“…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own…
Paul explained what it means to be “in Christ” in another letter. Here his emphasis is on our applying the righteousness of Christ to our daily lives–that “righteousness from God that depends on faith–” (3:11). When we sin, and the guilt causes us to despair, we are to remember we are clothed in this perfectness, this life of the Lord Jesus who never sinned. Practicing this enables us to passionately pursue our goal of knowing God and experiencing his power.
Then, we can follow Jesus’s example, as well as, put off our own sinful desires, and our selfishness, and put on love, joy, peace, patience, longsuffering…..
“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immortality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealously. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14).
Paul even encouraged them to look at his example of how to live this out. He knew he was not perfect; his only perfectness was found “in Christ.” God declared Paul righteous. It depended on his faith–the gift of God. He kept his eyes on his goal of knowing God, and he insisted this was the only way: to be “in Christ.”
I used to have a sign on my podium reading “Follow me to the library.” The senior social studies kids weren’t very appreciative. That just wasn’t on their minds.
Here, Paul was encouraging his readers to follow his example as he followed Christ Jesus. Is that what is on your mind?
THINK ABOUT THESE VERSES: Comparing verses with each other helps us understand and apply them.
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:1).
“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and coveteousness, which is idolatry….You must put them all away: anger wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouths…Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, …” (Colossians 3:5-12).
This picture was taken sometime in the 80’s. I loved those early years of reading Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. You can google him and read his devotions. These were my first two collies. My children were in lower elementary school. I still have this book, and think it’s about time I read it again.
Stand Firm Together April 23, 2010
I hope you are profiting from your reading of Philippians. Remember its not really a book. It’s a letter to friends who have worked together to establish churches in Turkey and Greece, and now, have hopes of extending that into Spain. Paul’s point is that joy comes from sticking together in this task.
Read Philippians 3-4::1
Paul is telling these people to stay committed, individually and corporately, to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t waiver on what the gospel is. Don’t give up on your own pursuit of intimacy with God because that is what brings joy and hope. Remember this is not a psychological manuel on how to be happy. It is a letter to fellow Christians to encourage and exhort them to be faithful.
Roger Ellsworth (OPENING UP PHIIIPPIANS, Day One Publishers, p. 55-63) has some helpful definitions:
Flesh: anything apart from Christ on which one bases his hope of salvation. See 3:4,
”though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:..”
righteousness: standing before a holy God completely clean and pure in external behavior and internal desires. See 3:9,
…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God that depends on faith–
Dogs: Teachers who deny the saving work of the Lord Jesus. They do not rely totally on the person and work of the Lord Jesus. They teach others to depend on something else besides the cross. Paul uses his own life as an example of the asurdity of this.
When you sin, and you know it, turn from it in sorrow and heartbreak, and embrace the wonderful news that Jesus never sinned. God our father covers our sin with Jesus’s purity. So His righteousness becomes ours and we are found “in Christ.” God does not have to disregard His justice in order to accept us. We are children and heirs. Now that is good reason to stand firmly together to establish churches and tell others about Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
Reading Philippians, Chapter April 6, 2010
Don’t forget you can hit “category” and scroll down to “Philippians” for all my articles on Philippians. This is number 6.
A Quick Summary So Far
This letter was written to encourage a church in Greece to continue working together to spread the gospel–to keep on keeping on in spite of opposition, hardship, or persecution. Paul was not writing a “how to” manual on being happy. But, his own contentment and pursuit of godliness is evident. He wanted them to continue on in knowing God and making him known, and to rejoice because of what they knew to be true of God, while, at the same time, keeping their eyes on justification by faith alone.
With Eyes Wide Open
Paul doesn’t sugar-coat anything for these friends. He warns them to expect opposition and persecution for the gospel of Christ Jesus. Now he gets very specific.
“Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers… For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:2; 18-19).
The evildoers are those who want to add their own “something” to the gospel. Some righteous deed (in this case, submitting to a Jewish ordinance); coming from the “right” family; being a part of the “right” group; having the “right” attitude; seeing self as doing what is “right.” Paul tells us he had all of these, and he counted them all as nothing but rubbish, something to be tossed out. He was not ashamed of the gospel and he was happy to be found covered in the righteousness of Christ Jesus—the “right” standing before God that depends on faith alone.
“If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:…and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, …that I may know him …” (Philippians 3:4;8;9;10).
Paul is all for cooperation. But, he has zero tolerance for anyone who teaches a wrong gospel.
This kind of righteousness, added to faith, is just rubbish. Toss it out. Don’t tolerate that kind of teaching in your church or support those people in their gospel endeavors.
The Main Point For Us
Be careful how you think about yourself. Are you depending on your family or church or your moral life or anything else you could add to what Jesus Christ has done? Our faith is to be in Jesus Christ’s righteousness, not our own, and in what He accomplished for us when He died on that cross. He alone is our Savior. Knowing that, thinking about it, helps us to rejoice in the Lord. To think about what Jesus has done for us helps us to “rejoice, and again, I say, Rejoice.” This is good theology, not psychology. Some psychology hints can be very helpful to us, but sound theology should come first. It makes for strong foundations on which to build our lives. So Philippians is about theology, not a psychological treatise in how to be happy. Rejoice IN THE LORD.