Repenting of your Righteousness

CandleThis morning, Bob’s post popped up in my google reader. It’s exactly what I needed to ruminate on for a beautifully chilly Sunday morning:

"But Christians are those who have adopted a whole new system of approach to God. They may have had both religious phases and irreligious phases in their lives. But they have come to see that their entire reason for both their irreligion and their religion was essentially the same and essentially wrong! Christians come to see that both their sins and their best deeds have all really been ways of avoiding Jesus as savior. They come to see that Christianity is not fundamentally an invitation to get more religious. A Christian comes to say: ‘though I have often failed to obey the moral law, the deeper problem was why I was trying to obey it! Even my efforts to obey it has been just a way of seeking to be my own savior. In that mindset, even if I obey or ask for forgiveness, I am really resisting the gospel and setting myself up as Savior.’ To ‘get the gospel’ is turn from self-justification and rely on Jesus’ record for a relationship with God. The irreligious don’t repent at all, and the religious only repent of sins. But Christians also repent of their righteousness. That is the distinction between the three groups–Christian, moralists (religious), and pragmatists (irreligious)."
– Tim Keller, "The Centrality of the Gospel"

Unless you’ve been in my head for the past five years, you don’t know how much that paragraph puts into words what I’ve started sensing in myself. It’s not about right and wrong, because if Isaiah 64:4 is right and "our righteousness is filthy rags", then we’re totally hosed. "Repenting of my righteousness" sounds so backward, and yet it’s probably something that would be the kickstart for what the church has been looking for all along.

I left a comment on Bob’s post that I’ll probably be cud-chewing this type of thing all day. I needed that.

[photo: zaefonso]

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2 thoughts on “Repenting of your Righteousness

  1. jae says:

    Definitely food for thought, especially when you bring up the righteousness as filthy rags. I’ll be chewing on this idea for awhile..

  2. George says:

    By the way, thanks for positing this. After reading your post, I’ve been chewing on this myself. Chew, chew, chew…

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