Paul's Spiritual Resume Rejected (Philippians Sermon 13 of 24)
January 25, 2004 | Andrew Davis
False Teaching & False Teachers
I. Introduction: The Spiritual Resumè
Perhaps no author in the 19th century captured the spirit of upward mobility which so inspired people from around the world as did Horatio Alger. Some of you have heard of Horatio Alger's stories. He was an American novelist, he was the son of a debt-ridden New England Unitarian minister, who then went into writing moralistic novels. He wrote 118 published in book form, over 280 novels produced in magazines, 500 short stories. He was certainly prolific. But his novels all followed a kind of a recipe. The titles were things like, Struggling Upward. I like that one. The Cash Boy or Joe the Hotel Boy, or The Errand Boy, or How Phil Brent Won Success, or Paul the Peddler, or Fortunes of a Young Street Merchant. Basically, these stories all followed the same recipe as follows, an adolescent boy with rural background sets off to earn his livelihood in an urban setting. He triumphs over circumstances and temptations and starts advancing in his career. At some point, he will be betrayed or falsely accused by one of his peers. Ultimately, the hero will be vindicated. While pluck and hard work play a role in the success of an Alger hero, there is always an older male who takes on the hero as his protege. That mentor plays a critical role in the success of the Alger hero.
The Alger hero never takes revenge on those who mistreated him. He secures what is rightfully his, but he is never vindictive. There's the story. You can do that again and again, and then get 118 novels out of it and it makes for interesting reading. But I think it also highlights an aspect of the American dream, the self-made man who pulls himself up by his bootstraps, who finds success by looking inward and finding greatness there, greatness he never knew was there. And so we became a nation of entrepreneurs, of enterprising people whose relentless vision for personal greatness propelled them to great heights of success, tamed a wilderness. It's how the West was won. America, a place where you could make something of yourselves, a meritocracy, where it didn't matter what station your parents were, what mattered is what you could do with your life, like a Horatio Alger boy.
And so, for us, too, we think about the ladder to success, building a resume, achievement by achievement. Good grades in high school, accolades and awards. Acceptance at a good college. Good grades in college, accolades and awards. Making strategic use of your summers, getting an internship at Capitol Hill or in Wall Street, accolades and awards. Graduate school at the finest institutions, more accolades, more awards. And then it's time for your first job, your first real job. And then comes the interview. If you look up on the internet and get some advice on how to do an interview, they're going to tell you this, "You need to sell yourself. That's what you need to do, you need to sell yourself." An interview is best approached as a sales meeting in which you are presenting yourself as the product that they're looking for. You are perfect to meet that niche. So you're going to emphasize what's good about you and about your life in your resume, and you're going to downplay those things that are maybe skeletons in your closet professionally.
You have to learn the skill of being able to talk around why you were fired from that job, or what you learned from that experience and how you have overcome that adversity. You have to learn the skill of selling yourself in an interview.
Well, I guess all of that is fine in business and in a career, but it will not work before God. It will not work for you to build a spiritual resume before God. A list of good achievements and good works, of having the right experiences and doing the right good deeds and praying the right prayers and amassing and accumulating a spiritual resume that will stand you in good stead at that ultimate interview called Judgement Day. We have a picture of that kind of mentality in Luke chapter 18 " "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men-- robbers, evildoers, adulterers-- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'" Now, that was his brief resume. If he had time to give a more extended resume, I'm sure there would have been other achievements he could have talked about. "I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get," was his best stuff, but he had other things besides on his spiritual resume.
I think that Saul of Tarsus was that kind of a man. I think he was a resume builder. He was a spiritual ladder climber. He was self-righteous and self-satisfied. One commentator said that the man who was struck to the ground on the road to Damascus was not searching for anything other than Christians to persecute. He was satisfied with his life. He felt he had everything he needed. And if he died, there was no question in his mind that he would go straight to Heaven and be in the presence of God, the fullness of joy at his right hand forever.
He wasn't searching, he wasn't wondering about his status. He was on a mission from God, so he believed. He was persecuting Christians. And so the writer of our letter here, the Philippians, gives us an assessment of his spiritual resume and how it became for him, what was treasure at one point became trash. And the thing which was of no value to him whatsoever, namely Christ and His followers, became treasure to him. That is an incredible story. Ultimately, it's a question of what is true religion in God's sight. What will truly stand you in good stead on Judgement Day? On what basis will you be able to stand before God, a holy and perfect judge?
