The songs we choose to sing in our church services are very important. We should make a deliberate effort to choose God-glorifying songs. Let me quote our doctrinal statement at this point:
We seek to use songs that are doctrinally sound and God-centered in their emphases. We believe congregational music should teach and admonish, and not merely entertain. We sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, combining both time-tested hymns with more recently written songs that are biblically accurate.
One “recently written” song that we love to sing is called “Not In Me”. It was written by Eric Schumacher and David Ward in 2012. (They have have a wonderful website with lots of great songs called Thousand Tongues.)
This song is a great gospel reminder to ourselves and to each other when we sing it congregationally. It reminds us that we have no merit of our own that would prompt God to pronounce us righteous before Him. Salvation doesn’t come to us because of what we do or what we refrain from doing, but instead from what Jesus has already done.
The first stanza proclaims:
No list of sins I have not done,
No list of virtues I pursue,
No list of those I am not like,
Can earn myself a place with You.
The pharisee in Luke 18 prayed “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’” (Luke 18:11b-12, ESV)
Ironically, what this man thought was righteous before God, wasn’t. Jesus said it was the other man – the tax collector – that went to his house justified, because unlike the pharisee, he put no confidence in what he was doing or not doing. In shame and humility, he would not even lift his eyes toward heaven. Instead he beat upon his breast and said “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” This is the attitude we must have when we come to Christ. We come naked, looking to God for dress (as another wonderful hymn states).
The second stanza of “Not In Me” (which is partly repeated as an ending to the entire song) hits upon the crux of the matter, and is really the thesis of the entire song. Much of the song lists things that don’t have saving merit. But this stanza below makes the positive statement of what actually does have merit before God – and that is Jesus’ righteousness:
My righteousness is Jesus’ life,
My debt was paid by Jesus’ death,
My weary load was borne by Him
And he alone can give me rest.
It has been said that the only righteousness we have before God is an alien righteousness. In other words, it comes from outside of us. It comes directly from the Son of God and His active obedience to God as He lived sinlessly on this earth for 33 years. Upon a sinner’s repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to him (or accounted to him as if the sinner had done it himself). So when we sing this song, we rejoice that we are clothed with Jesus’ righteousness – the only thing with merit before God.
2 Cor. 5:21 says “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (ESV)
The only righteousness we have is the righteousness that Jesus earned for us. As R.C. Sproul says, “The only works of righteousness that serve to justify a sinner are the works of Christ.”
Listen to song below. Also, the sheet music can be found here.