INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:
Background to Philippians…
The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).
Some of the main divisions of the book include:
1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2
2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11
3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26
4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18
5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30
6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11
7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21
8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9
9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20
10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23
Php 3:4-7 – “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Paul then explains that he should be able to rely upon his fleshly background and works to merit salvation.
He then gives us a list of some of the things that our flesh would look to merit salvation…
Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
1. Circumcised the eighth day, – Paul had the outward marking that identified him as a member of God’s physically chosen nation. He was a participant in the religious rites and observances commanded by God.
2. of the stock of Israel, – Paul, in actuality, was a member of God’s physically chosen nation.
3. of the tribe of Benjamin, – Paul was a member of the tribe that possessed the land area surrounding Jerusalem, the home of the worship place of God.
4. an Hebrew of the Hebrews; – Both of his parents could trace their lineage back through Abraham. He was not only a Jew but “doubly” a Jew.
5. as touching the law, a Pharisee; – He was a member of the most religiously strict group of the Jews. He was an interpreter, and observer of the laws of God.
6. Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; – He burned within to persecute those who opposed the teachings of the Jews.
7. touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. – His testimony among the public was spotless. No one could accuse him of publically breaking God’s laws.
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”
All of these fleshly attributes that Paul, and the Jewish world, considered “religious” and pleasing to God, actually did nothing to attain the favor of God. Paul’s pursuit of these merits was only lost time and effort for the cause of Christ.
How sad it is to hear of Paul’s excessive attempts to curry favor with the Lord, only to come to an understanding that all His efforts were of no avail. He had conformed to, and excelled in, all the religious requirements of the day only to find them to be wasted efforts to please the Lord.
This example from Paul’s life brings to our mind two very important questions…
First of all, as fallen mankind, “Are we trusting in Christ as our Savior and Lord, or are we relying on the efforts of our sinful flesh and the religious requirements of the world to secure forgiveness and eternal blessings for us?”
Secondly, as Christians, “How often do we find ourselves laboring under the religious expectations of this fallen world, instead of simply living our lives to honor and glorify Christ in all we do?”
May the Lord give us the grace to come to an honest personal assessment of our spiritual condition and our outward labors for Christ.
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