Rejoice in the Lord
Transcript of the ninth sermon from the series on the book of Philippians. The sermon is titled “Rejoice in the Lord,” and comes from Philippians 3:1-11.
You can listen here.
3 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH
Can I give you a little bit of encouragement? You don’t need confidence in yourself. If you mess up as much as I do, that’s a huge encouragement. When the team is down 2 points and we’ve got 3 seconds on the clock. I don’t have confidence that I’m going to win that game for our team. Praise God in our life we don’t have to have confidence in ourselves either! There is One that’s already won our victory. Our confidence is in Jesus Christ!
Paul wants to make sure the Philippians are living in that confidence as well. Verse 3 tells them –
“3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh…”
We can pull 4 clear pieces from that verse.
- We are the circumcision
- Worship by the Spirit
- Glory in Christ
- Put no confidence in the flesh
Want to know how to rejoice in the Lord?
Know who you are: the circumcision. Paul is calling the church the circumcision. Little known fact: when we were choosing the name to call our congregation, you know we decided on Provision Church, but Circumcision Church was a close runner up! Just kidding, we didn’t consider that name – because it seems so weird. It’s a really weird thing to call ourselves and for Paul to call the church. So why did he do it?
This is covenant language. We are the circumcision is like saying we are God’s people. Look at the covenant God made to Abraham where we are introduced to circumcision “This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised” (Gen. 17:10).
But we see in Romans that circumcision was never about a medical procedure, it was always about the heart. So we have a heart that is committed to our covenant with God. We are those that are saved by grace and through faith.
When we recognize who we are in Christ, it allows us to worship in the Spirit.
If we worship in the Spirit we find our fulfillment and joy in Christ.
When our fulfillment and joy is in Christ, we can place our trust in the Almighty Savior.
Our confidence must be in Christ. If our confidence is in ourselves, it really means we trust in ourselves. Look at how Paul talks about
“4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless”.
He’s like, “Who is more righteous than me?” If anyone’s birthright and life’s work could save them it would be Paul. He’s got all the right credentials. But none of that matters to salvation. There’s a great evening of mankind before Christ. No work or sin makes us more or less acceptable to God before our salvation.
Paul thought he was good and in reality his work was evil. If you think you’re too far gone for Jesus, then you’re exactly who Jesus came to save. He came to save those rejected by proper society. In Luke 5, the polite society complained to Jesus for hanging out with the worst kinds of people. They thought he was making Himself and His reputation dirty. And Jesus was like, “I’m right where I’m supposed to be! I came to save the sick!”
You know, Paul would have been one of the ones mad at Jesus for hanging out with sinners. The irony is, in his complaints, he was exposing his great need for a savior as well!
No matter how good or bad or indifferent you might be to this – Have no confidence in the flesh.
If you think you’re too bad for Christ, your confidence in the flesh is that it’s strong enough to keep you from the mighty hands of Jesus. That’s misplaced confidence.
If you think you’re too good for Christ – that you’re works are needed in any way for your salvation – your confidence in the flesh is that it’s strong enough to do something Jesus can’t.
If you’re indifferent towards Christ – your confidence in the flesh is that it’s the only thing you need for joy and life. The one sitting here indifferent – have you not been let down by this life already?
Have only confidence in Christ.
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him,
KNOWING JESUS IS BETTER THAN EVERYTHING
Supreme, preeminent, surpassing.
Nothing comes close.
Jesus is so much better than everything that all of it counts as loss. It’s not even of no worth, it’s of negative worth in comparison. It’s rubbish – trash.
Everything Paul gained – status, wealth, accomplishments – he counts everything as loss. Why? For the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.
I remember in college sitting down to write a paper and getting several pages into it before I realized I had misread the prompt. Everything I just wrote was worthless. I deleted every word and started over. I got that lump in the throat. Because I had invested a lot of time in those first few pages. Those words weren’t just worthless they had negative worth because they cost me precious time.
But it was worth it to delete that whole thing and start over because I wanted a good grade. It was worth the loss for the gain of the GPA.
But ya’ll, nobody cares about my GPA now. And my example pales in comparison to the cost and the gain of giving up our lives to follow Christ.
The things we counted as gain outside of Christ can be easy for us to give up because of the hope and glory of Jesus Christ. Why should you not be concerned with wealth? Because the joy of being found in Jesus is supreme.
Why should you not be concerned with how many friends you have? Because the joy of being found in Jesus is supreme.
Why should you not be concerned with how good you are at your hobbies? Because the joy of being found in Jesus is supreme.
Why should you not be concerned with getting promotions at work? Because the joy of being found in Jesus is supreme.
Enjoying your life and doing things with excellence is important – but our confidence and our joy and our fulfillment is not in whether we achieve but in whether we honor and know Christ!
Paul says he suffered the loss of all things so that he could gain and be found in Christ.
This is heaven on earth! Losing everything for the sake of Christ. John 17 says: “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
Want to get close to heaven right now? Dedicate every molecule of your existence to knowing Christ. That will satisfy us for eternity. Start now. Like Paul did.
Like the psalmist did in Psalm 73: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”
That’s freedom for us. That’s joy for us. Fix your desire on Christ. Watch how that transforms the way you love your family, the way you work at school or in your job. The way you serve others. The way you encourage and build up instead of complain and grumble. They way you store up treasure in heaven instead of accumulating worthless stuff on earth.
Paul knows he needs to have his confidence in Christ and he needs to be found in Christ because of what he says in verse 9:
“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 comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
RIGHTEOUSNESS FROM GOD
The God with surpassing worth. Who just knowing is the goal and purpose of eternal life. He made a way for you to know Him. He actually did the work to save us. It seems so impossible.
For the record, that’s terrible negotiating. Jesus had all of the advantages and we had none. Instead of forcing us to work for our salvation, Jesus worked for our salvation.
We cannot have a righteousness on our own. We can’t follow enough rules or make Jesus the right offer for our salvation. Jesus offers righteousness through faith.
Faith is a gift to us from God. We know this from Ephesians 2:8-9: “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
God’s grace gives us the faith we need to be covered by the righteousness of Christ!
So, if you’re here today and you’re not a Christian, God’s Word is offering you eternal life through faith in Christ! Believe that Jesus is God and that He lived a perfect life, died for your sins and rose again. Believe and you can be saved!
Saved to know this God who gives value and worth and purpose to every moment of your life. Saved to know this God who gives resurrection from the dead!
Paul says he wants to know Him and the power of His resurrection. He wants to share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, “11 that by any means possible he may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
It’s a good reminder for us! If Jesus was willing to unfairly suffer and die for us – we should be just as eager to suffer and die for Him. But not for nothing. It’s not just a bad news thing here. Our suffering and death is followed by the greater joy of a resurrection into eternal life with our God of Surpassing Worth.
Church! Let’s be caught up in the joy of following a Savior with surpassing worth and embrace the righteousness of Christ by faith. Let’s lose it all.
“24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[g]will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
CONFIDENCE IN JESUS – NOT SELF
Pray for it. Ask God to make your confidence be in Jesus.
Take Gospel risks. Trust God to work for His glory in your life.
DESIRING JESUS ABOVE ALL THINGS
Pray for God to be so bright in your life that everything else seems dim.
Pursue Christ. He’s already pursuing you. But if you really want to desire Christ above all things – here’s what pursuing Him looks like: reading and memorizing His Word, praying to Him, diligently obeying Him. And doing these things with consistency. When you do these things, you know Him more, when you know Him more, you desire Him more.