Christ vs. the Flesh
In my view, this is the best part of Phillippians. This is the “Galatians” of Phillippians, or the “Romans” of Phillippians. This is Paul’s description of a spirituality that is increasingly free from legalism and instead, full of Christ. Christ is versus everything. In the New Testament Christ is presented as the contrast to the Law, to the Temple, to my righteousness, and to anything I would pursue or want in religion. He is the answer. We see that again in Phillippians 3. Remember, we were talking about the fact that we are either the true circumcision or we are a “dog”, an “evil worker” or the “concision” (Phil 3:2). You are either taking up the law or you are taking up Christ. You are either boasting in your flesh or you are boasting in Christ. You either have confidence in yourself or you have confidence in Christ. There really is no “in-between” in terms of how it is presented. But there is an “in between” in our experience because we are a mixture. However, in principle there should be no “in-between”. From God’s perspective it is either “you or Me”. “I’m going to carry this thing out or you are going to try.”
Those that persist in “trying” end up being evil in their works. This is not because they want to be evil, but because the flesh is ruined. Those who rely on the strength of the flesh are called the “uncircumcised.” They are working in the old creation and everything they do is contrary to the New Creation. They are building with wood, hay, and stubble (1 Cor 3:12). They may be terribly busy.
Paul, in contrast, was in prison and could do nothing. However, he was a “joint of the rich supply” (Eph 4:16). Christ is just flowing out of him as life and light for in God’s New Testament ministry. Paul is showing us the depths of who Christ is and what we have in Him. He is putting no demand on us other than to approve of that which God has set forth and to set our seal that yes, this is the way that God is doing it (Phil 1:10;John 3:33). It is all in Christ. I have nothing apart from Him and everything I want is in Him. That is the proper response to the New Testament ministry. It is not to “get busy”. It is not to be encouraged to go “do something”. It is to see and say, “amen.”
Remember Jesus said “amen, amen” (sometimes translated “Verily”) many times said He something true (John 10:47). That is what we are supposed to do. “In Him is the Yes and the Amen”(2 Cor 1:20). Everything is in Christ, and He is everything! That is what we are going to see here.
We saw at the beginning of this chapter that we are the “true circumcision” who rejoice in Christ, serve by the Spirit, and have no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3). What is the flesh? We tend to think, “that’s my sinfulness and how awful I am. When I’m being ‘good’ I’m in the spirit but when I’m being ‘bad’ I’m in the flesh”. This is not the concept we see in Paul’s writing. When Paul speaks of the flesh in Philippians, Galatians, and Romans he is talking about the entirety of the old man with all his virtues apart from Christ. That is your “good stuff”. It includes the stuff you are proud of and are tempted to boast in (Phil 3:4; 1 Cor 1:26-30). It includes your intelligence, your wisdom, your power, your glory, your strength, your ability to “do it”, your self-sufficiency. When this is used in ministry, it becomes a source of demands, beatings, and condemnation for people. They end up comparing themselves among themselves (2 Cor 10:12), they end up dividing into sects and parties over their favorite ministry that they want to emulate, and who they would like to be associated with and who is the best “badge of pride” they can wear to show that they are of “this person or that person”(1 Cor 1:12). They pursue to get close to the person they look up to so they can feel special about themselves. That is all the flesh can do, and that is what the world system is. The whole world system consists of people grasping for position (1 John 2:15-17).
Treasuring What the World Despises
New Testament ministry produces something different. It makes me repudiate everything that I could boast in that would make me someone you would want to affiliate with. You say, “why would I want anything to do with that guy? Oh, because He has Christ and I want Christ!” The only reason you should like me is because you like Christ. That is how Paul operated. He said that we have become the “offscourage” of the earth and a “spectacle” (1 Cor 4:9). We are a “fragrance of Christ” and in those who are perishing it is a fragrance of death unto death, and unto those who are being saved it is a fragrance of life unto life (2 Cor 2:15-16). God has chosen the foolish things, the obnoxious things, the things the world despises and the weak things in order to bring to naught everything that the world prizes. The things the world prizes are an abomination to God (1 Cor 1:26-28).
