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Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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It's not about appearing Christian, it is about being Christian

Notes & Transcripts
As we get started this morning it is important to recognize that we are skipping a section of Paul’s letter. I say it’s important because I do not believe that there is anything in scripture by accident.
I hope that you will still read it. The end of chapter 2 represents Paul’s love for the church at Philippi and his desire that they be encouraged.
In chapter 3, where we will be today, Paul enters a discussion of some of the most profound themes of New Testament theology. I mean that seriously.
Before we tackle these themes, let’s pray.
PRAYER
Let’s look at our text for this morning. If you have your own Bibles, I always encourage people to bring their own Bibles so that you can feel free to mark notes in the margins or even write questions there.
Philippians 3:1–11 ESV
1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people 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 righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Even in the early church they dealt with issues that took them away from the heart of God’s message. It is our tendency as fallen creatures to pretend. We want people to think we’re perfect even though we know, and we know that they know, we are far from it.
In reading our passage today we need to recognize the early church came from the Jews. It started with Jesus of course, and the 12 apostles all of whom were jewish. So it is no wonder why they would consider that circumcision would be required as a part of “becoming” part of God’s people.
We often get caught up in appearances. In the Old Testament we read:
1 Samuel 16:7 ESV
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Throughout the Bible, God reminds us that he is looking at our heart, not any physical characteristic.
1 Samuel 16:7 ESV
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
The Philippian church was not made up of jews, but of gentiles. It was the Judaizers, those that wanted new converts to look like them, that were forcing circumcision upon them and making them “take confidence in the flesh.”
It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that is the irrefutable proof that they are members of God’s people. Paul reminds the church that there are three characteristics people of God exhibit:
Philippians 3:3 ESV
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—
Phil
“…worship by the Spirit of God...”
“…glory in Christ Jesus...”
“…put no confidence in the flesh...”
Titus 3:5 ESV
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Titus 3:5–6 ESV
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
All those outward things get us caught up in the doing of the Law. What we too often forget and what the Jews and now the early church was forgetting was that the Law was written for man, man was not created for the Law.
The Law was written not as the main thing. It was to point us toward God. It was meant to set up boundaries so that we could find our way to God again.
In the fall - way back in Genesis - we lost sight of God because we’d become gods unto ourselves. We wanted to determine right from wrong. We wanted to make our OWN decisions. Doesn’t that sound like every child you ever met?
After the Fall what is evident throughout the Old Testament, is our inability to follow God on our own will. So we get caught up in the works aspect of the relationship. We get caught up in the “circumcision” the physical aspects of being a Christian.
But those acts are not our righteousness.
Those outward signs do not signify our relationship with God. I have known non-Christians, even anti-Christians that knew their Bible’s far better than I did.
Philippians 3:3 ESV
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—
I love what Paul does next. He’s like, okay, you want to go toe to toe with someone that’s done the righteous thing? Here we go.
Look at what he writes in the next few verses:
Philippians 3:4 ESV
4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
And then the pedigree comes out:
Philippians 3:5–6 ESV
5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people 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 righteousness under the law, blameless.
If you want to be a law keeper, look at me. I did it. I kept the law. I was blameless under the law and you know what it added up to?
Nothing, nada, bupkis. It was merely a beating of the air. Because the law is powerless.
It’s not the Law that saves us, it’s Christ.
Romans 8:3–4 ESV
3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
You can be polite,
be charitable,
be honest,
feed the hungry,
be kind to everyone you meet,
help the poor,
shelter the homeless,
give to every charity,
go to church every Sunday,
teach Sunday School,
preach,
but if you have not Christ...
…it’s bupkis!
Paul writes to the Philippians and to us:
Philippians 3:7–9 ESV
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
Paul has lost everything...
not really, but he counts them as loss,
WHY? vs. 8
Philippians 3:8 ESV
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
“because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
And the verse continues, doesn’t it?
Philippians 3:8 ESV
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
“For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish...”
The word that is used there for “rubbish” can be translated “dung”. It’s total and utter waste.
And for what purpose would Paul consider all of these righteous things he’d done and the loss of all things rubbish?
Philippians 3:8 ESV
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
“…in order that I may gain Christ...”
That which is of supreme importance. He continues in the remainder of our passage.
Philippians 3:9–11 ESV
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:9 ESV
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own.”
Since it’s Reformation Sunday, I would be remiss for not bringing some statement from the one credited with starting that great change in our world.
Martin Luther struggled with the very thing that Paul is referring to in our passage today.
In his reading of
Romans 1:17 ESV
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Romans 1:17 ESV
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Luther remarked, “I hated that word, ‘the righteousness of God,’ by which I had been taught according to the custom and use of all teachers … [that] God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.” The young Luther could not live by faith because he was not righteous—and he knew it

it had to do with “doing” all the right things, something he knew he was incapable of doing. He knew he was a sinner like everyone else. Then it dawned on him the verse was not about righteousness, but about faith!
The word that stood out to him was that word “righteousness of God” and to him for so long it had to do with “doing” all the right things, something he knew he was incapable of doing. He knew he was a sinner like everyone else. Then it dawned on him the verse was not about righteousness, but about faith!
it had to do with “doing” all the right things, something he knew he was incapable of doing. He knew he was a sinner like everyone else. Then it dawned on him the verse was not about righteousness, but about faith!
You see this quote on the front of our bulletins:

“At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I … began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith.… Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that p 35 had been flung open.”

Ephesians 2:8 ESV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
And the end of our passage, Paul points us to the eternity we all hope for:
Philippians 3:10–11 ESV
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
There is a major difference in living the law our of a sense of obligation and trying to earn our way toward heaven and having our lives be changed so that we are living the law because it is the natural outflow of our relationship with Christ.
Which are you doing?
If you are having a struggle in your faith, please come and see me, talk to one of our elders, get together with a believer you trust. Ask them to pray for you and with you. Don’t just think, I don’t want to look bad in front of anyone. I want to appear righteous. They might think less of me.
We are pedigree-less here. We are diploma-less here.
God is working in our midst. How do we know that we are part of the people of God?
We:
“worship by the Spirit”
“Glory in Christ”
“Put no confidence in the flesh”
Don’t let your faith shrink for the sake of appearances. We want to support you in the faith. I will also say, if you are an elder or deacon and need prayer, please, don’t hesitate just because of your office. Because of your office we know that you need prayer. Let us pray for you!
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