Part 4 – The Joy of Being in Christ - Philippians 3:1-11
In the first week of this series we looked at Jesus promise that we would be able to have His joy in our lives and that joy could be in such a way that it overflows in our lives.
We then looked at how the joy is presented in the book of Philippians, even though it was one of the hardest times in the Apostles Paul’s life, he literally writes the book on joy.
In the first section of Philippians we saw how God uses Christian friends in our lives to bring us His joy.
Then in week two we looked at how God can give us joy even in the difficult circumstances of our lives. We discovered how important it is to be able to see things from God’s point of view.
When we are able to see things from God’s vantage point the difficulties in our life begin to look a little less terrifying, they begin to look a little less desperate and move into the realm of what may be possible. By seeing things from God’s point of view we begin to live out Romans 8:37, where the Bible says that we are more that conquers in Christ Jesus. We move from having a victim’s mentality to a victor’s mentality. The only way that all of this is possible is because we have a close relationship with Christ through prayer and meditating on the Word of the Lord.
And finally, in week three we examined the Joy in Unity. We found out that not all was well with the church at Philippi, there were false teachers coming in from the outside but also there was disagreeing members that were threatening the unity from within.
So Paul begins to attack this problem because he knew that one of the biggest joy stealers we can face in the Church is that we are arguing with one-another.
We saw how Paul taught that the answer to this problem is that we all walk humbly with each other. That we all have the common ground of Christ and no one should think of himself better than anyone else.
We saw that unity is when everyone is using their own unique gifts, talents, personalities and strengths towards a common goal or purpose. We saw the power of this when we read the story of the tower of Babel.
Lastly, we saw that the greatest example of humility was Jesus Himself. He set aside His own Divine Prerogatives and came to the Earth as a mere man, suffering the horrible death on the cross. In this we began to understand that at the core of humility is to think of others above yourself and to bring yourself to the place where you first seek to fulfill God’s plan before your own.
Now, we are finally up to date and ready to start our next section in Philippians. This is Philippians 3:1-11 where we find the main source of the joy in our lives, being in Christ!
Beware of False Teaching
Philippians 3:1-3 (NLT), “Whatever happens, dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you joy. I never get tired of telling you this. I am doing this for your own good. Watch out for those dogs, those wicked men and their evil deeds, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship God in the Spirit are the only ones who are truly circumcised. We put no confidence in human effort. Instead, we boast about what Christ Jesus has done for us.”
Paul begins this section by praying that the Lord would give them joy. But he also knew about the false teachers that were coming to the Philippian church trying to tell them that they being Gentiles, would first have to go through the Jewish custom of being circumcised before they would really be saved. They also taught that they would have to fulfill other aspects of the Jewish law as well (i.e. feasts and festivals, to only eat with those of the circumcision, etc.)
I think it is clear what Paul thinks about that! I don’t think so! Wrong answer! He calls these Judiazers, dogs, wicked men who do evil deeds. Now there is a good cultural point here, during the first century wild dogs were very common; they would wonder the streets looking for food going from village to village. Since they didn’t belong to anyone, these dogs would become quite mangy and they smelled really bad. The Jews would often refer to the Gentiles as dogs because they saw them as unclean and vile because they didn’t hold to the religious standards of Judaism. The irony here is that Paul is now calling these Jews dogs to describe their sinful hearts.
These Judiazers also prided themselves as being workers of righteousness, but Paul calls them workers of evil. (Sounds like Jesus talking to the Pharisees doesn’t it) This is because they were saying that the gentiles had to go through the works of the law in order to receive God’s salvation, and this was a point that Paul was very familiar with as we will see later.
This was one of the teachings that Paul had to combat many times, he even had to confront Peter on this issue in Galatians 2:11
Aren’t you glad that we don’t have to deal with any of these types of false teachings today?!?
What are some of the false teaching that are out there concerning what it takes to be saved?
1. Some Baptist – Only after baptism is one saved
2. Some Pentecostals – Only after you speak w/tongues
3. You have to be a member of a particular church
The point is this that Satan will always be trying to take our attention off of the fact that Jesus has already accomplished everything that is required for us to have our sins forgiven.
What did Jesus cry out lastly from the cross? (John 19:30) “Tetelestai” or “It is finished!” – The verb here is in the perfect tense denoting a completed action. Everything that was required for Jesus to do to purchase our salvation was completed.
There is nothing that we have to do nor is there anything that we could do to help us earn our salvation.
Human Effort Means Nothing
Philippians 3:4-8 (NLT), “Yet I could have confidence in myself if anyone could. If others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! For I was circumcised when I was eight days old, having been born into a pure-blooded Jewish family that is a branch of the tribe of Benjamin. So I am a real Jew if there ever was one! What's more, I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. And zealous? Yes, in fact, I harshly persecuted the church. And I obeyed the Jewish law so carefully that I was never accused of any fault. I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ.”
To emphasize his point Paul begins to lay out his case against the Judiazers by showcasing his Jewish pedigree. This list of credentials would have landed Paul in the Who’s Who of True-Blooded Jews. This list would have put Paul on the Top Ten list!
1) He was circumcised when he was eight days old.
