Do we go to heaven because of our race, social status or our parents? Does our education, good works and religious observances mean that we are closer to God? Some think so. Paul explains that although he used to put confidence in these very things, but now his joy and confidence come from knowing Christ.
4 I could have confidence in myself if anyone could. If others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!
SPIRITUAL CONFIDENCE IS NOT FOUND IN
- My Rituals
5 For I was circumcised when I was eight days old,
Paul says “I was circumcised on the eight day, of the people of Israel.” We have our own rituals today, sacraments, baptism, communion, catechism, etc. Never confuse the symbol with the substance. Rituals do not bring salvation only a relationship with Christ.
- My Heritage
having been born into a pure-blooded Jewish family
Don’t trust in heritage. Have you ever heard anyone say, “Daddy’s a Christian, My mom was a believer, My uncle was a pastor? ” You can get religion from your family but you can’t get Christ unless you accept him yourself.
- My Social Status
that is a branch of the tribe of Benjamin.
Benjamin was a noble tribe Israel. Paul was named after the first king, Saul, who was a Benjamite.
- My Traditions
So I am a real Jew if there ever was one!
No religious group or denomination has a copyright on truth or a patent on God.
- My Religion
What’s more, I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law.
Don’t trust in religion. Paul was a religious person. Paul kept all the rules. We think of the Pharisees as hypocrites but there were some genuine, sincere ones. They were the spiritually elite of that age. They took the Ten Commandments and expanded them into 619 other commandments. They were pros at religion. Jesus has nothing to do with religion. Religion is man’s attempt to get to God. Jesus Christ is God’s attempt to get to man. That’s a relationship and that’s a big difference.
- My Sincerity
6 And zealous? Yes, in fact, I harshly persecuted the church.
Maybe some of you think if your bad works are a minimum and are good works outnumber them then you will make it to heaven. But God doesn’t grade on a curve. He judges by a perfect standard — Jesus Christ. To be good enough to get to God you’d have to be as good as God.
- My Obedience (to the law)
And I obeyed the Jewish law so carefully that I was never accused of any fault.
Today we have people saying; “I read the Bible, I go to church…”The point is there is nothing wrong with any of these things. The problem is thinking that they give me points with God, and they don’t.
In all of the religious accomplishments Paul mentions in verse 4, God is not mentioned once. You can be religious and not know Christ. If you have religion and no relationship, you don’t have Christianity, you have “churchianity.” The answer to your problems and America’s problems is not religion. It is a person, Jesus Christ.
MY CONFIDENCE IS FOUND IN…
- Knowing Christ
7 I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Paul says his number one goal in life is to know Christ better and better. How well do you know Jesus Christ? I know a lot of Christians who have been Christians, 5, 10, or more years and they really don’t know Jesus Christ well. There is a big difference between knowing and knowing about.
Never stop growing and developing your relationship with Christ. So many Christians stay too close to where they “got in” to the Christian life. They haven’t grown one bit since they made that initial decision.
Paul says that his number one ambition in life is to know Christ at the end of his life. He’s in jail in Rome. He’s getting ready to die. He knew Christ already, but he wanted to know Him even better.
I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ
The translators here are being polite, delicate. “Garbage” and “rubbish” are not the words. The word in Greek is the word for “dung”, “manure”.
“Public bathrooms were not uncommon in ancient Roman cities. This one is a good illustration for Paul’s reference to scubalon, or human waste.” This latrine is where the dung goes. Paul writes that his religious and past experiences go better in the latrine that equating them to Christlikeness.
COMPARED TO CHRIST, EVERTHING ELSE IS…
Paul points out that life consists of trade-offs. That’s an important lesson you must learn in life. He said he gave up something in order to gain something else. He gave up his religion in order to have a relationship.
What I got is worth more than everything I gave up. You give up guilt and gain a clear conscious. You give up worry and gain a power for living. You give up frustration and lack of purpose in life and gain real meaning and purpose in life. You give up going to hell and gain going to heaven. You gave up trying to solve all your problems in your own power and gain having the resources of God to help solve your problems. That’s a pretty good trade-off!
What are you afraid of giving up for God? If you become a Christian, get really committed to Christ, really live for Jesus Christ, what are you afraid is going to change in your life that you don’t want to give up? Whatever that is, that is the very thing that needs to be given up.
9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead!
Like Paul, I want to know Christ. How about you?
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