Study #7 – Read Philippians 3:4 – 3:9
1. 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
Why would Paul list his pedigree, what is he attempting to counter?
Paul is attempting to counter the natural tendency to glory in one’s personal assets. Too often I hear people say, “O if only so and so would come to faith just think of the influence they would have!”. This mindset is totally misguided and denies the truth that all we can list as personal assets are vanity. Paul is also showing through this impressive list that anything others could boast in he already has yet considers all of it to be rubbish when compared with the knowledge of Christ!
2. 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. Contrast this statement with the pervading world view today.
The pervading world view today is to promote yourself by asserting your personal assets. Today people are clamoring over one another to get the best positions and gain prestige and affluence. Paul sets aside all of his natural assets for the sake of Christ. This can mean that Paul actually understands that the things we naturally boast in are a hindrance to a walk of faith in Christ Jesus!
3. Why is it that people by and large, yes even Christians reject the world view Paul asserts here?
People, even Christians reject the worldview Paul asserts here because it seems to be so counter intuitive. Almost everyone is trying to get ahead and to do that one strives for personal gain. Personal gain, assets of any kind are what we use to promote ourselves. Even among the church, pastors get caught up in the trap of boasting in congregation size and programming rather that boasting in Christ alone!
4. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. Contrast Paul’s message with the message so common today that teaches great personal gain because of faith in Christ.
Many today teach Christ as a means for great personal gain – Christ is a means for our health, our wealth, and our prosperity. Paul said, for whose sake I have lost all things, yet many boast, because of whom I have gained all things! Now to be certain, faith in Christ is a means to great personal gain, for what could be greater than eternal life? Yet Paul understood that in seeking Christ he found he needed to let go of those natural things he used to place so much stock in – he set them aside for the greater reality of knowing and serving Christ.
5. How is it that Paul considers the things so many chase after and strive for as garbage?
Paul can have this perspective only because of his relationship with Christ. Paul holds loosely to worldly goods, or wealth because he has set his eyes on the heavenly prize he knows awaits him in Christ Jesus. He is not really losing good things, only letting go of this worlds goods so that they do not hinder his focus on the eternal prize Christ has for him.
6. Luke 16:13
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money”.
How might this message be relevant to what Paul has said in Phil. 3:8?
Many try to serve two Masters, Christ and money and find they cannot do both well. When we set our gaze on earthly wealth we find that it is a severe taskmaster demanding all of our time and talents. The rich man who came to Christ to find the way to eternal life in the end walked away because his wealth was too important to him to let go of. Paul lost/let go of all monetary things for the sake of following Christ.
7. Mark 10:29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life”.
How does Jesus’ message fit with Paul’s message in Phil. 3:8?
Peter had said to Jesus that they had given up all these things for the sake of following Jesus. Jesus did not try to correct Peter, but agreed that these were things disciples will give up and yet anything we give up in this world will be more than replaced by our God who supplies all of our needs. Now what if a person loses many of these things in this world yet does not seem to experience the hundredfold principle Christ talks about here. Does such an experience mean that God’s promise has failed? First, we must understand that Christ’s message has both spiritual and physical applications for this life and the next. Though a person might leave home and family, houses and lands to serve the Lord in another country and die there the promise of God is just as certain for him as anyone else. No one in the world to come will say, I have been short-changed, but will be in awe of the wondrous grace and power of God!
8. 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Why is it so many strive to establish a righteousness of their own based on adherence to laws and rules?
Simply put because this method is more simplistic and lends itself more to our natural inclinations. People tend to prefer being told what to do rather than relying on the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit. Many take great pride in their adherence to rules or laws and use it as a form of spiritual elitism.
9. What is the righteousness that comes from God that is based on faith?
The righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith is that which God attributes to us as a result of faith in Christ Jesus and His completed work of atoning for our sins. This righteousness is not earned by our effort but only through Christ’s shed blood.