Summary: Prior to salvation, Paul lived a life of prestige, authority, and power. Following salvation, he learned much he once considered gain was actually loss. As he grew in grace, he realized the abundance available in Christ. He lost much, yet he gained more.
Growing in Grace
Philippians 3: 7-11
Our text today is actually a continuation of the verses we considered in our last study. In order to fully understand what Paul has taught in our text, we must look at this passage in light of its context. Previously Paul had counseled believers regarding their walk with the Lord. Some would be tempted to stray into legalism and religious tradition, allowing such an approach to become their focus rather than walking by faith. Having lived that life prior to salvation, Paul knew the dangers it presented and the emptiness it brought. He had been faithful to long-held traditions and religious practices, but they failed to provide salvation and peace within his heart. Christ alone could fill the void within the heart of man.
Following his counsel to focus on the faith, Paul reveals how a prosperous Christian life should look. He had given up much he once held dear, but the gains far outweighed the losses. Rather than seeking to live according to the law, he was now living according to grace. This brought a radical transformation to his life, and he was well pleased with the peace he now enjoyed. His personal testimony stands as an example and encouragement for all who strive to follow the Lord.
I want to consider the thoughts Paul shared as we think on: Growing in Grace.
I. A Profound Realization (7-8) – Having discussed the pitfalls of his previous approach, Paul shares the reality he discovered walking with Christ. He spoke of:
A. The Desire of the Flesh (7) – But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. He speaks of things his flesh once desired, things he cherished and considered gain. What were these things? Look back at Vv.4-6. Paul speaks of the man he was prior to Christ. He had become one of the elite within religious circles. He had set goals as a young man, and as he matured, he checked those goals off one by one. If anyone had reason to boast in personal achievement, Paul did. Religiously he had the right birth, the right heritage, and the right lineage (being of the tribe of Benjamin, known for devotion and respect.) He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. Paul was at the pinnacle of success.
But, as he met Christ in salvation, Paul realized all these were not gain. They were nothing more than vanity, an attempt to secure personal righteousness. His focus had been more on fleshly desires than a genuine passion for Christ! What do your desires reveal? Are you seeking a more intimate relationship with Christ, or do you desire things that please the flesh? I pray our spiritual aspirations exceed the physical or material ones!
B. The Denial of the Flesh (7-8a) – But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: As Paul sought success as a young man, he was well pleased with his life. He was a rising star among the Pharisees. His zeal had been noticed and rewarded of men. Life was good and Paul was enjoying the ride. All of that changed in a life altering moment on the Damascus road. It was there Paul met Christ in salvation and his whole perspective changed. In fact, his entire being changed. Paul realized all he had sought was futile. The things he cherished most were worthless in obtaining genuine righteousness. He willingly forsook his personal desires to embrace Christ.
The majority today share similar ambitions and goals. Their focus is on obtaining personal wants and desires. They strive for things that please the flesh. I am aware that we have to work and obtain to survive, but the material and physical aspects of life are not of paramount importance. As you consider your current pursuits, how much of that will actually matter in eternity. The redeemed in Christ must be willing to count much of our gain as loss. We must recognize what is truly important and put things in a proper perspective.
C. His Deliverance from the Flesh (8b) – Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. Paul had obtained victory in life. He knew the man he once was, and he was happy to have suffered the loss of the old man in order to win Christ. His relationship with Christ exceeded any pleasure his former achievements had brought. Those who knew him likely thought Paul had wasted a grand opportunity, but he knew he had gained all in Christ and counted the former life as nothing when compared to life in Christ.