How did a committed Jew become a Christian? Well, of course, there are a number of such examples down through history, but one of the most significant is found in the Bible in the life of the apostle Paul. And Paul tells us why he converted to becoming a Christian in this section of Philippians chapter three.
Of course, we can find other accounts with a different perspective, other angles on what happened to him in other parts of the New Testament. But this is a very important passage to help us explain who Paul was and what Paul became and why and how he became a follower of Christ. Now, as you know, the section opens with a denunciation of what we have come to call Judaizers, a term not found in the Bible, but it has been selected down through the years as an appropriate term to describe those who are found throughout the pages of the New Testament many times, those who are Jewish in upbringing and background, who have become Christians at least by their profession, though by the proclamation of their message that becomes very doubtful that they become true Christians. But they are Jewish Christians who are endeavoring to add the mosaic works of the law into the gospel and proclaim that to others as the true gospel of Jesus Christ. And of course, it is an abominable gospel. It is a distortion of the gospel. It is no gospel at all.
It is a false message hatched in hell, which will destroy the souls of men and women if they believe it. And that's why Paul denounces it with such fierce language in the first part of this chapter. And so Paul shows us why he considers such men to be extremely dangerous.
That is, those who proclaim that you must be circumcised after the law of Moses in order to be saved and generally also add other things like the mosaic dietary laws to their requirements. And Paul understands them thoroughly because he used to be one of them. If anyone embraced the mosaic law as the way of righteousness, it was Paul. And yet he renounced all that to become a follower of Jesus Christ. And he shows us that in our passage for today. He explains how it was that he came to renounce their teaching. And in the process, he explains to us more clearly the gospel of sovereign grace. And so we are looking at verses four through nine today and we shall see number one Paul's claim, number two Paul's credentials, and number three Paul's conclusion. His claim is stated very simply in verse four. Though I also might have confidence in the flesh.
If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so. This is breaking into the middle of a sentence. It is answering the Judaizers.
And Paul is temporarily adopting their reasoning to demonstrate their folly. You are boasting in your works of the law. The mosaic law will let me tell you I can do the same. I can boast in these same things as much as you can. In fact, I can boast in these things more than most of you can, maybe more than any of you can. Paul's claim is a boastful claim. It is a foolish claim, but it is a didactic claim.
He's taking this position, this posture, in order to show them the error of this teaching. So we could simply break down verse four into two parts if we want to. Number one, Paul's equal claim and number two, Paul's superior claim. In the first part of the verse he says, I can equal their righteousness. The important words there are the two words, I also.
I also can claim the same legal righteousness that they can. Though I also might have confidence in the flesh. Just like these Judaizers who have confidence in the flesh. And it is important to realize that Paul switches pronouns from we to I. He's been talking in terms of we, we who are Christians, we who are a part of the church at Philippi, writing, of course, to members of that church. But now when he comes to this claim, he switches from we to I because most of these people that he's writing to don't know anything about the legal righteousness which comes by the law. Moses, they're Gentiles by background. They can't really relate to what Paul is saying. They haven't had an experience in a background like Paul's.
In fact, they have difficulty relating to the background of the Judaizers that come to them. But nevertheless, there's something seductive about their message, something that is attractive in their appeal. In fact, there's something seductive in all such similar messages to us today. There's something within us that would like to do something that we're capable of doing and take credit for that and be proud of that and offer that to God as our merit, our reason for claiming salvation in the place in heaven. There is this Adamic sinfulness that is proud and self-righteous that loves to grasp onto something like this. But Paul says, I can equal their claims in a way that very few others can.
His claim is equal to theirs. I also could have confidence in the flesh, if that were appropriate. In fact, he goes on to say in the last part of the verse, I can excel the righteousness which most of these false teachers claim. I more so, I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so.
I can do it better than they can. Paul's claim to legal righteousness exceeded theirs. Now the question is, why does Paul even make such a claim? Why does he say anything like this when he knows that it's contrary to a proper understanding of the gospel? Well, we find him doing this a number of times in a number of epistles, so it's obviously important.
It's a necessary refutation to those who are false teachers, and it's a necessary element of information and background understanding to the people he's writing to, so that they'll understand what these false teachers are saying and why it must be rejected. But I wouldn't be at all surprised if lurking in Paul's mind, and perhaps he's even heard words like this spoken, to say something like, well, the reason Paul rejects our message is because he can't do it. He can't embrace this kind of righteousness. He's not up to it.