II. In the End, Only Two Religions
In the end, I think for all of the options you have in this world, there are only two religions. In the end only two. Perhaps the most popular religion in the world is a religion of righteousness through self-effort, what we could call building a spiritual resume, achievement by achievement. Basically, the idea is, following the synopsis like the Horatio Alger story, some spiritual authority or tradition gives you a set of do's and don'ts. You follow that do's and don'ts the best you can. You amass achievements greater than anyone else of your own generation. And on that basis you're going to stand before the deity, righteous and blameless. Muslims follow that kind of approach with the five Pillars of Islam. They think that by following these five Pillars, which include prayer and alms-giving and a trip to Mecca and other things, they're going to be righteous before Allah on Judgement Day. Buddhists follow it by spinning their prayer wheels and by meditation and understanding and ultimately achieving enlightenment.
Hindus follow it, a system of righteousness and righteous acts they call "puja," little acts of service, whereby they can appease the various deities in their lives and ultimately escape the cycle of karma and come into nirvana. Modern Jews follow it by ignoring much of the Old Testament and all of its regulations and the Laws of Moses, and coming up with kind of a system of righteousness that their Rabbis teach them is a good life. And they're going to live according to that good life. Ancient pagan idolatrous systems told you that you had to sacrifice at this temple or shrine with this kind of sacrifice, and in that way they were building up a spiritual resume. Even irreligious, atheistic people trained in the West have an approach like this. They feel that they're basically good people because of the list that they can give you at any given moment. Medieval Roman Catholics followed this same approach. A religion of works, righteousness, whereby if you followed the ladder of success through the sacramental system, praying the right prayers on the right saint's days and offering the right amount of money and buying the right indulgences, you could escape the fires of hell. Well, that, all of that, is one religion. Now, it's lots of different versions of that one religion, but it's all the same religion. And it's the religion of Saul of Tarsus before the road to Damascus.
True Christianity: Salvation by Grace Alone
Now, over against that is the true faith of Christianity. Justification by faith alone, apart from works of the law. Simply by grace, our sovereign God, a perfect God, the creator and King, the lawgiver who alone stands over the entire human race, who makes laws and expects them to be fulfilled, who speaks to a sinful human race His word, who gives them His law, but they can never follow it because of their wretchedness and wickedness, who puts therefore a sinful man under the death penalty for sin. But then, through His graciousness and through His love, sends His Son who takes on a human body and stands as a substitute in the place of sinful man and exchange is effected spiritually, our wretchedness, our wickedness and sin transferred on to the substitute, Jesus Christ, who dies the righteous penalty that God the judge requires. Meanwhile, His perfect righteousness given to us as a gift. And on that basis, we will survive, even thrive, on Judgement Day.
Those are the two religions in the world. You can have the one, a religion of self-righteousness through ladder climbing and building a spiritual resume, or you can have the other and simply accept it by faith and by grace. Now, the Apostle Paul, in writing a letter in Philippians, is thanking them for money that they sent. It's a thank you letter. But he also realizes that they are in the middle of the spiritual battle that happens around local churches all the time. He's fighting for their soul. He's fighting for their doctrine and their right understanding. And they are being besieged by false teaching.
III. Paul’s Command and Warning: Both Given to Protect Their Joy
And so, as we get into chapter 3, he's going to protect them from the false teaching that they are facing. And so, he gives them a command and a warning right here at the beginning. Look at verse 1 with me, Philippians 3:1, it says, "Finally my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again and it is a safeguard for you."
Paul thinks that by repetition he's going to protect the Philippians. Good teaching is repetitive, not too repetitive, hopefully, but it is repetitive. You're going to take the central points and you're going to emphasize them again and again. And he says, "I want to safeguard your joy." Well, what is at stake here? Well, I think what's at stake is the Gospel itself. The true Gospel, or symptoms, let's say, of the true Gospel are, that God gets the glory and we get the joy. God gets the glory for our salvation and we get the joy. If you have a man-centered religion, both of those are gone. They're both gone. God no longer gets the glory and we no longer get the joy. It says very plainly in Galatians, "What has happened to all your joy?" Where did it go? Because you're following works righteousness, the joy is out the window. And so also, he's concerned about the Philippians, because there are false teachers that are attacking them and trying to bring them back into the other religion, the works-righteousness religion.
