Philippians: Chapter 3 Bible Study
Philippians: Chapter 3 Bible Study
I love how the NLT version words this verse at the beginning of Chapter 3 in Paul’s letter to the Philippi. It says, “whatever happens my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith”.
No matter what we are facing we can rejoice in the Lord! When we have a Christ-Centered focus and heart, keeping our thoughts on things above and on God’s grace and goodness, we can rejoice in the struggle. God works all things together for our good! Because we know this, don’t get wrapped up and spiral into the bad, have faith and trust in God. Fully accepting God’s word as truth knowing He is our conqueror. With Him, anything is possible.
What does Paul say about Confidence in the Flesh?
Paul says he never tires of telling them these things and that he does it to safeguard their faith. I think a point we can take from this is we should never find it tedious to relentlessly keep talking about the Gospel and in doing so, not only do we keep our faith strong, but safeguard and keep others strong.
He goes on to say, “beware of evil workers and concision. For we are the circumcision which worships God in the Spirit and rejoices in Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh”. Paul is saying to rely on what Jesus has done for us, (John 3:16), and put no confidence in human effort. Our confidence must be in Christ and what He’s done for us. We cannot put confidence in our own efforts.
What does Paul gain by discarding everything else?
Then, he says, though if anyone could, he could. He then lists the human efforts, and things that he’s done, that he could put confidence in and once did place confidence in. Once he’s done listing those, he says he once thought these things were valuable, but now considers them worthless because of what Christ has done.
More in context with the list he gave, is him saying, watch out for those who say and do things, placing confidence in their human efforts, like thinking being circumcised will save you. It’s worthless because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Paul is saying we cannot save ourselves with our human efforts. He says everything is worthless in comparison with the infinite value of knowing Jesus. That he has thrown everything else away now seeing it as garbage so he could gain Christ.
Paul No Longer Counts on His Own Righteousness
I feel so often we hold onto garbage for comfort. Not realizing if we would recognize Jesus as Lord of our lives and discard everything else, we would gain infinitely more. Let go of what you think is valuable and gain Christ. Nothing comes close to truly knowing and becoming one with Him.
He goes on to say he became one with Christ and no longer counts on his own righteousness through obeying the law, rather he became righteous through faith in Christ. Many people think they themselves can put confidence in their human efforts to get them to Heaven. But just because you live by a moral code, and believe you are a good person, does not guarantee you a spot in Heaven.
What or Who Does Paul Place His Confidence In?
There are plenty of people who feel that they are a good person and live by their own moral code, but yet they do not even believe in God or know him. If you do not place your confidence and faith in God and Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, it is all for nothing.
And that’s what Paul is saying he’s realized; that all those things he did such as getting circumcised, being a pureblooded citizen of Israel, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, a real Hebrew, and being a member of the Pharisees who demanded the strictest obedience to Jewish law, that he now considers all of that worthless because of what Jesus has done. Therefore, he now places all of his confidence in Jesus and what Jesus has done for him, not what he has done.
Paul Places his Confidence in What Christ Did
He’s saying those things he did before, he did them counting on his own righteousness to save him. Paul was placing confidence in himself and not what Christ did. Now he doesn’t count on his own righteousness. He now knows he became righteous through his faith in Christ and what Christ did. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. We must have faith in God, and all Christ has done for us. Truly knowing Him and obey His commands to have a relationship with him.
If you don’t have faith in God, your own efforts do not mean anything. What you do and your human efforts cannot get you into Heaven. He says he wants to know God and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. He wants to suffer for him sharing in his death. So that one way, or another, he will experience the resurrection from the dead. And he knows by sharing in his death that we will be resurrected with him as it is written.
Paul Forgets the Past, Focusing on What Lies Ahead
Paul says he does not mean to say that he has already achieved these things, or that he’s already reached perfection, but he presses on to possess that perfection for which Christ first possessed him.
He says he’s not achieved it, but he focuses on this one thing, forgetting the past and focusing on what lies ahead.
He realizes how important it is to forget the past and leave those things behind. Only focusing on God and what lies ahead. If we are always holding onto the past, we are living where the enemy wants us. The enemy wants to keep us in bondage, bound to our past, and the mistakes we have made. Christ wants to set us free, giving us hope, and a future.
