The righteousness Paul is speaking about here is external and comes from Christ living in us. It’s not internal, and it doesn’t come from ourselves. So if we are concerned about Christian righteousness, we must completely set aside the self. If I focus on myself, then I become concerned about works and become subject to the law—whether I intend to or not. Instead, Christ and my conscience must become one so that I see nothing else except the crucified and risen Christ. If I ignore Christ and look only at myself, then I am ruined. Soon I begin thinking, “Christ is in heaven; I am on earth. How can I come to him? I will try to live a holy life and do what the law requires so that I will find eternal life.” If I consider myself—my condition and what I should be doing—then I will always lose sight of Christ. He alone is my righteousness and my life. If I lose him, no one else will be able to help me. Despair and condemnation will certainly follow. Unfortunately, this happens all the time. When facing temptation or death, it’s natural for us to ignore Christ and look at our own lives. If we aren’t strengthened through faith during those times, we will perish. So during these struggles of conscience, we must learn to let go of ourselves. We must forget about the law and works. They only drive us to look at ourselves. Instead, we must turn our eyes directly toward the bronze snake, Christ, the one nailed to the cross (John 3:14). We must fix our gaze upon him.
Martin Luther | Faith Alone (p. 267). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
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