Paul mentions this first because it was such a big deal to the Judiazers. Being circumcised at eight days old according to the laws of Moses proved that Paul was a Jew from the time of his birth. A convert to Judaism would have been circumcised at the time of his conversion.
2) He was born into a pure blooded Jewish family.
Both of his parents were Jews. This was probably not true of most of the Judiazers. Paul could trace his ancestry all the way back to Abraham (2 Cor. 11:22)
3) He was a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin
Among Jews this tribe had a special place of honor because it produced Israel’s first king. It was also one of the two tribes that made up the Southern Kingdom of Judah, which was seen the more faithful to the Davidic dynasty.
4) He was a ‘Hebrew of Hebrews’.
In the previous century or so many of the Jews had adopted Greek customs and had abandoned their native Hebrew language. Not Paul. Hebrew was his native tongue and he thoroughly knew the customs of his people.
5) He was a member of the Pharisees.
With regard to keeping the Jewish laws, this was the strictest sect among the Jews. They even added their own set of regulations in addition to the laws of Moses. Compared to the devout Pharisees the Judiazers looked like legalist rookies.
6) He was a zealous Jew.
He was not only a Jew by birth and a Pharisee but also a militant Jew. Before he encountered Christ, Paul was the most feared and relentless persecutor of the Christians.
7) He was faultless.
Paul doesn’t mean that he was sinless. He is stating that he was righteous from a legalistic point of view—he followed the rules precisely.
So what’s the point of all of this? I have no idea!! Just kidding!
The point is that from a Jewish religious point of view Paul was perfect. Not just good but perfect! He was the man! From a Judiazers point of view Paul was the poster boy of what a Jew ought to be. And then Paul brings home the crushing blow. He says that when he compares all that he had and was, from a Jewish point of view and he looks at it in comparison to the freedom and liberating truth that is only found in a relationship with Jesus, he says all of that other stuff is a pile of garbage!
Paul had come face to face with the truth that there is nothing that we can do (work) that will earn our salvation, it is only a free gift from God because of what Jesus did.
I believe that this is one of those truths that we have heard for many years and yet somehow it registers better in our hearts than in our minds. I also think this is one of those things that God gradually allows us to realize as we grow in Him.
That doesn’t mean that as Christians we shouldn’t do good works (see James 2:14-17) because we must, it means that those works can’t earn your salvation; they do however reveal your salvation.
Any comments or questions?
Christ’s Work Means Everything
Philippians 3:9-11 (NAS), “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, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Paul’s doctrine of salvation is summed up in verse 9, “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.”
It’s as simple as that. We can do nothing to earn our salvation.
God had accomplished everything that is necessary for our salvation:
He put the plan in place.
He accepted Christ’s death as the penalty for our sin.
He offers salvation to us freely.
He declares us to be blameless and righteous.
He forgives and forgets our sins.
He gives us eternal life.
The point is that when we begin to think that we must Do something in order to be saved then we will always live under condemnation, because when will we ever be able to do enough? Never!
Talk about a joy stealer! Living under self-condemnation is horrible! The Good News is that that’s not God’s plan. His plan is to freely offer salvation to you! All you have to do is accept it! Knowing this is what gave Paul joy even while he was in prison. It was all found in being in Christ. I think the key to being in Christ is to freely receive His gift of salvation and accept it as it is.
Remember the promise of John 15:11, “I have told you this so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” How was this to be possible? Be abiding in Him as the branch abides in the vine as it source of life.
(EXTENDED DEEPER ENDING)
Now there is a real interesting grammatical point here in verses 10 and 11. It is Paul’s use of a classical Antimetabole (AN-ti-mə-TAB-ə-lee) to make his point.
In rhetoric, an antimetabole is the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point. In its classical application, antimetabole would have been used for structures that do repeat the same words and phrases, and invert a sentence's grammatical structure or ideas.
(Example of modern antimetabole- "I am stuck on Band-Aid, and Band-Aid's stuck on me.")
In verses 10 and 11 Paul’s use of classical antimetabole is this:
That I may know Him. . .
A and the power of His resurrection
B and the fellowship of His sufferings
B’ being conformed to His death
A in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead
I believe Paul’s reasoning in using this grammatical tool is to point out both what have in Christ and also to reveal that for the Christian there is a focus on both the here and now, and on the future.
Because we know Him we can live in the power of His resurrection – now.
NLT Mark 10:30 will receive now in return, a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property-- with persecutions.
NLT 2 Corinthians 1:22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us.
Because of the power of His resurrection we can face the sufferings that we may have to endure – now
NLT John 14:27 "I am leaving you with a gift-- peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid.
NKJ John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
NKJ Romans 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Christ’s sufferings ultimately led to death as someday we will have to face – future
NKJ Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
Through our death in Christ we can participate in the resurrection of the righteous - future
NKJ 1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
NLT 1 Corinthians 15:20 But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again. 21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ. 22 Everyone dies because all of us are related to Adam, the first man. But all who are related to Christ, the other man, will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised first; then when Christ comes back, all his people will be raised.
Notice where all this starts, it starts with knowing Him! In Him we can have Joy