Through its wisdom and strength, the world chose not to know God. So, God chooses the offensive things like Paul and sticks him in a prison and makes him a stigma. He is surrounded with accusations and slander that everyone believes except for those who genuinely appreciate the New Testament Ministry because they have a vision of Christ. That is why they receive him, because they see what he is saying, and they know it comes from God.
Jesus said, “Father they have received your word and know that I came from you.” Everyone else rejected the Word except the disciples. Nobody could receive the things Jesus said. For awhile they wanted to be associated with Him because of the miracles and messianic hopes, but eventually everyone left Him when they realized that all He had to give them was His words. His disciples said, “you have the words of Eternal Life” (John 6:68). God’s way is not to choose something appealing in the flesh, glorious in the flesh. He chooses something that has no “form or comeliness that we should desire Him”(Is 53:2). Why do we desire Him? Because we are of God. That is why we come to the Word. We receive the New Testament ministry. We receive God’s speaking in Christ because we are of God. Ultimately that is what it proves. Whoever receives Him, shows that their works are “wrought in God” (John 3:21).
Ultimately it has something to do with something mysterious in God’s heart about who He foreknew (Eph 1:4-5). Yes, it has something to do with us believing and there is something of our will in that. You do not want to over-emphasize either aspect – (God’s will vs. ours). The main thing is that now that I am saved, I know that I am of God. I know I have the testimony of Christ. I have received what the world cannot receive (John 1:11-12). I know that I came to know the One that the world does not know (John 1:10). I have come to treasure the thing that the world despises. I have come to embrace the One the world rejects (Is 53:3). This is because of God’s work in my life. Ultimately, I cannot take credit for any of it.
You may struggle with free will versus predestination and it should be a struggle because the Bible presents both without resolving them. Anyone who attempts to resolve it ends up in either heresy of Calvinism or Arminianism. Both of those are works systems that offer no genuine security. But the fact is that ultimately my security is in Christ and that is because He chose me (2 Th 2:13). He reveals Himself to me and if I had a choice to believe, praise God. I am glad that part’s over now and I rest in Him and my trust is in Him and He is keeping me (1 Peter 1:5). I am not keeping myself. The way I know He is keeping me is because I believe in Him. You cannot shake that. You cannot take it away from me. Increasingly, in my life, it is becoming the most precious treasure. I am willing to count everything as dung to be associated with it (Phil 3:8). That is His work in my life. It is totally contrary to what I would naturally choose (Rom 8:7). You have to admit that nobody wants to go out to the wilderness and hang around with this ram skin covered tabernacle in the middle of nowhere with nothing to “do”. Only God can compel you to do something like that!
No Confidence in the Flesh
The flesh is really every part of my being that would reject Christ, the good and the bad. The “Good” people in this world reject Christ. The Powerful, the Philanthropic, the rich, the strong, they reject Christ. They do not need Him. They think it is foolishness (1 Cor 2:14). But we, having nothing, having been reduced to nothing through the circumcision of the flesh; all we want is Christ! That is what the true circumcision is. We exchange what we are and what we can do for what God says He has done in Christ. That becomes our treasure.
Php 3:4-11 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: (5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; (6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Who could say such things when they point to their religious history? “If there was a spiritual pursuit ordained by God that I could have followed to merit some kind of position before God and among my peers, I did it! I was ahead of them all!”
Php 3:7-11 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Again we really see what the flesh is. The flesh is what you put your confidence in. It is not just “the bad things I do”. No, the problem with the flesh is that it is the good things that you do that you put your confidence in that end up obstructing your journey in Christ. They make you a problem for others and their walk in Christ.
The “evil workers”, the “dogs”, and the “concision” have a root problem – they boast in the flesh. They have confidence in things they think are “gain.” Paul said in Timothy, “some people think godliness is a means of gain, and it is a means of great gain if it is accompanied with contentment.” How can I be content? The flesh produces discontentment because I think that with it, I should be able to purchase or merit something better for myself (1 Tim 6:5). Because of it, I think I deserve something. Contentment comes for those who do not think they deserve anything and find out that they’ve been exalted to the highest place in Christ. That takes a “counting of loss.”