And he says, "If that happens, you will lose your joy, for it will be gone." And so he says, "Finally my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again and it is a safeguard for you." And then in verse 2, "Watch out", he says. "Be on your guard," this is a severe warning. "Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh." See, Paul is a good pastor. And a good pastor is not only going to be speaking sunshine and light and positive things, he's also going to give warnings negatively about things that can attack you. A good pastor, a good preacher, a teacher of the Word cannot only be positive. He must also be negative. There must be promises, there must also be warnings. And here is a severe warning.
Watch Out! A Severe Warning
He says, "Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh." Now, I've said before, that the devil has three great attacks on the local church. And they are persecution, worldliness and false teaching. In this particular case, as in every church around the world, false teaching is a threat. Even if the church is going through persecution, like the church in China, false teaching is still an issue. And of the three great attacks that the devil has on the church, this is the worst, because it perverts the Gospel itself. It actually attacks the message that we cherish and that we believe, and so he's got to warn them about this false teaching. Now, who are these people? Well, they are the well-known Judaizers, the circumcision group, those that taught that unless you Gentiles are circumcised and required to keep the Law of Moses, you cannot be saved. Paul deals with these people again and again, city after city. Everywhere he goes, he's got to face them. They followed Paul from place to place, hence I think he calls them a pack of dogs. "Everywhere I travel, they're yipping at my heels. I can't ever seem to get free of them."
Now, the world dog here is not of the house pet type, but more of the stray dog, the rabid type that would be roaming through the streets looking for raw flesh on a pile of garbage. These are dangerous dogs, the kind that you'd probably shoot on sight because they're rabid. They're dangerous. That's the word that he uses, "those dogs," he calls them. They are attacking the faith. They're dangerous. He also calls them "men who do evil." Now, this would be ironic for them, wouldn't they? Because these are good works doers. I mean, you can't build a spiritual resume apart from good works. Now, that's going to be the warp and woof of the textile of your resume. That's what you're going to be weaving it out of, so you think, is good works. And he says, They are "men who do evil." What a shock. Men who do evil. Now, how can it be that these good works doers are actually men who do evil? Well, in two senses. First of all, Paul says in Romans 14, "Anything that does not come from faith is…" What? It's sin. So anything not done for the glory of God and of His Christ is actually evil. It's sin. It's wrong. And so any of their good works, which none of them are being done by faith, they're actually evil deeds.
But the second sense is that these people are evildoers because they're actually fighting against God, they're actually opposing what God is truly doing in the world. Jesus warned about this. He said in John 16:2, He said, "They will put you out of their synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God." Isn't that interesting? These Jews are going to put you out of the synagogue and they will hunt you down and seek to kill you, and think in so doing, they're offering a service to God. They are evildoers. Now, I would say that our author here knew very well what he's talking about. He was hunting Christians down, too, he was persecuting them. Now, he calls them evildoers. Is that an insult? Is that harsh language? Well, think about this. Imagine their shock when that title is ascribed to them on Judgement Day by God Himself. What then? When they thought they were going to stand on the basis of their many good works, and Jesus will say to them, they will speak, saying, "'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you, away from me, you evildoers." That's the exact same word used here.
They are evildoers, and I think it's loving of Paul to call them what they really are while there's time to repent. Because on that day there will be no opportunity to change their status, the Lord will send them away. And how shocked will they be on that day, when they find out they were actually evildoers?
Thirdly, he calls them "those mutilators of the flesh." What does this mean? I think it must be referring to circumcision. These were people who were chasing Gentile men around and saying, "You want to become a Christian, you must be circumcised." And so they had to submit to physical circumcision in order to be saved. Paul says all they're doing is mutilating flesh. Galatians 5:3 says this, "Again, I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised, that he is obligated to keep the whole law." You want to do that? Then you are under the whole burden of the Mosaic Covenant, which no one has ever been able to bear. If that's what you want, if you feel you must be circumcised in order to be saved, then you've got to keep the whole law.
