Philippians 3:7-11 are life verses for me. Not favourite verses (they honestly can seem somewhat scary) but life verses because God keeps bringing them up in my life, and teaching me the truths in them, and they accentuate what I want my life to be about – knowing Jesus. Here’s the verses:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Paul had a pretty impressive list of achievements. Look at this:
“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: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”
There’s a lot there that he could have put confidence in. He was the most Jewish Jew through and through. Do you have a list like that in your life? I feel like I’ve had more failures than successes in the things I’ve done but I could put a confidence in the fact that I grew up in a Christian home, that I’ve known about God all my life, that I was homeschooled, that I’ve gone to church since before I was born and so on. But you know what friends, not one of those things can save me, and not one thing on your list can save you either. Paul realized that and said something quite startling – He counted all those impressive things as nothing, worthless, as, get this, dung (KJV), compared to one thing – knowing Christ Jesus his Lord. Wow. There must really be something in this man named Jesus that would make Paul say such a thing, and in fact there is. Countless people through the ages have left everything and willingly lost everything that they might gain Him. Every true disciple of the Lord Jesus must learn that if they would truly live, they must first truly die.
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
This is not a popular message today but my friend, it is central to the Gospel and you cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ unless you first come to a place of death. You cannot have Christ’s life unless you first die to your own (Jn 12:24-25). There cannot be a resurrection life unless there first be death on a cross. Paul understood this well and knew that the life of knowing and serving Jesus far surpassed in worth anything on this earth, and I know it too.
The reason why so many Christians are miserable is because they are still sitting on the throne of their lives. They haven’t truly given complete control over to Jesus. They have their eyes turned downward fixed on the things of this world instead of turned upward to Christ and the Heavenly. I am guilty of this so often myself. We must surrender to Jesus and reckon His death as our death and His life as our life (Rom 6:11). We have died in Him and we live in Him, yet in reality it’s Christ that lives in us (Gal 2:20, Col 1:26-27). This is one of the most glorious and freeing truths in the Bible. When we understand this truth, the Christian life goes from one of defeat to one of victory.
Let’s look at the rest of our passage. What did Paul say next? He wanted to be found IN CHRIST (this is our glorious almighty position as believers) not having his own righteousness gained by the law but the righteousness that comes from God through faith. You see, before Paul’s conversion, his righteousness came from what he did. But after he was saved He realized that he had no righteousness of his own, nothing that could please God in his own pockets (Is 64:6). The only righteousness that can please God is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. Look at this verse:
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord ; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10
When we enter into Christ we enter into His righteousness. It’s described in this verse as a robe. Are you wearing that robe? Or are you trusting in your own merit to please and be accepted by God? When we stand before God someday our only plea of acceptance by God and entry into Heaven will be on His merit alone, that we are in Christ and His righteousness.
“That I may know Him…” I love that. Pure beauty and joy. Do you know Him, or do you just know “about” Him?
Fellowship in His suffering? Knowing the power of His resurrection? Becoming like Him in His death? This is along the lines of what I talked about earlier. Also, I want to add that when we suffer physically for Christ there is a oneness that happens, an intimacy that is formed as we get to experience in our bodies a little of what Christ suffered for us. When we suffer physically we get to know Him in a deeper way, and especially His love which was expressed through suffering.
I don’t know about you but I want my life to be about this one thing – knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. I also want to make Him known to others while I’m on this earth. It’s incredible that we can actually know God, the Creator of the universe. He has taken the time to tell us all about Himself in His Word. He has revealed Himself to us in His creation. He is perfectly manifested in the person of Jesus Christ. He is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. He created us for relationship. He died. Get this, God died, so that He could restore the relationship that had been broken because of sin. My sin and yours. That my friend, is how much you mean to Him. Will you stop chasing after the perishable things of the world and pursue an intimate relationship with God instead? If you try to save your life you will lose it, but if you lose your life in Him you will find it. Jesus came to give us life abundant! (Jn 10:10) Why would we want anything more than to be defined as daughters of the King of Kings! In Him you will find all the fulfillment and confidence you need. As you seek Him and His kingdom first and His righteousness, everything you need will be added to you (Matt 6:33). When Jesus is in His rightful place everything else works out.
With love, ❤