Posted by: Heather | November 10, 2008

Philippians 3:1-11

Our sermon today was delivered by one of our more experienced men in the faith. A man I admire deeply and have great respect for. I wanted to put down my best recollection of what he had to say before I forget it, as it was very encouraging to me.

In Phil 3: 1-11 Paul does the following things:
First, he begins with a straightforward encouragement and instruction
Second, he points out a prominent error.
Third, he gives 3 marks of a true believer
and then he gives his personal testimony.

There are 4 words that are repeated for emphasis.
the word “loss”, the word “gain”, the word “counted” (all 3 accounting words – so in that part of the text, we need to remember the idea of a profit and loss statement, there are things that are profitable and things that are not), and then the word beware in verse 2.

Php 3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is indeed not grievous to me, but for you it is safe.

The word “finally” doesn’t mean he is done after this point, would be more accurate to say “on top of or in light of the previous information” What is that information? He has spoken about like mindedness with Christ, who humbled himself and then God exalted him.
The instruction is to Rejoice in the Lord. To write these same things to you (what same things? – there isn’t another book to the Philippians, so it must be in this book.) the same things about not fearing opposition in Phil 1:28 “and terrified in nothing by your adversaries. For this is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.” To go into more detail about this opposition is not a bother for Paul, and for the Philippian church it is a safeguard.

Then he says “beware” 3 times for emphasis.
Php 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision party.

The picture he is calling to mind here is of wild packs of mongrel dogs that ran loose at the time. they were mangy, dirty, and diseased. They were cowardly when alone, but dangerous when together. A very good picture of false teachers.
The religious elite in Israel called the gentiles dogs, but Paul turns the tables here. He calls the Judaisers dogs.
The term evil workers implies these people worked inside the church.
The “concision party” would be the Judaisers, a group that followed Paul around and added to the Gospel, saying that true believers were actually proselytes in the Jewish religion, and that they were obligated to the Law of Moses. They accused Paul of not telling the whole Gospel. They focused on outside compliance with the law. Paul addressed them in Romans 2 versed 28 and 29.
Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that outwardly in flesh;
Rom 2:29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart; in spirit and not in letter; whose praise is not from men, but from God.

Php 3:3 For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh; In this verse Paul gives 3 marks of the true circumcision.

One: we worship God in spirit (see Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well – not a worship focused on outward appearances, but that originates in the soul)
Joh 4:21 Jesus said to her, Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you shall neither worship the Father in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem.
Joh 4:22 You worship what you do not know, we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
Joh 4:23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him.
Joh 4:24 God is a spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.

The second sign of a true believer is that we rejoice in Christ. Our joy is focused and anchored on one thing, the person of Christ. This is delight deep within the soul.
The third mark of a true believer is that we place no confidence in the flesh or our own ability to do anything for God or for ourselves. This compared with the second mark implies that any confidence in the flesh excludes our rejoicing in Christ. One cannot have both. We must chose whether our confidence will be in Christ or in our own efforts.

Then Paul explains from his own life story.

Php 3:4 though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other thinks that he has reason to trust in the flesh, I more. (this is not bragging, Paul is demonstrating that it was not out of lack of knowledge or standing in this area that he left it out when he presented the Gospel to them. It is because this is not productive, but distracting from the true goal)
Php 3:5 I was circumcised the eighth day (demonstrates an upbringing in keeping of the law), of the stock of Israel (God’s chosen people – the inheritors of the promise) , of the tribe of Benjamin, (the tribe of Benjamin brought with it higher status. Benjamin and Judah were the only tribes to stay in the southern kingdom after the kingdoms split. Mordecai and Esther were from the tribe of Benjamin, and the tribe of Benjamin had been prominent in the restoration of Jerusalem after the exile in keeping the law and traditions rather than taking on the customs of the Gentiles like the Samaritans had) a Hebrew of the Hebrews. (Paul was born and brought up in Tarsus, a Greek community. But he did not adopt Greek customs, he stayed true to his heritage)
As regards the Law, I was a Pharisee; (the strictest sect – in essence a lawyer – not ignorant of the law by any means)
Php 3:6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; (many would proselytize, but few took up the sword in defense) regarding the righteousness in the Law, blameless.

So we have seen Paul’s resume, or pedigree. Pretty impressive. More so than the Judaisers for sure.

Now remember the balance sheet. This is accounting talk. There are things in the profit column, and things in the loss column. Any manager’s job is to minimize the loss column and maximize the profit column.
Php 3:7 But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Php 3:8 But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ
Php 3:9 and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith,
(think here of the parables of the treasure in the field or the pearl of great price. The men in the story gave up all they had gladly to gain the treasure of inestimable worth. Not that we can buy the kingdom, simply that we must give up all to gain it. You can’t keep some of both. Simon the Sorcerer learned this.)
Php 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death;
Php 3:11 if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.

This last statement isn’t about being resurrected at the end of the age. Paul believed in and taught extensively about the resurrection. Paul was talking about something he could access now. The word “know” is about personal experience, not head knowledge. It is about right now today knowing Him and his resurrection power. A power other than our own flesh. It is about crucifying our flesh (which is why I cannot place confidence in it and crucify it at the same time, they are mutually exclusive.)

That was the essence of the sermon. Here are some of my thoughts as I listened.

As I was listening to this some pieces came together in my mind. Let me try to explain. A few weeks ago I observed a father correcting his child correctly and was contemplating how God corrects His children. What took place was that gently and firmly a foreign idea was introduced to the child. The child initially resisted, but then gave in to the correction. Once the correction was accepted, the father hugged the child. I realized the hug was always there, the child had to comply to get it. The love was evident through the event.

So follow me here. The child was following its natural sinful passions. The father introduced truth that was foreign to the child and insisted upon compliance. When the child complied, there was love received, but the love was the driving force of the whole incident.

On Tuesday night as it became evident that Obama was going to be our next president, I began to follow my own natural sinful passions. I began to fear him (a lack of Godly priorities) and even hate him (I murdered him in my heart, breaking God’s law). The Holy Spirit, my Father in heaven interrupted my thoughts with a three part phrase. “love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” As I changed my behavior in light of this instruction (an instruction foreign to me) I received peace. I came home that night and looked up the context of the verse and found the context was about being part of God’s living temple as a living stone. The living corner stone is Christ, the stone the builders rejected. A cornerstone is the reference point for the entire house. If any stone is not lined up with the cornerstone it is in the wrong place. I have a choice whether or not to line up with the cornerstone or not. I can’t be both, they are mutually exclusive.

For more on that, look at my previous post. The point here is that the resurrection power in my life is that foreign influence of God’s Holy Spirit working in me to correct me. As I listen to that correction, I experience Him working through me to do things that are beyond me. In this case, it was peace and even joy in spite of my fears for our country. Now get this, I find this foreign influence most evident when things seem to be going wrong. (suffering)

That “resurrection power” is most evident in suffering!

So the peace that passes understanding which guards my heart and mind (Phil 4) was the hug at the end of the discipline. This is why I am not to dispise the discipline of my Heavenly Father. The resurrection power comes through it.



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