He doesn't qualify. We're setting a standard that Paul can't meet. And so, because he can't meet it, he denigrates it, and he poo-poos it, and he tells you to pay no attention to it, Paul said, oh, no. I can equal your claims to Mosaic self-righteousness. I can excel your claims to Mosaic self-righteousness. He answers the charges that he opposes this teaching because he can't measure up, because he can measure up. He does measure up. And Paul is saying, in effect, if you follow the reasoning of these Judaizers, which I'm warning you not to do, but if you follow the reasoning of these Judaizers and start comparing self-righteousness based upon the law of Moses, I win.
I beat them all. That's Paul's claim. Now, is it a valid claim? That brings us to the second part, which is Paul's credentials in verses 5 and 6, which turn out to be very impressive credentials in the realm of Jewish works' righteousness. Verse 5, circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, concerning the law, a Pharisee, concerning zeal, persecuting the church, concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. Seven items that Paul lists here.
The first three have to do with what he inherited by birth, and the second three have to do with what he achieved by personal effort. Paul's credentials, first of all, by birth and their foreign number. Circumcision, stock of Israel, tribe of Benjamin, Hebrew of the Hebrews. Paul tells us, first of all, that he was circumcised the eighth day. Literally, and this makes it even more clear what he's saying, he says, literally it is an eighth dayer, an eighth dayer. Paul says, I, when it comes to circumcision, I'm an eighth dayer. Well, why is that important? Well, because all of these people that were coming under the sway of the Judaizers, and we don't know how many of them had done that in Philippi, maybe none so far, but some had across the Roman world, all of those who came under the sway of the Judaizers and submitted to circumcision didn't make it on the eighth day.
Too late for that. It was possible to be circumcised as a proselyte, to come under the law of circumcision, to qualify as a circumcised person on some other day than the eighth day. But real Jews who have had this from the beginning in their background and lineage were circumcised on the eighth day. That's the day that God prescribed to Abraham to circumcise his son, Isaac. Now, when he circumcised Ishmael, Ishmael was 13 years old.
That came a good bit later. But the eighth day turned out to be the appropriate day. It's enshrined in the law of Moses. All the Jews were instructed to circumcise their sons on the eighth day after birth. Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day. An eighth dayer would have a pretty high claim to Jewish righteousness. He did it on the very best day possible.
Circumcised the eighth day. He's not a proselyte, like many of the Judaizers are who have come into Judaism from a different background. Number two is his credential by birth. Of the stock of Israel. That tells us that he is a Jew descended from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Jacob, of course, had his name changed to Israel, and that's where the name Israel comes from, that applies to the whole nation. But there were other sons of Abraham who were sons of Abraham, and some of them were even circumcised. And some of their descendants even followed the practice of circumcision, such as the Ishmaelites, who continued to circumcise their sons.
However, like their father Ishmael, they circumcised their sons when they turned 13 rather than on the eighth day, because they were following a tradition rather than divine instructions. But Paul says, I am of the stock not only of Abraham and of Isaac, but of Jacob, of Israel. In other words, he is demonstrating his pedigree that it goes through the right line, the line of promise that God had given. And he says, number three of these four credentials that came to him by birth, I am of the tribe of Benjamin.
Now, this tells us a lot of things. Number one, it tells us that Paul knew his tribe. Not all Jews did.
Some of the records have been lost over the years and in the dispersions and so forth. And there were others who did, and we find several references to tribal identity in the New Testament. The idea that all of the Jews, except maybe Judah and Benjamin, had lost their identity, the ten lost tribes of Israel idea, is not quite as strong, not quite as valid as sometimes thought, though there is an element of truth and information there that's important historically to understand what has gone on with them.
But certainly Paul didn't fit into that category. He knew exactly what tribe he was from. He is of the tribe of Benjamin. Unlike many of these Judaizers who could not tell you what tribe they're from, most of them probably couldn't, and unlike any of the proselytes who adopted their teaching and were circumcised in order to meet their requirements, their demand for circumcision, no proselyte could claim a tribe of Israel that he had come from.
