Philippians 3:1-11 | Faith over Flesh
1Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
- There were some who would still put confidence in their flesh and the law and insist on circumcision, yet Paul calls them mutilators of the flesh! – really that is what they are if it served no purpose at all.
- We are circumcised in our hearts, not our flesh
- We boast and rejoice in Christ Jesus, not in our own strength and achievements!
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised 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; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
- We might be tempted to put confidence in the flesh and trust in our own self-righteous efforts and deeds, but these will be shown to be worthless
- Whether it is church attendance, moral uprightness or even theological knowledge, these things can become ‘vessels’ in which we place our trust and confidence. These things are not wrong or bad inherently but only when we start to idolize them and worship them instead of God himself.
- It is true that we can begin to worship the things of God instead of God himself.
7But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What 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 9and 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.
- Paul exclaims that anything that he might have put confidence in beforehand, he now considers loss for the sake of Christ. i.e. it has been detrimental and damaging to his journey towards and with God
- Not just that, but he considers all a loss for the sake of knowing Christ, anything that would give him a righteousness of his own he considers garbage/dung!
- We desperately need to evaluate our own standing before God and check that we are not putting confidence in garbage, in anything which would give us a righteousness of our own
- This is hard for those in leadership or with a ‘good track record’ since the waters can easily become muddied in terms of the source of our righteousness
- That which he/we should place our confidence in then is faith in Christ, not in our flesh. It is faith over flesh, as that is where our righteousness come from
10I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
- If all things that we might place our confidence in then are truly garbage, then really the only thing of value is knowing Christ and being found in Him!
- This is what Paul exclaims and makes clear for himself, that he desires to know Christ, to know his power, to know his suffering, and be hopeful of the resurrection
- If we can place no confidence in ourselves then we need to place full confidence in Christ and seek to know Him fully – as that is where our confidence lies; knowing Christ!
Prior to Christ Paul measured his life by many standards and was a high achiever. Yet now he only measures it by one standard, knowing Christ, being found in Him and possessing His righteousness. Do we measure our lives by other standards, even Christian one? Or do we consider them garbage for the sake of knowing Christ?