Too many Christians get wrapped up in “things” and lose the joy and peace they ought to have in Christ. They “mind earthly things” (3:19) and lack that spiritual mind of the dedicated believer. Notice how many times the word “things” is used in this chapter. Here Paul describes the spiritual mind—the mind that thinks God’s thoughts and is directed toward God’s goals. (See Rom. 8:1–17) In this chapter, Paul describes a full biography of the Christian life (this post contains part 1 of 2).
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Salvation: The Christian’s Past (3:1–11)
Paul was religious before he was saved, but his religion could not save him. He had to lose his religion in order to find eternal life! He begins this chapter by warning the believers against religion apart from Christ. The Jews called the Gentiles “dogs,” but here Paul uses the term “dogs” to describe the Jewish teachers who emphasized circumcision and keeping the Law. True worship is in the Spirit and not in the flesh; it honors Jesus Christ, not religious leaders; it depends on God’s grace, not on man’s strength. How much of what passes for the Christian faith in this world is really only fleshly religion?
A. Paul’s Past Glories – Counted as Loss (vv. 4-6).
Paul had the best possible reputation as a Jewish rabbi. In birth and training, he far surpassed all of his friends. He was sincere too; his Jewish religion meant life and death to him. So sincere was he that he even persecuted those who differed with him. If any man could get to heaven on the basis of character and religion, it was Paul—and yet he was a lost sinner apart from Jesus Christ! When he met Christ, he considered all of his earthly and fleshly attainments mere rubbish! “I counted” (v. 7) is the way he puts it. He measured carefully, took inventory of himself, and decided that all of his religion and worldly honors were not worth it. He wanted Christ!
What did Paul obtain through faith in Christ? Righteousness, for one thing (v. 9). Paul had plenty of legal righteousness (v. 6), but he lacked that true righteous-ness that God demands and that He alone can give. It is one thing to be religious enough to get into the synagogue, and quite another to be righteous enough to get into heaven. Paul also obtained a personal knowledge of Christ. Salvation is not knowing about Christ; it is knowing Him (John 17:3). Paul also experienced resurrection power in his life. Added to these blessings was the privilege of suffering for Christ.
B. Paul’s Present Gains (vv. 7-11).
Finally, through Christ he was given a new promise: the “resurrection from the dead” (v. 11). The Jews believed in the resurrection, that is, a general resurrection at the end of the age; but Christ introduced a resurrection of the just out from among the dead. This is called the first resurrection.
1) How often do ‘things’ steal your joy? Do possessions give you joy? Is it lasting? What is the problem with stuff being the source of joy?
- 2) Paul warns against two extremes in our relationship with Christ:- Legalism – focus on works (v1-11) & Liberalism – lawless and free (12-21) Paul’s natural bend was toward legalism. To which are you naturally bent?
- 3) We need the truth repeated to us over and over again (v1). Rev. 22:15 says ‘dogs’ are people/things that promote lies / myths. What lie is a dangerous dog that you need to stay far away from? What truth gives you safety?
- 4) What are three signs of a true Christian? (v3)- ___________ God in the spirit
– ___________ in Jesus Christ
– No confidence in the ___________
- 5) In verses 4-6, the Apostle cites seven reasons that he might be self-confident.- If you had to make a list, what would be your top 2-3?
– Do you find that these take away from your dependence on God?
- 6) What does it mean that Paul counted the good things as loss? (v7-8)
- 7) Being ‘found in Him’ means (v8):- no more self-____________________ (according to the law) – only the __________________ (which is by faith)
8) Paul suffered loss to gain ‘knowing Him’ (v10):
– DEATH: the fellowship of His ________________
– BURIAL: conformable unto His ______________
– _________________: the power of the empty tomb
9) What did he have to lose to gain all this? Was his loss worth it?
What is God calling you to ‘lose’ so that you can gain something greater?
10) What is the main take-away for you out of this lesson?