Pastor David B. Curtis


The Results of Justification

Philippians 3:9-11


The theme of Philippians 3:4-11 is justification by faith alone. The key verse in this section is:

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 the righteousness that Paul wanted to have, that which comes by faith in Christ. This is speaking of justification by faith alone. Justification by faith alone was the doctrine of the Reformation. Martin Luther was studying through the book of Romans and he came to:

Romans 1:17 (NKJV) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

As he studied this verse, he realized that justification was by faith alone apart from works. This launched the principle of the Reformation -- Sola Fide! Faith alone. This led to the break with Rome whose doctrine was: "Justification was by faith plus works."

So this doctrine was used to launch the Protestant Reformation and it was also the central theme of the first Great Awakening in 1734-35. Jonathon Edwards began preaching in America and the doctrine which he was teaching was the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

As we study New Testament and examine the Reformation and the Great Awakening, we see that the gospel is the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

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 their 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. The Judaizers taught a salvation by faith + circumcision + law keeping.

In verses 2 and 3, Paul contrasts the false with the true.

Philippians 3:3 (NKJV) For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,

Here Paul gives a description of a Christian. Christians are the "true circumcision" -- the covenant people of God. They "Worship by the Spirit of God." In other words, it's not outward ceremony but inward faith. It is produced by the Holy Spirit. It is Spirit empowered worship.

"They rejoice in Christ Jesus." The word "rejoice" means: "To boast, to glory, to pride oneself in something, to exult." As Christians, the only thing we should be boasting about is Christ and His work. Our boasting is not in ourselves, which is the essence of sin, but in Another whose arm alone has brought salvation, and on whom we rest in utter confidence and self-distrust. It is an attitude which deflates pride, especially in our religious virtues and attainments, and exalts the sovereign grace of God.

"They have no confidence in the flesh." The word "confidence" means: "To rely upon or trust in flesh." The word "flesh" is the Greek word sarx which has the idea here of: "my own ability apart from God. To have confidence in the flesh is to seek life in terms of what man can accomplish of himself. To place one's confidence in anything outside of Christ, is to have confidence in the flesh.

In verses 4-6, Paul says, "If you want to put confidence in the flesh, I'll beat you hands down in the area of works." After listing all his fleshly accomplishment, Paul says:

Philippians 3:7 (NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

"But" --here we see a transition from the self-righteous Pharisee to a humble dependant Christian. What happened to change his mind? He met Jesus Christ. The historic record of Paul's conversion is recorded in Acts 9.

Acts 9:1-5 (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. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 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."

Kicking against the goads? The "goads" were rods that had points on the end of them which would be tied along side of mules. They would jam this point into the mule to make him move. The more the mule kicked against it, the more it stuck him. The meaning here is: "It was useless for Saul to fight against the Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul is confronted by Jesus Christ. Up to this point, he has counted all his religion as profit or gain and he considered Christ a loss. That is why he was killing Christians. He viewed all his religious achievements as assets and he viewed Christ as a liability. Paul's attitude was, "I must destroy Christians, they are a threat to Judaism."

Luke, in recording this account of Paul's conversion, doesn't tell us anything about what is going on inside Paul. Luke simply records what was heard, what was seen, and what took place. As you read through this chapter, it is obvious that Paul was converted:

Acts 9:15-16 (NKJV) But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mineto bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."
Acts 9:19-22 (NKJV) So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. 20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. 21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?" 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

Here is the man who once killed Christians now preaching that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. >From this text we never know what went on in Paul's thinking. If we only had this text, we might conclude that conversion is a supernatural event that man has no part in. God just zaps you and you're a Christian.

Acts 9:3-4 (NKJV) As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"

Is this the norm for salvation? Do you have to be on the Damascus road and see a light and hear voices? You might conclude that in the sovereign act of salvation, the human faculties are obliterated or by passed. And that you and I have nothing to do with it. That is not true. Acts 9 shows the external, but Philippians 3 shows us the internal. What you don't see in Acts 9, you see in Philippians 3.

Paul understood Christianity. That is why he killed Christians. Paul knew that Christ claimed to be the Messiah who died a sacrificial death for sin. He knew the facts of the gospel. He knew that Christianity preached a gospel of grace, not law. Factually, he understood Christianity and he thought it was heresy. That is why he persecuted Christians. He wouldn't have so zealously persecuted something that he didn't understand. He knew about Christ, and he knew the gospel, but he didn't believe it until he was confronted by Christ on the Damascus road and regenerated by the Spirit of God.

