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Scripture: Philippians 3:4-8

I. You have to know what is a loss to be confident in God’s presence.

A. Paul uses the word confidence twice in verse 4. What does Paul mean by confidence here? He is talking about confidence in the presence of God. The Judaizers apparently found their confidence in the flesh to be in the presence of God. The flesh is any kind of do-it-yourself merit before God. I trust that I can do something all by myself that will earn God’s favor. Paul says in verse 4, “You Judaizers think you have reasons to be confident before God in your flesh? Oh, yeah! Well, I have more reasons to be confident in my flesh!”

B. Paul discusses in verses 5-6 seven different things he could have had confidence in the flesh about. Paul says in vs. 7: “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” Paul is doing an accounting of his life before God. How does Paul now look at those things that used to give him confidence in the flesh? They are all a loss. None of these things earn me any merit with God, Paul says. To Paul’s astonishment, it was Jesus who was now a gain in his accounting. It was Jesus who was completely adequate to give him confidence to come before God.

II. You have to know what is a gain to be confident in God’s presence.

A. Paul begins to talk about gain in vs. 7. With increasing intensity Paul, expresses his dissatisfaction with those things that had previously been most important to him in vs. 7-8. Those virtues, those merits, were keeping Paul from Jesus. Only Jesus can make us righteous and give us the confidence we need to stand in God’s presence.

B. Paul uses some very strong language in vs. 8 to say how much greater Jesus is than any merits we have. He says at the end of vs. 8 “For (Jesus’) sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” All my merits are garbage, Paul says. Those things I used to have confidence in before God can be thrown out without a moment’s thought or regret as long as I can have Jesus. Those things are actually dung (King James Version). Jesus said in Matthew 16:26: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” If you have a relationship with Jesus, you gain everything. Matthew 13:44: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” The treasure is Jesus.

Lean heavily on Jesus. Jesus is gain. All else is loss, garbage, dung.  

The letter to the Philippians
Commentaries on Philippians by Moises Silva, J.A. Motyer, D.A. Carson & Steven Lawson

Sermon Discussion Questions

  1. What is the only thing that can give us confidence to come before God? Other than Jesus, what would you be most likely to trust in for acceptance before God? Why?
  2. How has your accounting of Jesus changed over the years? How has He become more precious to you?
  3. How is it possible for me to be declared righteous before God? What is the value then of doing good works? What do we gain from them?