Philippians 3B

Chapter 3:7-14

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  • The first time you got behind the steering wheel of the car, you most likely experienced a rush of excitement.

    • Your hands on 10 and 2 of the steering wheel as you prepared to move the gear from park to drive.

      • Every good driver who has been taught how to drive is cautioned to always be aware of their surroundings, most especially blind spots.

    • We were taught not only to drive for our own safety but for the safety of others as well.

      • And in all of the cautioning and warning, we were never instructed to use our rearview mirrors as the means to get to our destination.

      • The goal for where we are seeking to go on the road is always found in a forward moving direction.

    • Not only does driving with a focus on what’s behind you cause failure of being aware of what’s ahead, but you also miss the beauty of the journey before you.

      • This principle not only applies with that of driving but is true in life.

    • Looking back on things in the past has the ability of causing one to have the joy of life sucked right out of you.

      • Because if we constantly harp on about what has been, we can never joyfully anticipate what is to come.

    • Ultimately, our joy in all things is rooted in our present reality of our position in Christ.

      • And even more so, it is the joyous anticipation of being with Him in Glory.

    • Tonight, we will see that this perspective, one set with eyes for eternity, is the proper perspective that is at the forefront of Paul’s mind.

      • Forgetting what was behind him, for the sake of gaining what is in front of him.

    • If I were to put an outline together of our time tonight, we will see the following:

      • 1. Loss for the sake of Christ (vv.7-9)

      • 2. That I May Know Him (vv.10-12)

      • 3. Pressing On (vv.13-14)

    • If I were to put a tag on our text tonight, it would simply be: “Let the Past be the Past”.

      • With that being said, I invite you to open up a copy of scripture and meet me in Philippians 3:7-9 for the reading of the word of the Lord.

Philippians 3:7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Philippians 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
Philippians 3:9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
  • Last week, we covered some material that on the surface would have seemed as if the Apostle Paul was boasting in himself and his works.

    • However, we came to understand that Paul was using verses 4-6 as a means to further his argument on why those things mean nothing.

      • So tonight, we see that Paul provides the explanation of the usage of his previously held ‘resume of the flesh’, if you will.

    • He begins verse 7 with the statement, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”

      • It doesn’t require much work to see what these “things” are that Paul is referring to.

      • He had just listed out an entire resume which could’ve, most certainly, justified him before a court of law, especially the legalist Judaizers.

    • Yet, Paul states that those previously listed “notches on his belt”, were considered all a loss for the sake of Christ.

      • Whenever we are looking for a new job and preparing for the interview, we will put together a resume folder of sorts.

      • And that folder will contain the resume, the cover letter, and some business cards to promote who you are and your skill set.

    • And we go through this effort of time-consuming prep work just to sit in a room for 30 minutes to an hour.

      • Yet, when it comes down to the believer desiring to grow in Christ, we take less time to spend in the word than we do the efforts of other “things”.

      • The point being, we will prioritize the things that are most important to us and where we can, we try to “fit Jesus in”.

    • But in this case, it seems that Paul pushes back on this idea of self-aggrandizement and meritorious work as a means of pleasing God.

      • That somewhere between Paul and his previous pursuits to destroy the church to the Damascus Road experience, something changed.

      • And isn’t that often the story of our lives, that when it came to us experiencing Christ, personally, that in some ways it required great loss.

    • In fact, the word “counted” in verse 7 is this idea of considering something or someone having come to a particular conclusion regarding a matter.

      • Hence, perhaps why Paul used his own personal testimony as an example for the Philippian church to see.

      • He needed them to know that even on our best day, what we bring to the table in our efforts pales in comparison to knowing Christ.

    • The reality is, as one pursues Christ more deeply, you will come to the fork in the road.

      • You will have to ask yourself the question of priority as you pursue a discipleship relationship with Jesus.

      • Because it’s one thing to have come to faith in Christ, but to walk with Him as a disciple requires a letting go of self and a yearning for Him.

      • This is why Jesus mentions in Luke 14:33, in the context of the discipleship relationship with Him, a cost that is required. Check out the text:

Luke 14:33 “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
  • This simply goes to say that although Salvation in Christ (Being Justified) costs you nothing, but following Christ costs you something.

