Philippians is the known as the letter of joy. Yet Paul wrote this letter while he was a prisoner, most likely in Rome. Many of the churches that Paul started are being plagued by false teachers. And Paul is concerned that such false teachers might try to infiltrate the Philippian church, so he wants to warn them in advance so they can be alert to this possibility. He shares his own story to show how important it is to trust in Christ alone for salvation.
- What 7 reasons does Paul give to show that, if genetic heritage and a zealous pursuit of the Jewish religion were needed to make a person right with God, then he was superbly qualified? (vs 5-6)
- In the light of Paul’s superb Jewish credentials, why is his statement in verse 7 so amazing?
- In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul says: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Some like to refer to this verse as ‘the divine swap’. What is being ‘swapped’ and is it an equal ‘trade’?
Many of these false teachers are saying that Gentile believers – like those at Philippi – have to adopt Jewish practices like circumcision in order to be acceptable to God. To these false teachers, faith in Christ alone is not enough. They claim that in order to be acceptable to God, you must do something more. Yet Paul sweeps all this away. A privileged Jew, he now trusts the righteousness that has been given to him by faith in Jesus Christ alone.
- How does Paul now view the things that he once trusted to win him favour with God? (v 8)
- On what basis are we given the righteousness of God? (v 9)
- What great desire does Paul express in verses 10-11?
When we realise that if we are in Christ God counts us as completely righteous, some may think that it doesn’t really matter then how we live. But nothing could be further from the truth!
Even though he is prison, and is unsure of what the future holds for him, Paul says he wants to know Christ and grow more and more like Him. His desire is to have such an intimate relationship with Christ that he is willing even to share in his sufferings until the day when he goes to be with Him. This is an out and out commitment to the Lord. And the challenge for us is: Is this also my greatest desire?
- How does Paul show that he has a realistic evaluation of where he is at spiritually? What is he determined to do? What challenge is that to you? (vs 12-13)
- What one thing does Paul say he must do? (vs 13-14)
Something to think and pray about
We too must press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenwards in Christ Jesus. We do this, not to earn our salvation, but with the complete assurance that our final salvation has been secured for us by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Our salvation is not dependent on us, but on Christ and what he has done.