Philippians on Friday: To be Found in Him!

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

PhilippiansWhat an incredible verse! I want to be found in Him – in His righteousness, not mine! Paul is talking to the Philippians about our standing with God. And that standing comes from what Christ has done not what we have done!

Certainly we are following after holiness. We are to striving to be like Christ – to walk right and do right. We are His representatives to a lost world and we are living our lives as a reflection of Him. But our standing in God does not come from our righteousness it comes from His righteousness.

Paul’s Pedigree

Paul reminded the Philippians that he did all the right things.  He followed the law to a tee. But then on the road to Damascus, Paul had an experience with Jesus. Paul had an eye-opening revelation – none of his own righteousness put him in right standing with God.   Only by trusting in Christ’s righteousness could he be justified. So Paul re-evaluated and re-counted his life. He relabeled all the things he had trusted in to make him righteous. Labels were changed from “gain” to “loss.” All the confidence Paul had put in his own righteousness, were relabeled, “dung.” He counted it all loss and put his trust in what Christ had done.

Oh, to be found in Him:

….not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

When I am found in Him, I enjoy the righteousness of God. Do you want to be found in your own righteousness or the Righteousness of God?  When you are trying to be justified through what you are doing – that’s the righteousness of the Law. And Paul said:

…. for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16)

Or do you want the righteousness of God? The righteousness of God comes by faith and trust in Christ – in what He has done.

I’ll Never Measure Up!

I’ll never be good enough in of myself. It’s impossible for me to pray hard enough, fast long enough, or sacrifice deep enough to be justified in God’s eyes.  I could never think pure enough or live holy enough to be in good standing before Him.

So I’m going to trust by faith in the righteousness of Christ. Jesus paid the price. I am going to trust in what PhilippiansHe has done and have confidence in His works of righteousness and not my own.

I’m going to trust that when I was born again – baptized in Jesus’ Name and filled with the Holy Ghost – that I put on Christ. I am righteous because of Him not me!

Yes I am striving for holiness! I’m doing by best to live Godly in this present world. I’m pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God. But that isn’t where my good standing with God comes from.

If we don’t understand this truth, we will always struggle. We must have faith and confidence that we are ok with God! Our standing with God is based on what Christ has done. Are we in Him?

Condemnation

We’ve been conditioned our whole lives to think our standing with God is based on our performance. So if I’m doing well spiritually then God will love me and accept me. But if I’m not – If I make a mistake, have a bad thought or slip in my prayer life – then God will no longer smile upon me! I’ll no longer be in good standing with God!

People will live in condemnation if they don’t understand Paul’s teaching to the Philippians. We are human. We are flesh.  We’re going to mess up, have bad days and do dumb things. But our justification is in Christ. We are trusting in His work.  We are counting on His righteousness.

Does that mean we shouldn’t follow after holiness? Of course not! We are trying our best to please God and die to sin. But our standing with GOD is not determined by what we do, it’s determined by our faith in what He did!

A Key to Joy

Rejoice! Philippians is a book about joy. Do you know what brings joy to our walk with God? It’s the realization that it’s not our righteousness, but His righteousness that puts us in good standing with God! That is a key to joy.

If you put your confidence in your own works, you will always come up short. And you will always struggle with joy. Why? Because you can’t live righteous enough in your own self to be justified. If you could, there would not have been a need for Calvary or it’s Christ!

People who are trusting in their own righteousness lack joy. They lack joy because they keep failing. They’re always trying to measure up. They’re always trying to measure others up. But there is only One who measures up – Christ! And we can rejoice when we are found in Him!

If you are in Him, then guess what God sees when He looks at you? He sees the perfect, spotless robe of Christ’s righteousness. Oh to be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith…”

Let God give you Joy. You’re O.K! You’ve been baptized into Christ thereby putting on Christ. You’ve been made holy by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit! So you are in Him – in His righteousness. That is what puts you in good standing with God!

~ Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: Loss and Gain

Thanks again for reading this week’s Philippians on Friday!  Today we will continue in Chapter 3…

Philippians 3:7-8: But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

PhilippiansChapter three began with the theme of justification by faith. Paul criticized the religious Jews of the day (by calling them the “concision”) who arrogantly trusted in their own works and strict adherence to the law rather than the Cross of Jesus Christ.

In our last devotion, we discussed how Paul made the case that if it were possible for a man to be justified by his own works, he of all people would qualify. No one was more devoted to the law and observing its ordinances than Paul. Yet he counted all those things loss. He realized that only by trusting in the Righteousness of Christ could we stand justified before God.

