People get defensive. We know we are vulnerable to some accusations, so we avoid those areas whenever possible. Then someone says something implying we are vulnerable in some other area. Almost out of a twisted transference of anxiety from our indefensible failure, temptation launches us into a vigorous defense of ourselves in the area of perceived accusation. It can really freak out people who get the defense without ever realizing they have accused.
Galatians 2:17-21 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! (18) For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. (19) For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. (20) I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (21) I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Why do we want to be justified? There is a sense of ‘ought-ness’ we all carry. Nature and nurture foster this. Yes, community gives us expectations, yet there is traction in those expectations partly because of the inner sense of who we should be. We should be righteous, but we aren’t.
Righteous is better than wrongous, yeah? Of course. Righteous ultimately just means appropriately correct. We get all wound up about the word though. Same with “sinner”. Missing the mark, as in an arrow failing to hit its target, just means: “no, that’s not right.” Sin vs. righteousness is the same dynamic but not in weapons management, rather in soul management. When I sin, I mishandle my soul (body, mind, will). Righteousness is properly handling the soul I have been created to be.
I was born flawed and I do not fly true. I am un-righteous arrow. The warning from Paul is twofold. 1. Don’t use “Christian” terms to do the old trick of trying to draw the bull’s-eye around where we strike. This happens when we adjust scripture, doctrine, missiology, gossip or whatever to make sure that what we just did was the right thing to do, regardless. 2. By the grace of God in Christ, work out your gifted salvation such that you become a more righteous, straight and reliable arrow.
I’ll type it out for myself again.
- Less energy trying to look good by lawyering definitions.
- More energy in releasing who I have become so I can be transformed by Christ’s wisdom and power
I need to treasure Christ, and his righteousness. Life can work. Jesus managed his soul quite well.
I need to not protect my unrighteousness. If it gets exposed, it will have a hard time surviving. So be it. Didn’t like the unrighteousness anyway!
I need to crave actual righteousness. I want to add into my habits the habits of thinking and acting that Jesus employed so well. By his grace (and all that means) I want to enjoy the freedom of forgiveness so I can learn to live well.