Salvation is a sovereign act of God by which he invades the sinner's darkness and death and gives him light and life. But salvation does not obliterate, or destroy, or by pass human faculties. Your thinking is involved.

Philippians 3 is the record of what happened to Paul on the inside -- in the mind. He had always put all his confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:4-6), in his own human ability. He trusted in his race, his religion, tribe, rank, circumcision, and self-righteousness. He had all these works in his profit column and this is where his confidence was for salvation.

In Acts 9, he is confronted by Christ and regenerated and he sees Christ for the only hope of salvation. Christ becomes his only asset. What happened? We have this self-righteous Pharisee who is extemely zealous for Judaism; all of sudden turns he to Christ. Why? He knew all the facts of Christianity -- why did he all of a sudden choose to believe them?

1 Corinthians 2:9-12 (NKJV) But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

The reason we know the things of God is because God has given us His spirit.

1 Corinthians 2: 13-15 These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.

Who is the "natural man"? The book of Jude tells us:

Jude 1:19 (NKJV) These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.

The word "sensual" here is the identical Greek word that is translated as "natural' in 1 Corinthians 2:14. Jude tells us that the "natural" or "sensual" man is the man "not having the Spirit."

The Corinthian text says that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God. He is not able to. The natural man is dead to God and unable to comprehend spiritual truths. Paul knew the facts of the gospel but he was unable to believe them as a natural man. Until God gives a man spiritual life, he cannot believe the gospel. Once Paul was regenerated or given spiritual life by God, all his assets became liabilities to him and Christ became his only asset.

Philippians 3:7 (NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.

The only thing that he is now trusting in for salvation is Christ, and Christ alone. Is this true of you? Anyone who is counting on anything for salvation other than Christ alone, is lost and will spend eternity separated from God.

Acts 4:12 (NKJV) "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Paul doesn't say, "I had something good, but Christ is better." He says that the things that he had trusted in are dung! What he used to trust in, now stinks to him. He counts them all dung in order that he might gain Christ and be found in Him.

Philippians 3:8-9 (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 9 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;

The aorist tense of the verbs "gain" and "found" suggest that he is looking forward to the then future judgement at the second coming of Christ which brought the end of the Jewish age. Paul views this judgement as something that was to happen soon.

2 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV) I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:

Paul uses the Greek word mello here which means: "about to." Paul said, "Christ was 'about to' judge the living and the dead." Was Paul wrong? Was he mistaken? No! Christ returned in 70 AD, as manifest in the destruction of the Jewish temple, and judged the living and the dead. Paul looked forward to this covenant changing event.

In verse 8, Paul tells us he is no longer trusting in his own righteousness in order that he may "gain Christ". Then in verses 9-11, he tells us what it means to gain Christ.

Paul said that he no longer trusts in his own righteousness in order that he may be found "in Him." Paul uses the phrase "in Him" 164 times in his epistles. To be "in Christ" meant every thing to Paul. To be "in Christ" was synonymous with salvation.

Philippians 3:9 has been said to be a one verse summary of the book of Romans. It deals with the heart of salvation in a capsule form. What is salvation? Paul writes that it is to be found "in Him." Then he explains what it means to be found "in Him." It means: "not having my own righteousness, but Christ's righteousness which comes by faith."

Paul had spent his whole adult life trying to gain a righteousness of his own by the law. He was a Pharisee, part of an elite group, trying to gain salvation by their works. But now that he has met Christ, he says, "I don't want to be found having my own righteousness." Why not? Look at:

Philippians 3:6 (NKJV) concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

He was blameless in the works of the flesh. He was all that he could be. But before God, it wasn't good enough. Self-righteousness is not good enough to earn our way into heaven.

Romans 3:19-20 (NKJV) Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Paul was doing the "deeds of the law" but no flesh could ever be made righteous before God by those deeds. Self-righteousness is repulsive to God. Paul had spent his whole life trying to earn God's favor, so had many in Israel:

Romans 10:3 (NKJV) For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

They were ignorant of God's righteousness which was Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:30 (NKJV) But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God; and righteousness and sanctification and redemption;
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.

They rejected God's Righteousness and tried to establish their own righteousness.


1. You can never be sure that you have enough self-righteousness. What if more is required than what you've done? You could have done more, couldn't you have?

2. What if you fail? God demands perfection. So what happens when I come short? Maybe you had a good day today and really lived well, but what about tomorrow?

