Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian congregation. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first nine verses of the fourth chapter. When we come to these nine verses we prepare for epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the philippian saints yo come to a close. An epistle which began with the apostle expressing his confidence in the God while he served to fulfill, to perform and complete the work which he began in them is now drawing to a close. This epistle in which the apostle speaks of consolation in Christ and fellowship of the Spirit and using those two realities to appeal to them be like-minded and of the same mind is preparing to come to an end. This same epistle in which the apostle Paul declares death over his previous life was now coming to a close with final remarks which he seeks to leave with the Philippians. Pause for a moment and consider the eight and reality of the words just mentioned, for within the third chapter of this epistle we find the apostle Paul making one of the most powerful statements of death in all of Scripture. It is true the apostle Paul wrote about being crucified with Christ when writing unto the Galatian congregation. It is true that when writing to the saints which were at Rome the apostle Paul wrote and spoke about being baptized with Christ in death and being buried with him in baptism. What we find in this particular passage, however, is language that takes this reality to an entirely different level. When we come to the third chapter of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians we find the apostle rehearsing those things from his previous life before Christ as trophies of which to brag and boast about—that was, until he came to know and be found in Christ.
It is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the third chapter of the epistle unto the philippian saints, for within this particular epistle the apostle set forth those realities which he could present before men as trophies of which to brag and boast. Isn’t it interesting that what man finds to be impressive and remarkable our Father in heaven is not as easily impressed with. I can’t help but think of how many times we have attempted to bring our accomplishments before the throne of God as though they were something to brag and boast about. Consider how many in the last days would even dare bring before the throne of God as trophies the fact that they prophesied in His name, and in His name cast out demons, and the Lord will turn to them and command them to depart from them, and declare unto them that he never knew them. We must recognize and understand that what might very well seem like it impresses man does not impress our Lord in the slightest. Isn’t it amazing that we can even prophesy in the name of Christ and even cast out demons and perhaps even heal the sick and raise the dead, and yet Christ can still declare unto us that He never knew us. How absolutely incredible it is to be actively engaged in ministry and good deed and works and yet not be known at all in heaven by the Lord? Stop for a moment and consider that reality—the reality that it is possible to think that even ministry and our good works can somehow be brought before the throne of God as trophies and accomplishments, and yet the Lord can and will emphatically proclaim and declare unto you that He never knew you. Perhaps the greatest question I am finding myself asking myself right now is how much stock do I place in anything and everything but knowing Christ and being known of and known by Him.
Consider if you will the words and language which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian saints in the third chapter, which are in fact a marked declaration and statement of death to that life which he had before coming to and being found in Christ. Beginning with the fourth verse of the third chapter we find the following words written by the apostle Paul: “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinkers that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I adore: 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; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 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, 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: that I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 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. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:6-16). With these powerful and pointed words the apostle Paul emphatically proclaims and declares death over his old life—death over those things in his previous life which he would have boasted of before men. It is true the apostle Paul did in fact declare that he was crucified with Christ, and it is true that the apostle Paul did declare that he was buried with Christ in baptism, but the words and remarks we find in this passage of Scripture take this reality to an entirely different level.
PROCLAIMING DEATH OVER OUR TROPHIES! PROCLAIMING DEATH OVER B.C! PROCLAIMING DEATH OVER OUR PREVIOUS LIFE BEFORE CHRIST! As I am sitting here this morning I am completely gripped and confronted with the overwhelming reality of whether or not we as the saints of God are willing to once and for all put to death our life which we engaged ourselves in before Christ. One of the most powerful pages in all of Scripture is a page that might not even necessarily have any words on it, and it is the page that lies directly between the Old Testament and the New Testament. This particular page might in fact even be blank, and I am convinced that the loudest and single greatest page in the entire canon of Scripture might very well be the page that has no words on it. This particular page not only separates the Old Testament and the Old Covenant from the New Testament and the New Covenant, but this particular page also prepares readers of the Scripture that when the Old Testament draws to a close it is not the end of the matter. This particular page which is found between the Old and the New Testament is such a powerful and emphatic statement that when you come to the end of the Old Testament there is more which is to come, and that the words of Malachi weren’t the end of the story. This particular page which exists between the pages of the Old Testament and the New Testament screams and loudly proclaims that there is something taking place which separates the Old Covenant from the New Covenant. What we find and what we read and what we experience in the Old Testament is in fact the Old Covenant which would be brought to a close after four hundred years of silence. How absolutely incredible it is that between these two covenants there was four-hundred years of silence before the power of the reality of “A.D.” would be manifested within and upon the earth. This particular page within the Scripture marks the separation between that which was found “B.C.” [before Christ], and that which is found “A.D.” [after Christ]. What I so love about this page is that it suggests that there is a marked and powerful transition that takes place between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and that with the introduction of the New Testament something entirely and altogether different is being manifested within the earth.
