FREED: from False Confidence to True Power | Philippians 3:1-11
Topic: New Testament Passage: Philippians 3:1–3:11
Christopher Rich – May 20, 2018
FREED | From Prison to Peace | Wk 8
FREED: from False Confidence to True Power | Philippians 3:1-11
Introduction | Where is your joy and security – Confidence
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we’re continuing our series FREED: From Prison to Peace.
What credentials are you working on? What’s your life resume? What are you proud off? Where are you looking for joy? What are the core truths, worldview, ideas, mantra, you’re building your life on. If what we know, believe, think impact what we do, then when we are taught things or believe things that are false, that are not true? Then applying something that is false to our life will not lead to greater freedom, health, flourishing, but will in fact keep us father from joy and security. When we place our confidence in things that are false In Christ we will see we’re FREED from False Confidence to True Power.
PART I |False Teaching | v3:1-3
Philippians 3:1-3 | Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—
Why is he writing? For a warning and to rejoice in the lord. There is a threat that lurks, not out in the world of persecution but in the religious types who, intentionally or not, seek to robs you of Joy, and keeps you feeling insecure. Paul has strong feelings about this: “I am about to say some things that are pretty intense but I want you to know I’m not bent out of shape or just on an angry tangent so all I am about to say is for the express for the purpose that you would have more joy in Jesus, that you would rest in the truth you would be warned and safeguarded from false teaching, belief, and understanding that will harm you.”
False teaching can be subtle and even sound good. Paul want’s people to be comforted and see there worth and value rightly. But to be clear This isn’t “who is telling you you’re not good enough?” It’s “Who IS telling you, you ARE good enough on your own?!” Or more accurately “Who has told you Jesus isn’t enough?” See he’s writing to people who have place their trust in Jesus but who are hearing teaching saying they’re not measuring up, but if they do xyx, (religious activities) will give you security and happiness. These teachers are Dogs (derogator in that day, now an aspirational lifestyle), evil, causing you to put confidence in your flesh. It’s evil for someone to tell you to have confidence in your own legalistic performance. Some times these “evil dogs” are ourselves telling us we aren’t doing enough. This is really strong language! Earlier he says “I don’t care about the guys who don’t like me, but still preach teach and follow Jesus.” But I can’t stand these guys who come in and tell Christians what Jesus has done for them is not enough. In dealing with this same issue in the Galatian church Paul says “if these guys are teaching circumcision is so necessary to be part of God’s people and that it is so important, I wish they would just go all the way with it and cut it all off.” Why so serious?! Because it comes back to the fundamental questions of who you are, what it means to be In Christ, what/who empowers us to act, where we direct our natural inclination to praise what is awesome, and how we turn from things that are false that will fail us. There is some joy and security and assurance in remembering what is true. Let me remind you who you are, what you now do, where you boast in, and what you need at walk away from to have greater joy and security:
FREED to be People of Promise – Identity, you are the circumcision (explain – Life dedicated to God) God made a Covenant to a people, that they would be holy and set a part for their joy and for them to be a blessing for others. The mark of this covenant was circumcision, and external marking to reflect an internal truth. Jesus, has arrived, He fulfills this covenant and says “I am giving you a new sign of the covenant, a new institution on where you are going to find your security, where you are going to find rest, where you are going to find joy and it’s in what I have accomplished on your behalf.” It happened on the Cross, but it’s remembered and marked not by circumcision but is now remembered and marked by communion. His flesh broken/torn, His blood shed and not your own. So you will symbolically and ceremonially take bread to remember the flesh and a cup of wine to remember the blood. That is how the promise is remembered.
FREED to be a Worshipper/servant of the Holy Spirit- These dogs come in telling you it’s your effort, your willpower, you haven’t done enough, you need to work harder to please God, to find His favor, to be His people, to live on His mission. This seems ok when you effort is great, things are rolling smooth, you’re holding it all together, but when (not IF) fail, falter, fade away, or become fickle you’re left with insecurity, and joy quickly transitions to doubt, and eventually despair. Let me tell you, you are people of the promise. You’ve been saved by Jesus work. You can now live as a worshipper (literally servant) of this new life of joy and security, NOT because of your power, or will, but empowered by the Holy Spirit.
FREED to Boast in Christ - Glory of Christ – Because you’ve been purchased by Him because of His promises, and you’ve be empowered by God to be his servant for His glory and your Joy, you can have all pride and glory directed to Jesus. These evil dogs are telling you have to be the hero of your story, their reward for all the pressure to perform is you get to laud yourself as the hero and boast in your accomplishments. He IS the hero of your story, so he’s treated like the Hero. This as the effect of making us:
FREED from self-confidence. So!!! Because you’re a covenant people/binding love, because you have been given power from the Holy Spirit, all glory and Honor go to Christ so you don’t put confidence in the flesh. If Jesus is the Hero there is no room for you to be the hero. It is also so freeing to have Jesus as the hero of the story, because than the success or failure of our story is not dependent on us, but Him. If you trust God’s character, promises, the work of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirt and all glory is to Christ you’re not making yourself more secure by hedging your bets by also placing confidence in yourself. Self-Confidence is so attractive, because it gives us the illusion of control. But it’s so self-deceiving. We still struggle.
