My wife and I like to run in the evenings. Actually, my wife doesn’t run. She rides her bike alongside me.
To be truthful, I don’t really run either–not anymore. My pace is so slow these days that I can only travel at a slow jog. And maybe that’s the reason I like to run at night—so people won’t see me. It’s embarrassing to move so slow–especially on an Army post.
A Stronger Light
But, you ask, how do I see in the darkness? I bring along one of those strap-on LED headlamps. On nights when there’s no moon out and no other sources of light, that little headlamp gives a bright beam to shine the way and to keep me from stepping in a hole and breaking my ankle.
But when we near the finish of our run, we pass under a series of mercury vapor street lamps that are many times brighter than my little headlamp. In fact, they are so bright that I no longer need that smaller light.
And I’ve noticed something else. When I pass under these streetlamps and look at the road surface, I notice that the streetlamp is so bright that my whole body casts a shadow. And when glancing at the shadow of my head, instead of seeing the glow of my headlamp, I only see its shadow. My headlamp was so overpowered by the brightness of the streetlamp, that the little light upon my head cast a shadow and no longer gave light. In fact, that little headlamp obstructed the bright light of the brighter street lamp and was actually spreading darkness by casting a shadow.
A light that spreads darkness! You know, that parallels the sum total of all our good and righteous deeds in the light of Christ’s righteousness. Compared with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, our righteousness only casts a dark shadow.
Can we trust in our own goodness and righteousness to get us into heaven? Not likely, Jesus told us “You must be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). There’s no way you or I can ever hope to measure up to God’s perfect light. My deeds and my whole character only casts a shadow before the light of Christ. “We are all like an unclean thing and all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags,” said the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 64:6).
But there’s no need to despair. Though our own righteousness will never measure up to God’s, He promises to give us his, as a gift, by simply trusting in His Son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. “We have been made righteous as a gift of God’s grace through Christ’s redemption. It is Christ whom God displayed publically as the satisfaction for our sins when His blood was shed on the cross and we put our faith in Him” (Romans 3:24–25). This is why Isaiah also says, “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation; He has wrapped me in the robe of His righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).
When we put our faith in Jesus, God forgives us and takes away our sins. Then He clothes us with His own righteousness and makes us fit to stand in the light of His glorious presence in heaven. Trusting in our own efforts and our own worthiness is a doomed endeavor. Put your faith in Jesus Christ who has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. He cleanses us, saves us, and clothes us with God’s own righteousness.
Dear Father in heaven, I put no confidence in myself or in the sum total of all my good deeds. All those things cannot possibly save me. For in the light of Your righteousness, they only cast a dark shadow. I put my faith in Jesus. Please forgive my sins. Please cleanse me and clothe me with Your righteousness and make me fit to live with You in heaven. Amen.