But Paul said, I can. I'm of the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin, as you know, was the second favorite son of Rachel, the first being Joseph. Jacob had twelve sons from four different wives, two wives and two concubines.
A concubine is a wife of a lower level. We won't get into all that explanation now, but he had twelve sons from four different wives. But as we know, his favorite wife was Rachel. She only had one son, or he only had one son.
Forget who I'm talking about here. Am I talking about Jacob or am I talking about Rachel? But Jacob only had one son from Rachel for many, many years, namely Joseph, and then down toward the end of her life and even toward the latter years of his life, another son was born, Benjamin, that Jacob named son of my right hand, and that was a very special son, the son of Rachel. And Paul says, I'm of that line. I'm of that tribe. I'm not only an Israelite that can identify my tribe, but the tribe that I belong to is one of the favored tribes. It is the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin, by the way, was the tribe of the first king of Israel, whose name was Saul. And who do you suppose that Paul's parents named him after? What was the name they gave him? Saul. It was changed later to Paul, as we know. But his parents gave him the name Saul.
Why do you suppose they did that? Because of the connection to King Saul of the tribe of Benjamin. This was very important to them.
His family was very proud of this. And the tribe of Benjamin remained loyal to David's line when the other 10 tribes rebelled against that line. And therefore, what Paul is saying is, if these Judaizers are pointing to their Jewish lineage as a matter of pride, I think I can beat them.
I think I can beat them. Let's let's lay down these these facts side by side and see who has the strongest claim to Jewish lineage in your heritage, in your birth line. And finally, he says, I'm a Hebrew of the Hebrews.
We've heard that phrase many times. We understand that it means something like a real Hebrew, a strong Hebrew. But what specifically is that getting at? And that appears to be a reference to Saul, Paul, being a Hebrew son of Hebrew parents, a Hebrew of the Hebrews. Some who are of the nation of Israel would have come from a family that may be only one parent, father or mother was actually born a Jew, the other one having been brought in by way of marriage and by way of proselytization. But Paul could say, I am the Hebrew son of Hebrew parents, which also indicates that he was a natural Hebrew speaker from his home from a lineage of Hebrew speakers. Now, Paul was a brilliant man and he spoke a number of languages, but he was born into a Hebrew home. Not all the Jews could claim that many of them in that day were born into homes that spoke Greek. The Hebrew language was slipping away from some of them.
They were trying to hold on to it, but it wasn't the first language of many of them. But it was of Paul. I am a Hebrew of the Hebrews.
Match that if you can. And so Paul is demonstrating that he is as Jewish as it's possible to become. He's from a very select group of Jews.
When you start looking at all his Jewish credentials, it would be hard to find anybody who could match them all. It's no wonder he says, I more so. I also can claim the same kind of pedigree that these Judaizers can.
In fact, I can beat it more so. I can demonstrate a greater pedigree than they can. And here's the evidence.
Here's the credentials. And so Paul gives us credentials from his birth, which he, of course, was not responsible for. His parents are responsible for all of these things, I guess you could say, as a manner of speaking. But we all are born into families, and we all have a lineage and parentage, and sometimes that becomes a matter of particular pride. How many times I talk to people and say, I can trace my lineage back to the Mayflower.
Well, bully for you. But that's pretty important to some people, isn't it? I'm glad your father didn't fall off and drown. I'm glad that you could trace your lineage back to the Mayflower. But that's kind of important in America to some people at least, particularly if you live in New England.
There seems to be more emphasis on that there. So Paul is saying, okay, let's look at Jewish pedigree, and let's see who has the best one. I think I win.
Can anybody match this? I win from what my parents gave me. I was born into this.
But that's not all. I can tell you some other credentials that are by my own personal achievement, things I chose, things I did. And he lists three of those, the first one in the last part of verse five and two in verse six. And he says, number one, I am a Pharisee, or was. Number two, I am what I will call a mover and a shaker, and I'll explain that in a moment. And number three, I am a meticulous lawkeeper.
At least that's what I was in my former life. A Pharisee, a Pharisee, a Hebrew of all Hebrews, verse four, concerning the law, a Pharisee, a Pharisee. The term Pharisee means a separated one. The Pharisees separated themselves from, well, from anything that was Gentile. The Pharisees developed about 200 years before Christ during that intertestamental period.