PART II | False Confidence | v3:4-7
4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
We so easily place confidence in ourselves and WHEN we fail to measure up even to our own standards we blame either our effort, resolve, or some external factors. We believe most of the time we’d have more success/happiness/security if we simple were better at the things we endeavor to accomplish or have confidence in. If I had slightly better credentials, better equipping, better upbringing, then I would succeed, be secure and have joy. The problem usually isn’t that you haven’t tried to fill your credentials enough, or not had enough confidence in yourself. Paul in these verse is telling the church “Your problem isn’t too little confidence yourself, because I’ve tried that route and done better at it than you. If you have a reason to think you’re awesome, I you think you’ve tried the self improvement program and done well, I’ve got more.” You’re JV vs He’s Varsity on all the credentials and confident in the flesh. Religious Paul, minus Jesus, was by all accounts great at self-confidence and he has the credentials to prove it. Some are inherited some earned.
Confidence in your Family - People – 8th Day (Parents family lineage) you don’t get to pick your family, or your parents, but Paul wants the religious, the gospel haters, to know He’s got devout parents. They did all the ceremonial requirements of the law to a tee. I’ve got an amazing family. I was raised right. My family is awesome, they’ve accomplished so much. Just my arrival into history into this exemplary family is evidence of His favor to me. Where have you sought security, identity, and justification from your family?
Confidence in your Race/Nationality – I’m not a guy that is mimicking a culture, I am not a Greek or Roman who thought he would try on Judaism, I am from the people of Israel. I am part of the original chosen people of God from the nation that exists as an example to the rest of the world of faithfulness. More than just any Hebrew. I am a Benjamite, the one tribe that stuck with Judah, during a tribal civil war that led the rest of the nations into idolatry, we’re the best of God’s chosen people. This leads to a sense of pride in where/when you were born, compared to where someone else was born, than you have no control over. Where are you placing too much confidence in your race/nationality? Compared to others who are different?
Our PC Society likes to address it by talking about the concept of privilege but their response is to place unearned shamed where unearned favor is experienced. This is not helpful. Any experienced favor or privilege, grace, is to be received with joy and stewarded humbly focusing on others. What do you take pride in that you’ve clearly inherited? What do you boast in that you had no ability to influence at all?
You can’t choose your family, race, nationality, but there are choices we make to pursue paths that can lead to a sense of earned confidence, Paul’s path took what was inherited and add what could be earned.
Confidence in your Practice - Pharisee - I am going to be the best at knowing what God’s word says. I am going to be uber religious. I am going to be so particular about how I live my live according to these religious standards there will be no room or margin for error. My self-discipline will be what sets me apart from others, what makes me “good”, righteous, etc. “separation is in the preparation” Discipline is wise, discipline can be productive, but our ability to be disciplined or to practice good habits cannot be where our confidence is found. It to easily drives us to pride. Even if not religious, we do this in resting in our education, our careers, or other times our self-discipline or career path has led to success.
Confidence in your Passion – Intensity/Zeal – Passionate so much so that I’ll go on the offensive and be protective of it. I am literally going to go oversee persecution and murder for those who would say that salvation, joy, security, flourishing isn’t found in my ability to successfully navigate life. I have great zeal for crafting a life that I find pleasing where I can have self confidence that cannot/will not be shaken by others. You can be intense and passionate but if it’s directed wrongly it will lead you farther from peace.
Confidence in your Performance- Blameless. (outward display before others) Great guy, good neighbor. What is true righteousness? But when we rest in our outward performance we misunderstand the depth of true righteousness. It goes beyond the surface down to the heart level. And the standard is higher than we think. He’s short changed righteousness to be how he is seen by others or in comparison to others. God has said “be holy for I am holy” not better than the few people you’ve picked to be around you.
Where are you trying to prove yourself? What does this look like for us today if we’re not careful?
Growing up in a Christian Home. Serving (4 G’s) nailing it. These are all good things, but they’re not good enough. They are not what leads to security and joy. These resume enhancers, these credentials are not neutral in terms of their ability to bring us into the presence of God in secure and joyful relationship with Him. In fact, they most often hinder because they provide a false sense of security and false sense of pride that drives us father away from our true condition of need. Christians are first, people in great need. We are dependent. When we rely on our own credentials we need to be reminded we’re just not as impressive as we think you we are. To hear this should be good news because it gives us the potential to see our true dependence. When we are struggling with Pride the answer in the gospel, in seeing Jesus is HUMILITY.
But there is another challenge. Some of us come in with an entirely different set of credentials we carry and a resume we’ve read that we are not brandishing, or not proud of. We need to be reminded that God’s love for us in Jesus is real that our value and dignity is greater than we think it is. If the answer for pride is humility, when we are struggling with shame and despair God’s answer to us in Jesus is HOPE.