Paul no longer wanted anything to do with self-righteousness. He wanted Christ's righteousness:

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;

"By faith" means: "through the instrumentality of faith." The word "faith" bears the emphasis here. Parallel to this expression is the phrase "the righteousness from God." This places the emphasis upon God as the object of faith. This person gives himself up and takes refuge in God's provision. True righteousness comes from faith in God.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

What is faith? Since we gain righteousness by faith, I would think that it is important that we know what faith is. Faith is understanding and accent to a proposition. It is believing that a proposition is true. It is personal trust. One of the popular radio preachers defines faith as believing or personal trust, but he goes on to say, "It is more than that, it is personal trust and complete surrender." How you get complete surrender out of faith, I don't understand. It doesn't come out of the etymology of the word, or from its usage. The only way you get complete surrender out of faith it to make it up. Let's say that he is right. If faith is complete surrender, have you trusted Christ? You haven't if you have not completely surrendered to Him. If this is the definition of faith then most, if not all, of us in here are not saved. I have a hard time singing the hymn "I surrender all." I don't think that I have surrendered all.

Faith is dependence on and trust in Jesus Christ for the necessary requirements to enter God's kingdom.

In the end of verse 9, Paul says, "the righteousness which is from God by faith." The source of true righteousness is God. When you trust in Christ, God gives you righteousness. The best you can do on your own is described in:

Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV) 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.

Just in case you hear this and think of a dirty dust rag or a rag that has grease on it that you used to work on the car, let me give you a better understanding of it. The rags spoken of here have reference to one of two things; it either refers to a menstrual rag, or to a rag that a leper would use to wipe his oozing sores. Do you get the picture? Our righteousness is disgusting in the sight of God. That is why Paul uses the word "dung," he wants us to see how repulsive human righteousness is to God. And that is the best we can do, filthy rags.

The Greek word that Paul uses here for "righteousness" is dikaiosune. When Paul uses this word, he nearly always has the meaning of "a right relationship with God" in mind. It means that you are loved and accepted by God.

This is the doctrine of Justification. Let me just remind you of a few things we saw last week. Justification is a declarative act whereby God declares righteous him who believes in Christ. Justification is not being made righteous experientially, but being declared righteous. It is not the removal of our liabilities, it is the imputation of Christ's righteousness. It's not something done in us, it is something done for us. Righteousness is imputed, not imparted. That means that though I may not act righteous, my account says that I am.

Romans 3:24-26 (NKJV) being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The word "justified" means made righteousness. The Greek word that Paul uses for "freely" is dorean. Dorean means: "without a cause." Justification is without a cause in us. There is a cause, but it is in God through Christ.

Ephesians 1:6 (NKJV) to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

Why are we accepted by God? It is not because of anything in us but because we are in Christ. God accepts us because we are one with Christ. I have Christ's righteousness. Can I ever lose my righteousness? Not unless Christ loses His.

In Philippians 3:9, Paul sees only two kinds of righteousness: 1. self-righteousness which leads to damnation. 2. God's righteousness given through faith which equals salvation.

Verse 10 presents a major difficulty. Is this verse dealing with Paul's practical pursuits in his Christian life or is it speaking of the results of justification?

When we come to tough texts like this one, we must recognize that we are in good company when we find some texts or truths hard to handle. The prophets had difficulty understanding the things revealed to them :

1 Peter 1:10-12 (NKJV) Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven; things which angels desire to look into.

During our Lord's earthly ministry, the disciples failed to grasp the meaning of our Lord's words (Mark 9:32; Luke 18:34). Peter finds Paul's writings difficult to grasp at times (2 Peter 4:14-16). Why should we expect to understand all things pertaining to an infinite God, especially in this life?

The way I see it, in verse 8, Paul is telling the Philippians why he counts his fleshy attainments as dung, he wanted to gain Christ. Then in verse 9, he tells us what it means to gain Christ. He receives Christ's righteousness. This is the result of justification.

Many see verse 10 as Paul's life ambition. They see these things as goals that Paul is working at in his Christian life.

Philippians 3:10 (NKJV) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

The problem that I have with verse 10 being Paul's practical pursuit, is verse 11 which reads: "In order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead" (NASB). This again sounds like a result of Justification. Resurrection can't be based upon Paul's efforts. If verses 9 and 11 speak of the results of justification, would verse 10 be talking about Paul's practical pursuits? I don't think so, but I could be wrong.

