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Philippians 10

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Philipians 10.

At the beginning of the last chapter Paul warned the believers in Philippi – three times he told them to BEWARE! [P] [Philippians 3:2-3 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; 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.] He is not complimentary! There was a real danger to the church and he wanted to alert them to it. Now some say that we should not be critical – but if there is danger, is it not best to be alerted to it?! Christians tend to be trusting people, that is an essential aspect of faith – but with it we can be gullible and therefore vulnerable. Because let’s be frank about this – we have enemies. That is how it was in Paul’s day – there were enemies of the Gospel who threatened the church. In fact it was danger of exactly the same type that totally dominated the church at one stage and is a threat to this day. We need to be aware of the threat and beware of the danger – it is subtle and has an appeal to the flesh. Paul has not one good word for these men – they were false! What was this false influence? – they were dogs, evil workers, false circumcision – they were demanding that men be circumcised, adhere to the Jewish law and ceremonies [P]. Do all that the law required. It was a fleshly doing. You had to do certain things – it depended upon your performance. They focused on circumcision – and it hurt, it was costly, a real sacrifice – if you did it you had something that made you that bit superior to those who were unwilling to do it. It is based in pride because you have to do a particular thing, and having done it you are proud of your accomplishment. And the danger is here today! I have seen a woman crawling on her knees across Saint Peter’s square in Rome – fulfilling a costly religious observance. You will find it in every religion (other than true Christianity) the requirement for you to do something, something sacrificial and costly. It depends on what YOU DO! That is the FLESH – fleshly religion! We see it in the animist sacrifices, in Buddhism, Hinduism, in Islam, in Judaism in its dependence on doing what the Torah required. But it is closer to home – we see it in Catholicism – it is a religion of works. And the cults are the same – JWs, Mormons they have to do certain works in order to earn favour with God. But it comes even closer – Seventh Day Adventists hold people in bondage to the Sabbath law plus a lot of other dietary laws. But the danger is even nearer to home – and we need to beware. Still there are those that maintain we have to keep the law, the 10 commandments, certain food we are not to eat, you have to fast, attend church, pray – all these things that you must do – requirements added by men, it is the flesh. How can you tell? – does it appeal to pride? Does it give you something to boast about? It is subtle – Derek Prince, whose teaching I greatly respect, was teaching on the radio on fasting, a week or so back. He spoke about his practice of fasting and let it slip that during his Christian life he had spent a total of 8 years fasting – what is that? Boasting! It is the flesh! I attended a church where there was a keen and zealous group. You were made to feel an inferior Christian if you weren’t up at 0500 seeking the LORD. The earlier you were up, the longer you spent praying, the better Christian you were! It is boasting, it is the FLESH! See what the subtle danger is? It is depending on what you do, not what on Jesus has done. You get the glory and not Jesus! In utter contrast, to the false circumcision, Paul claimed to be the true circumcision [P] – they worshipped in the Spirit, not in the flesh. They didn’t boast in what they had done but gloried in what Jesus the Messiah had done! Praise His Name! They had no confidence in the flesh, in what they had done, their confidence is in Jesus alone. Those in the Spirit do not boast of what they have done or accomplished. But remember what Paul did? He went on and did that very thing – boasted of the very things that those in the flesh do! He had all these trophies of his religious accomplishment [P]. But why did he boast? To show that there was something of far greater value [P]. He gave up the lot, counted them lost for what was of surpassing value. But He not only gave up these accomplishments, he gave up EVERYTHING! [P] Why? What was it that was worth so much more than absolutely everything else, he would give up all for? – The surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus! [P] That is the only thing that matters. It is of far greater value than everything else, it is worth giving up everything for – and that is what Paul did. But he did more than that – all the things that people are so proud of, he didn’t just give them up in exchange for something of greater value – he considered them rubbish [P] (and I pointed out last time that the language is even stronger than that). All these things that people value are absolutely valueless. It is not a matter of sacrificing them; rather, it is good riddance to bad rubbish. You may recall that last time I used the illustration