And many of the Jews were imbibing Gentile influences and relationships during that period. And so there grew up this group of Jews, sometimes it's called a sect, S-E-C-T. I sometimes hesitate to use that term because we almost always identify that with a cult, something that is damaging and erroneous, but the term sect itself just simply means a group.
We could call this a denomination if we wanted to. In Christianity, there are Baptists and Presbyterians and Methodists and so forth. In the Jewish society, there were Pharisees and Sadducees and Herodians. They were different groups, different sects, S-E-C-T-S.
But the strictest one was the Pharisees. Their name Pharisee meant separated ones. They were separated from things Gentile.
They were separated from contamination. They were even separated from many in Jewish society who didn't follow quite the same level of separation they did. They were separated ones and very proud of their separation.
We know some people in Christianity today who go down that line. They are proud of their separation. They are more separated than anybody else and sometimes just as erroneously separated as the Pharisees. There's a proper separation, a biblical separation, and then there's a carnal separation. The Pharisees had devolved into carnal separation, hadn't they? But that was the strictest sect known for their exact adherence to the law and the many extras that were added to the law, which they were proud that they were willing to do that. We're not only willing to keep this law with all of its meticulous demands, but we're even willing to go above that.
That's how committed we are. That's how high our standard of righteousness. We are Pharisees. Usually, in our mind, the term Pharisee is a bad term. Christ denounced the Pharisees, didn't he? He called them hypocrites.
Why did sepulchre is full of dead men's bones and so forth? But in Paul's day, the Pharisees among the Jews were highly respected. They were not denigrated. They were not shunned.
That wasn't a bad name. That was not a bad name in Jewish society, far from it, just the opposite. The Pharisees were the most influential, the most highly respected group in Jewish society, because all of Jewish society had this legal mindset, and so even those who couldn't rise to the level of law keeping to become a Pharisee nevertheless respected those who did. The Sadducees were the compromises. The Sadducees intermingled with the Gentiles and particularly with the Roman government. That's how they rose to their positions of governmental influence.
They had more influence with Rome, and Rome protected them and gave them influence in Jewish society from the top down. But as far as the common people were concerned, the Sadducees didn't have that much respect among the common Jews, but the Pharisees did. Paul said, I was a Pharisee. Number two, what Paul did by personal achievement. Paul chose to become a Pharisee, and that required a lot of work on his part.
Number two, by personal achievement. Paul became what I've called a mover and a shaker. He says concerning zeal persecuting the church, and what I take that to mean is something like this. A lot of Jews, a lot of Pharisees spoke against the Christian faith, but most of them, for most of them, it was just so much talk. But with Paul, it was action. If this is wrong, as we all agree, then let's stop it. If you won't do anything about it, I will.
I can. And he did. His zeal for the Mesaic law, his zeal for works righteousness, his zeal for the Jewish understanding of righteousness in his day, which was entirely wrong, was unmatched by anyone. He not only followed and defended Jewish concepts of righteousness, but he persecuted, threw into jail, and even put to death those who dared to preach that salvation is through Jesus Christ in faith in him alone and not in works righteousness. He persecuted the church. As an aside, I just simply point out that when it says that Paul persecuted the church, here's a reference, a rare reference in the New Testament to the church universal.
That's an argument among some people, all kinds of different arguments. But there are even some Baptists, I'm ashamed to say it, there are some Baptists who will not admit that any of the references to church in the New Testament have to do with the church universal. They all have to do with the church local. Wrong.
And here's a pretty obvious example of it. When Paul was persecuting the church, which particular local church was he persecuting? Well, he was persecuting the church in Jerusalem. He was persecuting the church in Damascus. He was persecuting the church in other locations. He was persecuting Christians in a lot of different local churches. He was persecuting the church wherever he found it, wherever he could. That's the church universal. Enough said.
Move on. So number one, he's a Pharisee. Number two, he's a mover and a shaker. Number three, he was a meticulous lawkeeper concerning the righteousness, which is in the law, blameless. You're kidding.
That's right. Paul claims to have had a perfect record of law keeping in accord with, with the understanding of the Jews of his day. Even the highest and strictest group of the Jews, the Pharisees of his day. He had a record that was meticulous in his law keeping.