A New Valuation

In verse 7, Paul continues driving home this important concept. He tells the Philippians how he looks at things differently. Paul used to pride himself in his own righteousness. He used to esteem his own works so highly. But what was gain to him (his impressive pedigree and resume of righteous works) he now considers loss.  After his conversion, Paul realized that none of the things he previously trusted in made him righteous in the eyes of God.

Trusting in Jesus’ works, not our own, is what brings salvation. If salvation could be secured by observance of the Law, there would have been no need for Jesus’ great sacrifice. He died on the Cross because the Law was not able to truly make anyone righteous. Only by “putting on” the righteousness of Christ through obedience to the Gospel can we be justified.

It’s filth to Me

Paul’s language in this passage intensifies. He first describes trusting in the law as “loss.” But he goes on to Philippianstell the Philippians that what he formerly trusted is now “dung” to him.

Wow! He wasn’t just saying that trusting in one’s own righteousness is irrelevant or futile. He called it dung. It stinks! He said it is the epitome of filth. How ironic that what the Jews thought was righteous, Paul calls dung.

In essence, Paul was saying: I thought I was righteous because of all I did. But really it was not righteousness at all. In fact it was dung.

Isaiah concurred:

Isaiah 64:6: But we are all as an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;

Our own righteousness is not righteousness at all. There is none righteous, no not one. (Romans 3:10) Only Christ is righteous. And only through Him can we be righteous.

Self-righteousness

Self-righteousness still stinks! It’s still dung. Few things are more putrid than the attitude and arrogance of a person who thinks they are righteous because of the long list of things they do or don’t do. It’s an egregious affront to our Savior to think we could be saved through our own righteousness. To think such a thing means the Cross was all for naught.

Self-righteousness stinks also because of the attitude it typically generates towards others.  When our faith is in Christ’s works, then our focus is on Him.  But when our faith is in our own works, our focus is upon ourselves.  A self-focus generally leads to a critical evaluation of others.  “Look what I have done” naturally leads to questioning others about what they have or have not done.  That attitude stinks.

Winning Christ

Paul won Christ!  He had trusted in the works of Law but even the best Jew of them all couldn’t measure up. So Paul let go of the past and reached forth unto Christ.  He laid aside his faith in the Law’s ability to make one righteous and trusted in the work of Christ on the Cross.  That is a winning strategy!

PhilippiansAs long as you trust in your own works, you will not win.  You will always come up short and fail to measure up to God’s demands.  Your enemy will always point out your shortcomings.  You’ll attempt to find some satisfaction in comparing yourself to others who aren’t doing as much as you are.  That’s no way to win.

Look to the Lamb!  He measured up to God’s highest demands.  Put your faith in Him and what He did. Put on His righteousness though water baptism in His Name.  You will find the true righteousness, peace, and joy that comes through winning Christ.

~Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: Count it all Loss

Thanks again for reading this week’s, Philippians on Friday! In our last devotion we discussed Paul’s blistering condemnation of the Jews who trusted in their own works rather than the righteousness of Christ. This week’s passage is a continuation of that same theme:

Philippians 3:4-6:  Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

PhilippiansIn the proceeding verses, Paul called the Jew’s act of circumcision, simply the “concision.” He was pointing out the fallacy of thinking one can be righteous through the works of the flesh.

In today’s passage, Paul is saying if that were possible, then he of all people would qualify as righteous. If strict adherence to the Law could make one righteous, then Paul has us all beat!

…If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more…

What a Résumé!

Look at Paul’s résumé of good works:

  • Circumcised according to the law
  • A citizen of the nation of Israel
  • Of the tribe of Benjamin
  • A Hebrew of Hebrews
  • A Pharisee who was trained in the Law
  • Zealous for Judaism as demonstrated by his persecuting of the church
  • Blameless concerning his personal adherence to the Law

Do you realize what Paul is saying to the Philippians? No one could top Paul when it came to pointing to one’s own righteousness and good works. If one’s own righteousness made us holy in God’s eyes, then Paul would certainly qualify to stand justified before God. But look what Paul says:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ…

It’s About His Work Not Ours!

If a man’s own righteousness could save him, then Paul didn’t need Christ nor His Cross.  If confidence in one’s own works could justify, then Paul didn’t need a Damascus-road conversion.