Press on to Reach the End of the Race
We have to move forward and press on. Despite our past, and the things we have done, and look ahead. He said he presses on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Jesus is calling us. We must keep moving forward and sharing the gospel to receive the heavenly prize. We must fulfill our calling to him.
Paul says let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If they disagree at some point, he believes God will make it plain to them. He’s saying if you aren’t spiritually mature, and you don’t agree on these things, he knows God will open your eyes and reveal the truth and make it plain to you. This could be through conviction, speaking through the holy Spirit, etc.
Hold onto Progress
But he says they must hold onto the progress that they have made already. He’s saying do not step backward, hang onto how far you’ve come. Do not let things like disagreements cause you to lose any progress, keep pressing on and sooner or later God will make it plain to you. Keep moving forward, keep praying, and keep your sight on God. Do not get tied up on the things behind you and disagreements. Instead, seek God for clarification. Once again, he’s urging them to keep a Christ-centered focus.
He says dear brothers and sisters pattern your lives after mine. And as we’ve discussed in all these bible study chapters; his life was all about Christ. He had one focus and goal, Christ. We can learn so much about the way he lived his life. We need to mirror our lives and our discipleship from his. And, he says to learn from those who follow their example. We can learn from each other who are seeking God as well.
Their Conduct Shows That They Are Enemies of Heaven
He says I’ve told you often before and say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows that they are enemies of the cross, and they are headed for destruction. Their God is their appetite, and they brag about shameful things. And they think only about this life on Earth. But we are citizens of Heaven where the Lord lives and eagerly awaits on the Lord to return.
It is beneficial that we recognize when there are those who say they follow Christ, but you can tell by their conduct (the way that they live, speak, and act), that they are truly enemies of the cross. We know that those people are not going to make it to heaven by the things that they talk and brag about. And, when it says their god is their appetite, I feel we could also relate this to the things that they crave of the world. What do they hunger for? Do they hunger for things of the world? Or, do they hunger for things of the cross?
We are to Conduct Ourselves as Citizens of Heaven
We are to conduct ourselves as a citizens of heaven and not do things that we would not do in Heaven. We are to eagerly wait for Jesus to return as our savior. And he doesn’t necessarily just mean an excitement to see Christ. But, when you are eager for something you are ready. You are prepared. Prepare yourselves always and be ready for the day that Christ returns.
Don’t get caught up in the things that others who conduct themselves as enemies of the cross do; like those who hunger for things of the world, fulfilling their fleshly desires. He’s saying be ready, eagerly waiting, living your life as a citizen of heaven. So, when he comes, you’re ready, and you can be united with him. If you aren’t eager for something, you are not prepared. You don’t want to be caught off guard the day Christ returns, you want to be waiting. Fulfilling your calling, living clean and blameless lives, so when the time comes you can hear good job my good and faithful servant.
We Will be Made Anew
Paul says he’ll take our weak mortal bodies changing them into glorious bodies like his own using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. Here he’s referencing how our current mortal bodies will pass away and be no more, conquering death, and we will be made anew. That is where we have eternal life. He’s saying he’s going to use the same power to do that as he is when he brings everything under his control fulfilling that every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that he is Lord. And ultimately, God is always in control and on that final day, He will bring everything to his control, and people will be held in judgment and responsible for their actions.
Paul gives so much wisdom through his letter to the Philippians. There is much we can learn from him and how to live our lives. Stay tuned for Chapter 4 recap!
I hope these Bible study recap chapters have encouraged you to delve into Philippians. Unfortunately, due to limited time with my intense work schedule, these posts have hardly scratched the surface of the wisdom in Philippians. I encourage you to study it yourself using one of these guides that prompts you to truly study and learn the wisdom and life lessons the book of Philippians holds. Remember, sermons, teachings, and blogs are a starting point in building your relationship with God!
Philippians: A 12-Week Study (Knowing the Bible)
Philippians: Christ, the Source of Joy and Strength
Living for What Really Matters: 7 Weeks in the Book of Philippians
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