    • And that cost to be counted, when weighted against what we have freely and richly gained in Christ, won’t even compare.

    • This is why in verse 8, Paul continues by saying, “More than the things I just listed to you, I count all things to be loss.”

    • And in this context, all means all – that there are no reservations by which Paul withholds from Christ, things that are to be counted as loss.

    • Paul, in few words, expresses the fact that none of what he lost means anything in comparison to knowing Christ!

      • Notice, that Paul extends this point even further and he does so in a very colorful way. He mentions a “value” difference.

    • That where knowing Christ more deeply becomes the priority and goal, he mentions that what he has lost in pursuit of knowing Christ was “rubbish”.

      • The word ‘rubbish’ is the Greek word skybalon (ski-balon) which means dung, excrement, or manure.

      • This word only appears in use here (Philippians 3:8) in the New Testament. Where it derived from is uncertain.

      • In any case, Paul uses this word to illustrate the “value of his works” in comparison to “the Person and work of Christ”.

    • Plainly put, Paul is saying my works are to be flushed down the toilet – here today gone tomorrow.

      • But to know Christ, that is a relationship of value and high regard and is worth every ounce of our pursuit!

      • This begs the question for some which is: What is this surpassing value and joy that Paul sees in Christ beyond what Jesus did on the cross?”

    • This value of knowing Christ goes beyond simply knowing Jesus on an intellectual/academic level.

      • This knowing of Christ comes about through a personal relationship.

      • This type of knowledge is paired with both a head and heart-knowledge of the Lord.

  • When we begin to recognize the implications of what Jesus’ death and resurrection means for us both on a provisional and experiential aspect, it changes things.

    • The implications of His death help in shaping our metaphysical realities in how we deal with society and our understanding of justice.

      • The implication of His resurrection provides us with future hope and anticipation of things to come.

      • Yet, we can only experience these ever-present realities if we grow in our pursuit and knowledge of Him.

    • I can know my wife in the sense of surface level conversation. (i.e, where you from, who’s your parents, etc.)

      • Yet there is an opportunity in knowing her personally by spending time to know the things that irritate her, make her smile, make her laugh.

    • So, once I get to know my wife on this personal level it changes how we can engage and interact with one another in the world.

      • This becomes the distinction between knowing Jesus versus ‘knowing’ Him on an experiential level.

    • Paul is saying, I desire to lose everything I have and hold dear to, so that I may gain Christ in the most intimate of ways.

      • This leads us to verse 9.

    • Paul’s logical progression leads the reader to this future anticipation of glorification and ability to stand before Christ at the Bema Seat.

      • Paul not only mentions the great value of being in Christ presently, but that he will be found in Christ in an evaluatory manner.

    • This positional reality at a future point is only made possible because of the finished work of Christ and not any work of our doing.

      • This is why Paul states “this is not of a righteousness derived from the Law.”

      • In other words, the Law could not keep us in the sense of Justification nor could the Law perfect us (sanctification).

      • The purpose and intent of the Law was to make the people keenly aware of what they could not do.

      • Notice, how Paul characterized the “assumed righteousness” of the Law in Galatians 3:23-27.

Galatians 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.
Galatians 3:24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
Galatians 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
  • Paul mentions that the Law was not the point, but rather Christ was the point.

    • The point of a tutor is to point you to the proper answer.

    • This is why one’s pursuit in performance-based Christianity or work-based Christianity is a constant moving of goal posts.

    • Therefore, God, in His kindness and mercy, has made it possible for those who could never stand blameless before Holy God (all of us), to stand blamelessly in Christ alone.

      • We must recognize that a righteousness that requires us to maintain it, fails in and of itself to be righteousness.

      • Why? Because righteousness is a standard that is accomplished through the perfect accomplishment of one who is Holy because Holiness is the standard.

      • And as scripture informs us time and again, there is none in the earth that is righteous.

      • Isaiah states the following in Isaiah 64:6.

Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
    • None can be clean in and of our own striving and merit. The only one in whom can cleanse us of our iniquities is God through Christ.

      • Therefore, Paul boldly states that because of His understanding of this foundational theological truth, his sole desire is to know Jesus!

      • Check out verses 10-12.

Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
Philippians 3:11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
  • The first half of verse 10 alone has become one of my favorite scriptures to meditate on.

