I’ve Got Confidence (Philippians 3:4-11)
Confidence is a wonderful asset.
In this passage, the Judiazers were causing problems. They were basing their confidence on circumcision-on a fleshly act. Paul says, “OK, you want to talk about confidence; let’s do it!”
Based on the Flesh, vv 4-6
Paul said that he had more reason to put confidence in the flesh than others.
He was circumcised on the eighth day. This was in accord with God’s covenant. This covenant was made to Abraham (Gen 17:12). It was repeated in the Law of Moses (Lev 12:3). Paul said that he was superior to: Proselytes circumcised in adulthood and Ishmaelites circumcised at age 13.
He was of the stock of Israel. Israel was the covenant people of God. Paul said that he was part of the people of God.
He was of the tribe of Benjamin. The tribe of Benjamin was special. Of the patriarchs, only Benjamin was born in the Promised Land. Benjamin was the son of Rachael, Jacob’s favorite wife. The first king of Saul, as evil as he was, was from the tribe of Benjamin. Only this tribe had remained faithful to David. Paul says, “I am from a special tribe.”
He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. Both Paul’s parents were Hebrews. It wasn’t all that uncommon for Jews to have a mixed heritage. Timothy is a case in point. Paul wasn’t of a mixed race; he was a Hebrew.
He was a Pharisee. The Pharisees devoted themselves to keeping the Law as perfectly as possible. Even Jesus said that one should do what the Pharisees taught (Matt 23:3). Paul says, “I have devoted my life to following God’s Law.”
He was zealous. The Jews considered zeal one of the greatest attributes a person could have-it determined his faithfulness. Paul says, “I was zealous; I persecuted the church.” In other words, Paul loved God so much that he wanted to stamp out those he considered God’s enemies. Paul wanted to do right.
He was blameless. Paul kept the Law so closely that he could say that he was blameless. He kept the minute details of the Law the best that he could.
We-at times-might be tempted to put some confidence in the flesh. We’re Americans. We have good things-a good salary, good house, good car, good clothes, etc.
Based on Christ, vv 7-11
Paul’s going to tell us from where real confidence comes.
This confidence is valuable. Paul counted his gains as loss. Paul had gains-he was well thought of by Jews. Paul counted them as loss for Christ-they didn’t matter compared to Christ. Paul counted all things loss for Christ. Paul said all things-anything you want to bring up-were loss for knowing Christ. Paul had suffered the loss of all things for knowing Christ-nothing was more valuable than he. Jesus was the most important possession to Paul. What is more important in your life than Jesus? What do you need to give up to have him?
This confidence comes from faith. Paul wanted to be found in Christ not having his own righteousness. Paul knew he couldn’t measure up. Romans 3:23. Paul wanted the righteousness which comes through faith in Christ. We’re talking about obedient faith-faith causes one to act. This righteousness isn’t the result of ourselves; it is the righteousness of God. “Dressed in his righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.”
This confidence results in fellowship.
- With Christ. Paul wanted to know Christ intimately, not just know about him. Paul wanted to walk with Christ.
- With the power of his resurrection. This is the power that enables us to walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4.
- With his sufferings. Paul knew suffering. Everyone who believes in Christ will suffer in some way (2 Tim 3:12).
- With his death. Sharing in the sufferings of Christ involves putting the one life to death (Col 3:2-5). We can’t live the same way before our conversion that we lived before it.
This confidence allows one to obtain the resurrection from the dead. This is the hope of the Christian’s life. Our lives point toward the resurrection.
In this passage, Paul talks about what he gave up to serve Christ. What are you willing to give up to serve Christ?
This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at the Owingsville church of Christ in Owingsville, Kentucky.