The way I see it, in verse 8, Paul tells us he is no longer trusting in his own righteousness in order that he may gain Christ. Then in verses 9-11, he tells us what it means to gain Christ. In verse 9, he tells us that to gain Christ means to receive His righteousness. Then he goes on, in verses 10-11, to explain further what it means to gain Christ.

Philippians 3:10 (NKJV) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

Paul is not expressing the goal of his Christian life here. He is telling us what he gained in Christ.

1. "That I may know Him" -- this is why Paul turned from his own righteousness, that he may "know" Christ. The term "know" is used by the apostle to refer to knowing facts, or giving mental assent to certain facts (Rom. 1:21; 1Cor. 1:21). To know Christ is to have eternal life.

John 17:3 (NKJV) "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
1 John 5:20 (NKJV) And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Paul knew about Jesus Christ but now he knows Him.

2. Another thing that Paul gained from trusting Christ was "the power of His resurrection." What Paul really wants is LIFE, and God is the only one who can give that (Rom 6:1-11; 8:11). This power is mediated through the indwelling Holy Spirit in Pauline theology.

The word "power" here means: "inherent power." It is the word from which we get the English word "dynamite." But the idea in the Greek is not dynamite but dynamo--a power that is always resident. The power that brought Jesus up from the grave is the power now residing and operating in believers. This is the power Paul received when he trusted Christ.

This word dunamis occurs in the following passages:

Matthew 22:29 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.

The Sadducees did not know the power of God in their lives. They were lost, trusting in their own righteousness.

Romans 1:16 (NKJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

The gospel has inherent power to save souls eternally.

3. "And the fellowship of His sufferings" -- Fellowship is partnership. Paul says, "I want to be a partner in his sufferings." He has already stated in 3:8... "for whom I have suffered the loss of all things."

But to know Christ is not just to share in his resurrection life, but also to share in his sufferings. These are not two completely unrelated ideas. Sharing in Christ's sufferings is the lot of every Christian as he lives in a fallen world. Paul is not referring here to our participation in Christ's sufferings on the cross as if somehow our sufferings could contribute to Christ's atoning work. Such an idea is foreign to the apostle who pronounced the whole world unworthy sinners and taught that salvation, including the faith to believe, was by grace (Rom 3:10-20; Eph 2:8-9). What he means is that we share in Christ's sufferings since he too lived and walked in a fallen world. To know Christ is to share in his sufferings.

4. "Being conformed to His death" -- The word "conformed" means to take on the same form as his death. Specifically, the basis upon which we can be conformed to his death is the fact that we all, as Christians, died with Christ on the cross. When he died on the cross, we died with him and so were set free from sin. His death was applied to us when we first trusted in Christ.

Galatians 2:20 (NKJV) "I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me.

We died with him on the cross so that he might live in us. His death was a death to sin, and so, also, to be conformed to his death means to die to sin.

I see all of these things in verse 10 to be results of justification. Paul "Suffered the loss of all things, and counted them as dung, in order that he may "gain Christ." And gaining Christ means: "Receiving his righteousness, knowing him, knowing the power of his resurrection, knowing the fellowship of his suffering, and being make like him in our death to sin."

In verse 11, Paul gives us another result of justification:

Philippians 3:11 (NKJV) if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

The NASB gives us a clearer understanding of this verse:

Philippians 3:11 (NASB) in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Paul "Suffered the loss of all things, and counted them as dung, in order that he may attain to the resurrection from the dead. The Greek word that Paul uses here for "resurrection" is exanastasis. This Greek word is only used here in all the New Testament. It is the word anastasis, which means: "resurrection" with the preposition "ek" in front of it, which is the equivalent of "out". This is literally, "the out resurrection out from the corpses."

There is a very similar phrase in:

Luke 20:35 (NKJV) "But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;

Both these passages are speaking of the resurrection of the righteous. The resurrection of the righteous took them out of the total number of those dead.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament says, "Apparently Paul is thinking here only of the resurrection of believers out from the dead and so double ex (ten exanastasin ten ek nekron). Paul is not denying a general resurrection by this language, but emphasizing that of believers."

Paul knew that to trust Christ was to share in his resurrection.

John 11:24-25 (NKJV) Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

All of these things are bound up in "gaining Christ." The resurrection being the culmination of it all. To be resurrected was to be in God's presence. The resurrection was the confidence of Paul:

2 Corinthians 5:1-4 (NKJV) For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.

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