Read Philippians 3:4-11
In verses 4-6, Paul gives a biographical sketch of his life to show that before his salvation, he was a man who put utmost confidence in his flesh. He was a legalist of legalists who thought he could attain acceptance with God through the law. Let’s see how he describes his past.
He divides his “accomplishments” into two categories: 1. Heredity 2. Achievement.
- Circumcised on the 8th day
- An Israelite
- Tribe of Benjamin
- A Hebrew of Hebrews
- A Pharisee to the letter of the law
- A zealous persecutor of the church
- Blameless under the law
In today’s Christian culture, many people are trusting in heredity or achievements to make themselves right with God. Some people believe by virtue of being born an American they are automatically a Christian. Or if they have attended church their entire life or were baptized as a baby or went through confirmation or some other work that they believe “saves” them.
In verses 7-11, Paul begins to make another contrast. He is going to make a stark contrast between his previous life as a legalistic, arrogant Pharisee and his new life in Christ as a true child of God.
Before we dive into this, let’s ask some evaluative questions: How do you renew a passion for Jesus? Maybe you are content with your eternal salvation, but the joy and passion of knowing Jesus more deeply is just not on your radar screen. How do I go deeper into this personal relationship with Jesus?
How do we know Paul experienced this genuine transformation of being saved by grace?
Paul’s new PASSION!!!
In verse 7, Paul says that whatever gain—this is in the plural—whatever gains I had. All these accolades, accomplishments, achievements and awards I received through my legalistic zealousness and misdirected enthusiasm, I count a loss.
Paul says he counted these gains as lost. The verb for counted is in the Perfect Tense. We don’t have an English equivalent for this verb tense, but let me tell you what it means. The perfect tense means that an action was completed in the past at a definite time but has continuing results in the present where it stands completed.
So the way this verb translates is that Paul is fully convinced and persuaded that his past gains were actually losses. This is a solid consideration that everything about his past amounted to nothing.
This is evidence of genuine conversion. When Christ calls you to salvation, there is a definite break with your past life where you are dead to sin and alive to Christ and God has given you new desires and new affections that weren’t there before. You’ve been born again. You have a new life.
In verse 8, Paul moves to the present tense and says that he counts everything a loss. He is continuously counting everything that was in his past a loss.
Knowing Jesus is of the greatest value. When Christ saves you, He saves you into a relationship with Him where you take Him as your personal Lord and Savior. He is worth it all.
The word for knowledge here in the original language does not mean just a head knowledge or knowing certain facts, but actually means an experiential, intimate spiritual knowledge of Jesus.
As a born again, regenerate believer, our new passion is to know Jesus more deeply in a personal relationship.
As a matter of fact, Paul makes this startling and actually crude statement that he has suffered the loss of all those former things and counts them as rubbish. The word rubbish (skubalon) is actually a violent and course word that means lump of manure; dung, rotten food, a rotting corpse, trash or what is thrown to dogs.
Can we truly say that we consider our old life and the things we so dearly hold onto in our sin as piles of manure!!
What is our new PASSION as born again believers?
Deeply knowing Christ and considering our old life, accomplishments, religious works, or any other thing as manure!!
You are of more worth than anything this life has to offer! You are wonderful and glorious and I passionately desire to know you more deeply. All my life’s vain accomplishments and my religious resume are as manure! I want to count everything a loss compared to knowing you more deeply. I don’t want to just settle for a head-knowledge of You, but an experiential knowledge of You that moves me into deeper intimacy and fellowship with You, Jesus.
In Your Name I pray,