August 14, 2017
Philippians 3:7, 8
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The title, Gain, Loss, And Gain, actually signifies a three-stage process! And it is a process which Saint Paul experienced in his own life. He writes about this in Philippians 3:4 through 14, of which our featured Scripture is verses 7 and 8:
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the know-
ledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all
things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
Let’s look at the three stages of this process:
• Gain – “But what things were gain to me…” (Philippians 3:7). Paul had a lot to brag about! As he tells his readers in Philippians 3:4 – “If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so….” When he mentions the flesh, he is referring to our natural sin nature that is in opposition to God! Still, by the world’s standards, Paul had accomplished a great deal in a short time!
✞ Philippians 3:5 – “…circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews….” The apostle was recounting his flawless Israelite heritage! No one could accuse him of not being 100% Jewish!
This was important to the Jews, for they considered themselves God’s chosen people! As Moses told them in Deuteronomy 7:6: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God…chosen…for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples of the earth.” The problem was what the Jews thought of themselves: “I am so special! ” and not, “I am only special because God has called me unto Himself! ” Hence, they looked down upon the Gentiles – the non-Jews – even considering them as unclean and untouchable! Even Peter had this attitude – before God corrected him – shown in Acts 10:28. He told the Roman centurion Cornelius, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” Where in the Jewish law does it say that? It doesn’t! It was one of their Pharisaical man-made laws wrongly laid upon the people! They were supposed to show forth Jehovah God to the nations – not totally isolate themselves from them! God plainly told them in Psalm 96:10 (Jubilee Bible): “Say among the Gentiles that the LORD reigns; He also has established the world, it shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.” (See also Genesis 12:3).
✞ Philippians 3:5 – “…concerning the law, a Pharisee….” The Pharisees were the conservative scholars and teachers of the Old Testament Scriptures. It says of them, comparing them to the Sadducees, in Acts 23:8: “…the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection — and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.”
But the Pharisees were greatly legalistic, insisting that to keep the Jewish law properly, one must obey all sorts of legal requirements – man-made rules loaded upon – and often obscuring – God’s law! (See the whole chapter of Matthew 23). And Paul testified in Acts 26:5, “…according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” But Jesus roundly condemned this sect! He told them, “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).
✞ Philippians 3:6 – “…concerning zeal, persecuting the church….” The Jewish leadership’s reason for persecuting the church (and so Saul the Pharisee’s reason) was that these followers of Jesus Christ were heretics who were pursuing a false religion!
▸ Jesus claimed to be God! (See Mark 2:7; 14:62; John 8:24, 28; 10:33). This was considered blasphemy! And, according to Leviticus 24:16, “…whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death….”
▸ Whoever put their faith in Jesus as the Son of God (Savior and Lord) was considered engaging in idolatry, which was also punishable by death! (See Deuteronomy 8:19, 20; 13:6-10; 30:17, 18).
And persecute the church Saul did! His zeal was boundless! He tried to totally stamp out this ‘idolatrous’ movement! When later, as Paul the Apostle, he testified before King Agrippa in Caesarea, he told the king in Acts 26:9 through 11:
Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name
of Jesus of Nazareth. This I did also did in Jerusalem, and many of
the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief
priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.
And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to
blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted
them even to foreign cities.
✞ Philippians 3:6 – “…concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” No one can completely keep the law, and so gain righteousness before God! (See Romans 3:20; James 2:10, 11). The only way to be righteous in God’s sight is to have that righteousness imputed to you by Another! (See Romans 4:20-25; II Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:11). And the Jews totally missed this essential truth! (See Romans 10:3, 4).
But Saul the Pharisee kept the Jewish law as well as or better than anyone! He could say, as did the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:20: “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
All this was his Gain before He met Jesus on the Damascus Road! Let’s see what then happened in the next blog.