A Counting of Loss
He is still talking about circumcision. What was Abraham’s circumcision? It was that what he thought was “gain” in Ishmael. That whole situation, trying to raise up an heir for God to fulfill God’s promise, had to be counted as loss. You know, when God asked Abraham in Genesis 21 to “sacrifice your only son whom you love” (Gen 22:2), it is the first time the word loves appears in the Bible. The way he phrases it almost like John 3:16 (God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son). Yet we know that Isaac was not Abraham’s only son. Ishmael was! He had said “Oh, that Ishmael may live before you!”(John 17:18). Ishmael was his first, and his favorite. That would be extremely hard to have to kick Hagar and Ishmael out of the house. He had to count what he considered to be “gain” as “loss” because God is not even going to acknowledge it. When God said, “Your only son” in reference to Isaac, He showed that He was totally excluding Abraham’s flesh from the picture. Anything that Abraham thinks is gain is “loss”. That is what he came to reckon when he was circumcised.
Our circumcision is this realization. What I count as “gain”, I learn to count as “loss”. This includes my religious history, my efforts to please God, my history of trying and struggling and all the problems it produced. None of this did me a bit of good in the things of God! It did not make me any more spiritual. It did not make me any more qualified. In fact, it did the opposite! I was backsliding the whole time I was in it. I lost my appetite for the Lord. I tried everything to get it back, but the heavens were like “brass” to me. For years I struggled in the flesh to try to please God in religion. I thought I was doing “okay”. That is the problem with the flesh. It deceives you into thinking you are doing something when actually you have lost the root of your spiritual life! You are not drinking from the Fountain at all (Jer 2:13; John 4:14).
Your activities are filling you with “dopamine hits” that make you think, “Oh, God must be pleased with me.” Actually, you are a “Dry branch” and a “cloud without water” and nobody’s getting fed from what you’re doing, they’re just watching you, saying, “wow that guy sure is doing a lot! I wish I could be like that.” The flesh produces these kinds of comparisons among ourselves. When we are listening to someone and what they’re saying is not our food but the fact that they are saying it and that we are associated with them is instead a badge of pride for us, or we want to be associated with the person or be like the person (in emulation) and you think they are our hero, somebody is operating in the flesh! That is not what genuine ministry produces is.
There was no honor with being associated with Jesus while He was on the cross. There was no honor being associated with Him even when He was risen. They had to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak of Him. They were hiding in the upper room for fear of the Jews (John 20:19), until the Spirit clothed them with power and enabled them to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8, Acts 4:33). Why did they need that? Because it is not an “honorable thing” to be associated with Him. The fear of persecution will shut your mouth.
Paul was the same way. Paul said, “I preach nothing but Christ and Him crucified.” He called the cross an “offense” and a “stumbling block” (Gal 5:11; 1 Cor 1:3). That ministry is expected to offend. It will “piss everyone off”. Yet that is what we have been associated with. That is what we have counted everything as loss to be associated with. Why would we do that? Certainly not because of our flesh! It is because we have been attracted and drawn by the New Testament Ministry to Christ and wed to Him as a pure virgin (2 Cor 11:2), and He is our bridegroom (John 3:29), our Beloved (Eph 1:6;Songs 6:3). We know there is gold lining on the inside of that ram skin covered tabernacle out in the wilderness. Nobody can see it unless they are brought inside, and that is what we have seen. We have seen the preciousness of Christ because our spiritual eyes are open. We are not just judging according to the flesh anymore (2 Cor 5:16). Our eyes are opened by the word and by the ministry of the Spirit to “approve that which is excellent”.
What it means to Gain Christ
Paul mentions all of these things in his religious history that he could boast in. However, he said whatever was “gains” he counted as “loss” on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus. He counts them as “dung” (Phil 3:8). All of the things that he thought were worth boasting about, he now counts as dung in order that he may “win Christ” or “gain Christ”. This is the spirituality that Paul presents; “gaining Christ”. This is not a matter of transforming yourself or becoming a better person or becoming more ethical or moral. It is not a matter of law keeping or meriting or earning rewards, but “gaining Christ”. How? He is wrought into me as a “Weight of glory” through faith (2 Cor 4:17).
