The world’s eyes have been glued to the tube with George Zimmerman on trial in front of an international audience. Not to downplay the events, but I have always loved court scenes. The arguments made by both sides, the presentation of evidence, and the purposeful and intricately constructed arguments make for great TV. While I may not agree with how publicized and overly drawn out the trial was, it was spellbinding, nonetheless, to watch these two attorney’s duke it out in what would be a case like no other that we have seen for quite some time.
I did notice one thing though, George Zimmerman himself never got up. He rarely spoke, and when he did, he said nothing regarding his own defense. He had an attorney for that.
And much like George Zimmerman, we too have attorneys. They live inside of us—our internal defense mechanisms that spring into action to defend our righteousness. The “Internal Lawyer,” as some writers have referred to him, is out to defend our self-righteousness. His opponent is often the self-righteousness of some other person.
I know it well, especially in marriage. I often seem to find the need to defend myself whenever I am slighted (at least by my definition), or when I’m spoken to in an undeserved way, at least according to my pride’s standards. Let’s face it, all of us know what I am talking about.
But think for a moment about this, why? When offended, why do we respond with our Internal Lawyer? The obvious answer is sin, but what has this sin attached itself to? Pride. And how does this pride manifest itself? In our own self-righteousness.
Why is that important? Because if we read the Bible and look through what the scriptures have to say about our righteousness, we quickly learn that we, in fact, do not bring much to the table on our own—neither before other people or before God. The Bible calls our own righteousness “filthy rags,” at best. So if that is the state of our righteousness, what then is there to defend? Who then is there to defend us?
You’ve heard it said that defense wins games in basketball. In a sense, defense also keeps us in the game where eternal life in the Kingdom is concerned.
Consider Deuteronomy 9:25-29, which says,
I lay flat on the ground before the Lord for forty days and nights, for he had said he would destroy you. I prayed to him: O, Lord God, do not destroy your people, your valued property that you have powerfully redeemed, whom you brought out of Egypt by your strength. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; ignore the stubbornness, wickedness, and sin of these people. Otherwise the people of the land from which you brought us will say, “The Lord was unable to bring them to the land he promised them, and because of his hatred for them he has brought them out to kill them in the desert.” They are your people, your valued property, whom you brought out with great strength and power.
This picture is beautiful and it should never leave our minds. In a foreshadowing of what Jesus Christ would do for us, Moses went before the Lord as a sort of defense attorney in the face of Israel’s blatant disobedience. They had experienced God’s leading, His miracles, fire from heaven, manna from heaven, water from a rock, the parting of the Red Sea, and yet, incredibly, they still blatantly rebelled against God. But Moses interceded for his people. He defended them.
But notice Moses’ argument in making a defense on behalf of Israel. It had absolutely nothing to do with anything Israel had done. It had everything to do with who God was.
As for us, we have a Defense Attorney, too. But, we have one who, according to Hebrews 3:1-4, “has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses.” Jesus not only died on the cross and imputed His own righteousness to us who would believe on Him, but He also became someone who would make intercession for us directly before the throne of the Father. We have one better than Moses. We have a righteousness better than our own. And this righteousness is not abstract—it is the Man, Christ Jesus, our only Mediator Himself. (1 Timothy 2:5).
Our righteousness doesn’t arise from within us. Therefore, there is no place for anything except humility as our response to this righteousness.
The question now is, why would we continue to defend ourselves before God? We have a better Defender. Why put on fig leaves to cover up our sin? He covers us with His own righteousness. And why attempt to defend our own righteousness in the face of insults and offenses from other people in our daily lives? We can accept the perfect righteousness of Christ, and then be free from the need to defend ourselves at all.