Addresses on Philippians: Philippians 3, Part 2

Philippians 3  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
The Jews had put Paul in prison, and it was through them the saints at Philippi were suffering. It is impossible that the Apostle Paul could have done anything else, when he saw they were taking away from the church, and bringing in that which never could satisfy and bring peace to the heart. Then he says, “Rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.”
You say, “O, I believe in the ten commandments as applying to us at the present day.” Then I say you have some confidence in the flesh. The law says to me to love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my mind, and a great many things it tells me to do. If I say that appeals to me, it appeals to man in the flesh, and I must have some confidence in the flesh. He says, “We are the circumcision.” We are those separated from the world, and we have no confidence in the flesh. I am not going to put myself in that position where the law applies, and then find myself a failure, but perfection is to be found in Christ. This is very blessedly brought before us in Philippians, because he is showing all the way through, Christ as the portion for us in one way and another.
“Though I might also have confidence.” What was it he had to rejoice in the flesh If anybody could, he could. The fact was, he was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. He was as far as the law was concerned, blameless. That is, the law as before man’s eyes. They couldn’t find a flaw in the Apostle Paul, although he was a murderer, for he was taking Christians to Jerusalem to have them suffer for the name of Christ. He thought he was doing God service. So he says, “I have more to rejoice in than any one of you, but shall I rejoice in that?” O, no. He says, “I have no confidence in the flesh.” The flesh is set aside completely, and he says, “What things were gain to me” (all this position in Judaism that was gain to him), “I count but loss for Christ.”
The Christians that are here tonight might not be troubled much in regard to Judaism or Judaizing teachers. We are clear in regard to the contrast between Jews and Christians, and are really set free from the law, but has this no application to us? Yes, can we all say we “count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord”? With the apostle, his place of honor and glory was in connection with the religious Jews. Some seek their glory and honor in connection with religion today, and when they do, it is not an honor to the Lord. Others say, “I despise religion,” and say, “I want my glory and honor in another line of things.”
Whatever may be the natural disposition of the heart, there is a desire for some glory here on earth, while it might not be a question of religious glory, but in another line. “I count all things but loss.” Let us think of what that is.
What was it that caused the apostle to have his heart so filled with Christ, that very One the masses of the people despised, and for which religious Jews put him in prison? While there, instead of saying, “I must have made a mistake,” and that his belief was nothing, he says, “I have Christ for my gain.” What had filled the heart of the apostle to cause him to speak like that? It was this: there was no one who could so fill the universe as the Lord Jesus. He had found that One—the center of all God’s thoughts. Heaven and earth had been created by Him and for Him, and seeing that all things were for Him, no one could stand higher than the Lord Jesus, and now he says, “He is my lot, and all I want is Christ.”
If you turn to the Epistle of John it is very precious. There you get the source of this in connection with the person of Christ. But if you turn to Peter you have the thought of the glory. It is “the glory that should follow,” with Peter; but here, and in John, you get the person of the Lord Jesus brought before the soul. I believe, dear friends, we cannot appreciate this in our souls, if there is a hankering after things down here. We need to get nipped, and it is grace on the part of God to do so for us, letting us taste of this poor world, and after all to be able to say there is nothing here, and when we get there, glad are we to turn to Christ, and say, “O, think of the glory of that person.”
He has been a man; He has been down here, as we noticed in the previous chapter; now He is up in the glory, and as a Man He is in the glory. What does that mean to your heart and mine? Man was made for the earth. Angels were there in the presence of God, but no man was there. Angels were created for that scene above, but now there is a Man in the presence of God and how came He there? As we noticed before, He was with God before the world was, and He emptied Himself of that glory. He was equal with God, but He came down into this world, emptied Himself of all His glory and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted Him. He doesn’t say in the second chapter, “Rejoice in the Lord.” But after presenting Christ as the One risen and ascended, he can say, “Rejoice.”
Lowliness, humility, meekness of character is what becomes us, and in order to be that, it is to see Christ on earth. But if I want my heart to be filled with joy, I have to see a Man up in the glory, and that is Christ who was down here, exalted to that scene above, and I rejoice that there is a Man in the glory. What does it bring to us? It means this—man is lifted from a scene where he deserves nothing but death, and now man can be taken from the depths of ruin, above the angels into the presence of God. Can our hearts rejoice in that? Who has gained it? Christ Jesus. Therefore, the apostle can say, “I count all things but loss,” etc.
This world is going to be melted with fervent heat. We may get something here, or our hearts may go out after something in this poor world, but the time is not far distant when we shall be separated from this scene—taken to the scene of glory, and shall be with that blessed One who has gone up there—as we get in the close of this chapter, we shall be like Him. This is just like a tent to dwell in for a little while. Soon the stakes are going to be pulled up, and we are going to leave it, and we are going to be with Christ, and like Him. What shall I say? All things (whatever the character of glory down here), I will count but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.
There is a Man that has gained a victory over Satan; there is a Man that has been down into the depths where sin had plunged us; He has gone triumphant above the angels. Well may that blessed, glorious Person fill the apostle’s heart to such an extent that he counts everything but loss.
(Continued from page 103)
(To be continued)