August 11 I Tuesday
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” —John 15:5
According to Old Testament theology, the people of Israel saw themselves as the true vine and thought that through their religious efforts, they could attain peace with God. But Jesus notes, “…apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus’s words struck at the root of our own self-confidence before God. The religious leaders struggled with this because they lived according to the old covenant, believing they were the chosen, the elect and the true vine because they were Abraham’s descendants. Jesus, however, was saying in essence, “It is not about your birthright, your ancestry, your religious pedigree or your devotion. It is about your connection to Me that matters the most.”
The Apostle Paul talked about the reality of this mind shift that he went through when he came to faith in Christ. “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put 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; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless” (Philippians 3:4-6). Paul revealed to us that all of his confidence had once rested on his ancestry, his pedigree, his religious devotion to the law and his obedience to God. Paul thought that he would be accepted because of his devout life.
Yet, Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus and experienced a dramatic conversion. Paul described what coming to Christ is like by comparing it to the old covenant thinking: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 4:7-9). Paul recognized that righteousness is not something that God wanted from him because the reality is, no matter how hard he tried, he could never satisfy God’s holy and righteous requirement. What mattered most was Paul’s union with Jesus Christ, not his religious pedigree or devotion.
May we place our security not on our heritage or ancestry but firmly in faith in Jesus Christ, who bestows upon us His righteousness.
Prayer: My Lord Jesus Christ, I confess my sins for when I thought I could earn my own righteousness through works, but the reality is this righteousness could only come from faith in You. Thank You, Lord.