Paul shares a joyous truth with the Philippians and each of us. We are saved by PhilippiansChrist’s work, not ours! We are saved by His righteousness, not ours. All our good works will never be enough to save us. We must have faith in Jesus Christ.  When we are born again of water and Spirit we are putting our faith in Jesus’ Death, Burial and Resurrection – We are trusting in what He has done!

Paul said, I count it all loss. What does that mean? All his attempts to be justified before God through his own works fell miserably short. Before his conversion it was gain to him – it was valuable to him. He trusted in those things.

But when He met Jesus Christ, his valuation of those things changed. What was valuable (gain) became loss. He counted those as dung – something utterly worthless and filthy.   He used to say, “Look what I have done!” Now he says, “Look what Christ has done!”

Holy living is our necessary response to Christ’s salvation, not our own attempt to earn it.

Paul was not boasting by listing his fleshly accomplieshments. He was actually doing just the opposite. Paul was showing the folly of trusting in human achievement. He was deliberately mentioning all his so-called accomplishments to show how that none of those things truly justified him in the eyes of God. He mentioned his accomplishments only to say:

If a man could be justified by his own works, then I would be considered justified.

But all those things that were feathers in my cap, I now count as loss. My confidence is in Jesus Christ. My righteousness is in Him.

Why a Loss?

Why did Paul consider his own righteousness as loss?

1 – It didn’t bring true justification

2 – It detracted from the power of the Cross and of faith in Jesus Christ

3 – It led to emphasizing the person rather than the Savior

4 – It bred hypocrisy and judgmentalism

5 – It actually lead Paul farther from God, not closer! (He persecuted the true church, not recognizing it was the Body of Christ)

Holy living is our necessary response to Christ’s salvation, not our own attempt to earn it.  If it were possible for a man’s own holiness to ever be sufficient, then Paul’s own righteousness certainly would have been sufficient.  But the apostle Paul trusted in “Nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  And so should we.

~Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: He Measured Up!

Thanks for joining me for our Philippians on Friday devotion! Today we are continuing with chapter 3 and verse 3:

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

The Concision or the Circumcision?

In our last study we discussed how Paul labeled the Jewish establishment of his day as the “concision” rather than the “circumcision.”  This term, concision, was not a compliment.  It was an indictment against the Jews which pointed out how far they had strayed from God’s original purpose and intent.

Now in contrast, Paul tells the Philippians that we are the true circumcision.  We Christians are the children of Abraham by faith.  Unlike the Jewish establishment of Paul’s day, we are embracing God’s purpose and plan.

PhilippiansWe are not performing stale, hollow rituals that have lost their spiritual life.  We are worshipping God, “in the Spirit!”  The religious Jews of Paul’s day had lost sight of the beauty and purpose of the ceremonies, feasts and commandments.  They had become vain, repetitious routines, rather than signs pointing to Christ.  Those of us who see the Old Testament as a schoolmaster that brings us to Christ, worship God in the Spirit!  Our worship is not dry and ritualistic.  The revelation of Jesus Christ has breathed life and breath into our worship.

The Jews were (and are still) God’s chosen people.  They received the commandments from God Himself.   Yet their religious practices had turned into dead, dry rituals.  They lost the “spirit” of it all.  Be careful that your religious service doesn’t turn into hollow, stale rituals.  Always worship God, “in the Spirit.”  Don’t allow your walk with God to become dry and formalistic.

Another Key to Joy

The Jews, by and large, trusted in the flesh.  They put their confidence in their own righteousness. They believed they could be righteous by their strict adherence to the Law.  That error is what contributed to their religious experience becoming dead and ritualistic.  Christians, on the other hand, put their confidence in Christ’s work, not their own! That understanding is what breathes life into the worship of a Christian.

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Paul is giving the Philippians yet another key to joy.  We “rejoice in Christ Jesus!”  We rejoice because our trust is in His righteousness not our own.  We rejoice because our confidence is in Christ not ourselves.  We can rejoice when our focus is on what He has done, not what we have done.

There is a joy that fills us when we trust in what He has done rather than what we have done.

This is a key to having joy in the Christian life.  When people, like the Jews in Paul’s day, are trusting in their own righteousness, they will never have joy.  They will have no joy because they will never measure up!  Think about it – as long as our confidence is in our own righteousness and our own abilies – we will be repeatedly disappointed.

The Righteousness of Christ

PhilippiansThere is a joy that comes when we surrender to the righteousness of Christ. There is a joy that fills us when we trust in what He has done rather than what we have done.  We will never measure up.  None of us.  We don’t have it in us. But Christ measures up! Christ’s righteousness is sufficient. His strength is perfect. His ability is unmatched. And when we trust in Him and what He has done, and put our faith in the Cross of Calvary – then and only then – can we rejoice.

