Philippians 3:7-16

“Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.” Philippians 3:7-16

What is the difference between “knowing about Jesus” and “knowing Jesus”?

What is the difference between having a “righteousness of my own that comes from the law” and “one that comes through faith in Christ”?

For Paul, the difference is everything.

To “know about” Jesus means we might be able to say the right things, list the right doctrines, tell the same stories – and yet our lives remain unaffected. We don’t act any differently than any other self-centered person out to get what we can get while we can get it. We might defend Jesus or admire Jesus, but still not follow Jesus.

To “know” Jesus means that, day after day, we die to sin, selfishness, and arrogance and are raised to live humbly, honestly, with compassion toward others and the willingness to examine our own hearts and minds before judging the hearts and minds of others. To know Jesus is to not just see, but to experience, a power greater than ourselves doing through us what we cannot do ourselves. When Paul experienced that it completely turned his life around and set him on a brand new course that was more meaningful, more powerful, and more connected to reality than the life he knew before. That is the power of knowing Jesus.

A “righteousness of my own that comes from the law” means that we believe being in a right relationship with God (the meaning of righteousness) comes as the result of our following the rules and regulations of religious laws. Some of these laws, like the Ten Commandments, draw boundaries around our behavior toward our neighbors in good, right, and healthy ways. Others, like not eating pork, are trivial and make no difference other than lowering the profits of pig farmers and giving us the feel good idea that we are better than others because we follow the discipline of rejecting some great smelling bacon.

The problem with this kind of home-grown righteousness is that we are incapable of it. Sin has affected us to the core so that we pretty much don’t care about the law unless there is a good chance that we will get caught. We end up caring more about what the neighbors think than what God thinks. And even if we do get pretty good at rule following, we don’t end up holier, we just end up feeling “holier than someone else.” Home grown righteousness can’t help but become self-righteousness and that helps no one.

Paul says that the “righteousness that comes from faith in Christ” is a righteousness FROM God based on faith. It is pure gift. Unconditional, undeserved, unearned. Our relationship with God is made right because God, in Christ, has set us free from the bondage of our sin. God makes us righteous. Thus we place our trust in Jesus – that Jesus reveals God’s love, that Jesus is our Savior, that Jesus is our Lord. We place our trust IN Jesus, not even in our fickle ability to trust. Our trust level wavers but Jesus is the rock solid foundation of our lives. Game over.

This is the good news that God revealed to Paul on the road to Damascus in Acts 9. And it set his feet on a journey that lasted the rest of his life.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death…Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, work in our lives today that there might be less of me and more of you in all that I think, say, and do. Knowing your love for us, may our response be the willingness to let go and let you lead. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Philippians 3:7-16”

  1. Dave Aemstrong Says:

    Good message and one that I need read over and over just to keep focused on the real thing!

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