�All for the Sake of Christ�
Philippians 3:1-11 SCC 1/9/11
What would your life look like today if you placed all of your profit on the other side of the grave? Your entire life would be completely changed. Everything about you would be altered. If you determined that everything you do, everything you become must be profitable from the other side of the grave, you would never be the same person you are today. The apostle Paul testifies of his complete transformation into that kind of person because he determined to do and be all for the sake of Christ. Enslaved to Christ will alter the very core of your existence. What do we need to understand to experience this same transformation?
THE WORLD SAYS YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS MEAN SOMETHING WHEN THEY MEAN NOTHING 1-7
1. Paul calls us to rejoice in the Lord vs.1
He has some further information he wants to share with the Philippians as he begins the conclusion of this letter. But before getting to that he repeats to the theme of the book �rejoicing� (1:18; 2:17-18; 3:1; 4:4). The circumstances for everyone involved; Paul, Timothy, Epa, and the Philippians, could discourage them. It is easy for believers to let their circumstances discourage them. It seems that the cure for this is a rejoicing spirit. But that only comes from a changed perspective�one that is rooted in a completely new way of seeing things from God�s point of view. So we �rejoice in the Lord�. Since Paul is in prison it might seem he needs the encouragement but he is alright because he sees things differently and he wants to assist the Philippians in doing the same. So there can be rejoicing in the Lord even when circumstances are contrary to that. Bad circumstances will not discourage a transformed believer and good ones will not encourage him. Our confidence is only in the Lord and in Him we can rejoice in all circumstances.
2. Paul says repeating the same things is not a bother but a help vs.1
So repetition is vlauable as a safeguard. It is no trouble for Paul to review the essentials with the Philippian believers again. Repetition is a vital part of learning. It even serves as a safeguard to benefit us and keep us out of trouble. How many times has repeated instruction been a benefit to you on the job or in athelics�we have to get back to the fundamentals�or on the battlefield. It is also beneficial to the Philippians and then to us.
3. Paul uses this repetition as a safeguard against earthly and fleshly confidence vs.2
Three times he says �beware� and he lists three groups to warn the Philippians. He considers each of them as dangerous. The first group is called �dogs�. Jews designated gentiles as dogs meaning gentiles were despised and worthless like a pack of dogs. Here Paul may use it to describe those prowling around believers to overtake them and lead them astray. The second group is called evil workers and the third as �mutilators� referring to Jews telling them they had to keep the Law of Moses and so a false circumcision group. The context is that of false teachers attacking new believers to influence them. We must �watch out� for this meaning we have a strong push to use discernment! Groups will want to motivate us to assume our accomplishments are valuable. Watch out for this.
4. The reason to beware is because believers must not have earthly or fleshly confidence vs.3
So it seems that a significant part of these multilators work was saying believers could not be God�s people without being circumcised. But here he says we are circumcised�God intended an inner circumcision of the heart to accompany the outward rite (Deut 30:6). Circumcision is now meaningless but since our hearts have been changed by faith we are already circumcised. We are set apart in our hearts as God�s people. As such it is believers who worship Christ in the Spirit of God. It is believers who glory in Christ Jesus. It is wbe;ievers who place no confidence in the flesh for salvation. Christian circumcision is spiritual not physical. It is a sign of belonging to God and being separated from the world. For us today that sign is the indelling HS who leads us to worship and put no confidence in our credentials or accomplishments.
5. Paul could have more confidence in his credentials and accomplishments than these influencers vs. 4-6
Here is an elaboration of these judaizers idea about the significance of the fleshly confidence. If you want to go that route then Paul outdistances the competition in at least seven ways.
v Circumcised the 8th day so he was not a proselyte but a pure-blooded Jew
v Of the nation of Israel he could trace his genealogy all the way back to Abraham
v Of Benjamin stresses his association with that privileged tribe loyal to David
v Hebrew of Hebrews was his native tongue not adotping greek traditions
v As to the law a Pharisee a member of the strictest religious sect
v As to zeal what greater evidence than persecutor of the Christian church
v As to righteousness from law keeping he was absolutely faultless
He was head and shoulders above these judaizers who promoted the significance of earthly and fleshly accomplishments and credentials. If they wanted to go there, Paul had them beat. So what did he think about these credentials and achievements?
6. Paul says whatever profit his credentials, these he counts as loss for the sake of Christ vs.7
Apparently after reflection�Paul counted this�as loss. Somewhere in the past he took some time to consider things and then reconsiders his view of the Damascus road conversion from confidence in the flesh to confidence in Christ alone. The significance and profit of physical circumcision are worthless and coming from him that is significant. These fleshly and earthly advantages and the goods with them are only meaningful one-dimentioanlly�that is on this side of the grave. He would rather be wealthy forever. They mean nothing!
Now the world will want you to believe that who you are and what you do is what matters. That getting ahead and making something of yourself is profitable. And it is, if all you have to live for is this side of thre grave. Paul had it all but because of Christ he sees it all as nothing. That includes your education, wealth, positions and talents.
