Philippians 3 is a very significant chapter, it is rich in doctrine. In this section, Paul gives us his autobiography, he opens his soul to us in this section. He describes for us here Saul of Tarsus (Paul in his pre-conversion state).
We hear much today about the condition of our education system in this country. It is truly lacking and there is much concern as to how it can be improved. The great need of our educational system is to put God back in it and to restore the Word of God as its major text book.
The condition of our educational system is distressing, but more distressing is the educational condition of the church. Most Christians are theologically ignorant. You might ask, "Is it important that we know theology?" Yes! Theology comes from two Greek words, theos, which means: "God," and logos which means: "word or doctrine." Theology is the doctrine of God. If we, as Christians, are going to love God, we have to get to know Him through the Scriptures.
The church today is so busy entertaining and trying to draw crowds that it has forsaken teaching. We are producing a generation of Christians who don't know theology. Christians can often tell you every sport's figure and all their stats, or the latest gossip on every movie star, but they don't know much at all about their God.
The majority of professing Christians are unable to define even the most fundamental theological words such as; redemption, sanctification, election, justification. Do you understand the doctrine of justification? Could you explain it? Martin Luther said, "Justification is the doctrine by which the church either stands or falls." Calvin said, "Justification was the hinge of the reformation." It is the doctrine by which you either stand or fall in the presence of God.
It is the doctrine of Justification by faith alone which is the theme of Philippians 3:1-11.
THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION:
In regeneration, man receives a new life and a new nature; in justification, a new standing. Justification may be defined as that act of God whereby he declares righteous him who believes in Christ. Ladd writes. "The root idea in justification is the declaration of God, the righteous judge, that the man who believes in Christ, sinful though he may be, is righteous -- is viewed as being righteous, because in Christ he has come into a righteous relationship with God." Justification is a declarative act. It is not something wrought in man, but something declared of man. It does not make upright or righteous, but declares righteous. Several things are involved in justification.
1. The remission of the penalty:
Romans 6:23 (NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When you are justified, the penalty of spiritual death is removed.
2. The restoration of favor: Justification is more than just an acquittal. We are brought into God's family, we become His children.
3. The imputation of righteousness:
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Jesus Christ took our sin and bore its penalty on the cross and he gives us his righteousness. We have been declared righteous by God for all eternity. It will never be reversed or changed. Christ's righteousness has been imputed to our account.
THE METHOD OF JUSTIFICATION:
As early as the days of Job, we find men asking the question; "How can a man be just with God?" That's a question everyone should ask. The answer is two fold:
1. The negative side is: Not by works of the law.
Romans 3:20 (NKJV) Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Romans clearly lays out the doctrine of justification. This is where the Reformation started; as Martin Luther was studying through the book of Romans, he realized that justification was by faith alone.
2. The positive side is: By faith alone:
Romans 5:1 (NKJV) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
That is justification, we have peace with God. The enmity between us has been put away by the work of Christ.
Romans 4:1-5 (NKJV) What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
Justification is by grace through faith:
Romans 3:24 (NKJV) being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Philippians 3:9 gives us the doctrine of justification, and it is the heart of the passage that we are looking at in Philippians.
Philippians 3:9 (NKJV) and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
This is all that Paul wanted, to be found in Christ and have his righteousness.
In the first three verses of Philippians 3, Paul attacks the enemies of the gospel using very strong language. He calls the Judaizers; "dogs, evil workers, and mutilators." You must understand the cultural significance of the these words to get the full impact. Why is Paul so hard on the Judaizers? When you depart from the doctrine of Justification by faith alone, you depart form true Christianity. Paul loves the truth and when you love the truth, you'll hate anything that distorts that truth.
In verse 3, Paul says that "we," Christians, are the true circumcision. We saw in our study last time that the term "circumcision" was a technical designation for Israel, the covenant people of God. Paul now uses this term for the Church, Jews and Gentiles who trust in Jesus Christ.
Galatians 3:7 (NKJV) Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.
