by Mike Ratliff
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11 (NASB)
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.
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, 4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:1-11 (NASB)
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 (skubalon) , “rubbish” 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.
12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. Philippians 3:12-21 (NASB)
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!