Perhaps the single greatest reality we can experience within and throughout the course of our lives is that transition between what is found before Christ and what comes after Christ. In all reality, I would dare state that one of the single greatest reasons why countless men and women aren’t able to truly walk in the divine reality of a life which is found after Christ is because they have not truly walked away from and pronounced death over their old life which was found before Christ. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote when writing unto the Ephesian church, for if you turn your attention to the second chapter of this particular epistle, you will find powerful language concerning this marked transition between our lives before Christ and our lives after Christ. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the second chapter of this epistle beginning with the first verse: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made night by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:1-13).
When writing to the Corinthian congregation in the second letter which he sent unto them we find the apostle Paul proclaiming and declaring unto them that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). With these words the apostle Paul emphatically declares that if any man be in Christ, that particular individual is a new creation, and that old things are passed away, and behold, all things are become new. We dare not miss or lose sight of the significance and importance of these words, for the apostle Paul clearly states that the direct manifestation and work of being in Christ is a new creation that is marked by old things having passed away and all things becoming new. If you want to truly know and understand whether or not you are in fact a new creation in Christ you need only ask yourself if old things have passed away, and if all things have become new. The apostle Paul expresses this reality when he declares that those things which he once thought and counted as gain for him—those things he now counted loss for Christ. What’s more, is the apostle Paul goes on to write and declare that he in fact counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. The apostle Paul takes this to an entirely different level when he writes and declares that it was for Christ Jesus whom he suffered the loss of all things, and does in fact count them but dung, in order that He might win Christ, and be found in Him. What I absolutely love about what we find in this particular section within the epistle written to the Philippian saints is how the apostle Paul speaks of being found in Christ, and not having his own righteousness, which was of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ. IN order to truly understand how incredibly significant these words of the apostle Paul truly are it’s necessary to turn back to the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, and specifically the sixty-fourth verse of the chapter. In fact, if you begin reading with and from the fourth verse of this chapter you will find the following words:
“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those in continuance, and we shall be saved. But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities” (Isaiah 64:4-7).
When you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the third chapter of his epistle which was sent unto the Philippian saints and congregation you will find him first speaking of a righteousness which is by the law, and declaring himself to be blameless according to this particular brand of righteousness. As he wrote to the Philippian saints and followers of Jesus Christ he not only spoke of and declared a righteousness which was by the law, but he also declared himself to be blameless. This is actually quite remarkable when you consider the fact that the apostle Paul has much to say about those who attempt to attain and obtain righteousness according to the law which was given by Moses when writing unto the Galatian congregation. The apostle Paul emphatically declared unto the Galatian churches that the law could not produce the type of righteousness which was truly pleasing and acceptable before the living God, and that the law was but a schoolmaster preparing us for that moment when we could come unto Christ. The apostle Paul knew that there was a righteousness which came by the law, and he declared that according to that righteousness he was indeed found blameless. What we must recognize and understand, however, is that we might find ourselves to be blameless according to the righteousness which is by the law, and yet find ourselves having absolutely no righteousness which comes by faith in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul first sets forth the reality that before Christ he had a righteousness which was by the law, but the apostle then goes on to write and declare that he sought to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christy, the righteousness which is of God by faith. We must recognize and understand that which the apostle Paul is writing here, for the apostle Paul is clearly setting forth a powerful difference and distinction between the righteousness we can obtain and attain prior to and before Christ, but there is an entirely different righteousness which can be found in Christ after we are found to be in Him. It is absolutely incredible that the prophet Isaiah proclaimed and declared according to the word of the Lord that our righteousness is as filthy rags, which has been interpreted as dirty menstrual rag. When you consider the reality that Isaiah declared that our righteousness is as filthy rags, and when you consider that the apostle Paul counts as dung those things prior to his life in Christ, you have to conclude that the apostle Paul concludes that even the righteousness which he believed himself to have possessed prior to being found in Christ should be counted as dung.