In Paul’s ministry, he describes “gaining Christ” in many ways, but in 2 Corinthians he talks about how these momentary light afflictions are working in us to produce an “exceeding weight of eternal glory”. He says that a weight of glory is being “wrought into us” while we look “not to those things which are seen, but to the things which are unseen.” He talks about “beholding Christ” with an unveiled face and being transformed into that image from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:17-18). He refers to a New Testament Ministry that writes Christ with the Spirit of the Living God into the fabric of our being where Christ is actually written into us (2 Cor 3:3). That writing is a “weight of glory” that remains forever and shines forever, versus the Old Covenant ministry which was written on stones (2 Cor 3:7-8). Moses brought those stones down from the mountain and there was a fading glory that was so bright that he had to cover his face because of the glory of that ministry (Ex 34:29). However, it was a “fading” glory and it was a ministry of “condemnation and death” (2 Cor 3:7). Now the ministry of the New Testament which reveals Christ to us, is working an eternal weight of glory wrought into us by the Spirit of the living God as He gives life to us (2 Cor 3:6). That life is a kind of writing that makes us Epistles of Christ (2 Cor 3:3). He actually impresses Christ into us so that we are actually gaining Christ. There is something of Christ being wrought into us more and more.
In Ephesians 1, Paul prayed that we would receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him, that the eyes of our heart would be enlightened and we would know what are the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph 1:18). There is a glorious inheritance for God in the saints and it is called the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” This is Christ wrought into the Church so that the Church becomes the body of Christ, which is His “fullness” containing all His unsearchable riches (Eph 1:23). Everything that He is to be expressed and put on display in the Church, which Paul calls the “masterpiece of God” or the “workmanship of God” (Eph 2:10). This is the highest expression of God. It is Christ put on display in these vessels that He has selected and set aside for glory (Rom 9:23).
How do we gain Christ? It is through the knowledge of Him. From our perspective it is as we grow to know Him, but from God’s perspective it is as He works Christ into us. As we said in our Hebrews study, Hebrews 1 says that Christ is the “Express image” of the invisible God and the “Exact representation of His nature” (Heb 1:3). That word for “exact representation” is sometimes translated “Radiance of His glory” or “impress of His substance” Because the actual Greek word is “Charakte”. It is an engraving tool, such as a king would use to seal a letter with His tamp. He would put wax on the letter and then press the engraving tool into the wax to impress an image that was His signature marking it as from Him. That is what Christ is. Hebrews says, “in these last days God has spoken to us in His son, who is the image of the invisible God and the ‘impress of His Substance’.”
Christ on the one hand is God’s speaking to us and shining on us and bringing us the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians, God has “shined in our heart to illuminate the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). He is shining in our hearts with the knowledge of Christ. He is also “impressing” His substance into us so that Christ is wrought into us. That is why Paul says, “gaining Christ”. There is an element of the risen Christ that is wrought into us when we look away to Him through all our different situations. We are learning to live by gaining Christ. This is Paul’s teaching.
This is the spirituality of the New Testament; to be filled with Christ. It is for Christ to make His home in our hearts as Paul says in Ephesians 3 where he prays that God would “Strengthen us into the inner man by His spirit that Christ would make His home in our heart through faith” (Eph 3:17). This is so that we would know His love and be filled unto “All the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19). This is how God builds His house. He fills it with Himself as glory. This glory is in the riches of Christ. That is why it is called the “Riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” God has an inheritance. It is called the Church. That inheritance is just Christ multiplied and imprinted into the church. From God’s point of view, He is working Him into us and from our point of view we are growing in the knowledge of him and gaining Him. We are gaining Christ!
This is a phrase to really be familiar with. Paul says he counts everything that was gain to him as dung so that he may gain Christ. How can we gain Christ? Only he has authority to give Himself (John 10:18). I cannot make that happen. All I can do is believe just like Abraham. He could not make anything happen either. He finally had to say, “okay I count not my own dead body or the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. I put all my hope in the One who gives life to the dead and calls those things that are not as though they are. He has called me Abraham. HE has called me the father of many nations. He will bring forth a seed in the time of life. He is going to do it” (Rom 4:16-22). That is all we have. That is what justifies us and that is what qualifies us. The circumcision brings us back to that place of “I have nothing and can do nothing.” Sometimes this is after much struggle of trying to do something and “have” something. We are brought to an end of ourselves and we even get to a point where we count those things that we used to boast in as dung in order that we can gain Christ. We learn that this thing works by faith!
