Philippians 3:4-10 - Is Your Righteousness By Faith

Dr. Steve Viars October 14, 1995 Philippians 3:4-10

- the verses we're going to study today, verses 4-10, are a development
    of that same theme.
- let's take a minute, and think about:

    INPUT - Why is this subject important?  (the issue of salvation by
              faith alone, or salvation by faith + works?  Works
              righteousness versus Christ righteousness?)

        1) Our eternity is dependent upon knowing what the Scripture says
           about how to go to heaven, and then acting on that knowledge.
             - the next verses are going to give us a wonderful example
               of a person who was very, very sincere (in his approach to
               how to receive eternal life), but who was also very, very

        2) Even Christians can have "left-over" habits of self-
           righteousness.  So even if we have genuinely come to Christ,
           we can end up behaving in a "self-righteous" way in a given
           situation.  These verses can help us avoid self-righteous

        3) Self-righteousness is a great impediment to spiritual growth.
           That's why this chapter is going to conclude the way it does.
           In order to benefit from the great verses in the second half
           of the chapter, we have to be sure we've handled this first
           half of the chapter on self-righteousness///or works

- so, we're asking the question this morning, "Is Your Righteousness By
   Faith or By Works?"

- when we use the phrase "your righteousness" this morning, we're talking
     1) what you believe is going to get you into heaven.
     2) what you believe gives you the ability to have a personal
         relationship with God right now, and in the future.

- the key question is:
    "Is Your Righteousness by Faith or by Works?"
- Before, we read the verses, let's think of one more question:

   - for the Judaizers, if they were going to be honest, how would they
       answer the question we're posing in opur title?
         (our righteousness is by faith + works///the works being our

          - so they believed they had reason to boast...that they were
             better off than these Gentile Christians...
                - because of their background (their Jewish heritage)
                - and because of their circumcision.

- let's see how Paul handles these folks:
- READ 3:4-10

- INPUT - if you were going to summarize verses 4-10, how would you
          summarize them?  (No one has more reason to be self-righteous
          than me)

I. Paul's Reasons for Self-Righteousness

    - what's the first reason given in verse 5?

    A. Circumcised the eighth day.

        - there's no question that the reason Paul talks about this first
          is because that’s what the Judaizer's emphasized as a very
          important "work" in order to earn salvation.

        - so Paul says, not only was I circumcised---but I was
          circumcised on the eighth day...
             - just like the law commanded (Lev. 12:3)
             - just like Isaac (Gen. 21:4)
             - just like our Savior (Luke 2:21)

        - 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
                 - Paul says, I have plenty of reasons to be self-
                     - I was circumcised of the eighth day

- he also says:

    B. Hebrew of the Hebrews

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

        - after all, he was born...

        1. of the nation of Israel

           - his Jewish roots were well-attested.
           - he was no proselyte Jew - HE WAS THE REAL THING

- better yet, he wasn't just from any of the tribes...

        2. of the tribe of Benjamin

            - For those new to studying the Bible, Benjamin was one of
              the twelve sons of Jacob (who was later renamed "Israel")
            - those twelve sons became the twelve "tribes" of Israel

            - while Benjamin was not a perfect tribe, there were some
                reasons for it to be favored:
                  a. son of Jacob's favorite wife Rachel
                  b. given a place of honor in Israel's line of battle
                       - tribe produced "seven hundred picked men
                         left-handed, every one could sling stones at a
                         hairbreadth and not miss"- Judges 20:16
                       - called "mighty men of valor" - I Chron. 8:40

                  c. the great hero Mordecai was a Benjamite - the one
                       who said to queen Esther - "For if you keep
                       altogether silent at such a time as this, then
                       relief and deliverance will rise from the Jews
                       from another quarter, but you and your father's
                       house will perish.  And who knows whether you have
                       not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

- the point is -- Paul could call himself a "Hebrew of the Hebrews"
    - not only was he of direct Jewish descent...he was from the special
        tribe of Benjamin.

- Paul also said that he was,

    C. A keeper of the law

        - he said - touching the law, I'm a Pharisee.

        - now, when we hear the word "Pharisee," we automatically think
        - Paul is using it positively here because the Pharisees had a
           good history of "separation from evil practices" before they
           started trying to make their laws equal to Scripture around
           the time of Christ.