The more I read and consider the words which the apostle Paul writes unto the Philippian saints and followers of Jesus Christ, the more I am gripped and completely captivated by the reality of reaching the place where we pronounce a marked and definitive death over everything that was in our lives prior to coming to and being found in Jesus Christ. When I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Philippi I can’t help but be confronted with the reality that there must come a definitive moment within our lives when we completely and entirely put to death everything that we counted as gain before coming to and being found in Christ. I continue to believe that one of the greatest dangers we as the saints of God face is when we refuse and fail to put to death—not only our old man, but absolutely anything and everything which we once counted as gain in the natural and physical sense. The apostle Paul was very clear and adamant that those things he once counted as gain he now counts as loss, thus proclaiming a marked and noticeable death to all those things. What’s even more interesting and intriguing when reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote is that this doesn’t merely touch the righteousness which he believed he attained by the law, but it also touched the zeal he believed himself to have possessed, as well as his lineage and heritage. Please note that when writing to the Philippian church and congregation the apostle Paul not only wrote of being circumcised the eighth day, thus fulfilling a requirement of the law, but he also speaks of his being of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, and being a Hebrew of Hebrews. Absolutely everything the apostle Paul writes in this particular passage of Scripture he once counted as gain within his life, and he once lived for such realities. The truth of the matter, however, is that when he came to Christ, his life was dramatically and radically altered in a profound sense. When the apostle Paul came to Christ—anything and everything that was a part of his life prior to that reality became a distant memory, and that which was no longer worth being counted as gain. What’s more, is the apostle Paul recognized and realized that he could not hold on to anything he once counted as gain if he was going to truly be found to be in Christ. If we are truly going to be found in Christ we must be willing to forget those things which are behind, we must be willing to suffer the loss of all things, and we must be willing to count those things which were once gain for us as loss for Christ.
WHEN YOU BET ON CHRIST, YOU LOSE IT ALL! I fully recognize and realize that these words might in fact not make any sense to you, or even seem relevant, however, I am convinced that these words must be carefully considered and understood by us if we are to truly follow Christ. If you have ever watched or played poker you will know that there is something known as going all in, which literally means putting all your chips on the center of the table and betting big. When you play poker and when you make the decision to go all in, you are betting on the fact that what you have in your hand is greater than what your opponents have in their hand. You only go all in and put all your chips on the table when you believe that what you are holding is the winning hand in order that you might not be able to retain what you put on the center of the table, but also take control of that which was put on the center of the table by other platers. The interesting thing about one player going all in is that more often than not it puts pressure on other players to determine whether or not they are willing to go all in. If a player is not confident in the hand that they have and they are presented with the option of going all in or folding, more often than not they will fold. Now, there are certain times when a player who decides to go all in has carefully played—not only the game, but also his opponents—and is actually bluffing his opponents to fold in order that he might seize control of the pot. Now, I will admit that I am by no means an expert on the game of poker, and that I have played it only a handful of times throughout the course of my life. With that being said, however, the one thing we can be certain of when we consider this game is that the ultimate goal of this game is to seize what belongs to your opponents. When you play this game and you put your chips on the center of the table you do so in order that your chips might seize control of the chips which other players and opponents have. The reason I mention this is because when you go all in, and when you bet big in the game of poker you usually do so in order that you might win big and hopefully not suffer any loss. When you make the decision within your life to bet on Christ—a decision which in all reality is going all in—you must understand that by doing so you suffer the loss of all things. When you choose to go all in with Christ and bet on Christ you can fully expect to suffer the loss of all things. In fact, I am convinced that if you are going to speak to anyone concerning going all in with Christ you must emphatically declare unto them that such an action will ultimately mean suffering the loss of all things.