of picking up some junk at the dump and being offered true treasure – you could only take hold of the true treasure when you let go of the junk you were holding on to. Paul realized those things that he used to be so proud of for what they were: filthy refuse! He used to be proud of and value his own accomplishments – but now he had something of real value – he had gained Christ! [P] He was found in Him – in Christ! A simple phrase, a lovely expression – but what does it really mean? What are the implications? Why did Paul get so excited about it and value it so highly? Why was Paul so down on these religious people and so taken with this treasure of knowing Christ Jesus and being found in Him? Let’s read what he says to these believers in Philippi [P] [Philippians 3:7-11 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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, 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 gave up all in order to gain Christ, everything else was dung; he just wanted to get rid of it! Yet, here were these people coming in to the church in Philippi telling them about these things that they had to do in order to be right with God. Remember Isaiah said that the very best we do, our righteous acts, that which we want everyone to notice and applaud; were filthy and defiled, a menstrual rag! [Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.] That is our righteousness – it doesn’t make the grade! Paul was blameless (Phil 3:6) as far as doing it according to the law was concerned. He did it far better than these who were coming into the church with this teaching. But he knew it was no good – he had found something far far better! [P] He had found Christ! – was found in Him! And being in Him he had a righteousness that wasn’t his own – no longer did it depend on Him doing it. He’d been released from that awful bondage of performance – of having to make the grade. That righteousness that he’d worked so hard at was through the law – keeping all the requirements of a written legal code. He’d probably done it as good as anyone but it wasn’t good enough. But this righteousness that he had now was not a product of keeping the law – it was the product of God Himself. And this is why Paul got so excited about gaining Christ [P]. What did Paul gain when he gained Christ? The word gain has the idea of profit or procuring an advantage – back in (Phil 1:21) we had the idea: “For me to live to die is gain” – it was to his advantage – what gain was there in Christ? When Paul gained Christ does this mean he came to know about Him? Or perhaps, is gaining Christ: knowing Him personally? No, it is far more even than that! Paul had made a sacrifice in order to obtain – you actually obtain Jesus for your own! No  longer I, but Christ! You have Jesus Himself! Now remember this is the Son of God, the One who is God! You have Him – His life! His nature! When He gained Christ – he gained all that is Christ’s – that is why Paul could say in [Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,]. The implications of this are staggering! And I am not going to pretend that I realise them, but it is a deep thing. Having gained Christ, he was then: Found in Him [P] – most of us know very little Greek, but there is one Greek word that people often know: we know the story of Archimedes when he jumped in the bath and the water level went up – an astounding discovery! As if he was the first one who noticed! He jumped out again and cried: …..? “Eureka!” He’d found it! – made a discovery. The same word as used here: we are discovered to be in Christ. Colossians says: [Colossians 3:3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.] – our life is hidden, where is it found? We are found in Him – that is where our life is found. It is a complete inclusion in Him. That is why the New Testament refers to the church being the body of Christ. They are one, united – it is a great and profound mystery [Ephesians 5:30-32 we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (just in a marriage you are no longer two but one, so the church is one with Christ) This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.] Ephesians 1 repeatedly uses the phrase “in Christ” – that is where our life is. Those of you who have read any Watchman Nee will know his illustration of what it means to be “in Christ”; as always his illustrations are simple: I have a book and I slip a $10 note into it – the note is “in the book”. Where I take the book, the note goes. What happens to the book happens to the note. If I drop the book in the river the $10 goes in the river, if the book is given to the queen, so too is the note. We are found “in Christ” – what happens to Him happens to us. He died, so we died with Him; He rose to life, so we rise to life with Him – His life, eternal life, life that never ends. [2 Timothy 2:11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;] This is why Paul was so excited about being found in Christ – through knowing Him He wanted to share in His resurrection power [P]. Can you conceive what power it takes to raise from the dead One who is bearing the sin of world in His body?! We have witnessed mighty power that