Joy of Knowing Christ Part 1

October 9, 2004 Philippians 3:1-16

I.  The Character of True Believers – 3:1-3

-  when Paul used the word "finally," he was simply saying   "furthermore" or "in addition" to what I have already said about unity, being a servant, about the life of Christ, etc. . . .

-  Paul gives us 5 qualities of true believers:

A.  True believers rejoice in the Lord – 3:1

- the church was to maintain the joyful spirit that has characterized this letter -- even though Paul goes on to speak of some unpleasant matters OR "touchy issues"

Input:  Why would Paul give the instruction to "rejoice in the Lord" just prior to a stern warning regarding false teachers?

>  Because it is the Person and Work of Jesus Christ that guaranties our salvation

>  At the heart of the attack of false teachers is an attempt to undermine Who our Savior and Lord is and what He has done

Point:  We as believers should acknowledge our oneness in Christ and should not permit our unity in the body of Christ to be undermined by enemies of the Truth!

- Jesus had already told the disciples in John 15 that He wanted His joy to be in them and for their joy would be full!

> it’s the rejoice ‘in the Lord’ part that is important:

  • Psalm 16:11 You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
  • John 16:22 "Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.

B.  True believers exercise discernment – 3:2

- he warned them before, but now he warns them again [Note: 3 x’s – ‘beware’]

beware= to continually be on the lookout

- same idea in 1 Pet. 5:8 – from a man who wasn’t always on the look out (denying 3 x’s!):

  • 1 Peter 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Point:  Paul definitely wants their attention – notice the change in the language and tone of the letter – he goes from a tender, loving address to a stern warning (3 x’s)

CAUTION:  A stern word of rebuke to help prevent spiritual failure is not necessarily a sign of a lack of love – instead, it can be the most loving thing to do (Jesus spoke the truth/rebukes)!

Hendricksen:  "The warmer a father's affection for his son, the deeper will be his distress when that son's life is being continually threatened by shrewd enemies and the more earnest will be his warnings."

- the words that follow are a description of one enemy:  Judaizers

>  they were Jewish legalists who denied the gospel of grace and taught that circumcision and keeping the Law of Moses were necessary for salvation (Acts 15:1)

> contrary to Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5

- the Jerusalem Council condemned their heretical teaching (Acts 15:2-29)

cf. Galatians -- written to address these false teachers – very strong letter/direct!

- Paul calls them: dogs / evil workers / false circumcision – strong words!

- dogs – the orthodox Jew considered dogs to be the most despised and miserable of all creatures and used this to describe the Gentiles (should have been CATS!)

- probably because herds of dogs prowled about eastern cities, feeding on the garbage and filth of the streets, fighting among themselves and even attacking people!

- Paul also said their work was ‘evil’ not good (as compared to Ephaphroditus – fellow worker) – because of the eternal implications to what they were teaching

>  they drew attention away from Christ and what He accomplished in redemption and put the emphasis on OUTWARD ritual and on HUMAN EFFORTS

> Judaizers wanted to take "IT IS FINISHED" and add to it!

- they were the false circumcision –  in other words:  the mutilation-party

>  this was a name given to those who insisted on the cutting away of the foreskin of the body only, and not also of the heart

i.e. real circumcision was not outward conformity to the Law, but an INWARD CLEANSING of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ that saves a man

-  what he means by using this terminology is found in Romans. 2:28,29 (read)

** that's true circumcision

Hendricksen:  "The circumcision merely of the body, especially when this is performed and insisted upon by those who profess to believe in Jesus as Savior, is worse than useless.  It is mutilation, cutting away, spiritual destruction, for if anyone receives this kind of circumcision, . . . he will be farther removed from Christ than he ever was before!"

C.  True believers worship in the Spirit – 3:3a

- he does not depend on good works – that's only of the flesh

- true Christian worship is Holy Spirit-guided – i.e. the Spirit's work on the heart (inner man)

- we have to connect v. 3 w/ v. 1  because they could only rejoice in the Lord as a result of the Spirit's work – that’s one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit – JOY!

D.  True believers glory in Christ Jesus – 3:3b

glory = boast, take pride in; rejoice, be glad . . . IN CHRIST!

Q: Why?  -- go back to 2:5-11 – explains it all!!

- proper boasting focuses entirely on Jesus, the Anointed  Savior -- on His person and work - they glory in the cross and the free gift of salvation

- their "religion" is Christ-centered and grace-centered not man centered and works centered!

cf. 1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Cf. Galatians 6:14 – what do you boast in?