    • Paul continues in this thought by rounding it out by expressing the reality of his deep affections for the Lord Jesus.

      • His confidence is in realization of what the work of Christ has accomplished both positionally and experientially for the believer.

      • And within that confidence of his faith in Christ, rests his contentment in the finished work of Jesus and his abandonment of self-assurance.

    • Therefore, Paul expresses in this beautiful statement what the focus of his mind, heart, and affections are – “that I may know Him…”

      • In other words, there is no greater desire or thing that can outweigh the love-pursuit that Paul has for Christ.

      • For all things are realized and complete through the word of God (knowledge) and the work of God in the Person of God – Jesus Christ.

    • This sense of ‘knowing’, ginosko in Greek, is to know by way of experience.

      • Paul had acquired such an appetite for Christ in his walking with him that he couldn’t just settle for a “kiddie meal experience” with Jesus.

      • That as his knowledge of the Lord increased so did his spiritual pallet.

    • It’s in verses 10-11 that Paul mentions several outworking desires of his increased spiritual appetite.

      • He mentions that along with his increased spiritual hunger for the Lord would render:

        • 1. Him knowing the Power of the resurrection of Christ

        • 2. Fellowship in the sufferings of Christ

        • 3. Being conformed to Christ’s death

      • Let’s begin with the first.

  • Paul begins with this ongoing inner working of the Power of the resurrection.

    • The word ‘power’ in Greek is dynamis which is where we get our English word dynamite from.

      • It is power, more specifically it is the very power of God, that raised Jesus from the dead.

      • And we find in Acts 1:8 that this same power is actively and permanently at work within every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

      • Check out Acts 1:8.

Acts 1:8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
  • Luke mentions in Acts that this very power exhibited in the Person of the Holy Spirit is the active agent by which enables and empowers us in Christ.

  • Secondly, Paul desired to share in the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ.

    • Obviously, the sufferings of Christ related to His work for the sake of salvation was a type of suffering in which only He could take on.

      • Therefore, it’s clear to understand that Paul could not share in His suffering in that way.

    • However, being that Paul was positionally in Christ, having been Justified, Paul understood there was a place of suffering for Christ.

      • The reality was, for those identified as followers of Jesus, it was an open invitation to suffer for the sake of the advancement of the Gospel.

      • This is why those who began by following Jesus in the start of His ministry would begin to fizzle out when the pressure turned up.

    • For the invitation of the cross of Christ was not an invitation to convenience and comfort.

      • This was a life to follow Jesus even if it meant death.

  • Today we have individuals who will promote the “fish emblem” or the cross on their vehicles, yet those emblems become symbols of an idea rather than a lifestyle.

    • Paul on the other hand has embodied the very life of Christ by putting himself out on the line for the sake of Christ being made known. (Imitate me as I imitate Christ)

      • Clearly, Paul is less concerned with his ‘resume and reputation’ and is solely seeking for Christ to be the focal point.

      • Paul makes this point in 2 Corinthians 4:5-12. Check out the text:

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;
2 Corinthians 4:8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;
2 Corinthians 4:9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
2 Corinthians 4:10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
2 Corinthians 4:11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
2 Corinthians 4:12 So death works in us, but life in you.
  • Those who are pursuing a deeper more mature relationship with the Lord are ones that respond differently amid persecution.

    • Because their maturity is directly tied to their intimacy and their intimacy is directly correlated with their spiritual outlook.

    • In other words, the mark of a mature believer in Christ is one that, in every season of life, has eyes for eternity and not the temporal.

    • The walk of discipleship is not for the faint of heart but for those who are willing to count the cost and pursue Christ beyond the surface.

    • The word “conformed” in Greek, in verse 10, is symmorphizo which means to be conformed into or to share the experience of.

      • In other words, the sharing in the sufferings of Christ become a mechanism by which conforms us to look more like Christ.

      • The question we have to ask ourselves is, “Do we see our present suffering as an aid to becoming more like Christ or is it an inconvenience?”

      • Our response becomes the measure by which indicates where we fall on the spectrum of spiritual maturity.

      • But the grace in all of this is whether you find yourself with an immature response or not, God’s grace is actively at work for you to grow in.