The book of Galatians is dealing with the Judaizers and their heresy. The Jews claimed to be the children of Abraham, but Paul says that it is only those of faith who are sons of Abraham.
Galatians 3:29 (NKJV) And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The New Testament Church is not a distinct body of people for a time, but a newly organized fulfillment of the one body for all time. The church is one with the Jewish forefathers, being grafted into the Abrahamic root and partaking of its sap:
Romans 11:17-18 (NKJV) And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
Let me give you two conclusions that we see from these verses: 1. Israel, as a nation, has once for all been set aside as the specially favored nation of God:
Matthew 21:43 (NKJV) "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.
They were set aside because of their prominent role in crucifying Christ (Acts 2:22-23, 36; 3:13-15; 5:30; 7:52; 1 Thess. 2:14-15).
2.Christ's kingdom now includes people of all races on an equal basis (Isa. 19:19-25; Zech. 9:7; Eph. 2:12-17). Being Jewish gives you no special favor with God. Paul stresses this in verses 5 and 6 of Philippians 3.
In verses 4-11 of Philippians 3, Paul explains why he spoke so harshly against the Judaizers. He wants the Philippians to understand well what it means to be circumcised, not in the flesh, but in the heart. He wants them to understand what it means to be unable to boast in anything except Christ. He wants them to understand what it means to rely no more on human achievement but rather the achievement of the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:4 (NKJV) though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:
Paul says that he has more to put confidence in than any of the Judaizers. The word "confidence" is pepoithesis. It means: "reliance, confidence or trust." Paul is not bragging about his flesh. His point is, if the flesh was any ground for boasting, he'd have much more to boast about than they would.
The word "if" is a first class condition in the Greek and it has the idea of "since." "Since there are those who think they may have confidence in the flesh, I have more." "Any one else" is a reference to the Judaizers. "I more," -- Paul was superior to them all in fleshly accomplishments. This would really grate the Judaizers. He has already called them "dogs, evil workers and mutilators" and now he says that he could beat them easily in a flesh contest. This would have made the Judaizers very angry because legalism is driven by arrogance! They think they are spiritual by what they do.
"Thinks he may have confidence in the flesh" -- most of the world thinks that eternal life can be earned by their efforts, their religious credit. The only ones who don't believe this are Christians, as we saw in verse 3. The Jews, especially, believed they can earn God's favor by their works.
Philippians 3:5-6 (NKJV) circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Why does Paul list these things?
1. To answer the possible charge, "Paul is decrying privileges to which he himself cannot lay claim. He minimizes them because he never had them and cannot get them." Sour grapes!
2. To refute the argument of the Judaizers that there is saving value in these distinctions. The Apostle is going to show, from his own experience, that what he had considered gain, turned out to be loss.
Paul wrote as though he were challenging the Judaizers to a show down. It sounds like, in verses 5 and 6, he is saying, "Check out my fleshly credentials. I had them all and they are all dung."
Paul lists seven of his pre-conversion accomplishments:
1. "Circumcised the eighth day" -- The literal Greek here reads; "with respect to circumcision and eighth dayer." He uses this first because it was their main emphasis. They were saying that the Christians needed to be circumcised. According to Gen. 17:12, circumcision was instituted by God and it was to be done on the eighth day. This was a strict Jewish rite. Paul is saying, "I'm no Ishmaelite who, according to Gen. 17:25, was circumcised at 13 years old. And I'm no pagan who became a proselyte to Judaism and was circumcised in adulthood. I am a legitimate Jew by birth, faithful to the covenant sign at birth. You think that circumcision is so valuable, I say it's dung!"
Salvation does not come by ritual, or rite, or ceremony, it is not by baptism or confirmation. I went to a Catholic funeral and the thing that they kept emphasizing was that this person was in heaven because he had been baptized. Paul says that ceremonies are dung!