Both of these happen when we’re met by, encountered by Jesus. Paul comes to the great transition of reconciliation between what he has been measuring himself against and what the actual standard is causing a cataclysmic shift in his economic calculation about his own self-worth and where he has placed his confidence. Realizing the whole time in his life he thought he was living in, and building up a palace of His own accomplishments and credentials, he was really living in, and building up, a prison. It’s in the prison we find ourselves in that we’ve convinced our self is so amazingly fantastic OR we know is terrible but we believe the walls are strong we can never get out. It’s in that prison that Jesus bursts trough the wall like the Kool-aid man shining light into our darkness and telling us to get out of the prison with ourselves and experience peace WITH Him. All of the sudden we see where we’ve been and everything we counted as some sort of gain is actually not gain, is not neutral or even worthless but is now actually seen truly as loss.
PART III | False Accomplishments | v3:8-9
Philippians 3:8-9 | 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
Knowing what is true, what is truly gain, what is actually seen as loss, changes how we see everything we’ve previously seen as gain. When we meet Jesus, the wall is knocked down. We are with Him, He is with us in the cell, he helps us see our cell for what it is. He then gets to work (at times with us) tearing it all down brick by brick so that we don’t have to fear being trapped again. It is a painful deconstruction than also includes a glorious reconstruction. All of the point is the Knowing Jesus (actual communion with God)
FREED to See Jesus as valuable. The worth of Knowing Jesus, (not knowing about Jesus) having communion and relationship where Knowing Christ Jesus as “My Lord” an explicitly personal relationship. This knowing Him, this Lordship from Him, surpasses in worth the worth of all of our credentials and accomplishments. But we have to see the worth, the value, the gain of life with Jesus. The worth increases as we see Jesus as both our savior and our Lord. Paul was made for purpose (reflect glory) that purpose was perverted (receive glory) He’s had a good view of himself, didn’t think he needed God, met by Jesus convicted of sin that all his righteousness was not good enough, traded it in for life with Jesus. Jesus value increases ours decreases.
FREED to see our accomplishments as Crap_ It’s all rubbish, this doesn’t really translate as strong as it should be because “rubbish” is just British garbage which is pretty tidy. This rubbish is truly repulsive. In light of, in contrast with, everything you have accomplished, everything you’re proud of, everything you are looking for security in, everything you hope will protect and provide for you, it is all a big steaming pile of crap compared to life with Jesus. All of the loss is not just a loss to humility, a giving up, or an emptying but it’s an exchange. We relent from our efforts to accomplish perfection and true righteousness; and in doing so it is not ultimately losing but actually gaining something better. You will only make this exchange when you see your efforts and good works for what they truly are. Crap. Isaiah 64:6 says all of our good works before God are but filthy bloody rags. That’s pretty worthless. We have to see our work for what it is and hand it all over to Jesus who takes the sum of our life’s crappy accomplishments and makes us new and clean. God takes what is dirty and makes it clean. Life with Jesus isn’t a call asking you to trade in a great life for a crappy life. It’s a call to trade in what you think is great but is actually crap for something that is truly glorious. One where we get the new identity and find our true selves not in ourselves but IN Christ.
We GAIN life with Jesus AND we gain the righteous life OF Jesus that can never be achieved by ourselves but can be receive from God through faith in Christ. The question you need to ask yourself is what is better? Your Best efforts or God’s? How well can you perfectly fulfill God’s standards of perfection?
PART IV | True Power | v3:10-11
Phil 3:10-11| 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
So if we are going to trade this false righteousness born out of your false credentials and accomplishments there is going to be a true power needed. Because we know our power is weak, our flesh is weak. The power of sin over us and is us is strong keeps wanting to pull us back into prison. We need a power that can only come from God that is truly overwhelming in it’s ability to break us out of our prison of self-confidence, a power that can keep us out of prison, to keep us from spiritual death, to secure for us life eternal now and forever. How about a power that broke Jesus out of the tomb! How about a power that brings a dead Jesus back to life, that power can to bring us true life, security, joy, freedom. When we are in Christ we can see our need as greater and also know a God who is greater than our need.
The next step from knowing His power is knowing his suffering. Because we are empowered and brought to life, given new life by the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead we can endure suffering for His sake. We don’t search for suffering thinking it will lead to our salvation because Jesus already suffering for our salvation and says “it is finished”. However, we can share in His suffering being in a broken place that is still filled people who are searching for happiness and security in themselves for themselves instead of Joy, freedom, lasting security in and with God.
With this true power we can confidently live spiritually alive in the mist of and in contrast to a world that is spiritually dead. Pointing people to life with Jesus, praying for the Holy Spirit to make dead people alive the same way Jesus died and was risen.
So we can gain true joy in the Lord, security in our identity and destiny with Him, when we experience the loss of false confidence because we’ve been given the Power of His resurrection allowing us to even endure suffering ( sharing the experience a bit of what it was like to be Jesus) attaining and even enjoying the new resurrected life now and forever when we TRUST JESUS!
More in FREED | From Prison to Peace | Philippians
June 24, 2018FREED: To Contentment | Philippians 4:10-23
June 17, 2018FREED: To Peace in Conflict | Philippians 4:2-9
June 10, 2018FREED: to Present Maturity and Future Glory | Philippians 3:17-4:1