Paul listed 7 major personal traits or accomplishments which made him righteous in the eyes of the Jewish community. It all had to do with his lineage under the law and his strict observance of 30 we are savedsome 613 does and don’ts as established by Jewish tradition. That kind of righteousness became to Paul as valuable as used toilet paper. It was disgusting and was good only to be discarded. Isaiah made a similar evaluation about 700 years earlier when he referred to man’s righteousness as “filthy rags.” When you understand the Biblical illusion in the phrase in the Hebrew culture you see that he’s saying nearly the same thing. Only a couple translations handle this Hebrew word with its real meaning. Look at the New English Translation (NET) and you’ll see “all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight.” If you read the newer Lexham English Bible (LEB) you’ll see “all our deeds of justice like a menstrual cloth.” In our sensitive English translations you’ll see both of these verses euphemized in order not to give too much information (TMI). We don’t want to have those images yet both Isaiah and Paul understood that human righteousness in God’s eyes add up to nothing more than something we don’t even want to think about. They add up to nothing more than something we want to keep out of sight and out of mind. They are nothing more than something that must be disposed of.

Paul goes in in Philippians 3:9 to explain that the only righteousness that matters to God is the perfect righteousness of Christ and nothing man can do will ever compare to it or ever come close to it. Yet it’s this righteousness that everyone must have in order to enter into the perfect presence of God in a perfect place like heaven. So Paul says that the only way to live up to God’s standard is to be “…found in him (Christ), 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.”

As Richison says, “There are two kinds of righteousness. First, there is a spurious righteousness, a counterfeit righteousness, a man-made righteousness, a synthetic righteousness, a righteousness of man’s endeavor. In God’s eyes self-righteousness is a spurious righteousness. This is human righteousness. The other righteousness is a righteousness whereby nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling. It is a righteousness that is a gift from God through Christ.” You must see that it is one or the other, not both. No mixture of human righteousness can infiltrate into God’s acceptance of man. It is only through Christ’s righteousness. Anthony Ash says, “This verse contrasts faith in Christ and human merit. If one attempts to receive righteousness by the latter means then it cannot be gained by the former, which means, in Christian terms, it cannot be gained at all.” This is why Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man can come to the Father except through me.”