2. "Of the stock of Israel" -- the word "stock" is the Greek word genos, which means: "race." The implication here may be that some of the Judaizers were Gentiles who converted to Judaism or were of a racial mix of Jew/Gentile like Timothy. Paul says that he is a pure Jew.
When the Jews wished to stress their special relationship to God in its most unique sense, it was the word "Israelite" that they used. Israel was the name which had been specially given to Jacob by God after his wrestling with him (Gen. 32:28). It was to Israel that they, in the most special sense, traced their heritage. In point of fact, Ishmaelites could trace their descent to Abraham, for Ishmael was Abraham's son by Hagar; the Edomites could trace their descent to Isaac, for Esau, the founder of the Edomite nation, was Isac's son; but it was the Israelites alone who could trace their descent to Jacob, whom God had called by the name of Israel. By calling himself an "Israelite", Paul stressed the absolute purity of his descent.
The Jews believed if they were circumcised and were the children of Jacob, they were the redeemed, the chosen people of God. Paul says that that is useless, no religious virtue is given by birth:
Romans 9:6 (NKJV) But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,
John 1:13 (NKJV) who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
With this being true, does being born into a Christian family have any value? Yes, if that family is living for God. The advantage is that the Children will see a godly example from their parents and they will be taught the Word of God. But being born in a Christian family doesn't make you a Christian.
3. "Of the tribe of Benjamin" -- that is to say, he was not only an Israelite, he belonged to the "elite" of Israel. The tribe of Benjamin had a special place in the aristocracy of Israel. Benjamin was the child of Rachel, the well-loved wife of Jacob, and of all the twelve patriarchs, he alone had been born in the Promised Land (Gen. 35:17-18). It was from the tribe of Benjamin that the first king of Israel had come (1 Sam. 9:1-2), and it was no doubt from that very king that Paul had been given his original name of Saul. When, under Rehoboam, the kingdom had been split up, ten of the tribes went off with Jeroboam, and Benjamin was the only tribe which remained faithful with Judah (1 Kings 12:21). When they returned from the exile, it was from the tribes of Benjamin and Judah that the nucleus of the reborn nation was formed (Ezra 4:1). The tribe of Benjamin had the place of honor in Israel's battle-line, so that the battle-cry was: "After thee, O Benjamin!" (Judges 5:14; Hosea 5:8). The great feast of Purim, which was observed every year with such rejoicing, commemorated the deliverance of which the Book of Esther tells, and the central figure of that story was Mordecai, a Benjaminite. When Paul stated that he was of the tribe of Benjamin, it was a claim that he was not simply an Israelite but that he belonged to the highest aristocracy of Israel.
By the time Paul wrote Philippians, most of the Jews didn't know their tribes because records were lost in the Babalonian captivity and intermarriage had blurred the lines. Paul is saying, "I know what tribe I'm from, my history is pure."
Let me throw something in here for those of you that are thinkers. Joseph married an Egyptian woman and Ephriam and Manasus were half Jew, half Egyptian. So we have a couple of the Jewish tribes that are not pure blood Jews. What is the significance of this? This strengthens a point that I brought out last time that being a Jew has nothing to do with national decent. Being a Jew has to do with being in a covenant relationship with God. These two tribes were not racially Jews, they were half breeds, but they were in a covenant with God which made them Jews.
Paul is saying, "I'm a blue blood." He had much to commend himself, he was from a privileged class -- but he says it was all dung!
Being right with God is not gained by ritual, race, or rank. All three of these are received by inheritance. Now he gives us four he earned by effort.
4. "A Hebrew of the Hebrews" -- Paul is saying, "I have maintained my tradition." This is not the same as to say that he was a true Israelite. The point is this: The history of the Jews had dispersed them all over the world. In every town and in every city and in every country, there were Jews. There were tens of thousands of them in Rome; and in Alexandria, there were more than a million. They stubbornly refused to be assimilated to the nations amongst whom they lived; they retained faithfully their own religion and their own customs and their own laws. But it frequently happened that they forgot their own language. They became Greek-speaking of necessity because they lived and moved into a Greek environment.
