Friday, April 26, 2019

Philippians: Christ Centered #4 - Christ Our Goal

Christ Our Goal - Philippians 3:1-4:1

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Warnings against Legalists 3:1-3

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Vs. 1 What does the opening statement of this chapter mean?
Paul is simply saying he is not voicing a grievance toward them but giving a warning to keep them safe.

Vs. 2 Paul gives three descriptions of those he is warning about.  What are they?
Dogs, in the Ancient East these were scavengers and raiders not pets.
Evil workers, those whose work is the promotion of evil.
Of the concision, a bitter play on words, instead of circumcision the mark of a Jew he calls them cutters, mutilators of the flesh.

Vs. 3 Who does Paul say truly belongs to those of the circumcision?
They who worship God in spirit, rejoice in Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.

What extreme is Paul warning us about, even today?
Legalism, where works of our flesh are the means by which we approach God and earn His favor. Baptism, The Lord’s Supper, Church Membership or any other physical work or action cannot bring me to salvation nor make me closer to Christ.

Paul’s Past, Present and Future 3:4-11

 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:  Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;  Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,    And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  10   That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Vss. 4- 6 What point is Paul making by using his past life as an example?
That if anyone should or could trust in work done in the flesh it would have been Paul.

Vs. 7 Yet, what is Paul’s conclusion about those works?
He counts them as loss, wasted.

Vs. 8 What has Paul exchanged his works and Hebrew pedigree for?
The excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus as Lord.

How does Paul now describe his old works when compared with his relationship with Jesus?
He calls them dung, refuse (Grk - skubalon) the out casting of the body.

Vs. 9 Paul states goals for his relationship with Christ, what are they?
To win Christ, be found in Christ, to know Christ.

Vs. 10 How will Paul come to a greater knowledge and relationship with Jesus?
By casting off his former legalism and earthly privileges, he would be able to know Christ, the power of Christ’s resurrection, and the fellowship of His Sufferings being made conformable to his death.

Vs. 11 How does Paul describe the intensity He will have as he strives for these goals and the resurrection?
By any means possible, a statement of humility not his ability. He is willing to do all, suffer all and lose all in order to be gain more of Christ, to know him and be conformed to Him even through suffering.

What must I understand to see these same relationship goals achieved in my life?
It is not working harder in my physical abilities, it is drawing closer to Christ through sacrifice, suffering and service.


Thinking specifically about ourselves how can we….
Be found in Christ
Know the power of His resurrection,
Know the fellowship of His suffering,
Be made conformable to His death?

Striving toward the Prize 3:12-16

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Vs. 12 Paul says he has not attained (we would say arrived) or is already perfect (complete, fulfilled) but he is working at it (follow after).  What is Paul’s overall goal?
To apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  He desires to achieve in his life the full design and purpose for which he was called by Christ on the Damascus road.

Paul says this is not true yet but he is trying to see it happen.  What is he doing in order to “apprehend?”
I count not myself to have apprehended, (Grk. – katalambano, used in classic Greek for colonists taking land) He never believes he is at the goal, never becomes satisfied.
Forgetting those things which are behind, He is not bound or stopped by the past.
Reaching forth unto the things which are before, He looks to the future.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.  He runs with his eye on the prize and his body straining toward the finish line.


How can the same philosophy of Christian life apply to us today?

Vss 15-16 What is Paul’s last appeal?
To those who are perfect (mature) be thus minded (have the same goals) and if in anything you are otherwise minded (not convinced of these goals) God will reveal this unto you (God will convince you). Nevertheless (no matter what) whereto we have attained (wherever we are at in our relationship with Christ right now) let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same things (lets be united in our walk and in our goals).

Warning against Libertines  3:17-19

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

Earlier in the chapter Paul warned of legalists, those who would use physical means to become spiritual, now he warns of those who are just the opposite. 
How does Paul describe these “enemies of the cross?”
their end is destruction, their god is their belly, their glory is in their shame, they mind earthly things.

What kind of people are these?
They were practicing antinomianism (against the law) or libertines, people who believed that since God’s grace covered every sin then they could sin all they wanted to.  They gave themselves to sensual pleasure, this was their true god.

Citizens of Heaven 3:20-4:1

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.  4:1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

Vs. 20 Paul uses the same word (conversation) he used in 1:27, what is he saying to the Philippians?
He reminds them that they are citizens of heaven and should therefore act like it. As those who are looking toward heaven, not the earth, with intense longing for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why would this be an argument against the libertines?
If they were truly citizens of heaven they would act accordingly, realizing who and what they represent while on this earth.

How does Paul then answer the argument about the body given over to sin because of grace?
Paul says that same body is to be changed to be like Jesus’ glorious body, thereby subduing all things unto himself. We should not be serving the body but Christ who is greater than that vile body.

4:1 What is the conclusion Paul reaches?
Therefore, they should stand fast in the Lord

This same admonish is found in the first chapter of the book and its use here marks this as the completion of the doctrinal portion of the book.

Philippians 1:27
 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

We see the great affection Paul had for the Philippians in the six terms of endearment he calls them. What are they?
1. My brethren,
2. Dearly beloved,
3. my longed for,
4. my joy,
5. my crown (Grk. Stephanos – wreath given to winning athletes)
6 My dearly beloved. Used twice.

How were the Philippians Paul’s Crown?
They were part of the reward, the crown he would receive in heaven.

Application: What is your answer to those who say, “Once saved always saved is just a license to sin.”

What would you say to someone who does not believe it is necessary to stop an immoral practice or habitual sin since “God will always forgive me.”


Paul’s warnings against the legalists and the libertines is just as needed today as it was in the Philippians time. People, their motives and their actions haven’t really changed when it comes to religion. Some treat everything and everyone with an iron rod of rules, while others ignore who they are supposed to be and the One they are supposed to represent and love.

To Paul both were wrong. Our actions, our life, our philosophy for life is not determined by religion or rules but by a right understanding of Jesus Christ and my connection to Him.  Everything we do, think or plan must be shaped by striving for the prize of our calling by Jesus Christ.

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