As far as we know, this Pharisee was a total lover of the sovereignty of God. As far as we know he would have said, “Not I, but the grace of God in me has worked this righteousness.” He says, “I thank you, God, that I have this righteousness.” That was not his mistake. His mistake was that he trusted in this God-produced righteousness for justification. When it came to justification—for that is the issue, as verse 14 shows—this man was trusting in the wrong thing. He was looking at the wrong basis for his righteousness before God. He was looking at the wrong ground for his righteousness before God. He was looking at the wrong person and the wrong righteousness. He was looking to his own righteousness—and it was his, not because he created it, but because he acted it. It was in his will and in his heart and in his actions. It was his, and it was put there by God, he believed. That is what he was trusting in . . .Do you see why I would spend weeks of my sabbatical laboring to understand why so many teachers in the church today are replacing the righteousness that Christ has in Himself with the righteousness that Christ creates in us as the basis for our justification? People who trust in the righteousness that God has worked in them for the basis of their acceptance and acquittal and justification do not go down to their house justified. People who really believe that the righteousness that God helps them do in this life is a sufficient basis for their justification, Jesus says, will not be justified. Bethlehem, this is serious. We are not justified by the righteousness that Christ works in us, but by the righteousness that Christ is for us.
Give Jesus Christ His Full Glory.
Would you receive this, and glory in this, and pray toward this, and stand for this? I summon everyone in the hearing of my voice: Give Jesus Christ his full glory—not half of it. Give Him the glory, both as the one who is perfect righteousness for us—which we have by faith alone—and the one who, on the basis of justification, works progressive righteousness in us. Don’t rob Him of the glory of His role as your righteousness. He is your righteousness. And because He is your righteousness, He can, and will in time, make you righteous. Look to Christ alone, trust in Christ alone—not your righteousness—for your right standing in God’s court and your acceptance with Him. Amen.