Philippians (09): Confidence in What?
Philippians 3:1-11 “Confidence in What?”
In Philippians 3 Paul changes his focus, as he begins to wind down his letter. He wants to warn the Philippians once again of something they have heard before, but he knows their grasp of this issue would mean the life of their church. Paul once again takes aim at the Judaizers, those who would make gentiles believers undergo circumcision in order to be truly part of God’s people. Paul warns the Philippian believers that they should not put confidence in their own flesh, but rather put all of their confidence and faith in Jesus Christ. This is done by recognizing...
Your righteous status in Christ (vrs 2-7)
As we learn here and from Paul’s other letters the issue of circumcision was one of status; who are God’s people? The Judaizers insisted that gentiles, who were believers in Jesus and part of the church were really still outsiders and needed to become circumcised. Paul’s answer is that the real People of God live lives of service by the Holy Spirit, they glory in Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. Paul demonstrates that he of all people has reason for confidence on the basis of keeping the law Torah. Using the analogy of financial book keeping, Paul says that all of his “gains,” all of his reasons for fleshly confidence, pales so completely comparison to Christ that they are no gains at all, but rather “loss.” Is the confidence that you belong to God based on yourself, or do look only to Christ for righteousness?
Your need to (personally) know Christ (vrs 8-9)
In verse 8 Paul exclaims that not only is his former Torah keeping “loss,” but he considers everything as “loss.” When compared to the possibility of truly knowing Jesus Christ everything else appears as “garbage.” (literally “things for dogs.”) This “knowing,” is not merely head knowledge about Christ. Rather, it is intimate, personal, life changing knowledge of Christ. Paul’s devotion spills out onto the page and culminates in referring to Jesus as “my Lord.” (This is the only place this exact reference is used). In verse 9 Paul returns back to the theme of covenant status. He emphasizes again righteousness does not come from keeping Torah, but from faith in Christ. Do you have this kind of personal love toward Christ? Do you often reflect on all that he has done for you?
Your conformity to Christ (vrs 10-11)
Paul then reminds his readers that to know Christ means to know him the power of resurrection. Christ’s resurrection changes everything. It guarantee’s our resurrection, which gives us power and freedom to live differently. However it does not lead to triumphalism, but rather it leads us to join in the sufferings of Christ and become like him in his death. What does it mean for us to become like him in death? The answer is given in chapter 2, where it says Christ was humble and obedient to the point of death. That is the call of his followers. But we do this rejoicing, knowing that through our daily dying to self, through humility and obedience to God, we may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Jared McNabb (M.Div. Westminster Theological Seminary) is the pastor of St. Paul's Independent Church (Millers, MD). He is a graduate of Lancaster Bible College, and has served as a Pastoral Intern at All Saints Church in Lancaster PA.