“God has given us a record of His majesty in the holy Scriptures.”
–John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians (trans. Arthur Golding; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1562/1973), 180. Calvin is preaching on Ephesians 2:11-13.
“A second property of an humble soul is this, He overlooks his own righteousness, and lives upon the righteousness of another, to wit, the Lord Jesus. So the apostle, (Philip. 3:8–10), overlooks his own righteousness, and lives wholly upon the righteousness of Christ: ‘I desire to be found in him,’ saith he, ‘not having mine own righteousness.’
Away with it, it is dross, it is dung, it is dog’s meat! It is a rotten righteousness, an imperfect righteousness, a weak righteousness, ‘which is of the law; but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith,’ that is a spotless righteousness, a pure righteousness, a complete righteousness, an incomparable righteousness; and, therefore, an humble soul overlooks his own righteousness, and lives upon Christ’s righteousness.
Remember this, all the sighing, mourning, sobbing, and complaining in the world, doth not so undeniably evidence a man to be humble, as his overlooking his own righteousness, and living really and purely upon the righteousness of Christ. This is the greatest demonstration of humility that can be shewn by man, (Mat. 6:8).
Men may do much, hear much, pray much, fast much, and give much, &c., and yet be as proud as Lucifer, as you may see in the Scribes, Pharisees, Mat. 23, and those in Isa, 58:3, who in the pride of their hearts made an idol of their own righteousness: ‘Wherefore have we fasted,’ say they, ‘and thou seest it not? wherefore have we afflicted our souls, and thou takest no knowledge?’
Oh! but for a man now to trample upon his own righteousness, and to live wholly upon the righteousness of another, this speaks out a man to be humble indeed. There is nothing that the heart of man stands more averse to than this, of coming off from his own righteousness.
Man is a creature apt to warm himself with the sparks of his own fire, though he doth lie down for it in eternal sorrow, Isa. 50:11. Man is naturally prone to go about to establish his own righteousness, that he might not subject to the righteousness of Christ; he will labour as for life, to lift up his own righteousness, and to make a saviour of it, Rom. 10:4.
Ay, but an humble soul disclaims his own righteousness: ‘All our righteousness is as filthy rags.’ ‘Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight shall no man living be justified,’ Ps. 143:2. So Job, ‘Though I were righteous, yet I would not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge,’ Job 9:15.
Proud Pharisees bless themselves in their own righteousness: ‘I thank God I am not as this publican; I fast twice in the week,’ &c., Luke 18:11, 12. Ay, but now a soul truly humbled blushes to see his own righteousness, and glories in this, that he has the righteousness of Christ to live upon.2 Rev. 4:10, 11, the twenty-four elders throw down their crowns at the feet of Christ.
By their crowns you may understand their gifts, their excellencies, their righteousness; they throw down these before Christ’s throne, to note to us, that they did not put confidence in them, and that Christ was the crown of crowns and the top of all their royalty and glory. An humble soul looks upon Christ’s righteousness as his only crown.”
–Thomas Brooks, “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ,” in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 3, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), 11-12.
“To speak of Christ’s love as ‘surpassing knowledge’ means that it is so great that one can never know it fully. We can never plumb its depths or comprehend its magnitude. No matter how much we know of the love of Christ, how fully we enter into His love for us, there is always more to know and experience.
And the implication, in the light of the following words, is that we cannot be as spiritually mature as we should be unless we are empowered by God to grasp the limitless dimensions of the love of Christ.”
–Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, PNTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 264.
“Almost all men are infected with the disease of desiring useless knowledge. It is of great importance that we should be told what is necessary for us to know, and what the Lord desires us to contemplate, above and below, on the right hand and on the left, before and behind.
The love of Christ is held out to us as the subject which ought to occupy our daily and nightly meditations, and in which we ought to be wholly immersed. He who holds in possession of this alone, has enough.
Beyond it there is nothing solid, nothing useful– nothing, in short, that is right or sound. Go abroad in heaven and earth and sea, you will never go beyond this without overstepping the lawful bounds of wisdom.”
–John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 169. Calvin is commenting on Ephesians 3: 18-19.