Philippians 3:1-21

Philippians 3:1-21                                      June 22, 2019

The third chapter of this prison epistle of Philippians is probably the most encouraging and beloved chapter of Paul’s letter.  It lays out some of the most important doctrines of the Christian life. It also unveils, in stirring language, Paul’s own key personal goal: to know and serve the Lord Jesus. His key challenge is to be joyful!

Stop and consider the situation: it was Paul, Nero’s prisoner in Rome; somewhere before Paul was killed and written around 60 AD; and uncertain of his continuing to even be alive in the days ahead; who was encouraging his friends in Philippi, who were free, to be joyful. One would think it should have been the other way around!  They should have been encouraging him.

Righteousness through Faith in Jesus

Warning against legalizers

Philippians 3:1 Further {or finally}, 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.

Further {finally}: You have heard this before, making a transition to another general subject.  Did not mean Paul was almost finished.

Rejoice in the Lord is a fitting theme for the whole letter.  Paul shared with the Philippians the principle of being able to rejoice in the Lord – not in circumstances or in situations, but in the Lord who works all things together for good.

Jesus promised joy for those who followed Him. Joy is the birthright of all true believers.  Jesus declared

**John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Joy is the best safeguard against error to be in writing than to memory.  It is not any surprise when we believe and trust in God to be filled with joy.

Paul did not mind reminding the Philippians concerning about certain dangers and he would speak out strongly against them.  Strong words.

Philippians 3:2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.

This was a harsh reference to the trouble making legalists who attempted to deceive the Philippians.  Paul said a lot by using these words.

“A Jew would call the Gentile a “dog,” an unclean animal; but here Paul calls the Judaizing {Christian} Teachers, “dogs”!   {false teachers}

  • When Peter was called to open the Gospel to the Gentiles—without first becoming Jews,
  • it created an uproar that was brought to the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. Paul was specifically sent out by the Holy Spirit to minister to the Gentiles

Acts 15:1 Certain people {Judaizers} came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”

  • They were requiring circumcision for Gentiles who wanted to become Christians, this is why Paul said this of them, mutilators of the flesh
  • They followed Paul everywhere, stirring up trouble as they went. 
  • Evil Workers teaches false requirement of circumcision and work at it.
  • Even in the OT, true circumcision is always of the heart (Deut 30:6).
  • True circumcision is not in the flesh, but of the heart in the Spirit.
  • True Christian has experienced a spiritual circumcision in Christ:

**Colossians 2:11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self-ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ,

Philippians 3:3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve {or worship} God by his Spirit, who boast {or rejoice} in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh

**John 4:23-24 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.  (24)  God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Paul said he and his followers are the true circumcision in the heart not of the flesh, who worship God in the Spirit with the Holy Spirit living in each of us.  Jesus and Jesus alone is our joy or rejoice in.

3 Characteristic of the true circumcision Paul just said:

  1. Worship God in the Spirit
  2. Our joy is not found in our own ability to be justified by the law, but by Jesus
  3. We do not trust in our ability to be righteous before God by works, but only confidence is in Jesus

Warning against legal righteousness

Philippians 3:4-6  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.

Paul said, I might also have confidence in the flesh. Why:  The confidence of the Jews was in the flesh of Abraham. They said, “We have Abraham as our father”. Paul of all men, had grounds for relying on the flesh

Paul’s reasons why he might have confidence in the flesh: 

These things were his possessions by birth

Circumcised the eighth day. As required by the law

Of the people of Israel {Of the stock of Israel}: Descended from Israel (Jacob), who had the birthright of Isaac and Abraham.

Of the tribe of Benjamin. A tribe descended from the beloved Rachel;{a wife, not a handmaid} a tribe that remained faithful when the Ten Tribes of Israel seceded, the tribe on whose soil Jerusalem and the temple stood.

A Hebrew of the Hebrews. From both my parents; Hebrew by race, by religion, by education, language, and by custom.

These things were by his personal choice and conviction

A Pharisee. A member of the strictest, most faithful of all Jewish sect in Israel, from a Pharisee family, in their close following of the Law  {Acts 23:6}

Concerning zeal, persecuting the church. His zeal for Judaism was demonstrated by the fact that he was a persecutor to death, members of the church.

For righteousness based on the law: justification or righteousness, the Jews say only way to be obtained salvation by an observance of the law

Faultless {Blameless}. Keeping the letter of the law so as to be blameless in the eyes of his fellow-Jews

Paul was personally taught by the great rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), and his career was a promising one (Gal 1:13-14); yet he gave it all up to become a member of the hated “Christian sect.”

**Galatians 1:13-14 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.  (14)  I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

  • In summary, if anyone could lay claim to pleasing God by law-keeping and the works of the flesh, it was Paul.
  • He was far more qualified than his legalizing opponents were to make such a claim.

