Giving Up to Gain
As we travel down the pathway of life, we all have at one time or another lose sight of reality. Times will come when we have to take a step back in order to see the whole picture before moving forward.
Saul of Tarsus, believed in his heart that he was doing all the right things in life to continue moving forward and pleasing the God of Israel. Fortunately a large wake up call from God on the road to Damascus was ensure for Saul.
In Philippians 3:4-11, the Apostle Paul looks back at his personal transformation in life, in order for us today to stop making the same mistakes. Paul’s testimony here can be divided into two parts: “Religious credits that do not impress God” and “The surpassing benefits of knowing Christ.”
I. Religious Credits that do not impress God (vv. 5-6)
· Saul lists seven items here in his testimony that he at one time counted as gain, but now as loss.
· Saul was not saying that there are no social, cultural, educational, or historical value, but rather that they have no value towards his salvation.
A. Salvation is not Ritual
Circumcised the eight day (3:5a)
1. Saul went through all the rites of passage to be a Jew
2. Salvation does not come by any ritual or ceremony though
a. Circumcision, baby dedication, or baptism
B. Salvation is not by Race
Of the nation of Israel (3:5b)
1. Saul was born into the nation of God’s chosen people
2. Saul was a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
3. Yet Racial heritage is unable to save anyone; no standing with God is gained by birth
C. Salvation is not by Rank
Of the tribe of Benjamin (3:5c)
1. On top of being a Jew, Paul was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, one of the most prominent tribes in Israel
a. Jerusalem was in the Benjamin territory and after the split of the kingdom it was only one of two tribes to remain loyal to the Davidic dynasty.
2. Saul’s privileged status did not impress God
3. Family status has nothing to do with salvation
D. Salvation is not by Tradition
a Hebrews of Hebrews (3:5d)
1. Saul strictly maintained his families traditional Jewish heritage
2. Saul was committed to the language, orthodox traditions, and customs
3. Saul’s zealous devotion to his heritage was widely known but it did not qualify him for salvation.
E. Salvation is not by Religion
As to the Law, a Pharisee (3:5e)
1. Saul was so zealous for the Law, that he became a Pharisee
2. To become a Pharisee was to reach the highest level in devout, legalistic Judaism.
3. No priest, monk, theological scholar, or member of a devout sect can achieve salvation by mere involvement.
F. Salvation is not by Sincerity
As to zeal, a persecutor of the church (3:6a)
1. Jews viewed zeal as the supreme religious virtue
2. To be zealous is to love God and hate what offends Him
a. Saul’s misguided zeal caused him to hate and persecute Christians
3. Religious zeal guarantees nothing. Those people can be absolutely wrong
4. When Saul faced the reality of Jesus Christ, the zealous persecutor of the church realized that his misguided zeal was a spiritual killer.
G. Salvation is not by legalistic righteousness
As to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless (3:6b)
1. Saul was to the people who knew him a model Jew
2. Saul seemingly had it all: rituals, member of God’s chosen people, he maintained his heritage, he was devout and zealous.
3. All these things are useless for salvation though
4. Once Saul’s eyes were opened by Christ, he knew that he was deceived into thinking he was right before God.
5. False religion deceives the mind and consequently damns the soul.
II. The Surpassing Benefits of Knowing Christ (3:7-11)
· All of the cherished treasures Paul once counted, as gain suddenly became a loss. But by God’s marvelous grace those things that Paul once imagined would give him eternal life were replaced by five matchless benefits that were his in Christ.
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him (3:8-9a)
1. Paul abandoned his past religious achievements in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus.
a. The surpassing value refers to something of incomparable worth
b. The word knowing in the Greek means to know through a personal involvement.
2. The New Testament frequently describes Christians as those who know Christ
3. John 10:14: Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and I know my own and my own know me.
4. Salvation comes only through the deep knowledge of and intimate love bond with Jesus Christ that God gives by grace through faith.
Not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, (3:9b)
1. Paul gladly exchanged the burden of legalistic self righteousness for the righteousness which is through faith in Christ.
2. Righteousness is right standing with God and acceptance by Him.
3. When we are saved, our sin is imputed in Christ and His righteousness is imputed in us.
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection (3:10a)
1. Paul knew there was no power in the Law or in his flesh to overcome sin or serve God.
2. But because he knew Christ and had His righteousness imputed to him, Paul had been given the Holy Spirit and the same spiritual power that raised Jesus from the dead.
And the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death (3:10b)
1. At the time of our salvation, we are brought into a fellowship with Christ.
2. When we meet Christ, we gain a companion to be with us in our suffering – one who endured far more intense persecution and suffering than anyone else who ever lived.
In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (3:11)
1. The final benefit Paul obtained when he meet Christ is the guarantee of our future.
We all stand at the same crossroads. You can cling to your religious credits and remain on the broad path that leads to eternal destruction. Or you can forsake them in favor of the surpassing benefits of knowing Christ and take the narrow path that leads to eternal life.