Counting All Things Loss For Christ

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Counting All Things Loss For Christ

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Philippians 3:7-11




We are in the midst of a portion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians where he encourages them to endure, even if it comes with a material cost.   He has warned them of “the mutilation” who sought to demand Gentiles conform to the Law of Moses, and described us who are “the TRUE circumcision”. Paul then gives example of himself, noting what he had given up to follow Christ.

In our lesson today, we will pursue why Paul gave these things up as recorded in this text.

  1.   What things were gain to me (7-8a)
    1. Recall what Paul had given up – Vs. 4-6 – things about which he could have boasted “in the flesh” – a Jew of Jews in every aspect, including being a Pharisee, and zealous for the law.
    2. But he gave it all up for Christ – Paul “counted” it loss – the word is a verb tense that means a past action with a present result.   In other words, Paul had at some point walked away from his past – it was instant, not gradual.
      When Paul made his change, he changed!   This is similar to the apostles being called and waking away from their nets, or the money table, etc.
      One truly converted will likely go home and destroy things he now knows are wrong.
    3. I count ALL things loss – in vs. 8, when it says, “I count all things”, “count” is in the present tense, meaning ongoing action.
      Paul gave up much when he became a Christian, and he is STILL willing to give up whatever is needed.
      We must not be “looking back” on what we gave up – Luke 9:62, 1 Peter 4:3-4, Hebrews 10:38-39
    4. For the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord – why was Paul willing to give this up, to achieve, “the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.”
      The word “excellence” is a word meaning superior to.   Found 3 times in this letter, Philippians 2:3 – “Better”; 4:7 – “surpasses”.  Paul wasn’t foolishly throwing things away, he was “trading up”.
      It was for “the knowledge of Christ” – not just some facts about Him, but as he will say in vs. 10, his desire to know Him.     Paul appreciated the value found in Christ.
      Knowing him was worth giving up everything else – cf. Matthew 13:44-46 – so valuable, you sell all you have to obtain it.
    5. I have lost all things and count them as rubbish – Paul had “suffered loss” – a term meaning to forfeit, or in financial terms – to lose what one has invested, or to be penalized (cf. Matthew 16:26). This was NOT a complaint, but the results of the decision he made to follow Christ.
      Paul counted what he had lost as “rubbish”.   KJV uses the term “dung”.   This is a word that means something to be thrown away, as in scraps being tossed to a dog, OR refuse (e.g. human refuse, or something rotten).
      This is Paul’s attitude about what he had given up.   We might be called upon to give up certain things as we follow Christ. What is our attitude about such? Do we pat ourselves on the back for our wonderful sacrifice?   Do we sulk because of what we have lost? Do we dwell on what we used to have? Or do we have the attitude about things we ought to have – Matthew 6:19-21, 1 John 2:15-17?
  2.   That I may gain Christ (8b-9)
    1. WHY Paul was willing to walk away from all that he did?   We have already noted one reason – for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ.
    2. That I may gain Christ – the idea of gain here is the opposite of loss.   This is one who earns something.   He wins. What we give up in this life, is not “for nothing”.   It ought to be “to gain Him”.
      NOTE: In order to “gain Christ” you HAVE TO suffer loss of the world – Matthew 6:24 – you CANNOT serve 2 masters – CHOOSE!
    3. And be found in Him – ultimately, our goal is to be “in Him”.   That means, we are where we need to be, to obtain eternal life.
      “In Him” we find “the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21); we are “holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4); “we have redemption through His blood” (Ephesians 1:7); We have an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11); “we are complete” (Colossians 2:10); “we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28), etc.
      This is descriptive of a relationship with Him.
    4. Not having my own righteousness – Paul realizes that he cannot save himself.   Nor can he set his own standard of being right.     Recall how Paul grieved over the rejection of his Jewish brethren – Romans 10:1-3. And that is what he dealt with at the beginning of this chapter.
      How many today are seeking their own righteousness as they profess to follow Christ. Do we find ourselves there? Let me ask it another way? What are we unwilling to give up to be found in Him?
    5. But the righteousness which is from God by faith – Matthew 5:6, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
      Matthew 6:33, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
      Romans 1:16-17 – it is revealed in the gospel
      Romans 3:23-26 – all have sinned – demonstrated through the blood of Jesus
      2 Corinthians 5:21 – For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
    6. Paul was willing to pay the price, because he knew what the reward is.   What about us?
  3.  That I may know Him (10-11)
    1. His goal was to know Jesus – the idea here is more than mere acquaintance.   This is relationship. This is being His disciple (Matthew 28:19-20). It is imitating Christ – 1 Corinthians 11:1. This is Him living in me – Galatians 2:20.   John said how we know Him – we keep His commandments – 1 John 2:3-6, etc.   Do we?
    2. And the power of His resurrection – NEXT, Paul turns to various aspects of the life of Jesus that have an impact on us. He begins with the resurrection and its power.   Paul boldly proclaimed this.   1 Corinthians 15:1-8.   The resurrection is everything to the Christian – it is our hope, and even gives the death of Jesus its completed meaning.
    3. And the fellowship of His sufferings – we know the depth to which Paul was willing to suffer for Christ.   In our sufferings, we are in fellowship with Him – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5ff – suffering and comfort; 1 Peter 4:12-13   – rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings.
      Jesus even taught it, Matthew 5:10-12
      Acts 5:41, having been beaten, the apostles rejoice having been counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
    4. Being conformed to His death – this can mean more than one things, or a combination.
      1) It can include our obeying the gospel – Romans 6:3-4
      2) It can be a willing to suffer and die even as He did – 2 Timothy 4:6 – Paul was being poured out as a drink offering…   Philippians 2:17 – again Paul spoke of being poured out as a drink offering.
      Paul expressed his confidence in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 again relating it to the death of Christ.
    5. If by any means, I may attain to the resurrection of the dead – this is what it is all about.   They did not love their lives to the death (Revelation 12:11).     Revelation 2:10 – faithful until death.   Revelation 14:13 – blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on… 2 Timothy 4:8 – Paul awaited his crown.
      Paul would explain that as our hope in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 – if in this life only we have hope, we are pitiable.   BUT, Christ is risen and thus we have hope BEYOND this life.     Note vs. 20, But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

In this powerful text, we see Paul and his willingness to give up everything earthly if it will lead to an eternity with Christ.     What a powerful testament for us.   Are we living our lives for our Lord?   Think about it.