Let me ask you a question: what is the rally cry that gets you going? What helps you get out of bed in the morning? I am talking about your “boast” in life. Pastor and author Timothy Keller said, “What you boast in is what gives you confidence to go out and face the day. It is the thing of which you say: I am somebody because I have that. I can beat what comes against me today because I am this. What you boast in is what fundamentally defines you; it is where you draw your identity and self-worth from.”
Take out a piece of paper and write on it whatever you thought of when I asked you the above questions. Finished? Now set that piece of paper aside – we will come back to it. The doctrine of justification by faith alone does something very counter intuitive to all our boastings.
Take for example the Apostle Paul. Did Paul have something to boast about? He sure did. In his Letter to the Philippians, he says, “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.” (Philippians 3:4-6)
However, after Paul believed in Christ, he called all the things he used to boast in, “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 (Philippians 3:8-9).” Being justified before God by faith alone in Christ banishes all boasting in oneself and places all our boastings in Christ.
Look at that piece of paper you set aside. Thickly write over what you wrote “rubbish.” Flip over that paper and write down in all caps, “JESUS IS MY BOAST.”
Compared to Christ all other things in the world seem vain. Compared to Christ gold and silver appear as common as dirt. Nothing more beautiful can be found than him. Nothing is more valuable than his precious blood, which he poured out for you and me. The doctrine of justification by faith alone swallows up all boasting. The rally cry of our lives becomes something like the hymn: “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart. Naught be all else to me save that thou art. Thou my best thought by day or by night. Waking or sleeping thy presence my light.”