I have to enter the rest of God. I cannot make it happen. I cannot do it. I have to be brought into rest so that Christ can work in me. I have to reckon myself dead so that Christ can be alive in me. We reckon ourselves dead and present ourselves as those alive from the dead to God. We present our members to Him expecting that because Christ lives in us, He will be expressed (Rom 6:13;Rom 8:11). This is not in our timing and in our way but in His timing and in His way. But this way is primarily through the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. As we have seen everything works by “approving that which is excellent.” We are approving the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. We are growing in the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. It all comes down to knowledge. What do you know, who do you know? Christ! He is the replacement for everything!
Php 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
I suspect the word “Suffered” could be “tolerate.” You do suffer as these “Gains” get exposed and you start to count them as dung. However, it is worth it because you finally realize you did not need all those things. You were clinging to these things thinking they would merit you a position before God or men. You thought spirituality meant doing something for God or growing in something other than Christ. Now you begin to see spirituality is “gaining Christ” by knowing Him. All of these things have to be moved out of your way in order to make room for Him, and you are glad to be emptied out of your own righteousness and attainments. You count it all as loss, all as dung, in contrast with the excellency of the knowledge of Christ so that you may gain Him. So, there is a contrast between the things we thought were gain and “gaining Christ.” I cannot do it other than by God revealing Him to me. My pursuit is to know Him.
Not Having My Own Righteousness
Php 3:9-11 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
There are two kinds of righteousness. There is a righteousness by law keeping which no one could achieve, because the law is a ministry of condemnation and death and was given to expose and reveal sin (Rom 3:20). It was given as a schoolmaster to show you your need by magnifying sin and showing you how great the sin is (Gal 3:24). By trying to do it, you learn that you cannot do it. It prepares you to understand that you need to “gain Christ”. Then there is another kind of righteousness which God credits to those who “work not” but “believe on Him who justifies the ungodly” (Rom 4:5).
That is the righteousness of God Himself put on display in Christ (Rom 3:21). You either have Christ as your righteousness, who comes out from God, or you are trying to achieve your own righteousness. You cannot have both. If you have Christ, you have to drop the law. If you pick up the law, you lose Christ. In Galatians we see that they had cut themselves off from Christ and Christ had been made of no effect to them (Gal 5:4). They were trying to be justified again by the law. It does not mean they lost their salvation. They lost their sense of blessing (Gal 4:15). They lost the movement of the Spirit in their life and Christ was “invisible” to them. They lost their sense of Him. The heavens were “brass” (Deut 28:23) and now they were biting and devouring one another (Gal 5:15). This is what the flesh produces. Law and flesh make “dogs, evil workers and the concision”. The Galatians were being “Trained” to become “dogs” by the Judaizers who were trying to marry them again to the law.
Paul said in Galatians 2, “I through the law died to the law that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ, but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live I live by the faith of the son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” How do I live now? If it is not by trying to merit something or be a better person, what do I live by? I live by faith. My living now is a matter of believing who God says Christ is and what He has said that He has accomplished. I learned that He died for my sins and rose for my justification. I died with Him. He lives in me and He is my life. That is a fact that has already been accomplished and established. When I believed the gospel, I was sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. Christ came to dwell in me (Eph 1:13). The mystery of the Christian life is Christ “in you the hope of glory” (Col 1:27) I cannot make Christ live in me. All I can do is believe that He does!
It Works By Faith
The whole thing works by faith though. How did you receive the Spirit? “It by the works of the law or the hearing of faith?” (Gal 3:2:3). It was the hearing of faith. We hear the Gospel which tells us who Christ is and what He has accomplished and as we believe, that actually makes the Spirit active in our life. If we look away from Him and His word and back to ourselves, we are back to the flesh. So, this is something we need to learn. What we often do is start to measure ourselves and say, “I’m doing better than I used to do in this or that area”. Now we are in the flesh, because we are back in the performance and merit situation of law keeping trying to maintain position before God and not just faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is right now. I have nothing, I can do nothing, I count it all “loss”. Christ is excellent. He is the one in me and I want to gain Him. He is my life. The end!
