And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ…
The grand truth of this doctrine lies just here — when a sinner casts himself in penitence on the mercy of his Saviour, God estimates him not according to what he has been, or is in himself, but according to what he is in relation to Christ. We ourselves are constantly estimating things and persons as they stand related to other things and persons. The geologist estimates the significance of certain remains according to the strata in which they are "found." The chemist estimates the action of certain elements according as they are "found in" this or that combination. The merchant estimates goods according as they stand related to the needs of this or that market. You present your sample; he refuses. "These things won't sell now out yonder in Brazil." You say, "Oh! but judge them on their own merits; see what excellent cloth, what beautiful patterns." But it is of no use. You go into a garden in the early spring when the leaves are just beginning to appear. Two branches are touching each other. The gardener says, "This branch will be laden with fruit, but that will have little or none upon it." You see no difference. The leaves are as fresh and green on the one as on the other. But the gardener judges them according to their relations. The one branch is "found in" a tree which he knows to be fruitful, the other in one he knows to be almost barren. Is it a fiction when he imputes the qualities of the stock to the branch? Or he comes into your garden and sees in one of your borders a plant which is not thriving. "That plant," he says, "will die here, put it in the hothouse." He comes back in a few weeks, and the same plant is "found in" the hothouse. "It is all right now," he says. He does not mean that it has recovered vitality or beauty, but it is in the fair way to health. Its change of relation has "saved" it. Or, say that you go into the studio of a famous artist, and you see him sketching a picture on the canvas. It is but little — only a faint outline; but he tells you his idea, and you know how he has worked out other ideas. It is only a beginning as yet; but it stands related to a master hand, and you can imagine what it will be when finished. Your estimate of the same picture would be very different if you "found" it in the studio, and under the hand of an inferior artist. Or again, you may be told that a newborn babe and a newborn ape are each a mere piece of flesh and blood, and that under the dissecting knife little difference could be detected between them. But the babe is "found in" humanity. It stands related to the human race, and you estimate it according to its latent capacities, although at present there may be no sign of distinctive intelligence. Or, you may apply to have your life insured, and you go to a physician to be examined. He inquires as to any illness you may have had, and into your present state. But he also asks about your parents; when, and of what they died, and also about your brothers and sisters. You might say, "Why not judge of my case purely upon its own merits?" No; his judgment will depend partly on the family stock in which you are found, and he will "impute" to you the healthy or unhealthy qualities of the family stock. And is God not to estimate men according to their relation to Himself, and to His Son? No man is "justified" in living a life of sin, nor in living a life of self-confident Pharisiasm; but when a man comes in a humble and contrite heart and throws himself on the mercy of the righteous One, praying for pardon, and cleansing, and strength to live a better life, his relation is changed and he is justified.
(T. C. Finlayson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: