“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
I want everyone to put aside any political politics for just a moment, and don’t let it interfere with my opening illustration. I would like for you to imagine that you just received a personal telephone call from President Barack Obama inviting you to appear in his presence at the White House. Air Force One will be sent to your home town to bring you and your spouse directly to Washington, D.C.
My guess is that your wife will immediately respond by saying: “Oh, no, I don’t have a thing to wear!” If not the man, then certainly the woman in such a household will be greatly concerned about their physical appearance. They will worry about everything from their shoes, to clothing, to their hair. After all, the White House is a very special place, and you don’t want to appear before our President looking like a slob! Now of course, all this is purely hypothetical. It’s only an illustration.
But a day is coming, maybe sooner than you think, when another personal invitation will come your way. This one isn’t hypothetical. It is all very real, and it is all going to happen. It won’t come from the President of the United States, but from the King of kings, our Lord Jesus Christ. And it really isn’t an invitation that any may choose to decline. It is a demand that all must obey. And it isn’t to the White House that you will be escorted, but into the very presence of Almighty God Himself.
On that day also, what you wear will be far more important than a your clothing. It will be of eternal importance. God’s standard of dress is absolute perfection. Many on that day will ignorantly and self-righteously clothe themselves in their best, and most beautiful good works and earthly accomplishments. They will put together for themselves what they are certain is a full proof appearance. They will dress themselves up with virtue, good intentions, and religious sincerity. No doubt such a person will be impressive for other humans to see, but to God all will be little more than filthy rags.
What will you be clothed in, spiritually speaking, when that day comes? When God dispatches, not Air Force One, but the heavenly host of angels to bring you into His presence, what will you be wearing? What will God see?
The primary focus of Philippians 3:1-11 is that there is only one garment that will matter in the presence of a holy God. It is the garment of the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself received by you, and me, through faith alone. I aim to be found in Christ, says Paul in v. 9, “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”
Are you dressed in His righteousness alone? If not, by faith trust in Jesus Christ righteousness alone, and you will be ready for that royal invitation.