shakes the earth, the destructive power of nuclear devices – but the power to impart life to that which is dead! That is almighty power! Hallelujah! Jesus rose again – He has the power of resurrection, we are found in Him so we have that power also. But you can’t pick and choose, select what you want. You are not selecting qualities of Jesus – He is your life, you are found in Him – whatever happens to him happens to you – the book is in the river so is the $10 note. Sure, He rose from the death but He also died first – we have to also. You are only going to attain to the resurrection from the dead if you are conformed to His death. It came as a revelation to me: you can only resurrect the dead. You don’t do CPR on the people playing volley-ball on the beach but on the drowned person the lifeguard hauls from the water. You only resurrect the dead! We want the power of the resurrection – but it can only come to those that have died. What happens to Jesus happens to us because we are found in Him. Paul said that He was crucified with Christ: [Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.] Jesus suffered, we have the fellowship of that too! [P] Jesus suffered, so Paul did too – it kind of changes the perspective on it though: no longer is he enduring an ordeal, he has the privilege of sharing in what Jesus went through. We are found in Him, He suffered, and so do we – we have the fellowship of His sufferings – share them in common with Him. That’s why Paul spoke of completing His sufferings: [Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.] The sufferings were not his, they were those of Christ, what He was going through. Being found in Christ the identification is total – His sufferings, His death, His resurrection – it is a complete knowledge of Him, not an academic knowledge, but all that He experienced we share in too. You can describe to people what it was like to go through an earthquake, but really you don’t know until you experience it yourself. Paul had this tremendous longing to know Jesus – it is a deep knowing, being one with Him in all that He goes through. [Philippians 3:10-11 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.] Experiencing with Him His sufferings, His death; His resurrection – there is the ultimate goal: RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD! [P] Life that is everlasting; that death cannot touch! It is a gift, it is found in Christ Jesus but it cannot come by violating God’s principles. The principle is that: [Ezekiel 18:4 “Behold, all souls are Mine. The soul who sins will die.] [Proverbs 11:19 He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life, and he who pursues evil will bring about his own death. Proverbs 12:28 In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.] [Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.] You cannot give life in violation of that principle; where there is sin, the penalty must be death. The only way to life, to attain to the resurrection from the dead is through righteousness. Look back to what being “found in Christ” entailed. [Philippians 3:9 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,] It is not a righteousness of his own, the kind that comes from the Law. This is the kind of righteousness from a life well-lived that he alluded to at the end of (Phil 3:6), the kind that these false teachers were insisting on in (Phil 3:2). Adding  “my righteousness from the Law” sets the stage for a contrast with the kind of righteousness he actually receives. Instead, Paul will be found in Christ with a righteousness through faith in Christ, the kind from God instead of from himself. There is vitally important truth in this verse! To know Christ, to be found in Him who is LIFE, the Way the Truth and the Life; it is essential to be righteous. It is the only way! The only way to life is by righteousness. There are no exceptions! And there is the problem: none of us is righteous – the Bible is quite clear: [Romans 3:10-12 as it is written, (the record of Scripture)“There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” ] How can you be found in Him who is righteous if you are not righteous yourself?! To be “found in Him” meant not having a righteousness of my own. [P] Not having a righteousness derived from the Law. That is why Paul was so strongly against those who were trying to make the people be righteous, conform to a fleshly standard of compliance. Your righteousness will not do! You have to throw away that rubbish, those filthy rags you are clinging to! The righteousness derived from the law will not do – we need righteousness from a source other than ourselves! Only Divine righteousness will do! We need the righteousness that comes from God! [P] It has to be God’s righteousness! In [Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”] Speaking about the Jews trying to be righteous by keeping the Law Paul said: [Romans 10:3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.]