E.  True believers put no confidence in the flesh – 3:3c

- i.e. the "flesh" cannot, does not, will not ever be in a  position to give us confidence regarding any spiritual  issue

  • John 6:63 It is the Spirit that makes alive, the flesh profits nothing . . .

- Paul goes into an in-depth explanation of the ‘confidence in the flesh’ issue – if anyone could do that, it would be him, not the Judaizers – he lays out . . . .

II.  The Reality of True Righteousness – 3:4-11 [consider these quickly]

A.  Impressive profiles don’t matter! – v. 4-6

1. Circumcised the eighth day– just as the Law commanded (Lev. 12:3) – just like Isaac (Gen. 21:4 – just like Jesus (Luke 2:21)

- thats what the Judaizer's emphasized as a very important "work" in order to earn salvation.

- of course that wouldn't have been true of some of the Judaizers

- some of them would have been "converted" to Judaism as adults, and therefore would have been circumcised as adults...(he was circumcised of the eighth day)

2. Hebrew of the Hebrews

- if anyone had a right to throw around the issue of heritage and birthright... - it was Paul.

- he qualifies/explains that with the following statements: He was born . . .

a.  of the nation of Israel(he was no proselyte Jew - HE WAS THE REAL THING)

b.  of the tribe of Benjamin(the son of Jacob & his wife Rachael, the tribe were strong warriors, Mordecai who advised Esther was a Benjamite!

3.  A keeper of the lawa Pharisee (positive use here – he was communicating the fact that he was not rebellious, or lawless)

4.  A persecutor of the church

- many Jews could boast of their heritage, but Paul could even boast of how he fought against Israel's enemies, those "Christians"

Warren Wiersbe:  It is not enough to believe the truth; a man must also oppose lies. Paul defended his orthodox faith by persecuting the church….Every Jew could boast of his own blood heritage. Some Jews could boast of their faithfulness to the Jewish religion. But Paul could boast of those things plus his zeal for persecuting the church.

5.  Blameless when compared to God's law.

Point:  Humanly speaking, Paul was the complete package . . . but keep reading!

- Now he's going to tell us what he did with those reasons – from an accounting perspective:

B.  True righteousness is found only in Christ! – 3:7-9

- v. 8 (twice):  "I count all things to be loss..."  /  "I count them but rubbish..."

> that’s why Paul emphasizes in v. 8 “. . .in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord!”

- in one fell swoop, Paul completely changed the way he thought about those things he had used as a defense of his righteousness

Quote: Man at his best is at best a man!

>  that’s one of the reasons we place such an emphasis on sin, to jar men and women out of their self-righteousness

>  that’s why we want to have events like the Passion Play / Living Nativity

<  that’s what’s motivating the Community Center  - to help us focus on the cross...and remember that that is the only way to be reconciled to God.

C.  We can know Christ in a personal and practical way – 3:10-11

- Paul says, “that I may know Him”

- Paul had spent so many years being "full of himself," now it was time to empty himself and be filled with the knowledge of his Savior.

- that's what he counted as worthwhile- that's what he wanted to learn about, and focus on

Warren Wiersbe said of these verses - "When he was living under the law, all Paul had was a set of rules. But now he had a Friend, a Master, a constant Companion."

- Paul develops this idea in verse 10

1. the power of his resurrection(the most significant event in history – grand demonstration of the deity of Christ and the power of God – to overcome death, hell, and the grave!)

2. the fellowship of his sufferings(same word: to share in, participate in His sufferings)

3. being made conformable to his death– described in 2:5-11 [that is a process – not a one time act – progressive sanctification]

III. The Pursuit of the True Prize – 3:12-16

A. Starts with forgetting the past

- he probably has in mind all the things he mentioned in verses 4-6, and even the good things he's done since coming to Christ.

- he's not talking about passively forgetting them... instead, he has a conscious refusal to let his past accomplishments absorb his attention and impede his progress (Homer Kent)

B. Requires a high priority

- this emphasis comes through in several places:

  • v. 12 press on so that ....
  • v. 13 reaching forward ...
  • v. 14 I press on toward ...

prize= the crown of righteousness

C.  Even if you are maturing, keep heading down this path

1.  You are never too mature – v. 15

2.  Live up to the truth you already know – v. 16