        - Paul's point is -- I've been very careful to keep the law.
             - he was not a rebellious, or lawless individual.

    D. 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

        - Warren Wiersbe said "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.

- one last thing Paul adds to this list:

    E. Blameless when compared to God's law.

        "touching the righteousness which is in the law...blameless."

        - the overall point is -- humanly speaking, Paul was the complete
              - he had the right heritage
              - he kept the law
              - he persecuted Israel's enemies

        - today, we would say, "he was the whole enchilada"
        - if anyone was going to heaven, it was Paul.

- here's a man who had all sorts of reasons to be "self-righteous"...
    - to believe he had earned his way to heaven
    - to believe he could stand before God with his head held high
        because of the life he had lived

- I think we need to stop and say that those phrases describe many
   Americans today.
     - and while some of the evaluators would be different, many of us
        before we were saved....and many of the unsaved people around us
        today...are not see any reason why they need
        Jesus Christ.

- let's stop there for a moment and list on the white board some
    "Characteristics of self-righteousness."

    - INPUT??

- so in verses 4-6, Paul says, I had all sorts of reasons to be self-
       - now he's going to tell us in the next verses what he did with
         those reasons:

- read 7-8

- INPUT - what is a key word that you see repeated several times in these
            two verses (count)

- let's call this next point:

II. Paul's Change In Accounting

    - when Paul met Jesus Christ on the Damascus road in Acts 9, he
        radically changed his accounting methods.

    - when he realized who Jesus Christ really was, he took all of these
       characteristics that he had previously considered assets, and
       moved them over to the category of liabilities.

    - you see that emphasis a couple of times in these verses:

    A. I counted these things as "loss."
          - verse 7
    B. I am still counting them as "loss."

         - verse 8 (twice)

             "I count all things to be loss..."
             "I count them but rubbish..."

- all of these things Paul had used as a defense of his righteousness...
    - as a proof of his righteousness

    - in one fell swoop, Paul completely changed the way he thought about
        those things.
          - not they were all wrong...

          - it wasn't wrong for Paul to be from the tribe of Benjamin
          - it wasn't wrong for Paul to try to keep the law...

     - it was wrong for Paul to think that those things somehow earned
         him righteousness before God.

     - that’s what had to change about his accounting system.

     - the bottom line is -- a person can only be genuinely saved if they
          come to the place of changing their accounting system.
     - for many, that requires a radical change in their thinking...

         - that’s one of the reasons we place such an emphasis on sin
              here, to jar men and women out of their self-righteousness
         - that’s why we want to have events like the passion play -- and
             the Living Nativity
                - to help us focus on the cross...and remember that that
                     is the only way to be reconciled to God.

         - our sin problem is far too great to be overcome by a few
            rituals or good deeds.

- so Paul says -- I changed the way I thought about my good works
   - not that he was going to start breaking the law
   - not that he was going to be ashamed of his Jewish heritage...

   - but he was going to stop being self-righteous.
     - but he was going to live in a way that was consistent with the
         truth that his righteousness came only by faith in Christ.

     - his salvation, and his stand before God, was secured exclusively
        by the sufficient blood of Christ.

- now, let's work on this together some.
   - we said earlier, that even after we're saved, it's pretty easy to
       fall into some self-righteous tendencies.

- let's go back to the white board and think about how self-righteousness
    might show up in a believer's life today?

    - INPUT?? (middle column - white board)

- now, while the "put-off" of this discussion is "self-righteousness,"
    the "put-on" is "Christ-righteousness"

III. Paul's Rejoicing In Christ-Righteousness

    - here's the positive side of the accounting ledger:

    A. The knowledge of Christ

        - Paul says - I count all things but loss for the excellency of
            the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord.

        - that is a power-packed phrase.

        - 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
             - like our hymn:

                More about Jesus would I know,
                More of His grace to others show
                More of His saving fullness see
                More of His love who died for me

                More, more, about Jesus
                More, more, about Jesus
                More of His saving fullness see
                More of His love who died for me.

- 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

        2. the fellowship of his sufferings

        3. being made conformable to his death

           *** the bottom line is, if we're full of ourselves, we won't
                 be motivated to know Christ.

    B. That he might gain Christ

    C. That he might be found in Christ's righteousness

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video