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.