Pearls From Philippians - Chapter 3

Today we are looking at Chapter 3, a chapter that we might say deals with the theme of sacrificial living. Truly, if we are to please God and Jesus Christ his Son, it is only through a life of sacrifice.

The greatest sacrifice which was ever made was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins, the shedding of His precious blood. This third chapter of Philippians, as we continue to look at some “Pearls from Philippians” is really a chapter that deals, to a great extent, with sacrifice. Paul talked about some sacrifices he made, some things he gave up, in order to become a follower of Christ. He said he didn’t mind it at all: “Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:7-9).

But in verse 1, the apostle called upon these Philippian brethren to rejoice. He said, “...rejoice in the Lord.” It is not the first time in this Philippian epistle that Paul called upon them to rejoice. In Chapter 2, verse 18, the same words are seen. He said, “and in the same manner do ye also joy, and rejoice with me.” Then, in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice.” The literal meaning here is “keep on rejoicing”—that is, the phrase is in the tense which indicates, “Keep on rejoicing—don’t ever stop rejoicing.” Really, is there any need to stop rejoicing if we are in the Lord? The very fact that we are in the Lord is cause for rejoicing, continual rejoicing. But that is the key—we must make sure we are in the Lord. You know, the phrase “in the Lord,” “in Christ,” or “in him” is a phrase that is used over and over again by the apostle Paul. He understood the joy and the blessing of being in Christ. That should take precedence over every desire of our heart—that is, the desire to be in Christ, to “be found in him,” as he said in verse 9, to be found in Christ.

But to be in Christ, we must make certain that we have done those things that will put us into Christ. We must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; Jesus said, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). Beyond that, we must be willing to repent; for Jesus said, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish” (Luke 13:3). We must confess our faith in Christ and confess that Christ is Lord; that is “the good confession”—that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father. Jesus said, “Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). And that confession is made before we are baptized into Christ, also commanded by Jesus, who said in Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Now, when we have done those things, we may be found “in Him,” “in Christ.” Baptism is the culminating step of faith that puts us into Christ. Baptism is a part of faith; it is not separated from faith, but baptism is a part of the obedient faith that puts us into Christ. How we need to understand that today!

Listen again to the words of the apostle: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). It is so clear! Now, is it imperative that we be in Christ? The answer is yes. Yet, how do we get there? How do we get into Christ? Paul said, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.” That is the culminating step of faith—baptism into Christ. And there is no sacrifice in doing those things. How difficult are those things? Of course, we must sacrifice by doing those things, in the sense that, once we have done them, we know then that we are new creatures: “the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). And, as new creatures, we take up our crosses daily and follow Jesus Christ. Paul had to do that, but he did it gladly.

In this third chapter of Philippians, Paul said in verse 4, “though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh: if any other man thinketh to have confidence in the flesh, I yet more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; as touching zeal, persecuting the church; as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.” (Philippians 3:4-6). He had all those things. He had the respect and admiration of his religious peers; yet, he was willing to give all of that up and more—“Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ.” The point is, he counted the past things but dung, and he continued to count all things but loss. He would continue to sacrifice whatever was necessary, in other words, in order to have “excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,” to be “found in him,” and to “know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death.” Paul said he had sacrificed all of those things and he would continue to sacrifice whatever it took to be found in Christ.

But, you know, Paul said he hadn’t made it yet; he had not “arrived.” He realized that he was always growing, he had to move forward. Thus, in verse 13 of this great chapter, he said, “Brethren, I count not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you: only, whereunto we have attained, by that same rule let us walk. Brethren, be ye imitators together of me, and mark them that so walk even as ye have us for an ensample. For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:13-18).

In other words, as you see us walking in the faith, so you walk in the faith. There are many who are not walking in the faith, he said in verse 18. They are enemies of the cross, but you follow our example as we follow Christ. In another passage, Paul said, “Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ” 1 Corinthians 11:1.

And why should we do all of this? Why should we make these sacrifices? Because there is something far greater than this life. In verse 20 of this chapter, Paul said, “For our citizenship is in heaven”—there is the key. We look toward Heaven. We look toward something beyond this temporary world, this transient earth. “For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21). Paul said, “I have my mind set on things above, not on things of the earth,” as he admonished in Colossians.

What about you? What about your citizenship? Where are your aspirations and hopes? Where is your treasure? Jesus said, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” For the Christian, his citizenship is in Heaven. Yours may be also. If you are not a Christian, believe that he is the Christ, the Son of the living God; repent of your sins; confess Him as Christ and Lord; be buried with Him in baptism for the remission of sins; and He will add you to his church, the spiritual body, where you may labor faithfully unto death. And, as you do, you may have assurance of that ultimate home of the soul, where your citizenship lies—not in this world, but in the next.