Philippians 3:8-9 - The Replacement for Self-Righteousness

Dr. Steve Viars October 21, 1995 Philippians 3:8-9

1) Paul had warned the Philippians in verses 1-3 about whom?
- the Judaizers

INPUT - what words or phrases would you use to describe them?
- self-righteous
- believed in works righteousness
- upset that Gentiles were being allowed in the church
without having to be circumcised

2) How would you summarize what Paul is saying in verses 4-6?
- he was giving his reasons to be self-righteous.
- if anyone had cause to believe he had earned his way to heaven,
Paul surely did.
- and before he met Christ on the Damascus Road in Acts 9, he
did believe he had earned his way to heaven by his heritage,
and by his works.

3) What is the key word in verses 7-8?

- we said -- Paul had to change his accounting methods.

- all of his assets - his reasons for self-righteousness ---
- what he had placed in the asset column -- had to be viewed as
- he began counting those things as "loss"

- there's an interesting parallel use of the word "loss" in Acts
- this is the passage where Paul is shipwrecked.
- he tells the men they are going to suffer "loss" because of
their decision to keep sailing.
- the nature of the loss is seen in verse 38

- the wheat which formerly would have been considered "gain" to
them was something they were now willing to view as "loss"

- that wheat was like Paul's reasons for self-righteousness
- what he had previously held so dear was something he was now
ready to "push off the ship," it didn't hold value anymore.

- we said last week that these verses give us a wonderful opportunity to
think about the sin of being "self-righteousness."
- all of us, in one way or another, before we were saved, were "self-
INPUT - how is this true?

- so, there's no question that we were self-righteousness before we were
- but as you know, even after we trust Christ, we're still
struggling with left-over habits from our unsaved lifestyle.
- so, something you and I need to be looking out for are habits of
self-righteousness that may be true of us even today.

- this morning, we're going to add the "put-on" to this idea.
- we're calling this the replacement for self-righteousness.

- as I put off habits of self-righteousness, what can I (should I) put
on in its place?

III. Paul's New Focus on Christ-Righteousness

- we'd like to look for four things that Paul was able to put a very
high value on after he stopped placing such a high premium on his
own righteousness.

A. The joy of knowing Christ

- Paul is wanting us to focus on the wonderful privilege it is to
know Christ---to have a personal relationship with Him.

- his "religion" was no longer a set of rules to be kept, but a
relationship to be had (cultivated)

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

- in verse 8, what are some things we need to notice about the
way Paul describes the privilege of "knowing Christ."

1) It is something of surpassing value (NASB)

Jay Adam's translation - "priceless privilege"

- when a person puts off self-righteousness, they are
wide-open to placing the right kind of value of
knowing Christ.

2) He refers to Jesus as "MY" Lord.

- this is not a sterile, cold, dead religion.

- this is a personal, living, vibrant relationship with
the Savior, the Messiah.
- The promised Messiah of Israel was HIS Lord.

- the Bible places a lot of emphasis on the privilege of knowing God.
- let's look at some of the verses together:

1) John 17:3 - And this is life eternal, that they might know thee,
the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

2) Gal. 4:8-9 - Nevertheless then, when ye knew not God, ye did
service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after ye
have known God, or rather are known by God, how turn ye again to
the weak and beggarly elements, unto which ye desire again in

- the point is, for Paul, there was nothing greater than the prospect and
the privilege of knowing Christ.

- now, let's stop there and do some work on this:

- on the white board, let's set up a contrast between:


(be sure to hit:
- one brings glory to self, other brings glory to God
- one produces pride, the other produces humility
- one leads to stagnation (I have arrived) -- the other leads to
growth (I can always know Christ more)
- one has obedience by fear, other has obedience by love
- I John 2:4 - He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his
commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him.
(cf. John 14:21, 23, 15:10, 14)

- so men and women who are putting off habits of self-righteousness place
"surpassing value" on the privilege//prospect of knowing Christ...
- they consider it a priceless privilege.

- let's push this idea one step further:

INPUT - Characteristics of those who consider "Knowing Christ" a
priceless privilege?

(teachers -- if time, could develop the phrase "suffered the loss of many

- in verse 9, Paul goes on and talks about what else he values because
he's stopped valuing his self-righteousness:

B. The joy of being found in his righteousness alone.

- read verse 9

- this verse demolishes "self-righteousness"
- anyone who believes they can be saved by their works needs to
meditate on verse 9.

- anyone who believes they have a right to be proud or
condescending to others because of their lifestyle as a
believer needs to meditate on verse 9.
- anyone who believes the satisfaction of their righteousness
will sustain them in tough times needs to meditate on verse 9.

- Paul was able to rejoice in a prison cell because he knew if he were
put to death, there was no question about where he was going.

- there's great joy, security, and freedom that comes from knowing for
sure that you stand before God in the righteousness of Christ.

- this verse is bringing up the doctrine of "imputation."

- the idea is that, when we trust Christ, our sins are forgiven
and we receive the righteousness of Christ.
- there are some great passages on this subject:

1) Rom. 4:1-8

2) II Cor. 5:21

3) Rom. 9:30-10:13

- one of the great things about being found "in Christ" is that it is
something that cannot be taken away. (and should not be doubted)

- cf. cousin Nancy (39 year old mother of four dying of Lou Gehrig's
disease) -- able to rejoice
-- able to be thankful

- Paul mentions 2 more concepts in verse 10

C. The joy of learning about His power

- Paul knew that his self-righteous approach to life was
- But growing in the knowledge of Christ puts us in the position
of learning about his power.

- Eph. 1:15-23

- Eph. 3:13-21

D. The joy of sharing in his sufferings

- cf. Phil. 1:29

- cf. Acts 9:16

- Col. 1:24


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 four grandchildren.

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

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