Acts 6:1 (NKJV) Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
The Hellenists were Greek speaking Jews. A Hebrew was a Jew who was not only of pure racial descent, but who had deliberately, and often laboriously, retained the Hebrew tongue. Such a Jew would speak the language of the country in which he lived, but also, the Hebrew which was his ancestral language.
Paul claims not only to be a pure-blooded Jew but one who still spoke Hebrew. He had been born in the Gentile city of Tarsus, but he had come to Jerusalem to be educated at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) and was able, for instance, when the time came, to speak to the mob in Jerusalem in their own tongue (Acts 21:40).
Acts 26:4 (NKJV) "My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.
Everybody knew about Paul, they had all heard of him. Paul says, "All this effort to maintain my Hebrew tradition is also rubbish."
5. "Concerning the law, a Pharisee" --
Paul was a Pharisee, which was the highest level of religious achievement in Jerusalem. You couldn't get any higher.
Galatians 1:14 (NKJV) And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
The Pharisee was the radical fundamentalist, narrow minded legalistic, literalist. They originated during the inter-testamentary period as a reaction to the excesses of the Jews that were drifting into liberalism.
Pharisee meant: "separatist." They were affirming that there must be an adherence to scripture. They guarded the scriptures and attacked those who didn't. They started right (we often think of Pharisee's as synonymous with hypocrite) but degenerated when they started to believe that their strict adherence to the law saved them. They were an elite group, only 6,000 at the time of Christ. Very few people could live this way.
Paul is saying, "I know the law and have lived by its strictest rule." The one aim of their lives was to keep the smallest detail of every law. Paul is saying, "I took religion to the highest level." All this effort to pursue the law, and Paul says, "It was all dung."
6. "Concerning zeal, persecuting the church" --
The word "zeal" is the Greek word zelos, it means: "passion in embracing, pursuing, defending anything -- jealousy." To the Jews, zeal was the single highest virtue in religion. Phinehas had saved the people from the wrath of God, and been given an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for God (Numb. 25:11-13).
The Judaizers felt that they were zealous, they were working hard to try to make the Christians proselytes to Judaism. Paul says, "That's is no big deal, I killed Christians."
Acts 22:3-4 (NKJV) "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. 4 "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women,
Acts 22:19-20 (NKJV) "So I said, 'Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. 20 'And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.'
Acts 9:1-2 (NKJV) Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Paul was filled with zeal. Zeal is a two sided coin of love and hate. Paul loved Judaism so much that he killed every Christian that he could.
1 Corinthians 15:9 (NKJV) For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Paul says, "You Judaizers proselyte Christians but I killed them!" If zeal could have opened the gates of heaven, Paul would have walked right in. But it can't:
Romans 10:2-3 (NKJV) For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
The Jews are zealous but ignorant, so was Paul. Sincerity doesn't matter if you've got the wrong information. Mormon missionaries are zealous, J.W's are sincere, they're zealous, but they are headed for the Lake of Fire because they are sincerely wrong.
We have been affected in the church with the anti-logic movement that says, "Knowledge doesn't matter, zeal and sincerity are all that really matters." You've probably heard people say, "But they're so sincere." So what! Don't you think that Paul was sincere when he was killing Christians? Sincerity doesn't matter if you are sincere about the wrong thing.
Soren Kierkgaard, a the Dutch theologian of the mid nineteenth century, started this subjective movement that most of the church has been swept away by. Kiekgaard said, "It really makes no difference WHAT you believe, the HOW is all that matters. If you are really passionate, if you really have a zeal, that is all that is important. What you believe really doesn't make any difference." We see this everywhere in the church today -- mindless passion! Kierkgaard used the illustration of an orthodox Lutheran and a Hindu. The Orthodox Lutheran prayed to God but he had no passion. He just prayed according to knowledge. This is useless to God. But if you take a Hindu praying before an idol, if he prayed with passion, he would, in fact, be praying to the true God. Even though he had no knowledge of God. Kierkgaard's buzz phrase was, "Infinite Passion." He said that we encounter God by zeal. His teaching has infected the modern church.
