Devotional # 132. 4/13/15. Philippians 3:7-9.
Intro. Last week we read from Luke about Jesus raising the teenage boy from the dead. What great confidence we have in Jesus that not only can He raise us from the dead, as He did the boy, but that He Himself raised from the dead!
This week we’re picking back up in Philippians 3. Remember two weeks ago we read how Paul said his confidence was in Jesus? He even gave us his pedigree, his credentials, his background that if anyone could rely on themselves and how they had been a perfect religious person, it was him. I encourage you to read verses 1-6 prior to going into this Devotional.
v. 7. After reading vv.1-6 you can see that it would be like someone today saying, ‘I was born into a family of doctors and lawyers, brought up in the best and most expensive private schools, graduating from the best universities with doctorates and masters.’ But as Paul looks back what does he think of his accomplishments? He says that everything that was “gained” actually was “loss” compared to what he “gained” from Jesus (v. 8).
v. 8. If we read the first part of verse 8 we only get half the picture. Paul says not only was his education, bloodline and background unimportant but in fact “all things” are “loss.” ALL THINGS are loss compared to what?! “the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” This “knowledge” isn’t like the false religion of accumulating enough information about God to go to heaven. And it’s not Gnosticism. As Matthew Henry says it was “a believing experimental acquaintance with Christ as Lord; not a speculative, but a practical knowledge of him” (Source 1). To “know” Jesus as “Lord“, like we talked about last week, means that He is the Master of one’s heart and life.
In the other half of verse 8 Paul explains a little more: he has “suffered the loss of all things” but he thinks of them as trash. Paul’s flesh says it was a “loss” – to say it wasn’t would be a lie. But Paul’s new, spiritual man says those things were trash anyway! As most of you have heard “trash” here is actually a nice way to say the actual translation of poop. This is important because if we look back at our old, sinful life and are honest, it was the most disease infested, awful smelling life imaginable. But this can only be seen in the direct light of Jesus.
The last five words of verse 8 are that light shining in the darkness! (It’s kind of weird that the translators decided to split the verses there, huh?) Paul says, “that I may gain Christ…” The “gain” in Jesus is so much greater than the loss of “all things” from the past.
v. 9. As mentioned above, the last portion of verse 8 sets the stage for the weight of this verse: “that I may gain Christ”. But there is an “and.” Paul doesn’t spend the whole chapter on the great losses that he has had to endure. There is no pity party, where all Christians should feel bad for him. Instead he goes right into the most important part. He says, “And be found in Him…through faith in Christ.” We have all been lost but I hope we can all say we have been “found” in and by Jesus! The truth of the good news of Jesus can be summed up in this verse. Have you ever recognized this before? Has it been a while since you last admitted it? Can we be anything but self-righteous, on our own?
Conclusion. I’m cutting it short this week but I think next week is going to deal with some difficult things (like suffering for Jesus) so we should really focus on understanding how much we gained by following Jesus. Notice that Paul isn’t saying that the stuff that he had gained was bad in itself but that it didn’t even compare to what he “gained” from Jesus. And I think that is the key. Do you notice the difference? The credentials that Paul had depended on (in vv. 1-6) were all done by him or his family. It was on his own strength that he became one of the most knowledgeable Pharisees (Galatians 1:14). The gain is from Jesus and Him alone.
Source 1: Matthew Henry, NT, p. 663