    • What Paul is alluding to is this reality that because Christ has died on our behalf, we now have the power and ability to overcome sin’s present hold. (Choice)

      • This does not mean that we are perfect or will be perfect in this life.

      • However, this does mean we are enabled and empowered to choose to respond in a manner that cuts sin off day by day.

      • Which dog in the fight are you feeding?

  • Lastly, Paul mentions the resurrection. But in the English translation it reads as if this is something he is striving towards.

    • We know, according to Paul’s logical flow from the start of this letter, that each tense of Salvation is a work that God begins and completes.

      • Therefore, to suggest anything different would be to assume that God can somehow change His mind as to His salvific outworking.

      • Instead, when reading the text, the best rendering would be one of hope in the sense of great expectation of this coming resurrection.

    • In fact, this is the hope of all in the Christian faith, that because Christ has been raised, we too will be raised.

      • In fact, the Resurrection itself is the lynchpin to the very faith we have in Christ.

      • Our assurance of what Christ accomplished on the cross is affirmed and confirmed because Jesus is not in the tomb!

    • During the Easter season, every news channel and media outlet displays the historical reality of the resurrection of Christ but don’t believe His word!

      • This event is one that should provide great hope for every believer knowing that because Christ was raised, we will be raised too.

    • Notice however, a quick glance through verse 11 will cause us to miss this distinct distinction between the word resurrection in verse 10 versus verse 11.

      • The word for ‘resurrection’ in verse 10 is anastasis (an-a-sta-sis) which deals with being raised up from the dead.

      • Yet the Greek word for ‘resurrection’ in verse 11 is exanastasis (ex-an-a-sta-sis) and this word is found only once in the Greek New Testament.

    • Exanastasis is what is known as the “out-resurrection”.

      • Paul would not mention a need to strive to attain resurrection from the dead, if eternal life is given to all who are justified by faith in Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:21)

      • Paul must have something else in mind here and we will see it fully flushed out next week.

    • So this assumes that there would be a removal of individuals from amongst those who are not resurrected.

      • And clearly, the group in which Paul has in view here, who have this confidence of hope of an “out-resurrection”, are believers themselves.

      • Therefore, this could very well be a grammatical descriptor of Paul expressing the Rapture event.

    • The reality is those who are in Christ should live with confidence knowing there will be a coming time in which the church will be ‘snatched up’ from among those who have not professed faith in Christ.

      • And with this reality is understanding Paul’s desire to strive for this future event.

      • Because along with the out-workings of this anticipation is the prize in mind which is realized through having lived in such a way to receive our spiritual rewards.

      • Titus 2:11-13, Paul writes the following:

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
Titus 2:12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
  • As we seek to pursue Christ and conform to His image and share in His suffering, our eternal perspective begins to shape joyful anticipation and prepares us for future rewards to come.

    • This is why Paul mentions in Titus 2:13, that while we are in this present age, that we are to live well and look eagerly for His appearing.

    • Check out this excerpt from “The Out-resurrection from the dead” by Dr. S. Lewis Johnson.

It is not only a blessed hope; it is also a purifying hope, for John, speaking of His manifestation, writes, “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). F. E. Marsh used to tell the story of John Brown, the faithful attendant of Queen Victoria of England. When her Majesty was about to visit any of the cottagers at Balmoral, in Scotland, as she was in the habit of doing, John Brown used to go on ahead and say to the person to be visited, “Feckle yersel’, the Queen’s a’ comin’.” “Feckle” meant to hustle, to get ready, to have everything in place. The believer, longing for the coming of his Lord and the rapture of the church, would do well to “feckle” himself in order that His face might be beheld with joy and confidence.
  • Notice, in verse 12 that this attaining a prize is something that Paul anticipates, whether in his lifetime or at a future date.

    • He mentions that he has not yet attained this state of perfection of a glorified body.

    • This also means that this is not some type of “spiritual resurrection” but something that is literal yet future.

    • Yet, Paul describes that in the meantime, while he awaits this moment, that he will press on so that he may “lay hold of it” as Christ laid hold of Him.

      • Paul is not insinuating that his efforts within the Salvation work is something he has both mastered nor earned himself.

      • Rather this work of salvation, in all three tenses, is a work in which Christ Himself initiates, enables, and completes.

