Finding Fruit in Philippians
an SK Bible Study
Week 5: Rebels With A Cause
Philippians 3:1-11 (NIV)
(1) 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. (2) Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. (3) 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–
(4) though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: (5) 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; (6) as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. (7) But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. (8) 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
(9) 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. (10) 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, (11) and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
It seems that Paul was a righteous man. He came from a family that followed the religious rules – even had him circumcised on the eighth day of his life (vs.5). He grew up learning all the laws – what was right and what was wrong. He was a Pharisee, a religious leader of his day. He believed in the laws – so much so that he tried to silence those that went against those laws by use of persecution and even death. He saw things as black and white. The teaching he received taught him to look at life that way.
Then he traveled to Damascus and came face-to-face with the true law – the law of God; yet, at the same time, he was also introduced to, and experienced, God’s grace. He realized that he had never really been righteous – he couldn’t be by his own might and effort. He was finally able to experience authentic righteousness in his life – that which comes from God, through His Son, Jesus.
Jesus grew up learning the ways of the Jewish people. From the time he was young, I am sure that his parents, Joseph and Mary, taught him the religious customs and traditions. Yet, even from an early age, he began to question the Church’s teachings. He became a ‘thorn in the side’ of the religious leaders as he continuously rebelled against many of the religious laws, including physically healing people on the Sabbath, talking to a Samaritan women, etc.
The Pharisees wholeheartedly believed in those laws, just as Paul did in his day – so much so that they felt the need to persecute, and eventually kill, the one who continued to break those rules.
Have you always been one that has “done” church? Have you followed the unwritten rules of the Christian life – meaning you attend church every week, read through the Bible, pray at meals, follow all your church’s legalist traditions, etc.? All of those things are well and good, but as Paul states, even though he followed all the rules and expectations of the Church, after his conversion, he “consider[ed] everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…I consider them rubbish…” (vs.8).
Why is all that rubbish? I do not believe he is saying that those things are necessarily bad in and of themselves (although they could be if looked at too highly). I believe he is wanting to teach the Philippian church (and us) that all outward appearances, mannerisms, and actions mean nothing if they do not flow from a thankful heart that has been shown God’s grace. It is what is inside a person that matters. My own righteousness – “doing good” – means nothing as it pertains to my salvation. “The righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (vs.9) is all that really matters.
True knowledge of Christ alters and changes men, their judgments and manners, and makes them as if made again anew. The believer prefers Christ, knowing that it is better for us to be without all worldly riches, than without Christ and his word. (commentary)
Let us be careful that our rules and guidelines for the Christian life do not take higher priority than the relationship we have with Jesus.
(When answering, please be sure to first put the number of the question in your comment.)
- Are you just doing the Christian life or are you living and experiencing true life in Christ? (There is no need to leave a comment for this question. I just want us to reflect on this.)
- Sometimes we (speaking for those that are long-time church members) want to see people change on the outside even before they are transformed on the inside. We take a lot of time to teach them the unwritten rules of the Church so that they “look the part” without really taking the time to share with them about the transformation that starts within. Are you willing to drop all the unwritten rules of the Christian life for those that still do not know Jesus as their personal Savior?
- In thinking about the fruit of the Spirit, it seems that this passage is talking about the difference between man-made attempts at goodness and authentic goodness. How so?
Remember to pray for the things that are listed on our Prayer page.
‘See ya’ next week!