The Devil may tempt you by saying “youll are you gaining Him?” You might be tempted to answer, “ don’t know. I used to do this and now I do not. I must be!” Now you are back to law. You either have law righteousness or Christ righteousness. There is no in-between. This is something you learn to do. I count everything as “dung” that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is out of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ. This is the righteousness which is of God.
The Special Resurrection of Confidence
Phil 3:(10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
When Paul says “attain to the resurrection” he is using a special word in the Greek. It is “out resurrection” or a “special” resurrection. It only appears once in the New Testament. He is speaking of an abundant entrance into the kingdom, full of rejoicing and confidence. Remember that John says, “abide in Him, little children, so that when He appears you may have confidence at His coming and not shrink back in shame” (1 John 2:28). There will be some who shrink back in shame because they never learned to appropriate Christ as their righteousness. Their conscience was not perfected. They stayed in their own righteousness trying to “merit” something before God. Their conscience will therefore condemn them when the Lord shows up in glory, just as Adam and Eve hid themselves in the Garden when God showed up after they had come to the knowledge of sin. They were full of sin consciousness so their response to God’s presence was to hide themselves.
I believe there may be Christians who will slightly recoil when Christ shows up in glory. It doesn’t mean they are not saved but it is the opposite of an abundance of confidence and rejoicing in Christ where I’m so happy to see Him and I’m running to Him and I’m not afraid because His perfect love casts out all fear. I know that fear had torment and judgment (1 John 4:17-18). And I am not under judgment. I have learned to appropriate Christ as my righteousness. I am not living by my performance; I am living by faith in Him. If I can do that today, then when He comes, I will do it in His presence. That is what we are training for. We are training to stand boldly and confidently in His presence when He comes. Every day we are learning to live not by our own righteousness but by Christ. We are learning to be found in Him, counting everything as loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. We are seeking to Gain Him and be found in Him. We are seeking not to have our own righteousness which is out of the law but that which is out of God and based on faith.
Being Conformed to His Death
Paul says that he seeks to know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. We do not want to know Him only doctrinally, but we want to know Him in us. He is in us! There is something called the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings and being conformed to His death. Doesn’t that sound awful? All it means is that I am learning to reckon myself dead and to agree with God’s judgment on the flesh and not look to it as the source of anything.
According to Romans 6 we are growing in the likeness of His death (Rom 6:5). Remember when we talked about John 20, the grave was right by the cross (John 19:41). It was in a garden. After they took Jesus off the cross, they “planted Him” in a garden. He was the Seed (John 12:24). He was planted in that burial. We were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him into baptism into His death (Rom 6:4). Our entrance into the death of Christ was through burial in a garden. We were made one with Him there. We were planted there with Him. Romans 6 says if we have been planted, or if we have grown with Him in the likeness of His death, we will also be in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom 6:4).
Now we are learning to live “not I, but Christ”(Gal 2:20). I am crucified. I am buried. I am in the tomb! The only person allowed to move is Christ! The next person to stand up has to be Christ! And when He stands up, I will stand with Him! That is my life. That is not just my future hope. That is how I am learning to live every day. This is something to meditate on until the light shines on you and you “get it”. It is mere words until it starts to make sense to you. Paul pursued to be “Conformed” to His death. We are growing in the likeness of His death. We do not understand it all at once. We have to learn experimentally that our righteousness is dung. That is what it means to come into the true circumcision and worship only in Christ and boast only in Him and have no confidence in the flesh.
There is a training that involves failure and defeat and unexplainable circumstances sometimes, and not having a way out. But then God makes a way out! There was no way out and God delivered you over to “Death” for Jesus sake so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in you (2 Cor 4:11). He does this again and again until you start to realize, “wow there’s another principle in me! Everything time I think I am defeated, every time I think I am wiped out, God brings my attention back to Christ. I see He is my life. Then all the sudden I have power to go again.” Where did that come from? That is Christ in you! When I was at the end of it all, Christ stood up. That’s what He does again and again until He starts to cause you to rejoice in Christ and know that every time He brings you into a situation where you’re pressed, it’s only because Christ is being impressed into you!
