is the only thing that releases the grace of God continually into my life.
Have you ever wondered why our brother Paul was so effective? We can say, it was because of the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10), but there is something very obvious about the release of this grace into his life. He always considered himself the least (1 Corinthians 15:9). If he had more grace, it must have been because of how he thought less of himself, preferred others before him and counted all things that were gain to him as loss (Philippians 3:7).
Which means if all that Christ died to achieve in our lives will become a reality, we must repudiate ourselves. We must lose confidence in self. We must refuse to credit ourselves with anything. This may be difficult to accept but that is the only way we can explore the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8). For all that is on the objective side of what God has done in Christ to become ours on the subjective side, we must refuse to retain anything of ourselves. We must evacuate all the trust we have in ourselves or else by retaining any measure of confidence in self, we are revoking the means by which we are saved, which can lead to a falling away.
New Living Translation Galatians 3:3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?
To backslide into your own human efforts only points to one thing: there has been a shift in your heart. You have quietly admitted self-confidence into your heart, and it is now making you to neglect your trust in Christ to trust in yourself. It is time for you and me to check our hearts and put to death every high thought of ourselves. Let us think soberly! If there be any achievement, let us credit the rightful owner – Christ.
Romans 12:3 KJV
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith
Picture credit: quote master, virtueonline