Lost Something? (Philippians 3:7-14)

What have you lost lately? Some money? During the past 6 years or so, lots of folks have lost a lot of money.

Your home? In this recent financial crisis, so many have lost their home either to the bank or simply because they could no longer afford it.

The company I worked for years ago was hired by a few law firms to go read the foreclosure sales of houses at the courthouse steps. I was the man that had to go and stand there and read from a script the words that the law required in order to take away a home and return it to the bank. At these foreclosures, anyone could bid as a buyer if they had the cash, so I would sometimes see a buyer or two actually bid on the property, so they bought the house instead of the bank.

I vividly remember one day an elderly lady came up along with a younger gal, probably her daughter or a family member, to hear me read the script. It was raining a bit that day, so they shared an umbrella to stay dry. Since there was just the three of us there and I hadn’t started reading yet, I asked her if she was a buyer. No, she said, this was her home I was foreclosing. She just couldn’t believe it was really happening and wanted to see it for herself.

This poor woman couldn’t afford her house payments for one reason or another. Perhaps it was her health and medical bills, maybe she’d been unemployed for some time. Maybe she’d been taken advantage of by a predatory lender, or sometimes folks simply borrow more than they should. Regardless, I was the one chosen to stand there in the damp drizzle and read from the document that took away her home, while this woman watched me and wept.

Paul writes to us about loss in Philippians 3.

    Vs 7-9 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence 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.

Paul is teaching the Philippian church what he has learned through his own experience. He was once a powerful figure in the Hebrew and Roman world. He was well educated in the Hebrew law, having been taught by one of the most respected instructors. {Acts 22:3 3 “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.”} The Apostle Paul was also respected by the Roman government as a chief persecutor of the young Christian church.

Yet here in this short book of Philippians we find Paul poor and completely without possessions of any kind. He writes from his prison cell, probably in Rome, a loving letter to this church in the town of Philippi. Paul owns virtually nothing other than the clothes on his back, everything he ever held has been stripped away from him.

    As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand.
    ~ Ecclesiastes 5:15

There is nothing in this world that we will take with us into the next. Of course, there is nothing here worth taking!

In this place, Paul finds incredible peace. He counts these things he has “lost” as the price he needed to pay in order to know Jesus better. As a matter of fact, Jesus Himself taught on this.

    Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
    Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. ~Matthew 13:44-46

Paul tells us that he chooses to “count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him”. He counts the possessions of this world as trash, worthless, of no value at all. It’s garbage to him in comparison to knowing Jesus. Not only that, Paul also knows that he brings nothing to God. He has no righteousness, no goodness of his own to offer The Lord. He says “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”.

If we could possibly be righteous without Jesus, it would only because we’d been able to obey every single letter of the law of God. We can’t do it. The law of God is vast, it’s deep, and it’s incredibly specific (look at the book of Leviticus alone!) Go read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and think about how many of those you’ve broken, then consider that God’s law is so much bigger than those ten.

    But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
    ~Romans 3:21-24

Without Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sin, we are completely unrighteous. Yet, once we have accepted his free gift of salvation from sin, we are completely righteous! He offers us His own righteousness – “even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe”.

To Know Jesus

    Vs 10-12 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

“To know Jesus is not the same as knowing His historical life; it is not the same as knowing correct doctrines regarding Jesus; it is not the same as knowing His moral example, and it is not the same as knowing His great work on our behalf.
– We can say that we know someone because we recognize them; because we can distinguish what is different about them compared to other people.
– We can say that we know someone because we are acquainted with what they do; we know the baker because we get our bread from him.
– We can say that we know someone because we actually converse with them; we are on speaking terms with that person.
– We can say that we know someone because we spend time in their house and with their family.
– We can say that we know someone because we have committed our life to them and live with them every day, sharing every circumstance as in a marriage.
– Yet beyond all this, there is a way of know Jesus Christ that includes all of these yet goes beyond them.” ~ Guzik

In order for us to know Jesus, all we need to do is believe and we will be saved.

    That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
    ~ Romans 10:9

Aren’t I Already Perfected Once I’m Saved?

“Just as a little child is a perfect human being, but still is far from perfect in all his development as man, so the true child of God is also perfect in all parts, although not yet perfect in all the stages of his development in faith.” (Muller)

“But while the work of Christ for us is perfect, and it were presumption to think of adding to it, the work of the Holy Spirit in us is not perfect, it is continually carried on from day to day, and will need to be continued throughout the whole of our lives.” (Spurgeon)

God has given us the perfect gift in His perfect Son to offer us a perfect eternal life. If we have accepted His free gift of salvation, we have been “perfected” in Jesus such that we can now go to live in a perfect heaven with our perfect Father. But while here on earth, God is still working in us and through us to do His will and shaping us into the person He wants.

Forget the Losses, Look Forward to the Future!

    Vs 13-14 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Have you ever heard someone talking about something of value that they used to own, and wistfully they say “I used to have a _______ just like that.” Then they go on to tell you why they had to sell it, or how they lost it. I’m sure I’ve even done that myself. I’ve heard folks say it about a boat, a car, a house, a Michael Jordan rookie basketball card, a job, and the list goes on and on. Paul tells us that one thing he has learned to do is to forget “those things which are behind”. He tells us to forget the losses. Move on. Look forward to what God has in store for us!

In the book of Genesis, God tells us the story of Lot and his family. They were in the terribly sinful city of Sodom and God had provided a way of escape for them. The Father was going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and He provided an angelic escort to take them out of the city before it’s destruction. The Lord was giving them a better future to look forward to, he was bringing them to a better place in another city.

    Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
    ~ Genesis 19:24-26

The point here is when God is taking you to a new place in life, Paul calls us to look forward! He calls this “reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Paul also tells us that he chooses to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. The goal or the finish line is eternity with Jesus. Keep your eyes on the prize.

    But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    ~ Romans 6:22-23

Check out these other great resources:

Believing Without Seeing

Let It Go and Tend the Sheep

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