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  • RICHARD DEAN BROOKS

No Confidence in the Flesh, Just a LOSS without CHRIST

Joy in believing

PHILLIPIANS 3:1-11

No Confidence in the Flesh, Just a LOSS without CHRIST


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. 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, j persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, l faultless. 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. 10I want to knows 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.


3: 1   As a safeguard, Paul reviewed the basics with these believers. The Bible provides our safeguard both morally and theologically. When we read the Bible individually, study it in groups, and hear it taught at church, it makes us aware of corrections we need to make in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. Knowing the Bible keeps us alert against false teaching while pointing us to sound doctrine, wise choices, and most importantly, a life-giving relationship with God.


3: 2-3   These “dogs” and “evildoers . .  . mutilators of the flesh” were Judaizers— Jewish Christians who wrongly believed that it was essential for Gentiles to follow all the Old Testament Jewish laws, especially submission to the rite of circumcision, in order to receive salvation. Many Judaizers were motivated by spiritual pride. Because they had invested so much time and effort in keeping their laws, they could not accept the fact that all their efforts couldn’t bring them a step closer to salvation. Paul criticized the Judaizers because they looked at Christianity backward, thinking that what they did (circumcising— cutting or mutilating the flesh) made them true believers rather than the acceptance of the gift of grace given by Christ. What believers do to serve God is a result of faith, not a prerequisite to faith. This had been confirmed by the early church leaders at the Jerusalem council 11 years earlier (Acts   15), and Paul taught earnestly about the relationship between faith and the law in his letter to the Galatians. Who are the Judaizers of our day? They are those who say that people must add something else to simple faith. No person should add anything to Christ’s offer of salvation by grace through faith.


3: 2-3   It is easy to place more emphasis on human effort (“ confidence in the flesh”) than on faith, but God values the attitude of our hearts above all else. Don’t judge people’s spirituality by their fulfillment of duties or by their level of human activity. In addition, don’t think that you will satisfy God by feverishly doing his work. God notices all you do for him and will reward you for it, but only if it comes as a loving response to his free gift of salvation.


3: 3   The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, impacts all aspects of the Christian life. Paul wrote many times about the vital role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. No one can be considered part of the new community unless they receive the Spirit (Romans 8: 9). The presence of the Spirit in a believer’s life makes circumcision unnecessary (Galatians 3: 1-5). The Spirit also aids us in our prayers (Romans 8: 26) and gives gifts to help us worship God and serve others (Ephesians 4: 11-13). Through the Spirit we have real access to God in prayer (Ephesians 2: 18-21). Christian worship is intensely spiritual— whatever outward forms are used, worship is always inspired by the Holy Spirit. When we worship God, we should take time to acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s role.


3: 4-6   At first glance, it looks like Paul is boasting about his achievements and status. But he is actually doing the opposite, showing that human achievements, no matter how impressive, cannot earn a person salvation and eternal life with God. Paul had impressive credentials: upbringing, nationality, family background, inheritance, orthodoxy, activity, and morality (see 2   Corinthians   11 and Galatians 1: 13-24 for more of 3: 2-3   It is easy to place more emphasis on human effort (“ confidence in the flesh”) than on faith, but God values the attitude of our hearts above all else. Don’t judge people’s spirituality by their fulfillment of duties or by their level of human activity. In addition, don’t think that you will satisfy God by feverishly doing his work. God notices all you do for him and will reward you for it, but only if it comes as a loving response to his free gift of salvation.


3: 4-6   At first glance, it looks like Paul is boasting about his achievements and status. But he is actually doing the opposite, showing that human achievements, no matter how impressive, cannot earn a person salvation and eternal life with God. Paul had impressive credentials: upbringing, nationality, family background, inheritance, orthodoxy, activity, and morality (see 2   Corinthians   11 and Galatians 1: 13-24 for more of his credentials). However, his conversion to faith in Christ (Acts   9) wasn’t based on what he had done but on God’s grace. Paul did not depend on his deeds to please God because even the most impressive credentials fall short of God’s holy standards. Are you depending on Christian parents, church affiliation, or just being good to make you right with God? Credentials, accomplishments, or reputation cannot earn salvation. Salvation comes only through faith in Christ.


3: 6   Why had Paul, a devout Jewish leader, persecuted the church? Agreeing with the leaders of the religious establishment, Paul had thought that Christianity was heretical and blasphemous. Because Jesus did not meet his expectations of what the Messiah would be like, Paul had assumed that Jesus’ claims were false— and therefore wicked. In addition, he had seen Christianity as a political menace because it threatened to disrupt the fragile harmony between the Jews and the Roman government. 3: 7   When Paul speaks of his “gains,” he is referring to his credentials, credits, and successes. After showing that he could beat the Judaizers at their own game(being proud of who they were and what they had done), Paul shows that it is the wrong game. Be careful of considering your position or past achievements so important that they get in the way of your relationship with Christ.


3: 8   After Paul considered everything he had accomplished in his life, he decided to write it all off as “a loss” when compared with the greatness of knowing Christ. We should value our relationship with Christ as more important than anything else. To know Christ should be our ultimate goal. Yet how do we know him better? (1)   Study the life of Christ in the Gospels. See how he lived and responded to people (Matthew 11: 29). (2)   Study all the New Testament references to Christ (see, for example, Colossians 1: 15– 2: 15). (3)   As you worship and pray, let the Holy Spirit remind you of Christ’s words (John 14: 26). (4)   Take up Christ’s mission to preach the gospel, and learn from his sufferings (Matthew 28: 19; Philippians 3: 10).


3: 9-10   Paul gave up everything— family, friendship, and freedom— in order to know Christ and his resurrection power. We, too, have access to this knowledge and this power, but we may have to make sacrifices to enjoy it fully. What are you willing to give up in order to know Christ? A crowded schedule, in order to set aside a few minutes each day for prayer and Bible study? A friend’s approval? Some of your plans or pleasures? Whatever you must change or give up, having Christ and becoming one with him will be more than worth the sacrifice.


3: 9   No amount of law keeping, self-improvement, discipline, or religious effort can make us right with God. Righteousness comes only from God, and we are made righteous— receive right standing with him— by trusting in Christ. When we do this, he exchanges our sin and shortcomings for his complete righteousness. (For more on Christ’s gift of righteousness, see 2   Corinthians 5: 21.)


3: 10   When we become one with Christ by trusting in him, we experience the power that raised him from the dead. That same mighty resurrection power helps us live morally renewed and regenerated lives. But as we walk in our new life, we also share in his death by considering our old way of life and sinful desires as dead and unresponsive. Just as the Resurrection gives us Christ’s power to live for him, the Crucifixion marks the death of our old, sinful nature. We can’t know the victory of the Resurrection without personally experiencing the meaning of the cross.


3: 11   When Paul wrote, “somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead,” he was not implying uncertainty or doubt. He did not know how he would die, whether by execution or by natural death, but he did not doubt that he would be raised to life. He knew that his attainment of eternal life was within God’s power and not his own.Tyndale. NIV Life Application Study Bible


ON THE WAY HOME WALK WITH JESUS and no that no matter how many laws you follow, with out JESUS CHRIST it is all a loss.

onthewayhomeministries.org by RICHARD DEAN BROOKS


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