James 2:10, "Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." These men were the bitter enemies of the true Gospel. The false Gospel is a righteousness that comes from obeying the law by your own efforts. Romans 3:20, Paul says this, "No one will be justified by observing the law, rather through the law we become conscious of sin." None of us are going to stand before God on Judgement Day and present our record of law-keeping as the basis of our entrance into Heaven. Anybody who's standing on that basis is not saved. No. On the other hand, we know in Romans 3:21-24, there is a righteousness from God, which has been revealed, a righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Nobody's going to stand on the basis of law-keeping. No, the true Gospel's on the basis of Christ's finished work at the cross, and the righteousness that comes to us in that exchange. And so these Judaizers were following Paul around. This pack of dogs. Everywhere they went, they were undoing his preaching. They were attacking people's consciences. They were making people worry about their standing. Because there is a kind of a wisdom, it seems, to asceticism and tough living, and being willing to go through something like circumcision and say, "Well, it must be of God. It's something I don't want to do." And so there's a kind of an earthly wisdom here, and a toughness to the life. He says, "The whole thing's false." In Acts 15 they followed him to Antioch. So men came down from Judea to Antioch, and were teaching the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. That was Paul's life. And here he is warning the Philippians against the same teaching. He does the same in Galatians 1:6-9. He says to the Galatian Christians, "I'm astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different Gospel, which is really no Gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion, trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from Heaven should preach a Gospel other than the one we preach, let him be eternally condemned. As I have said before now, so I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a Gospel other than what we preach, let him be eternally condemned." But that's what these Judaizers were doing. They claim to be Christians now, they say, "Oh, we honor Christ, we worship Him, but you must keep the Law of Moses." And Paul said, "No." Galatians 6:15, "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, what counts is a new creation."
Being born again through faith in Christ, now, that's what matters. Salvation by works drains your joy, and so he said, "Rejoice always, and let me protect your joy by teaching you the true Gospel." Salvation by works drains your joy, and salvation by works robs God of His glory. And so it must be fought. And so that's what he's doing here.
Definition of a True Christian
In its place in Verse 3, he gives us the definition of a true Christian. I believe this is the greatest, single Verse definition of a Christian in the New Testament. I like efficient verses like this. And this is an efficient Verse that gives us so much theology in a little package.
Philippians 3:3 says, "We are the circumcision. We who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus and who put no confidence in the flesh." That's a great definition of a Christian, isn't it? "We are the circumcision" means we are God's people. We are His chosen race. We are the Israel of God, those who believe in Christ. We are His circumcision. Whether we have been physically circumcised or not, for a man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical, no. "A man is a Jew if he is one inwardly, and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code," Romans 2:20. We are the circumcision. Paul's "we" there is inclusive with Gentile believers, isn't that beautiful? "We" are the ones who are God's people. "We" are the circumcised. And then he says we are the true believers who worship by the Spirit of God.
Did you do that this morning? Did you worship by the Spirit of God? Isn't that marvelous? To come together with other brothers and sisters, in unity, like this? And worship by the Spirit of God. To offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, a fruit of lips, that confess His name. To have our hearts knit together by the Spirit of God; in effect, He, the Spirit, passing you thoughts and concepts and feelings, and you taking that in by the Spirit, heating it up with your own love for God, sending it back up to Him in worship. We are the ones who worship by the Spirit of God.
And we boast. We glory in Christ Jesus. We delight in His accomplishments. We focus on the second person of the Trinity, who was very God, but took on a human body, who entered the world, who lived a sinless life. And we delight in that, because that's our righteousness, isn't that wonderful? Christ's perfect righteousness is ours. And we're not boasting about ourselves, but we're going to boast in what Jesus has done. We're going to tell everybody about it. We're going to boast about what Jesus did at the cross. What incredible love was displayed there. How He was willing to take my wretchedness and my sin on Himself. And drink to the bottom the cup of God's wrath, 'til it was gone. And there's none left for me or you, if you're a Christian. We boast in that, and we put no confidence in the flesh. I don't trust what I can do unaided by His grace. I've shown what I can do unaided by His grace. "Apart from me you can do nothing," said Jesus. We understand that to mean nothing good. We do many things apart from Christ, don't we? We can all testify to that.