Now, to hear such a claim sounds surprising to us because we know better. We know that nobody keeps the law perfectly, but a lot of people in that day thought they did. And Paul was one of them.
He was convinced that he had kept the law of God perfectly in its strictest form. What this also means about Paul is that he was not a hypocrite. Christ announced the Pharisees who were hypocrites who said one thing and did another, who laid demands upon other people that they themselves would not follow.
But Paul wasn't of that sort. He was a sincere Pharisee who lived according to everything he believed and taught. And therefore, he could claim to have kept the law perfectly according to the understanding of his day.
He kept it perfectly according to those standards, but of course he didn't keep it perfectly according to God's standards. What his statement here does is give us insight into the Jewish way of thinking in that day. Paul clearly thought he was achieving salvation, achieving acceptable righteousness by the keeping of the law.
And he worked really hard to do that so that he could, in fact, achieve the righteousness that God required, the righteousness that he thought, erroneously, that he thought God required. It's obvious that that was Paul's thinking. It's obvious that that was the Pharisee's thinking. It's obvious that that was the thinking of most of the Jews of his day.
And so I break in with another aside. All I would need would be a text like this to tell me that the so-called new perspective on Paul that came down the pike 20 or 30 years ago is wrong. It was very popular for a while, N.T. Wright and others who propounded this and were highly respected. Oh, wow, a new angle, a new thought on Paul. And he was saying that it's a mistaken notion to think that the Jews in the first century were trying to achieve salvation by law keeping. That's not what it was all about.
It was all about boundary markers and so forth and so on and so on. And it's surprising how many people said, hey, yeah, that sounds good. Let's embrace that.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. You can you can know that's wrong because it's contrary to the Bible. There's some things that we hear that we really don't know how to analyze because we don't have any clear statements of scripture concerning.
But this one we do. We know what they thought. We know that they were trying to earn righteousness through the law. It wasn't boundary markers. It wasn't societal issues. It wasn't cultural issues.
Those things may have been there as a side matter, but it was right here. The heart of the matter was they were trying to gain righteousness by keeping the law. And nearly all of Jewish society was trying to do that.
It's clear. But in doing so, they failed to understand what God gave the law for. Divine intent in giving the law. Divine insight into giving the law. There are a lot of things that were wrong with what they were thinking.
One was their failure to consider the inward requirements of the law. They were just looking at outward things that other people could see, but very little examination of their heart. That's why Jesus Sermon on the Mount is such a powerful explanation. You've heard it has been said you shall not commit adultery outwardly. Well, good for me. I've never done that. Give me a give me a mark of righteousness. Have you ever had any lustful thoughts? Because if a man looks upon a woman for the purpose of lusting after her, he's committed adultery already in his heart.
Boom. There goes your claim to keeping that law. And you can go right down through the elements of the law and realize there's more to them than just what's on the outside. The real issue is the issue of the heart, isn't it? And God didn't give them to us because he had any idea that anybody could keep them. He knew we couldn't. Well, they are there for us to endeavor to keep. Why? Because God told us to. That's all it takes. But why did he tell us to? So that we would realize that we couldn't do it and cast ourselves upon the righteousness of Christ, realizing that we can't earn salvation by our own righteousness.
It's impossible. It's similar in many ways to the rich young ruler. Remember him? Luke tells us that now a certain ruler asked Jesus, saying, Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good?
There's no one good but one. That is God. You know, the commandments do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother. And he said, incredibly, all these things I have kept for my youth. He's like Paul was before the Damascus Road.
He thought he kept the law of God perfectly in his estimate. He had all these things I have kept for my youth. So when Jesus heard these things, he said to him, You still lack one thing.
Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven and come and follow me. Now, there are quite a few things that I think Christ was getting at there, but one of them was to show him that he hadn't quite met God's standard in regard to the law of covetousness. He might claim that he hadn't stolen and he hadn't lied. How could he possibly claim he hadn't lied?
But at least he hadn't borne false witness in court. I mean, you can always kind of soften the boundaries of these things to make them more achievable and so forth. But how about thou shalt not covet? That's the matter of the heart, isn't it? Thou shalt not steal is what you do because you coveted. You take something that you coveted after you've coveted it long enough that it causes you to steal. But before you ever do that, you coveted something in your heart. In other words, you sinned by not being content with what God gave you.