Jesus is the object of the Believer’s faith for righteousness

Philippians 3:7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

Paul was saying these things were once his confidence, his glory and joy since childhood, but now, one great loss, not worth anything in comparison of Christ.  Paul said he renounced all dependence on these things.

Paul lost his “religion” to find salvation.

Philippians 3:8-9  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 (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.

Paul’s change of heart on the road to Damascus cause him to see everything in his life quite differently! He did not make him give up his heritage or become less a Jew; but made him a completed Jew—one who had found his Messiah!

Paul puts a personal relationship with Jesus Christ at the very center of his Christian’s life. He joyfully accepted the loss of all other things for the greatness of this personal relationship

  • Paul exposes the great difference between the legal relationship stressed by his opponents and his personal connection with Jesus Christ.
  • The difference is between living and trusting in our own righteousness and living and trusting in God’s righteousness given through faith in Christ.

Jesus is the object of the Believer’s desire for fellowship in the resurrection power

Philippians 3:10-11 I want to know Christ, yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  (11)  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

We know the resurrection demonstrated Jesus to be the Son of God with power. This mighty power that worked in his resurrection works in the saints (you and me) in our resurrection from spiritual and physical death {sin} to a new life and a changed body.

**Romans 6:6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin

**Romans 6:8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Straining Toward the Goal, Winning the Race, it takes effort.  It takes a personal relationship with Jesus. Knowing Jesus means knowing this power, the new life that is imparted to us now, not when we die.  Holy Spirit

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.   

What is our goal, Kingdom of God as Kings and Priests?  God chose us.

  • Paul acknowledges that he was called by Christ Jesus as we are;
  • God had a purpose in calling Paul and each of us;
  • Paul acknowledges that this puts an obligation on himself and ourselves, an obligation to follow after Jesus.
  • If Paul say he has not obtain this as of yet, so we have not ourselves

**John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

**Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Paul said to press on and he had put his hand to the plow and refused to look back.  His effort was put forth to do God’s will, not his own.

**Luke 9:62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Philippians 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

The prize is yet before us and still require effort to take hold of it, it is the purpose in life, the goal line.

Forgetting his or our past and look forward to what is ahead.  {Lot’s wife}

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

If Paul had to do that, what about us what we have to do.  Are we going to be able to just drift along.  Paul is saying he does not have it made yet and still press for the high calling we have, in Christ Jesus.

Paul is telling Philippians to forget the things that are in the past to distract him from the prize, but look forward to the prize that Jesus has for each one of us.

**Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Remember, we are saved by grace, not works.  But we are to do our part which will be our reward.  Everything good we do is in the Name of Jesus.

It is a calling which is “high,” or “upward”- that is, which tends to the skies. The calling of the Christian is from heaven, for us to obtain a bright and imperishable crown

Appeal for Unity among believers, Finishing Well, adopt Paul attitude

Philippians 3:15 All of us, then, who are mature  should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 

Mature – well developed, not children or babes in Christ

The Christian life is “worshipping God in the Spirit, and having no confidence in the flesh”, fully established in things of God.

**1 Corinthians 2:6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.   {wisdom from the spirit}

Two things Paul said here that stands out:

  • Those who have understanding on a point of doctrine should continue in it.
  • Are there any who do not understand these things, they should cause no trouble, and gently waited for the Holy Spirit to give them understanding of the importance of making the effort for the prize.

How can you know God’s will? How is it possible for someone to know the mind of God?   If God has a plan for your life, how does he reveal it to you?

Philippians 3:16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Paul just encourage us take care not to lose the ground we have already gained. Let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

No compromise for the sake of Unity

Philippians 3:17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.

**1 Corinthians 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.  

{Very important – example of Christ, those who does not follow Christ example}

Look for those who are walking in the same way as we are.  Take note of those who are doing this.  Paul good example of walking the walk.

Story of father and son, walking together

Philippians 3:18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Paul was weeping as he wrote this for the enemies of Jesus because of the evil such offenders do, a warning against them {bad examples}.

This group had come into the church, but had not left off their pagan vices, it was in their practice, not in doctrine.  These enemies of the cross are opposite of the legalists, they celebrated their supposed liberty in Jesus, who thought that salvation comes without repentance and conversion and who thought that as long as your soul was saved, it didn’t matter what you did with your life, required really no commitment to this way of life.

Philippians 3:19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.

He does not have to warn about those who are outside the church, but those who are inside the church.  We have to watch out for this.

Jesus is the object of the Believer’s Faith and Strong Hope

Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Remember, Philippi was a Roman colony, “Rome away from Rome.” In a sense, we, too, are a colony of heaven on earth.  Christians need to remember that though we are in this world we are not of this world;  We merely pilgrims and strangers on the earth.

Our citizenship is in heaven, with our thoughts, our affections, are already in heaven.

Philippians 3:21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Our lowly body shall undergo a change, we will be resurrected, we will have the same type of body that Jesus Himself had when he was resurrected and take the same form of Jesus glorified body at His return.

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