. It is the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD, not our own – that is why we have to be found in Christ. Doing, by keeping laws, will never achieve the righteousness of God – the righteousness of God only comes from God. It is given, not earned. Romans develops this theme of the righteousness that comes from God: [Romans 3:21-22 But now apart from the Law (that which came from us trying to meet the proscribed standard) the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe;]. This is why Paul was so keen to be found in Christ, why he considered gaining Him of surpassing value. All that which he had worked so hard at, never made the grade. A staggering amount of effort, discipline and dedication, forever trying but never getting there! Now it was available ….. in Christ!! Hallelujah! No wonder He valued Him so much, considered everything else worthless – it is! Now we can have the righteousness of God Himself! Hallelujah! [2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.] Praise God! This “attaining to the resurrection” is a hope, not something he is owed. This is not to say that he had no confidence that it would come about, only that it is not phrased as something which God owes him. If the righteousness really was of his own doing, then one might view it as an obligation on God’s part [Romans 4:4-5 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favour, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies (makes righteous) the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness]. Paul makes his sacrifices out of love for Christ, not as a means of earning salvation. Salvation is the sure hope; love is the motivation. Earlier in the chapter 5 of 2nd Corinthians Paul said we “Walk by faith and not by sight” and that is the only way this Divine righteousness is obtained. [P] Paul goes to great lengths to draw the contrast between the human-based righteousness that some strive for and the kind that originates from God on the basis of faith. Twice he says in (Phil 3:9) that it is by faith: “through faith in Christ”; and “on the basis of faith”. It is by faith alone that righteousness comes, and thus life. Look back at those verses in Romans: [Romans 3:21-22 the righteousness of God has been manifested, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe;] and in [Romans 1:16-17 the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”]. [P] Paul quotes (Habakkuk 2:4) which is quoted 3 times in the N.T. – and this verse was the watch-cry of the Reformation. At that time, the church had become extremely powerful – they had the keys of the kingdom, the keys to life and death – Jesus given it to them, hadn’t He? Power over life, to grant or withhold eternal life – it is the ultimate power - and they exploited it. Lord Acton’s saying was right: power tends to corrupt. And corrupt the church was! They regarded themselves as the administers of God’s grace – that was a valuable commodity, a saleable one; and they did. They had lavish building projects so they handed out God’s favour for a fee. You could pay to have your sins forgiven, pay to get time off of purgatory – there was no money back guarantee. People were held in a bondage of fear. Then a monk read what the Bible said – he saw that righteous was not earned, paid for, it was free and it came by faith alone. “THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL LIVE BY FAITH” – it is the righteous who live. In order to live, you must be righteous. But our own righteousness does not make the grade – our filthy rags of our own effort must be discarded so that we can be clothed the righteousness of God. How do we get this Divine righteousness, this righteousness of God? BY FAITH! By relying on the righteousness of Jesus – depending on Him having done it for us. Righteousness is not about doing but about relying on what Jesus has done. He alone perfectly met the requirements of the Law, did it perfectly and so was without sin: [2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.] On the cross the sinless One: [1 Peter 2:24 bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness;]. It is liberation from that striving to do it ourselves. That effort which leads to pride in what we ourselves have done. The genius and uniqueness is of the Gospel is that pride is totally excluded; because it doesn’t depend upon us [Romans 4:2-3 For if Abraham was justified (made righteous) by works, he has something to boast about. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”] [Romans 3:26-28 for the demonstration of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.] All we can do is boast in what Jesus has done for us: [1 Corinthians 1:29-31 so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, (found in Him) who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”] This is the way to life and it is found in Christ alone! To Him be all the glory! We walk by faith, that is the only way to righteousness and life – a continual relying on Jesus’ life every step of the way. Let us be wary of the pressure to perform, to fleshly efforts of religious observance. May we gain Christ, be found in Him, not with a rightousness of our own, but having the righteousness of God by faith. Let us forever rely solely on Jesus and His perfect finished work – let our boast be in Him alone: “To God be the glory great things He has done”!

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