by Mike Ratliff
But even more so I consider all thing to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all thing I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)
From where does the righteousness of the Christian come? If you think that is an unimportant question or one that we do not need to spend much time on, then you could quite possibly be one who is either the next victim of a deceiver or have already been deceived. If we look at the opposition to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by professing Christians, in other words, either apostates or the religious who believe they are Christian through their religion, they claim righteousness comes from some other way beyond what the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ says. Many of these were like I was growing up as a Southern Baptist. My understanding of salvation was that one had to be religious, but it all started with that profession of faith that was followed by Baptism, which I did in the 4th grade (1960). I was not regenerate. I was religious and since it was all works of the flesh in order to please God (law), I could not do a very good job of it nor did I like nor did I keep it up very long. However, my heart goes out to all those like me who grew up like me and did that same thing. I pray that God has mercy on you and draw you into His light and obedience to the Gospel as He did me in 1986.
As to the rest, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not troublesome for me, but is a safeguard for you. Watch out for dogs. Watch out for the evil workers. Watch out for the mutilators. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus not having confidence in the flesh. Even though I could also have confidence in the flesh. If any other person thinks they have obtained reason to have confidence in the flesh, I more; as to circumcision, on the eighth day, of the race of Israel, the Tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, according to the Law, a Pharisee, according to zeal, persecuting the Church, according to righteousness in the Law, having become blameless, but what things were gain to me, these I have considered loss on account of Christ. But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:1-11 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)
What is the contrast between the opponents of the gospel and the true people of God according to Paul? Those who oppose the gospel are all about attaining righteousness through works of the flesh, but true believers are those who worship by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus not having confidence in the flesh. How often are we tempted to point out our good works to others? They may be evidences of our faith, but they do not attain one iota for us. Paul then uses his own heritage as a Pharisee as a contrast to those who claim such things are worthy when it comes to attaining justification before God. What does Paul say? He not only considers all what he attained as a Pharisee as loss on a account of Christ, but he also considers all thins to be loss on account of whom all things He suffered loss even to the point of considering what the Jewish world would view as the highest gain as σκύβαλα the Accusative, Plural of σκύβαλον or skubalon or “dung.” In other words, Paul considered it all worthless compared to what he had in Christ and that is the point we must learn as well. That point is that we gain Christ and be found in him, not having our own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings conformed to his death, that we somehow may attain to the resurrection from the dead. You see, since I have been involved in “church” since a child, I doubt if I have heard very often a gospel presentation talk about it quite like that.
Not that I have already obtained this or have already been perfected, but I press on if indeed I my lay hold of that for which I was also laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider to have laid hold myself, but one thing, forgetting what lies behind while stretching forward to the things that lie ahead, I pursue the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ. Therefore, as many as would be mature think this way, and if anything, you think differently, even this, God will reveal to you. Nevertheless, to what we attained, obey the same rule we are to follow. Brothers join in imitating me, and notice those walking as we walk as an example. For many walk of whom often I was telling you, and now also weeping, I say, “They are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with their minds on earthly things.” For our citizenship exists in heaven from where also we eagerly await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transfigure our body of humiliation into conformity with body of his glory according to the working of his power even to the subjecting to himself all things. (Philippians 3:12-21 Possessing the Treasure New Testament Version 1)
Again, the true Christian progresses in Christian living, in the Gospel, through Christ, presenting himself as one who continually reaches ahead to see God’s kingdom expanded, but never through the law. Flee from any Christian leader who attempts to portray themselves as already “completed” or “perfected.” If the Apostle Paul wasn’t then I seriously doubt if anyone else in this flesh bound world (except Christ) could claim such a thing. However, that is no excuse. We must continue to press on, stretching forward to the things that lie ahead instead of being consumed with what has transpired in the past. Why? Jesus Christ has made us his own.
These enemies of the cross are anyone who would attempt to say that righteousness from God can be obtained other than through Christ according to the gospel. Those who teach such things are prevalent in our time. I have had some contact me who insisted that what I was teaching was right, but I needed to also teach complete adherence to the Law of Moses, et cetera. Aren’t passages like this and the book of Galatians enough to show us that such teachings are bogus?
Where is the citizenship of all who are in Christ? It is not here in this flesh bound place. No, it is in heaven where Christ is. When we are united with Him forever, we will also be resurrected. Our bodies will be transfigured into conformity with His according to the working of His power.
Soli Deo Gloria!