Short Meditations in Philippians: 5. A Righteous People
Phil 1:11a filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.
There is a direct link between verses 10 and 11. You remember verse 10 said, “so that you may be able to discern what is best,” meaning “so that you will know how to live how God wants you to live.” Now being ‘righteous’ means living a ‘right life’, which is a life lived according to the way God has designed us to live.
So both these verses point the same direction. The Christian life is all about now living as God wants and not what the old self-centred, godless me wants. The old life – that old self-centred, godless me life – was a life that wanted to live independently of God and thus wanted to try living by ways that simply responded to my human physical and emotional desires which had no boundaries, gratifying my ego and often getting into trouble, physically, emotionally, relationally. When we came to Christ, when we were converted, born again, or whatever other way we might want to put it, we surrendered our lives to him, not only to him as our Saviour so that he could bring us the salvation he had earned for us on the Cross, but also as our Lord who would lead and guide us through the rest of our life on this earth.
That is what being righteous is all about. First it is what theologians call ‘imputed’ righteousness, i.e. we have been declared righteous by God because Christ has dealt with all our sin and guilt on the Cross. Second, it is also what theologians call ‘imparted’ righteousness, because when Jesus put his own Holy Spirit within us, HE is righteous and the rest of our lives will be about how HE will be living out HIS life through us. But it is a slow process because He does it in harmony with us and in accord with our will.
It is as we purposely submit to Him that He is able to lead and guide us and change us and that, as we just said, is a slow process, a process that will continue right through our lives until we meet him face to face when we will, indeed, be perfect in every way. That latter part is how verses 10 and 11 blend together: “may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness”.
“The day of Christ” is the day we meet him. On that day we will be utterly blameless, filled with his righteousness. As today’s verse says, this all “comes through Jesus Christ.” He has earned it for us on the Cross and now brings it to us by the means of his own Spirit indwelling us, empowering us, inspiring us, emboldening us, leading us, guiding us. We are righteous in his sight as far as he is concerned on a judicial basis, and so now all he is concerned about is bringing us into the experience of it on a daily basis. Hallelujah!