Summary: As we begin a new year, we need to consider looking back, where we were; looking inward – where we are; and looking ahead – where we are going. Paul in Philippians 3 provides us with an example of evaluating one’s past, present, and future.
Past, Present and Future
Introduction: As we stand at the door steps of a new year, we need to consider looking back, where we were; looking inward – where we are; and looking ahead – where we are going. Paul in Philippians 3 provides us with an example of evaluating one’s past, present, and future. Let us examine his words.
I. Paul’s Past
A. His Heritage
1. Philippians 3:4-5 “If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews...”
2. Paul looking back could have allowed himself to be filled with pride. From birth he was a Jew, being circumcised at eight days old. He was from the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin was the tribe described as the tribe beloved of the Lord. Saul, Israel’s first king, of whose name Paul bore was from the tribe of Benjamin. They were notable because they alone had joined Judah in loyalty to the Davidic covenant.
3. He was of pure Hebrew blood, there having been no cross marriage in his lineage to taint the descent. He was in every way a Hebrew and had the papers and pedigree to prove it.
B. His Position
1. Philippians 3:5b “…concerning the law, a Pharisee”
2. Acts 23:6 “I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees.”
3. Paul was not just your everyday, run-of-the-mill Pharisee. He was an ardent and impassioned adherent of the strictest Code and a member of the most elite religious society among the Jews, the Shammai sect of the Pharisees.
4. Paul said that he was more Jewish and more Judaistic than most of his peers. He had become the epitome of super-legalism. As a result Paul climbed the ecclesiastical or denominational ladder.
5. Galatians 1:14 “And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.”
C. His Motivation
1. Philippians 3:6a “concerning zeal, persecuting the church…”
2. Acts 26:5 “according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.”
3. Acts 22:3 “…educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God ...”
4. Paul, in his religious fervor emulated a prophetic zeal for God, demonstrated an dogged dedication to destroying the emerging Christian movement.
D. His Integrity and Character
1. Philippians 3:6b “…concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”
2. In reference to Torah observance Paul’s observable conduct was faultless.
3. Paul has no "blemishes" on his record as far as keeping the law was concerned. He scrupulously adhered to the Pharisaic interpretation of the law
4. Anyone who watched his life couldn’t find anything to hold against him as a sin. Outwardly Paul lived according to the law an exemplary life.
E. His Assessment
1. Philippians 3:7-8 “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”