      • And at the same time, because of Christ’s finished work, we are able to engage in this sanctifying work as we put in the work alongside the Spirit.

    • So, what we are seeing in the grand scheme of things is that our spiritual maturity is directly tied to our growth in both our knowing of Christ and submission to Him.

      • Where there is no intimacy with Christ, there is no growth in Christ.

      • This is why you can have a believer that has been saved for 30 years yet still be walking in spiritual infancy.

      • They have not put the word of the Lord to work in their lives because they don’t want to count the cost.

      • And this reality causes this infant believer in Christ to miss the fullness of Christ and the joy found therein.

      • Lastly, we come to verses 13 and 14 where Paul mentions the focus of the believer in light of their positional reality.

Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
  • Lastly, Paul reassures the Philippians that even he himself has not yet laid hold of this sense of “perfection” or full maturity in Christ.

    • The reality was that, as long as we are in these corrupted bodies we are constantly going to duel between our spirit and our flesh.

      • But there is one thing that Paul lays out for certain and that is his abilities, traditions, customs, and pride of heritage were not the goal.

      • Although to the Judaizers, these were worthy things to stand on, Paul recognized those things don’t uphold eternal life.

      • Those things do not Justify one before a Holy God.

    • Paul reiterates his point from earlier in the text (verses 3-7) – that he is not looking behind him, but rather he is looking ahead.

      • I asked the rhetorical question at the start of this lesson – when has driving by looking at the rear-view mirror ever been helpful?

      • If the destination is ahead, why would we jeopardize our race by looking back.

  • If you’ve ever watched a track meet such as the baton relay, it is one of the most fascinating sports to witness.

    • The objective is to have an entire team get the baton from the starting runner to the final runner in a set amount of time.

      • For speed and efficiency in the race, such as a 4X100, the objective is for the starting runner to run to the receiving teammate.

      • And upon a certain set distance the receiving runner is to anticipate the oncoming teammate.

      • At this point the starting runner needs to extend their reach to hand over the baton while the receiving runner extends their back hand to receive the baton.

    • Once the team member receives the baton they are not looking back to see where the starter is, but the goal is the next runner to get to the finish line.

      • Paul in verse 13b states that he is reaching forward to what lies ahead – that’s where the goal is.

      • The imagery here seems to suggest a race of sorts and that the runner is solely fixed on the prize in which he anticipates at the end.

    • Finally, it’s in verse 14 that Paul says “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ.”

      • The word ‘press’ is this idea of straining toward or pursuing the goal ahead.

    • The moment that the believer begins to look back at their past failures, short comings etc., is what causes the baton to drop.

      • The moment that our eyes are taken off the prize is the moment we experience spiritual paralysis.

      • We find ourselves in a cycle of defeat because we fail to rest in the amazing grace in which the Lord has provided us to walk in.

    • The enemy’s greatest ploy is to have the believer rehearse the brokenness of our past.

      • The enemy is an accuser of the brethren in Christ and therefore he seeks to always bring up accusations before the Lord.

      • However, when we realize that we have been justified through the blood of Christ, we stand before a Holy God clean and in the clear.

      • In Romans 8:1 Pauls tells us this:

Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • When we come to realize what we have received in Christ, our outlook on things can begin to change.

    • We can walk in a worthy manner because we serve a worthy and Holy God.

    • Let’s Pray.


  • For a more in-depth take on the term “out-resurrection” (ἐξανάστᾰσις) verses ἀνάστασις I encourage you to read the following theological journal: Johnson Jr., S. Lewis.“The Out-Resurrection From the Dead.” Bibliotheca Sacra 110 (1953).

  • The use of the preposition ek twice in the phrase, the first usage being in exanastasin, suggests a resurrection out from a group not resurrected. Constable, Tom. Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible. Galaxie Software, 2003.

  • The use of the term (out-resurrection) provides a strong defense for Paul’s continuation of the third tense of salvation (glorification), more specifically the Rapture event, in which those who are alive at that imminent moment of the resurrection (Rapture) will experience this immediate transformation from our bodies in its present “humble state (the flesh) to its glorified state (resurrected bodies). Murray, George W. “Paul’s Corporate Witness in Philippians.” Bibliotheca Sacra 155 (1998).