Summary: salvation is not of WORKS
October 7, 01
How is your counting?
The key word in our text in the small word "count" found in verses 7 and 8. The word means to evaluate and to assess. "The unexamined life is not worth living," Socrates once said.
The third chapter of Philippians is Paul’s personal testimony as he examines his own pre-conversion religious life, the life before he met the Lord on the road to Damascus. As Paul recalls it you cannot help but notice that is filled with a rich heritage of religion that he enjoyed and experienced as a Jew, and he writes it off as dead loss. It was worthless. Paul knew personally the futility of trying to attain salvation by means of good works.
In this autobiographical section, Paul examines his own life. He becomes an auditor who opens the books to see what wealth he has, and then he declares that he was bankrupt without Christ.
In verse 1 he offers an apology for his reiteration. However, to him the repetition is not irksome, and to them it was not unnecessary. What cannot be over learned cannot be over taught. Paul recognized that some people would make the same mistake he had made for so many years, and as a result, he felt the need to reiterate the truth that we are PLACE no confidence in the flesh.
The list of the activities of the flesh which may deceive a person came from Paul’s own life. No man could accuse Paul of despising or counting as worthless that which he did not himself possess. He knew firsthand what he was talking about.
Paul considered the activities of the flesh as worthless. Don’t place any confidence in them because they will fail you!
I. Worthless is your RITUAL (5)
"circumcised the eight day"
Paul was not a proselyte, Gentile who embraced the religion of the Jews, who was circumcised at his reception into the Jewish church; nor an Ishmaelite, circumcised, like Ishmael at the age of thirteen. Paul was a true Jew. Circumcision on the eight day was the exclusive privilege of one of pure blood
Circumcision was an extremely important rite to the Jews. It was a rite in which they boasted and bragged off.
Very close to baptism today. People like the comfort derived from rites. There is no rite, ritual, or observance that can bring salvation. Circumcision and baptism are worthless and meaningless without Christ.
Baptism at any time without repentance and faith in Christ is just a rite that is worthless.
II. Worthless is your RACE (5)
"of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews"
"of the stock of Israel" - His parents were not proselytes; he was by descent an Israelite. There were races that traced their lineage back to Abraham, but the pure Jew, the Israelite traced his lineage back not so much to Abraham as to Jacob who was called Israel which meant "Prince with God."
"of the tribe of Benjamin" -- He was from the tribe of Benjamin. He came from the tribe which gave Israel their first king, which never swerved in its allegiance to the house of David. Royal blood flowed in Paul’s veins. The tribe of Benjamin always occupied a foremost post of honor in the army. Paul did not belong to any mere renegade tribe. He was from the tribe that had the holy city Jerusalem within its boundaries.
He was a "Hebrew of the Hebrews." Both his parents were Hebrews. He was pure and of unmixed descent. During the dispersion of the Jews before New Testament times, many forgot their language and racial identity. Not so with Paul’s ancestors. They remained true to their Hebrew tongue and traditions. Paul was well born and well bred, but that was worthless without Christ.
Some today live as if they think that being born into a Baptist family or having a good home church going folks was a sure sign of salvation. NOT SO!
Race without Christ is worthless with regards to salvation.
III. Worthless is your RELIGION (5)
"as touching the law, a Pharisee"
This was his religious adherence, and he would be very strict in all the daily observance of the law, with all the Scribal additions attached. The Pharisees were some of the most meticulous sect of that day. To the Jews of Paul’s day, a Pharisee had reached the very summit of religious experience, the highest ideal a Jew could ever hope to attain. If anybody was going to heaven, it was the Pharisee.
He had a religion. He was among the best of citizens. He was a highly educated and deeply religious Jew. Observe Luke 18: 9-14. Paul did everything a good law keeping Pharisee could! Paul was a good pharisee not only in regard to the written law of God, but the traditions of the elders. "And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers." (Galatians 1:14).