Philippians 3:7-8

It will be helpful to retrace our course so far through Philippians 3…
Philippians 3:1-6

1Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
2Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Deftly side-stepping the “Finally” rabbit hole this time, we’re brought face-to-face once again with the main theme of Philippians – my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. Paul then begins to contrast this spiritual rejoicing with the bondage of legalism. Remember our memory verse from a few weeks ago?
Galatians 5:1

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

In making this point, Paul first laid out for us his own earthly credentials, saying that if anyone at all could boast in and rely upon the things of the flesh, and of this Earth, then Paul himself most certainly could. Now, in verse 7, Paul springs the logical trap he has set for those who would hope to count on fleshly, and earthly things for salvation, reminding us that for those who walk in the Spirit, the things of the flesh are of no value…
Philippians 3:7-8

7But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

Although, Paul’s qualifications, and deeds would have been impressive to the Jews of his audience, Paul now unequivocally tells us they are completely worthless. Everything of this earth is passing away. Only our life in Christ, and service in the Name of the Lord will have any eternal value…
1 Corinthians 3:9-15

9For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Even if Paul can truly claim to be blameless in the righteousness that comes from the law, by the revelation of Jesus in His blinding glory on the Damascus road Paul was reminded of that which he already knew from his boyhood study of the scriptures…

Isaiah 64:6
But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.

When he encountered Jesus, Paul suddenly realized that the things of the world – the apparent fleshly righteousness around which he had constructed his very sense of self-worth – were meaningless and pointless. Paul speaks here of loss. Indeed, he emphasizes in verse 8 that everything apart from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is “loss.” As with ourselves, Paul’s life before he met Christ was seemingly wasted. I think Paul is somewhat wistfully thinking of what might have been, had he but recognized the Messiah’s coming earlier. I know I sometimes wonder how Jesus might have used my youthful vigor during the 47 years I was in rebellion against Him – ignoring and rejecting His call on my life.
Nevertheless, Paul is only laying the groundwork for his exposition of another, more profound truth – my favorite passage in the entire Bible – coming up in verse 12. God’s plans and timing are always perfect. Those seemingly wasted years which Paul counts as loss, were God’s perfect preparation for Paul’s ministry after he came to know the Truth. So it is with us. God used our entire experience before coming to Christ to prepare us for our life of ministry now – to make us able to be about His business until He comes. We should not remember grudgingly our time in the world before we called on the Name of the Lord, because God used that time to prepare our hearts to be able to hear and believe the Gospel, and moreover, to soften our hearts and give us compassion for those who remain in unbelief.
For any believer to be useful to God as a new creation in the Spirit, God must first bring the old man – the fleshly man – to the realization of just how deeply God abhors sin, and how desperately all of us need Jesus to be our Savior…
Luke 7:36-50
36Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. 37And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”
40And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
So he said, “Teacher, say it.”
41“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”
43Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”
And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
48Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Nevertheless we shouldn’t think back on our days before we came to Christ with much fondness either. We should count them indeed “as loss” just as Paul did, even knowing that God meant them and used them for good in the end. But although the loss of our prior life in the flesh is indeed total, what we gain by forsaking it is infinitely better – that is “…the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus…”
The knowledge of Christ to which Paul alludes here, is indeed glorious, but this knowledge isn’t something with which we are suddenly struck. Paul spent 3 years in Arabia, and then another 9 years in Tarsus (Acts 9), before beginning his missionary work, as God continued to prepare him. Gaining the knowledge of Christ is a lifelong process…
2 Peter 1:5-8
5But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Also, we need to remember that the knowledge of Christ is intertwined with Christ’s love for us, and with our love for Christ and one another…
Ephesians 4:11-16
11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Finally, let us always keep in mind that the knowledge of Christ is not something we are to hoard for ourselves. God’s purpose in giving us knowledge of Himself is so that we might share it with others – both within, and outside the body…
2 Corinthians 2:14
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7
6For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
We may, indeed, be humble earthen vessels without much attractiveness in and of ourselves, but the treasure we have stored within us – the living Water of God’s Spirit ‘ is glorious and attractive beyond measure. Isn’t a humble, passionate preacher in modest clothing with the sleeves of his work shirt rolled up, preaching the Truth directly from God’s Word like our beloved Pastor Steve, a more effective evangelist to those who are destitute physically and spiritually, and desperately seeking salvation than a smooth-tongued orator in a spotless, white, designer suit, proclaiming a non-scriptural message of peace, joy, prosperity, and inclusion to those who already believe they are chosen?…
Luke 5:32
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.
Meanwhile, back in Philippians…
Paul also reminds us here in verse 8 that he did indeed lose everything in coming finally to Christ. Remember that young Saul had been a rising star in Pharisee circles before that fateful day on the road to Damascus. Despite his youth, he had been well on the way to a place of respect and honor in the Jewish religious establishment of his day. Indeed, we are admonished by Jesus Himself that in order to be His disciples, we are required to forsake everything just as Paul did. Anyone who proclaims that following Christ is an easy road – what Winston Churchill called “broad, sunlit uplands” – is a wicked and false teacher. Woe to such a one, for the judgment on teachers will be stricter. Jesus tells us many times that following Him will be fraught with challenge, and calls us in no uncertain terms to forsake everything to follow His call…
Luke 14:26-33
26If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it? 29lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.” 31Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Nevertheless, Paul proclaims boldly that all of those religious trappings he had forsaken and lost in turning to Jesus were worthless. The word σκύβαλον skybalon translated here as “rubbish” actually has a much stronger meaning – animal excrement. Indeed, the KJV translates it as “dung.” Has anyone you’ve been telling about Jesus ever told you that Christians have to give up too much fun stuff for them to follow Jesus? All of that stuff we have to give up – a.k.a. sin! – is in fact garbage (to put it daintily). In giving up earthly treasures and idols (most especially our own lordship in fleshly pride), we exchange the worthless for the priceless…
Matthew 11:28-30
28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Joel 2:25
So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
_____________________________

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