And you hold onto these things and they're more important to you than anything else and you're not willing to let them go. And that's what the rich young ruler had exposed. You say, was Christ telling him that the way to heaven is to sell everything you have and give to the poor? Is it a work of salvation?
No. Christ was telling him that you have to let go of all earthly things that you hold more important, that you hold more dear than Christ himself. That's what he's telling him. And he wouldn't do it.
Why? He had to covet his heart. He had a materialistic perspective.
And it's interesting that Paul says something similar. He says in another passage, in effect, I thought I was keeping the law pretty well until that one about covetousness came along and I thought about that for a while. And I realized I haven't kept that one. I have not had a heart free of covetousness.
That one slew me. That one showed me that I hadn't kept the law. And if there's one part of the law that I haven't kept perfectly, Paul was wise enough to know that that meant he couldn't earn salvation by works righteousness.
And so he was backed into a corner, wasn't he, if he hadn't kept it all perfectly. But you see, covetousness is not something that somebody else can point to. You can't look at me and say you've got a covetous heart unless I display it in some way like Christ forced with the rich young ruler.
You can't see that. So I can be pretty proud. I haven't committed adultery. I haven't cheated on my income taxes. I haven't stolen in this way or that way. I've kept the law of God. I've kept it. I'm righteous. Pat me on the back and give me a brownie point and give me a chair at the banquet table in heaven.
And that's not going to do it. Paul is saying that if anyone had credentials sufficient for salvation, he did, but he came to realize that those would not earn salvation. Those did not give him the required righteousness. Similar in many ways to Martin Luther.
You remember him, don't you? He said something like, if ever a monk could achieve righteousness by his monkishness, I did. He was more earnest, more zealous in good works than any of the others. And yet he realized it had not secured his peace with God. Paul came to realize the same thing. You can have a lot of things, but if you don't have Christ, you are going to hell. But I've got to move quickly now to number three, Paul's conclusion in verses seven, eight and nine. But what things were gained, formerly were gained to me? Those I have counted loss for Christ.
Yes, indeed, I also count. I continue to count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. My Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. What's Paul telling us? Well, he's telling us that human righteousness cannot save.
That's the truth stated negatively in verses seven and eight. Here's what cannot save you. And then he tells us in verse nine that only Christ's righteousness can save you. That's the positive statement of what does save. Human righteousness does not save. Christ's righteousness and Christ's righteousness alone does save. Human righteousness cannot save. Paul's credentials could not save him. What he formerly considered a credit to his account before God in heaven, he came to understand was actually a loss. It not only didn't give him credit with God in heaven, but it actually was subtracted from the righteousness that was required.
It's a loss. Interesting term. That term's only used here in the next twenty seven where it's used in that voyage of Paul when he was shipwrecked on his way to Rome. And it was a big cargo vessel and it had a big load of wheat and that wheat was very valuable. It was going to be sold for much money. But yeah, it was a great asset until the storm came. And now if they didn't toss it overboard, they were all going to perish. And so that which seemed like an asset suddenly became a deficit. It became a loss. If you don't get rid of this, you're doomed. And that's the way Paul is using it here. My righteousness, it seemed like an asset I came to realize was a loss.
If I don't get rid of this, I'm doomed. When Paul met Christ, he was enlightened as to true righteousness and everything that he had thought about his former righteousness was upended. It was gone.
It was destroyed. Not only the things in Paul's life, but any and all supposed credits on any list. That's why he says in verse eight, eight thing, all things for seven, the things what things were gained to me. These I have counted loss for Christ. That's the list of seven we just went over.
Yes, indeed. I also count all things loss. Go ahead and add to the list.
Add what you think ought to be on the list. Whatever you add, whatever you put on that list of what will earn righteousness. I want to tell you, it's all loss.
It's all a deficit. It'll take you to the bottom if you don't get rid of it, if you don't jettison it overboard. Paul counted it with rubbish, which means garbage or dung. And this speaks of, and we have to consider this, the time is going to squeeze me here, but this speaks of the requirement of relinquishing things in order to have Christ.