I've done tons of things apart from Christ, but none of them are going to stand the test of Judgement Day. Apart from Christ, I can do nothing. I don't put any confidence in my flesh, and what I can do if Jesus hadn't come. No, I deserve hell. So that's a definition of a Christian, that's what we are.
III. Paul’s False Treasure: Self-Righteousness Through Religious Achievement
Now, what does it mean to put confidence in the flesh? Well, Paul then describes that. He says, We "put no confidence in flesh, though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more." He was good at this kind of talk. This is the way that they talked among the Pharisees. If anybody thinks he's good, I'm better. Anything you can do, I can do better. That's the way it works. I have more reasons for a confidence.
Now, what is he talking about in these Verses? Well, we come into a kind of a business mentality, just like at the beginning of the message here, "the spiritual resume," the "entrepreneur" thing, this is really business language. Some of you may be studying business. This is an accounting sheet here. These words were used in first century Judaism, and in Greece for debits and credits. "Whatever was to my gain, I count loss, whatever was profit to me, I've written it off." There's the black and the red on the ledger sheet. And he's talking like a business owner here. The Greek word for "gain" and "loss" are business terms. He also uses another business term, "reckoning," or "consider". Look at Verse 7 and 8, he says, "Whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him."
This is the kind of reckoning or considering that saves your soul. Because God thinks of you a certain way. He's chosen to think of you in Christ. It says in Romans 4:3 the exact same word, it says, "What does the scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was credited to his account as righteousness." You could imagine having a numbered Swiss account. Do you have one? I don't. But you could imagine having a numbered Swiss account and some anonymous source has just deposited $2 billion in your account. Like, "Wow, I don't know how could I spend that all in one day?" Well, you can't. I've thought about it, it's impossible to spend $2 billion in one day. But at any rate, that's a huge deposit that was reckoned to your account. This is the righteousness that was credited to your account the day you believed in Jesus.
That is, on that basis, we're going to stand before God, not on the shabby self-righteousness of your own resume. "And so I reckon like God does", says Paul. "He reckoned my good stuff rubbish. And so do I now. I've come to reckon them and to think about them differently." Now, what were those assets? Well, he lists his resume here. And it may seem strange to you. You are a Gentile, and so his good stuff, you would say, "What's there to that? Being circumcised on the Eighth Day? What is going on there?" But this is his resume. Paul clung to this, I believe, like a treasure box with rare and beautiful heirlooms and gems, he would open this up and just fondle these things mentally.
He'd think when he was ready, when he was concerned about his soul, he'd say, "Yes, but I am circumcised on the Eighth Day. I am of the people of Israel, after all. I am of the tribe of Benjamin. I'm a Hebrew of Hebrews, but I didn't stop there, I made progress. I was more zealous than any of my fellow boys in class. I excelled them all. I was top of my class. I was thoroughly trained under Gamaliel. I went to school, in the best school in Jerusalem. I learned the traditions of my fathers. And I was more zealous for them than anybody. I was running a race, and I was in first place. I was on the inside track for the highest level of the Sanhedrin that I could reach as a member of the tribe of Benjamin." What were these things? Well, salvation by religious ritual. He says, "Circumcised on the Eighth Day." Salvation by race of the people of Israel. The salvation by rank within that of the tribe of Benjamin, that was a good tribe, you want to be in that one, or Judah. Salvation by tradition, a Hebrew of Hebrews. So the more zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
Fifthly, salvation by the right religious school in regard to the law of Pharisee. He says, "I was in the Pharisees, a part of that group who really restrict law keepers. And even within the Pharisees, I excelled by my religious zeal. As for zeal, persecuting the church, sixthly. And then seventh, "As for the law, I kept it."
Now, that's a fascinating statement, isn't it? Remember the rich young ruler coming to Jesus, and he says, "What good thing must I do to get eternal life?" Jesus said, "How do you read the law? Tell me about the law." Interesting that Jesus starts with the law. He lists some things, some of the laws Jesus did, honor your father and mother; love your neighbor as yourself. And the man says, "All these I have kept." "I'm fine. The law left me unscathed, I'm in good shape for the law." Now, we'd learn later from Paul in Romans 7, he said, that whenever he read the law about coveting, he actually secretly coveted things. The law actually stirred up sin inside him.