God does this to train us to look away from our circumstances and our righteousness and our merits and your attainments and what we think is “gain” and to count it all as “dung” and look to Christ! We learn to wait on Him expectantly because we know as always, He is going to raise us up. He always raises us up! That is the promise of the Christian life. We learn that over the years of experience with His faithfulness when we are faithless, He remains faithful. He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim 2:13). We learn that He abides in us and we are one with Him and H cannot deny Himself.
This confidence is built on the assurance of salvation. You have got to have a strong solid assurance of salvation from the word and know that He is your anchor and He’s never going to let you go. Once you have got that things start to make more sense. But if you think that He can throw you off or you are going to finally be defeated and that is going to be the “end” of you, then you don’t understand the Gospel yet. You need to bury yourself in it until it is your armor. Do not come up until you are clothed in it. Do not go watch TV, study the gospel. Do not go watching YouTube videos trying to figure out whether you are going to make the rapture or if that thing you saw last night was a Nephilim. Get yourself into the Gospel and bury yourself int it and come up with it as your armor so that you are clothed in Christ! That is the only protection from that conscience that will cause you to shrink back when He’s around.
So, this is what Paul is doing. He is seeking to obtain this abundant entrance into the presence of Christ full of confidence and rejoicing, which is what He hopes for all of us.
Being Perfected in This Kind of Pursuit
Php 3:12-15 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Here Paul says “I haven’t already attained, and I have not become perfect, but I pursue…” The religious Christians say, “see we need to be perfect.” That is not what Paul is saying. He is saying that he is learning how to count everything as loss. How am I conformed to His death? How can I know Him? How can I gain Him? I am not already perfect at doing this. How do I know? Because when the accusation comes, I want to justify myself. Some people spend a lot of time thinking, “what if the accusations are true? What if I really am this kind of person? Oh my gosh!” No, accept that you are that kind of person! Remember Jesus said agree with your adversary quickly while you are on the way! (Mt 5:25). Accept the judgment on your flesh. Agree with your accuser. Admit that God crucified you. The accuser cannot harm you. You are dead! “Fine Devil, I’m as awful as you told me I am. I am everything the law condemns. You’ve uncovered it!” What does that mean? I am crucified with Christ! All that does is put me on the cross so that I can establish the law (Rom 3:31).
Now I recognize that because I am so useless God is not expecting anything from me. He is not surprised and yet He died for me. He put me on the cross with Christ and now Christ is my life. There is no blame that you can put on Christ! He is risen in me! So that is a learning process to overcome the accusation of the enemy.
This is a learning process to overcome the accusation of your own conscience and the slanderous lies that the enemies throws your way through other saints and to learn to stand in Christ and be found in Him, not having your own righteousness which is out of the law. You are overcoming the temptation to boast in your own righteousness to justify yourself. You declare Christ as your righteousness. “Yeah, I agree with these accusations. I am an arrogant ass. That is why I had to be crucified. Thank God Christ accepts me, and He is my life now. He is making His home in my heart and my desire is not to have my own righteousness. You can have that. I am not desiring my own reputation. You can have that. You can trash it all you want. I count it as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ and I’m growing in Him, being found in Him!” Paul says he had not attained to it or perfected at doing this, but he was following. We are not perfect at doing this, we are learning. Sometimes we need the accusation as our training ground.
What is Paul seeking to gain? He is looking for the day when Christ comes and he is going to be sincere and without offense, filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the glory of God (Phil 1:10). He is going to be shining as a luminary holding forth the word of life and supplied with the Spirit of Jesus Christ, approving that which is excellent and growing in the knowledge of Christ. He is going to be counting everything as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and he is going to be found in Him not having his own righteousness.
This is the abundant entrance into the kingdom that Peter refers to when he says “if these things are in you abound, you will neither be barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and an abundant entrance into the kingdom will be ministered to you” (2 Peter 1:11). It just means how confident you are when He comes, which is based on the perfecting of your conscience and the ability to forget that which lies behind, to stop looking to yourself for the source of anything, and reckoning yourself dead with Chris and realizing that I can’t do anything. Christ has to do everything! We are learning to grow in the knowledge of Him and we always refer to Him for everything. Any accusation that comes my way I pass over to Him. You accuse me and so does the law. I agree. Condemn it to the cross, condemn me to the cross, and thank you Jesus. He is my righteousness. You are going to have to talk to Him now! This is what we are learning and being perfected to pursue!