Gaining Christ (Philippians 3:4-9)
Gaining Christ (Philippians 3:4-9)
Gaining Christ Means Losing All Other Confidences (verses 4-7)
There were certain things that were once “gain” to Paul. The list he gives in verses 5-6 explaining His Jewish heritage and religious efforts can be considered his spiritual resumé. They were all the things that he had by birth and by his own efforts that gave him confidence that he belonged to God. No one else came close to Paul in terms of reason to trust in their own accomplishments. If anyone was going to be accepted by God on the basis of their own achievements, it would be Paul.
But Paul doesn’t consider any of his supposed advantages to be gain any longer. When Jesus Christ appeared to Paul for the first time, his entire value system changed. The things that used to be his advantage now became his disadvantage, because the confidence he was placing on those things was keeping him from placing his hope on the one thing that matters: Christ Jesus. Paul understood that to hope in Christ means to count all other hopes as loss; to rest in Christ for salvation means that we rest in nothing else. If Paul was to have Christ, all other confidences must be loss to him.
- Why is it important to forsake every other hope and trust other than Christ? What are the types of things you are tempted to put confidence in outside of Christ? What gives you a sense of security and hope outside of Jesus?
Gaining Christ Means Knowing Christ (verse 8)
The great joy of having Christ is that we can know Him. Paul will go on in verses 9-11 to show many of the wonderful benefits that we get from belonging to Christ: His righteousness (verse 9), His power (verse 10), His resurrection (verse 11). But the first thing he mentions as that which is of surpassing value is not knowing Christ’s benefits, but knowing Christ Himself. Knowing Christ was the motivating force and goal for all that he did. It was of so much value, in fact, that Paul not only counts “those things” as loss that he mentions in verses 5-6, but he now says counts “all things” as loss. He not only counts his Jewish privileges as loss, he considers anything and everything as loss if it would keep him from knowing Christ. Even though Paul had suffered the loss of everything in pursuit of this knowledge, he wasn’t filled with regret or discouragement, but rather considers all lost to be rubbished compared to the value of knowing Jesus.
The knowledge of Christ that Paul pursues is always within the context of Christ Jesus as his Lord. From the moment he was met by Christ (Acts 9), there was never doubt in his mind that this Person is the Lord of all, and worthy to be served, worshiped, and obeyed. Therefore, no knowledge that Paul had of Christ was ever mere theoretical knowledge, interesting to the mind but without effect on his life. Instead, all knowledge of Christ was personal knowledge, leading to some aspect of submission and conformity to the knowledge gained.
- How much of a priority in your life is knowing Christ? What would your internet browsing history this past week suggest about your priorities? What do you spend most of your time thinking about? What do you schedule your time around? Is knowing Christ at the center of it all?
Gaining Christ Means Getting His Righteousness (verse 9)
When Paul speaks of being “in Christ” he’s using the language of spiritual union, through which the life and blessings of Christ flow freely to us. The particular blessing of this union that Paul draws out in this verse is that of having Christ’s righteousness. He wanted to be able to stand before God and have total assurance that God would declare him righteous, but he knows he doesn’t have a righteousness of his own derived from the Law. If he is going to be righteous, he must be credited with the spotless, perfect righteousness of Christ. This spotless righteousness of Christ, the righteousness that comes from God, won’t be given to us because of our own efforts according to our obedience. Instead, it’s given to us as a gift, through faith alone.
- Why does Paul say that he has no righteousness of his own? What makes all of our apparent righteousness a mere counterfeit of the real thing? Are you tempted to hope in your own works as the basis of your relationship to God? What effect does it have on the way you approach God to know that He gives us Christ’s righteousness through faith?