D My Prize – Christ
Watch out for false teachers
1: Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. 2: Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 3: For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 4: 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: 5: 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; 6: Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7: But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8: Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9: And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11: If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Paul says ‘finally’, even though he still is only half way through! What is the chief exhortation of this book? It is a call to ‘rejoice in the Lord’. Do you rejoice in the Lord? The level of our joy is the barometer of our spiritual life! John says in his first letter, ‘I write these things unto you that your joy might be full’. Is you joy full? You might ask, What is joy? Joy is the deep overpowering enjoyment of Gods blessing and approval on your life. It’s the smile of God that lights up the soul. It’s the happiness of knowing that one is loved by God. Paul says it is no hardship for me to write to you and my writing to you makes you safe in your Christian lives, because l can warn you of ‘dogs’. This word dog is used metaphorically (Rev. 22:15), of those whose moral impurity will exclude them from the New Jerusalem. Paul uses the word to describe those Judaisers who followed him wherever he went teaching christians that they were to keep the Mosaic law and be circumcised. He calls them ‘mutilators of the flesh’. Paul makes a point that we the church are the true spiritual circumcision, because we worship the Lord in the Spirit and we give glory to God not ourselves and we put no confidence in the flesh. I have meet many christians who are legalistic. They are insufferable in their arrogance and full of themselves rather than lacking confidence in the flesh. Why is that? Because law keeping produces too responses in the human heart - poverty of spirit or a haughty spirit. These men were not humbled by the law they were arrogant and their pride in their ability to please God produced self confidence – in buckets! In the flesh Paul had naturally a great deal to be confident about
Paul lists his credentials…
1. Circumcised on the eighth day, - not everyone was circumcised on the eighth day but the very strict Jews did this exactly as commended. He had the right rite.
2. Of the people of Israel – The AV says ‘of the stock of Israel’. In other words it was his breeding! Paul was very proud of his Jewish heritage. He felt he was of the aristocracy.
3. Of the tribe of Benjamin – This was the favoured tribe. It was the tribe of his names sake King Saul.
4. A Hebrew of Hebrews – Paul was proud of his ability to speak Hebrew. Not all Jews spoke Hebrew many spoke Aramaic.
5. In regard to the law, a Pharisee – Paul was of the sect of the Pharisees whose interpretation of the law was the best in Israel.
6. As for zeal, persecuting the church – Paul felt that the persecution to death of christians was in fact in the service of God
7. As for legalistic righteousness, faultless. – The word should be blameless – before men and God in the flesh. There is a great deal of difference between being faultless and blameless. Paul knew he was not without fault but there was nobody in the nation that could accuse him of blame in public life. Paul was a law abiding Jew who lived in all good conscience before God. In the flesh Paul had naturally a great deal to be confident about. Paul though he does not despise his Jewish heritage puts all his breeding and legalistic righteousness on the dung hill! Why? Because in this present age being a Jew holds no standing before God in honour. The Jews are in a state of rejection of their Messiah. In fact Paul says that in order for a Jew to be saved he must come down off the place of privilege and honour to sit in the gutter with the defiled and ignorant Gentiles. Only then can he know the grace of God. The Grace of God today goes out to the outcasts, the unclean, the sinners of the gentiles who are outside of the Covenants and strangers to God. These despised heathens are the people to whom the Gospel calls. Its not a call to the rich or the religious or even the honourable law keepers. It’s a call to the homeless and helpless. It’s a message heard in the streets and lanes of the city. And the message is…’Christ died for you’ and the sinner responds, ‘Christ died for me’. And at that moment the sinner is saved.
The vilest offender who truly believes
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
He says…When Christ comes l want to be found ‘in him’, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (There was a righteousness of the law. It was an external righteousness based on keeping the law to the best of mans ability. However honourable as this was no man was justified before God on the basis of his law-keeping. He was however designed as a righteous man. In Hebrew the word is Tzaddik - meaning a righteous man.) Paul says this is not the righteousness that he rests in but he rather rests in the righteousness of God which comes to the believer in Christ only by virtue of his faith in Christ. Paul now describes his ambition. He says l want to realise Christ in my life in three ways. 1. The Power of his resurrection. This is the almighty power of god demonstrated in raising Christ from the dead. This power of God is available to the Christian to enable them to live the Christian life. 2. The fellowship of his suffering. This is the association of Christ in the suffering which he endured. Its not just persecution, its spiritual, physical and social suffering with Christ. 3. Becoming like him in his death. Oh that Paul might be able to actualise the death of Christ over the old nature and sin. This he longs for. The second phrase has been a problem for many. Paul is discussing his personal path in life with God and the deepest experiences of God that he longs for. He says, ‘At the resurrection of the dead l would like to have attained to this path of life’.