Summary: Philippians 3:1-11 teaches us that right standing before God comes only through faith in Christ.
The Philippian Church was a mostly healthy church, but Paul was concerned that false teaching might infiltrate the church, particularly teaching that emphasized that our salvation is based on our own good works. In today’s lesson, Paul stressed that right standing with God is received through faith in Christ.
Let’s read about righteousness through faith in Christ in Philippians 3:1-11:
1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:1-11)
When we were hiring an Associate Pastor several years ago, we received several dozen resumes. As one would expect, each resume stressed what the candidate thought were his strengths and weaknesses, and why he would be a good fit for our church.
In today’s lesson, we get something of the Apostle Paul’s resume. It is very revealing about what Paul considers important and unimportant. And it all has to do with our right standing before God, which he calls “righteousness.”
Philippians 3:1-11 teaches us that right standing before God comes only through faith in Christ.
Let’s use the following outline:?
1. Characteristics of Those Who Have Right Standing Before God (3:1-3)
2. Advantages That Do Not Contribute to Right Standing Before God (3:4-6)
3. Benefits That Belong to Those Who Have Right Standing Before God (3:7-11)
I. Characteristics of Those Who Have Right Standing Before God (3:1-3)
First, let’s note the characteristics of those who have right standing before God.
Paul clarifies what is characteristic of those who have right standing before God. He distinguishes between those who are true believers and false believers. In verses 1-3, Paul presents five characteristics of those who have right standing before God.
A. They Rejoice in the Lord (3:1a)
First, they rejoice in the Lord.
Paul wrote in verse 1a, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.” Attentive readers of Philippians may wonder why Paul used the word “finally” here, and then went on for another two chapters! It reminds me of the little boy who asked his dad what the preacher meant when he said, “Finally.” His father whispered back to his son, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
However, the word in Greek does not need to be translated as “finally.” Paul simply used a connective word that would be better translated as “So then” or even “Therefore.” Paul was referring back to the theme of rejoicing he mentioned previously.
Paul wanted the Philippians to know that a characteristic of believers is that they “rejoice in the Lord.” It is important to notice that this rejoicing is not a disconnected joy, but it is a rejoicing “in the Lord.” In other words, Paul connected rejoicing with a relationship. As John MacArthur says, “The sphere in which their joy exists is in their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Do you have joy? Is your joy because of your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ?
B. They Look Out for False Teachers (3:1b-3a)
Second, they look out for legalists.
Paul went on to write in verse 1b, “To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” Paul wanted to warn the Philippians about false teachers. So he went on to write in verse 2, “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” In the Greek text, Paul uses alliteration in describing these false teachers, and he is very severe in his criticism of them.