Perhaps you are lacking in joy because you are trusting in your own righteousness and are repeatedly disappointed with yourself. Remember, none of us are righteous, no not one.  So let us “Put on Christ” in baptism and trust in His blood and righteousness.  That’s a secret to joy!

When He shall come with trumpet sound,

Oh may I then in Him be found;

Dressed in His righteousness alone,

Faultless to stand before the throne.

~Matthew Ball

Philippians on Friday: The Concision

Thanks for joining me for Philippians on Friday! I’m sorry I missed posting a devotion last week – I was preaching in the Philippines. It’s good to be back in the U.S and back to our study of Philippians!

Let’s move on to verse 2 of chapter 3:

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.”

Wow! What a blistering indictment against the Jews. Paul is warning the Philippians of the Jews who trusted in their own works, rather than the work of Christ!

Paul does not mince words or worry about political correctness in his warning to the Philippians. He calls the Jews 3 things: dogs, evil workers and the concision.

Dogs

Paul turns the tables on the Jews. The Jews had always considered the Gentiles to be “dogs.” But Paul assigns that label now to the Jews.

PhilippiansPaul calls them dogs because they are doing what Old Testament gentiles did – refusing to embrace the plan and purpose of God. The Jews had become the very thing they accused the Gentiles of being. By rejecting Christ, the Jews were the ones who were resisting the truth. They were now the unbelievers!

Evil Workers

Not only were the Jews resisting the truth of Jesus Christ, they were actively working against the truth. Paul calls this, not just error, but evil. Their opposition to the gospel of Christ was an evil work. They were undermining the glorious gospel of Grace!

Concision

Paul shares an incredible concept with the Philippians in this verse. He doesn’t refer to the Jews here as the “circumcision,” but rather, just the “concision.”

In the Old Testament, circumcision was the physical act that indicated one was in a covenant relationship with God. This religious rite of the Jewish people began with Abraham. Every male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth. The physical cutting away of the flesh was a sign of one entering into a covenant with Jehovah. It was a physical act that demonstrated a faith in God – faith that they were now covenant partners with Jehovah. That is circumcision.

“Concision” is a word that just means a mutilation of the body. Paul doesn’t call the Jews the circumcision – just the concision. What is he saying?

The Jews who were trusting in their own righteousness by adherence to the law, had strayed so far from what God had intended.  Their act of circumcision was not circumcision at all. It was just concision.

So they may have been going through the physical act of circumcision. But because of their lack of faith in God and purity of heart and spirit, their circumcision was not even valid. It was just a mutilation of their body.  Their pride, arrogance and self-exaltation had rendered the act of circumcision invalid – it was just concision.

A Modern Day Example

What’s a good modern day example? We know the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament rite of circumcision is water baptism:

Col 2:11-12: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism…

If you were to get baptized, but your heart or motives weren’t right or if you didn’t Philippianshave true faith, you wouldn’t be getting baptized at all. Rather, you would just be getting wet! Your “circumcision” (baptism) would just be “concision” (you’d just be taking a bath!)

This is what Paul is telling the Philippians by calling the Jews the concision. The Jew’s hearts weren’t right. They weren’t trusting in God. On the outside they looked the part – but inwardly they were whited sepulchers (as Jesus called them.) So their act of Circumcision was really just concision.

Be careful that your religious activities don’t become hollow, empty rituals because of an inward spiritual deficiency.

What does that teach us today? One can go through the motions of religious activities and rites, but without faith, those activities are hollow rituals. If something isn’t happening on the inside, all the outward religious rites lack efficacy. They are just works of the flesh. A person can appear to do all the right things, but if the heart is not right, it’s just “concision.”

Old Testament Prohibition

It’s interesting that the Old Testament strictly prohibited the mutilation, cutting, piercing, or tattooing of the body. (As does the New Testament) The Jewish people had strayed so far from the spirit of the Law that Paul calls their act of circumcision just concision – which ironically is condemned by the Law.

A Warning for Us Today

Paul’s warning to the Philippians is a warning to us today. Beware of those who put their trust in their own righteousness and religious rituals rather than the righteousness of Christ.  Be careful that your religious activities don’t become hollow, empty rituals because of an inward spiritual deficiency.  Beware of putting your trust in your own works or righteousness rather than His!

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.

~Matthew Ball