As Paul will tell us here shortly, we meet God through knowledge, not passion. We must know God in order to trust Him.
7. "Concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." -- Outwardly, no one saw anything to blame Paul for. He was a model Jew. "Let's tally up our obedience and see who can boast", Paul says. Paul is not claiming perfection, to the pharisaical mind of the first century, the demands of the law didn't touch the heart. They viewed it all as external. Jesus addresses this in the sermon on the mount. Adultery was not just the act, it was a matter of the heart. Not only should you not murder, but you shouldn't even hate. Hatred was a violation of the command not to murder. Outwardly, Paul had done it all but, inwardly, he was a sinner.
Notice carefully what Paul says about all of these accomplishment in:
Philippians 3:7 (NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
This is a big "but" here. The transition from what he was to what he now believed took place on the road to Damascus.
Acts 9:4-6 (NKJV) Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" 5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads." 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
The "what things" are all the things he described in verses 5 and 6. The word "gain" is the Greek word kerdos, which means: "gain, profit, or advantage." Paul, at one time, considered everything that he mentioned in verses 5 and 6 to be his gains, profits, and assets. The Greek word kerdos is in the plural, it is "gains". The things that were gains "I have counted loss" -- the word "counted" is the Greek word hegeomai, which means: "To consider, think, account." If you trace hegeomai to its beginnings, it literally meant: "to be an expert," then it came to mean: "to be a guide." If you are going to guide somebody in something, you should be an expert in what you're guiding them in. So when Paul says, "I have counted," he means that he has thought this thing through very carefully. Hegeomai is in the perfect tense here which speaks of a process completed in past time, having present results. Paul says he considered them "loss." This is the Greek word zemia, which means: "determent, damage or loss."
Paul is saying, "I have considered it all very carefully and come to the conclusion that everything is a liability compared to knowing Christ." Notice that it involved an act of his mind. He thought this thing through.
How about you? Do you count all things loss for Christ? This is what it means to be a Christian. A Christian is a person who considers everything that he once trusted in to get him to heaven as dung. And they trust only and completely in Christ.
Notice the imagery and terminology that Paul uses in verses 7 and 8.
Philippians 3:7-8 (NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet 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
He speaks as a business man, talking about profit and loss or better yet, assets and liabilities. Imagine with me a man assessing his wealth, his assets. Paul has taken out a spiritual ledger and in his pre-conversion experience he looks at those two columns. Under assets or gains he sees a whole list of things which he has mentioned in verses 5 and 6. He could probably have listed a bunch more. The column was literally full.
Under liabilities or losses, it is blank. Paul, in his self-righteousness, pats himself on the back, he's convinced he has done all he needs to do. The Jews believed that if their good works out weighed their bad works, they would be accepted by God. How many people today are like this? They think that they are good people who have earned God's favor because of the things that they do.
Notice what happens after Paul has an encounter with the living Christ on the Damascus road: He pulls out his book, looks at it for a while, and then he switches the columns. He moves everything in his asset column to his liability column. And now his asset column is blank except for one word -- Christ! That is his only asset, his only profit. Everything else, all his religious labor, is a liability or loss. Remember we're talking in terms of Justification. All his assets are now losses. One of the greatest liabilities of life, in terms of justification, is religion. Religion gives people a false security.
A Christian is a person who knows that his salvation is dependant only upon Jesus Christ. But many Christians find their assurance in their fleshly assets. When it comes to assurance, they have a ledger and it had better have some assets in it if they want to have assurance. In their asset column, they have things like; I don't cuss, drink, steal, gamble, I'm not immoral. Too many people find their assurance in their fleshly assets. This is wrong!
When it comes to assurance, the only thing that you should find written in the asset column of your ledger is -- Christ! Our assurance is based upon His performance not ours.