FOCUS ON KNOWING MORE ABOUT CHRIST BECAUSE THIS IS ETERNALLY VALUABLE 8-11
1. Paul deems all things as loss in view of the surpassing valus of knowing Christ vs.8
This begins an elaboration of what was said in vs 7. The entire argument hinges on this verse �but on the contrary�. So it is not only the things listed previously but also �all things� he counts as loss. That is �everything�. This guy is sold out to Christ. Not only the Jewish things but all the things he had gaind on this side of the grave are a loss even a penalty. So the gain of earthly things can hold us back like a penalty and keep us from attaining an advantage in eternity.
2. Paul says in contrasts to this real loss is the advantage of knowledge of Christ vs.8
This is the real goal in life. A relationship with Christ based in knowledge not experience. A knowledge of truth not a mixture of truth and error which is worldly knowledge. The object of this knowledge is Jesus Christ; His person and Lordship in my life. It is a knowledge not based in a metaphysical relationship but based on real, objective, and verifiable and historical reality. By comparison everything else is loss or punishment. All other gains are considered rubbish or dung otherwise. His credentials; his acievements; his heritage; his accomplishments; his advantages; his position; his zeal. All of this is marks against him whene compared to the surpassing knowledge he has gained of Christ! Nothing else mattered.
3. The purpose of counting these things as loss is to gain Christ vs.8
So Paul�s purpose is to have the ultimate personal gain and profit�Christ only. Christ as Savior and Lord surpassed anything he had in Judaism. All other is worthless and that emphatically! His personal knoledge and acquaitance with Christ so surpassess alll of that, that his earthly credentials look like excrement�worthless refuse with no value wharsoever. Now the temptation in this world will be to see value in what we accomplish, who we become, where we go, what we do, and who we know! It always will be because this world can only offer this to us and nothing more. But Christ offers us so very much more. When you know and understand that then like Paul everything changes. Nothing remains the same.
4. Paul tells us how he wants to be found by God vs.9
Paul wants to have a righteousness through faith and not works. So being in Christ is not clinging to any of my own supposed righteosness by law-keeping or nose-cleaning. The only rightoeusness that counts is one of faith in Christ. This is the only kind which comes from God. It is ours only by faith not by predestination; not by works; not by rule-keeping; not by religion. Once this happens then it opens the door to incredible possibilities for the believer statred in vs 10-11.
5. Paul says he wants to know Christ intimately vs.10
Paul already knew Christ as his Savior. But he wants to gain a deeper knowledge of Christ in at least two ways; (1) the power of His resurrection. Now this is significant power. It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead so we know it is supernatural. He wants the supernatural actually demonstrated and experienced in his life. Everytime you are changed in some way into the image of Jesus Christ there is evidence of the supernatural at work in you. The fleshly past is no comparison to the transforming work of the Spirit of God within you. He is not talking about miracles and signs and wonders but inner transformation of character and persepctive. (2) He wants to experience the suffeings of Christ. He also adds that he wants to share in Christ�s death. Of course he is not talking about sharing in Christ�s atoning work for our sin since those cannot be shared by Paul or anyone else. But he did suffer for the sake of righteousness not politics or world hunger or poverty or aids in Africa but for that which is characterized by the will of God in His Word. The gospel he openly shared. Jesus died because of sin and the gospel. So our passion must be the gospel, sin, rightoeusness and Chriostlikeness.
6. Paul says his ultimate goal is to have a life with eternal value vs.11
Here everything is put in perspective. He wants to attain to the out-resurrection possibly referring to the rapture. He did not doubt he would be resurrected but he did not know if he would be raptured and is expressing the hope that perhaps the Lord would return in his lifetime. So this once used word convceys a unique perspective he had on eternity and while waiting for that to happen he would make his life etrnally valuable for the sake of Christ.
So here we have a glimpst into the personal, profit motive of the apostle Paul. Since it is his motive and since he is an apostle we must take this perspective seriously. It seems that the best way for us to profit in this life is to make sure our lives are profitable in the next. Following Christ for eternal profit is not selfish. I am not taking anything from you when I determine to live an eternally profitable life while living here. You cannot take anything away from me when you too determine to live for the sake of Christ. God�s resources are unlimited and he never runs out of assets to give. In the end we will both be rewarded for who we become and what we do for Christ. If God�s resources were limited then pursuing Christ would be selfish because in the end someone would lose. But in reality it is being true to my self-ness that motivates me to pursue Christ. So our profit motive is on the other side of the grave. We do that by doing all for the sake of Christ on this side.
1. The point is not to be swayed by earthly goals or agendas because if I live for these I will lose out eternally.
2. When you are captured by Christ your entire persepctive changes. You can now live your life as an investment in eternity.
3. If you live for this side of the grave and set earthly goals you will justify sinful strategies to do it.