But here he thinks and says, "As for the law, blameless, blameless." Well, this is a man who looks good on the outside. He's righteous, and he's heading for hell. And unless he's converted, he will go to hell. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven." This is not enough. And if you stand before God with this kind of thing, you also will not be permitted to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
IV. Paul’s Conversion: Trash Becomes Treasure, and Treasure Becomes Trash
And so Paul, Saul of Tarsus, must be converted. His treasure must become trash. And that which he thought of as trash had to become treasure. The story is told in Acts 9:3 and following, "As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from Heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' Saul asked." Now the hammer blow. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." He was never the same after that word.
Here is this ineffable light, this glorious resurrection light. Resurrection glory filling his mind, blinding his eyes. And that word "Jesus" in the center of it all. He was never the same again. And it left him totally satisfied and totally hungry at the same time. It left him ashamed and yet loved like he'd never been loved before. And it left him looking at his good stuff and saying, "What is that? It's trash, it's rubbish." That light that blinded his eye was more spiritual than physical. God said at the beginning of creation, He spoke into nothingness, and He said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And at that moment on the road to Damascus, God spoke a spiritual light into the dark soul of Paul. 2 Corinthians 4:6, "For God who said, let light shine out of darkness, made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." He never forgot that vision, it changed everything. And here in Philippians 3, we see that yearning, "Oh, I want to know Him. I want to know Christ. I want to know His resurrection. I want to know His power. I want to know His sufferings. I want to know everything about Him."
"But, Paul, what about that resume?" "Resume? It's trash. It's trash, my friends. It's worthless. It's actually worse than trash, it's the enemy of my soul. It was fighting against my coming to faith in Christ. I thought it was good, and it was blocking me from seeing Christ, because of my self-righteousness." This became for him the treasure hidden in the field. He was willing to sell everything. He was willing to burn every bridge. All of his contacts, his rolodex or his little contact cards in his computer, which they didn't have back then, burn it. Relationship with the high priest, burn it. It's gone. He counted everything lost from that point on, because there was something better that he wanted, he wanted Christ. And so, he was willing to sell everything to buy the treasure in the field. Matthew 13:44, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in the field, when a man found it he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."
Paul had found something of infinite worth. And he was willing to call all of his little personal self-righteousness shabby garbage, by comparison. What was gain, became loss. He had a completely new understanding at that moment of personal righteousness. Salvation would not be by religious ritual. Being circumcised on the Eighth Day would not save your soul. Salvation is not by race. Being of the people of Israel will not save you. Salvation is not by rank. Being of the tribe of Benjamin will not save you. Neither is salvation by tradition. Being a Hebrew of Hebrews will not save you on Judgement Day. Salvation is not by religious schools. Being a Pharisee will not save you. Neither is religious zeal that attacks the church of Christ. Oh, no, that's not going to save you. Being a persecutor of the church will not stand you in good stead on Judgement Day. Not at all. And neither will you thinking that you are perfect in front of the law save you on Judgement Day either. None of those things will. What will save you? The righteousness of Christ.
V. Paul’s New Treasure: Knowing Christ and Being Found In Him
Look at Verses 7-9, we'll cover this, God willing, next time. "But whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss, compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and 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." What was the treasure hidden in the field to Paul? It was Jesus. It was Jesus in all of His glory. It was Jesus in His death on the cross. It was Jesus in His resurrection power. It was Jesus that he wanted, and next week we'll look at that as a Diamond of Five Facets: Personal knowledge of Christ, a gift of righteousness through faith in Christ, the power of Christ's resurrected life inside him, the fellowship of sharing in Christ's sufferings and glory through Christ's resurrection.
Let me ask you some questions. Frankly, it's really just one question. You can read the questions that are written in the bulletin there, but I want to just sum it up into one question. Have you in your life come to the point where you have rejected your spiritual resume? Because, let me tell you, God already has. And you get converted the time at the point in which you and God come to the same conclusion on that matter. Have you come to the point that you have rejected your spiritual resume, and are trusting in Christ alone for salvation.