In your mind, take out your ledger book and open it up. What does it say on the asset side other than Christ? If any thing, you are lost. I don't care how small it's written, or if it's in parentheses, or in pencil. Christ is the ONLY asset of the believer.
In verse 8, Paul strengthens and intensifies what he said in verse 7.
Philippians 3:8 (NKJV) Yet 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
The words "yet indeed" are five particles in the Greek, which is very unusual. It is, "alla men oun ge kai." Paul does this to grab the readers attention. It means: "nay more, or in fact." It is a forceful introduction to an important announcement. Then, after he grabs their attention, he says, "I count" which is hegeomai, again. It means: "to be an expert." "I have thoroughly searched this thing out and I'm an expert on this." It is in the present tense, "I am still counting all things but loss." This was thirty years after his conversion.
Paul counts every thing loss "for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" The word "excellence" is the Greek word huperecho, which means: "surpassing greatness." The word "knowledge" is gnosis, which means: "facts gained, knowledge." He is saying that knowing Christ is a matter of understanding and assent to propositions about Jesus Christ. Christianity is knowing the truth of Christ and believing it.
Paul is saying, "I exchange everything I have for a Person, Christ." Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Paul goes on to say, "for whom I have suffered the loss of all things" The words "suffered the loss" are one word in the Greek, it is zemioo, which means: "to forfeit or suffer loss." Paul lost many things when he trusted Christ. He lost: his position in Judaism, wealth, friends, and family.
This word that Paul uses for "loss," in verses 7 and 8 is only used two other times in Scripture, both of them in Acts 27:
Acts 27:10 (NKJV) saying, "Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives."
Acts 27:21 (NKJV) But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.
In this story in Acts, the men are throwing over all their valuable cargo in order to save their lives. Did they think that cargo was dung? No! They saw that cargo as valuable, but it came down to the choice of the losing the cargo or their lives. Paul says, "It is not that way for me, I am throwing overboard all of my cargo from Judaism and I count it as dung." It's like taking out the garbage, you don't morn the loss of your garbage, you're glad to get rid of it. The longer you keep it, the worse it stinks.
Paul says that all of his Jewish accomplishments were rubbish or dung. The Greek word that Paul uses here for "rubbish" is skubalon. This word is extremely vulgar. It is only used here in the Bible and most of the translators try to avoid the clear vulgarity Paul intended. He wants us to understand these things are not just lost, he counts them to have an odor about them. Compared to Christ, they are repulsive because anyone who trusts in these things will be eternally lost. In extra-biblical writings, skubalon is used of dung-- human excrement, food that is spoiled or ripe garbage. It is used of half eaten corpses and lumps of manure. He wants us to be repulsed because that's what all our achievements are, compared to Christ.
Paul goes on to say, "that I may gain Christ." The word he uses for "gain" is the verb kerdaino. Paul gave up everything that he held as dear In order that he might gain Christ. The Greek word here is hina in a purpose clause. He gave up trusting in the flesh "in order that" he might win Christ. Why? Because the only thing that means anything is faith, and faith alone, he says in verse 9.
Philippians 3:9 (NKJV) and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
What Paul is saying in these verses is that the only thing in life that matters, as far as salvation is concerned, is faith in Jesus Christ. Any achievement that you trust in for your salvation is dung.
Turn in your song book to number 109, Rock of Ages. Jesus Christ is the "Rock of Ages." In the Old Testament, you see Moses taking his staff and smiting the "Rock." The "rock" being a picture of Christ. And "Christ smitten" is Christ crucified. Out of the cleft rock flowed the water of life. Why was the "Rock of Ages, cleft"? For me!
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee; let the water and the blood, from thy wounded side which flowed, be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy law's commands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; thou must save, and thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyes shall close in death, when I soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgment throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.
I hope it is very clear to you that the only way that anyone will ever get to heaven is by trusting Jesus Christ, and Him alone. All our fleshly achievements are "dung" when it comes to earning salvation.
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