JohnSWilson3 Blog

“…the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…”
May 16, 2010, 9:59 pm
Filed under: M Letter to Philippians

Paul described the wonderful character of Timothy and Epaphroditus, whose portion of Christ was truly fulfilling in every way in the last section of chapter 2 of his letter to the Philippian Christians! In chapter 3 Paul now balances his thought of the remarkable life of Jesus in these brothers: “Finally, brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh – though I myself have reasons for such confidence.”

We have to be careful of the tendencies to live by the flesh and not by the Spirit. We need each other to show us how to live by Jesus! It doesn’t happen overnight, there will be mistakes, we must learn to forgive one another, encourage one another, and love each other by faith despite our failings. I guess this is what Paul is trying to get it, it is meant to be “a safeguard.” We need to be constantly reminded that as the body of Christ we are to live by Jesus life, not by our fleshly tendencies to put things, even Christ, into a box.

We need to “watch out” for others who make claims to living by some law versus by the life of Jesus. This can be very subtle. The body is about a relationship with Jesus Christ, not religious duty. Paul probably has the Jerusalem church and the Corinthian church in mind. To the Philippians he probably is referring to Jewish Pharisees or those like them who make religious duty more important than life in Christ. Paul knows them well, he was one of them. “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” Paul knows all about it, he lived in the religious flesh to the extreme!

In reference to the Corinthian Christians, his second letter to them in New Testament, he had described the same thing. Except it was in reference to “false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ” that had tried to make themselves head of the body of Christ. Paul really gets upset because of what is going on in the Corinthian church because he “promised (them) to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” Life in the body of Christ was meant to be about sincerity and purity of devotion to Christ! If anything moves it from this than the body is being led astray! Life in Jesus is completely different from the world!

How is it different? Paul gives us one of the grandest statements of all the New Testament!

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

These words remind me of the following:

From his letter to the Galatian Christians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

From his first letter to the Corinthian Christians: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

From his letter to the Roman Christians, perhaps written after his letter to the Philppians: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ ”

Later as Paul travels back to Jerusalem, for his lengthy imprisonment, in his farewell address to the Ephesian elders, he tells these more mature Christians who have lived by Christ’s life and have been helping others in the body of Christ to do the same: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” You can sense the feelings in what Paul is saying. The years of sacrifice with helping this church to live together by the Holy Spirit, Christ’s life, and to think that Satan will come in to try and squelch it! How sad indeed.

How important it is for those Christians who are ever growing in the fullness of Jesus Christ together with the body to ever keep Jesus as Lord of His Body! We do not use the law or some religious duty to make Jesus Lord, but we come in humility, in love, in the Spirit, with tenderness and compassion, confessing His lordship in us and His body. We do not live by religion we live by His life! We “are the circumcision” not physically but spiritually, we are a new spiritual creation! We “worship by the Spirit of God” and “glory in Christ Jesus” not out of religious duty but out of love and devotion for Him, very God, who came to this earth as a man, humbled Himself, died for us, and saved us by His blood, gave us His very life, to bring us into vital mutually loving relationship with Himself! So we “put no confidence in the flesh.” After all that He did for us how can we live by our flesh?

Nothing of ourselves counts as anything! If something becomes more important than knowing Jesus Christ Paul says he considers it a loss, in fact “rubbish” or “refuse.” Life in Christ in the body of Christ is about ever increasingly knowing Christ Jesus our Lord. His resurrection power and His sufferings. We want His power but we do not want His sufferings. Perhaps Paul had written his second letter to the Corinthians already and had chapter 12 of that letter in mind when he said:

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” While we should pray when we are sick, ill, or have some malady, or pray for those who would do us wrong, we must realize that God will not always relieve the pressure of these things, in fact it may be far better for us spiritually if they were not removed.

Perhaps when we gather together we should spend more time sharing our weaknesses with one another, perhaps then Christ’s power may rest on us? Isn’t this the principle: crucifixion must come before resurrection? “Anyone who would come after me must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Let us worship by the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh! “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.” Let us seek Christ together, in health or weakness, and know Him better everyday brothers and sisters! Amen!

6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Great study on Php. You’re so right that it’s easy to slip back into a law mentality. In fact, it’s tricky not to, and requires constant vigilance. There’s a balance–we have become a law unto ourselves because Christ lives in us. As long as we remain sensitive and obedient to His spirit within us, we will keep the perfect law of liberty without ever consulting it. But when we segue back into living by the flesh, we fall. (And then He picks us up–but still, falling hurts–don’t want to do that if it can be helped.)

Blessings, Cindy

Comment by cindyinsd

Thanks Cindy for the comment. I think it is why Paul wrote as he did to the churches he planted. I really liked Philippians 1:6 when I came to know Christ but over the years since then and recently have really been mulling over and over Philippians 1:9-11. I think it describes Paul’s whole letter and a key task of the church body – being sensitive and obedient to His Spirit in us.

You’re a blessing!

Comment by John Wilson

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Christian,Earn Free Vouchers / Cash

Comment by ZessererSnomO

thanks for the encouraging words! God bless!

Comment by John Wilson

A powerful post, brother. Love it!

Comment by Michael Young

appreciate the comment brother! Christ in us!

Comment by John Wilson

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