I'll get into that in a moment. But this is renunciation that was required in order to gain Christ. Christ cannot simply be added to what is already present. When we talk about what it means to believe in Christ, what it means to be saved by Christ, what it means to be saved because you are believing in Jesus Christ, it's not just a simple matter of saying, OK, now I believe in Christ, but I add him to everything else in my life. Paul makes it clear here that sometimes, in fact always, just different things in different lives, that there is a renunciation that accompanies our addition. We have to get rid of some things to be able to receive Christ.
Otherwise, we can't have him. So to answer the question, what must we give up in order to have Christ? The answer is in one way, nothing, and in another way, everything.
And both of those answers are correct, properly understood. What must we give up in order to have Christ? Nothing. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. You can't achieve it by anything else. But what must we give up in order to have Christ?
Everything. Because salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, and if you are holding on to anything else in addition to that, then you don't have Christ. You don't have salvation. Only Christ's righteousness can save. Human merit must be renounced. Not having a righteousness of my own from the law, Paul says in verse nine, we don't obtain Christ by effort. We obtain Christ by renouncing all our efforts. Alien righteousness must be embraced. That's a term that Martin Luther came up with. What do you mean alien righteousness?
One of those green things that comes out of a spaceship? Alien means foreign to you. What's the whole issue here? My righteousness, my law keeping, my pedigree, my birth, my circumcision, all of these things that I have done that have come from me. And all of those will take you to the bottom of the ocean of condemnation.
You've got to get rid of those. And in their place, you embrace Christ in him alone. That's an alien righteousness. The righteousness you need doesn't come from within you. The righteousness you need is outside of you, and it must be imparted to you. It must be given to you by God himself. It is the perfect righteousness of Christ, and if you don't have that, you don't have enough human righteousness to get to heaven.
And so I will quickly make a few statements before I close. Human works are unable to save anyone. But nearly every religion teaches works salvation, including most forms of misunderstood forms of Christianity. Most of the people in this world view salvation, if they're concerned about salvation at all, if they haven't completely renounced the whole idea of God and heaven and eternity.
But most of the people in the world who have any sense of eternity believe in a works salvation of one kind or another. The question isn't, do you believe in works? The question is, whose list of works do you believe in? We believe in this list. We believe in this list. We believe this is the way. We believe that is the way.
Renounce it all. Christ is the only way. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes into the Father but by me.
So what credentials are you trusting in? Did you come from a Christian family? That avails you? Nothing. Counted as loss. Did you grow up in a good church? That avails you? Nothing.
Counted as loss. Are you faithful in your giving? This goes back so many years, I think I can tell it.
Nobody will know who I'm talking about because it goes back more than 40 years. We have somebody who was attending our church very faithfully. And in a sermon I said something like this. Your tithing isn't going to get you to heaven.
If you're not born again by the Spirit of God, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you're wasting your money by tithing as far as going to heaven is concerned. And this man got so mad at me because he was a tither, they left the church. Not going to listen to that kind of malarkey, obviously revealing that he was trusting in his tithing to get him to heaven. He was proud of that. I hated to lose a tither, but I wanted someone to understand the truth.
Well, I hated for him to leave. He needed to hang around and get to understand the true gospel, didn't he? Are you trusting your giving to get you to heaven? You're going to hell, if that's all you're trusting.
Are you trusting your beauty, your good looks, your personality, your education, your acts of kindness and faithfulness and helping others? As good as those things may be on the human level, they will take you all to hell if you don't renounce them as your way of righteousness and cling to Christ alone. Because sin earns wages and is paid.
Those wages are paid according to our sins. But righteousness is given to the undeserving. You can't have it until you understand that you're undeserving of it. You can't have it unless you acknowledge that. You can't have that unless you're willing to let go of everything that you count important in your self-righteousness, because as long as you're holding on to that, you are not able to receive Christ.
You've got to let that go. And therefore, the title of my sermon today is A Converted Jew Tells Why. And we have learned why it was that Paul renounced all of this stuff that he was proud of and only gloried in Christ. Let's pray. Father, how important it is to understand this truth. We have no way of knowing who may be clinging to a work's righteousness and needs to renounce that. O God, by the work of your Spirit, help them to see that, help them to do that, help them to renounce all of that, help them to push their pride to the ground and to humble themselves before your mighty hand and accept Jesus Christ and Him alone with nothing else in their hand to bring, but simply to your cross to cling. We pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-28 03:22:18 / 2023-03-28 03:39:03 / 17