“Not having mine own righteousness … but that which is through the faith of Christ.” Philippians 3:9
If faith in obeying the law was something good, then Paul had more reason to boast than others.
He briefly gives his pedigree as to the law with the summary conclusion that he was outwardly blameless (Philippians 3:5-6). But his righteousness was flawed (Romans 3:10, 23) to the point of being worthless, or to use his more graphic expression, “dung” (Philippians 3:8). For this reason, Paul sought the superior righteousness of Christ.
His desire was to trust solely in the righteousness of Christ which was graciously given by God. C. H. Spurgeon stated it this way: “The righteousness of faith is not the moral excellence of faith, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ which faith grasps and appropriates.” God is able to impute this righteousness to a believer because a spiritual union exists between each believer and Christ. Paul expressed this union when he stated that he desired to be found “in Him.” When a believer is in union with Christ, then what is true of Christ is also true of the believer. Christ died on the cross for sin, so the believer was punished in Him (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:14). But Christ is also perfectly righteous in the sight of God and the believer found in Christ is also viewed by God as flawlessly righteous.
The righteousness of God, or which is of God, is not the attribute of God’s righteousness nor is it the imperfect righteousness of the sinner attempting to keep God’s law. It is the righteousness with which God clothes the sinner (Isaiah 61:10). Because God provides or imputes a perfect righteousness as the believer’s standing before Him, the Scripture calls this righteousness “the righteousness of God” (Romans 1:17; 10:3). In reality, it is the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer.
Quote: “O my God, enable me to lay hold of the righteousness of Christ as my righteousness.” – Thomas Chalmers