The question I am presented with right now is whether or not I am willing to suffer the loss of all things within my own life. If you are being truly honest with you, and truly honest with the God whom your profess to serve or want to serve, are you really willing to suffer the loss of all things? Are you truly willing to not only suffer the loss of all things, but are also willing to count all things as loss for the sake of knowing Christ and being found in Him? The reality of what the apostle Paul wrote in this particular passage of Scripture is not only that he himself counted as loss those things which he once counted as gain, but he also suffered the loss of all things. What I find absolutely astonishing and remarkable when I read the words of the apostle Paul is that while he acknowledged that he suffered the loss of all things which were in his life prior to being found in Christ, he went on to declare that those things which he suffered loss of he in fact counted as dung, in order that he might win Christ. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that in order for us to obtain and attain the knowledge of Christ Jesus, we must count all things as loss for the sake of that knowledge. We must understand that if we are going to win Christ, and if we are going to have a righteousness which is found in Christ, we must be willing to suffer the loss of all things, and count as dung all those things which we once counted and held on to so tightly. What’s more, is that if we are truly going to reach forth unto those things which are before us, and if we are truly going to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus we must forget those things which are behind. There is tremendous language within this particular passage of Scripture that brings us face to face with the fact that we must be willing to suffer the loss of all things and be left with nothing but Christ. The question that I must ask myself first, and then must ask you next is whether or not Christ is in fact enough for you. What would you do, and how would you respond if Christ was the only thing you had within your life? Would you be satisfied with your life if the only thing you had was Christ and nothing else? Is Christ alone enough for you? Is Christ alone enough? Are you willing to suffer the loss of all things in order that the only thing you are left with is Jesus Christ? How we answer this question can and will dramatically and radically alter the entire course of our lives, and yet we must be willing to answer it and not shirk or balk at coming face to face with it.
COUNTING AS LOSS! SUFFERING THE LOSS! COUNTING AS DUNG! FORGETTING THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE BEHIND! For the apostle Paul there was nothing from his previous life prior to Christ that was worth holding on to or clinging on to. For the apostle Paul, when he went all in and bet on Christ, he suffered the loss of all things temporal, physical and natural, in order that he might lay hold of and apprehend something far greater. I myself am being confronted with the fact of whether or not I am willing to suffer the loss of all things in order that I might win, in order that I might gain, in order that I might lay hold of Jesus Christ. If I was left with nothing else in this life save Jesus Christ and Christ alone, would that be enough for me? I am absolutely and utterly amazed at how long and how often I have lived with a “Christ plus” mentality and a “Christ plus” attitude within my life. What I mean by these statements is that I may very well desire Christ, but I don’t desire Christ alone. I may very well desire Christ, but Christ alone is not and has never been enough for me. What’s more, is that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have spent countless days attempting to lay hold of and apprehend Christ while simultaneously attempting to lay hold of various other things in order that I might add to the reality of Christ within my life. In all reality, I would dare say that if you or I should ever live with a “Christ plus” mentality and attitude, Christ is not enough for us. Despite the fact you might choose to disagree with me on that statement, it nonetheless holds true on multiple levels. One of the greatest games we can play in our lives is pretending that Christ is in fact enough for us, when in all reality we know that Christ isn’t enough for us. We play a dangerous game when we may in fact desire to win Christ and lay hold of Christ, yet we aren’t willing to suffer the loss of all things—those things which we once counted as gain. Perhaps the question which should and must be asked right now is what have you attempted to add to Christ? What are you attempting to add to Christ within your life right now at this very moment? Is Christ alone enough for you, for do you feel the tremendous need to add anything and everything you can to Jesus Christ? If Christ alone is not enough for you, I would strongly suggest that you reevaluate your life and see exactly what you are unwilling to let go of. If Christ alone is not enough for you, and if you need various other things to stimulate and sustain you within and throughout the course of your life, there is something seriously deficient and lacking within your heart and life. Please don’t find these words to be condemnatory or accusatory, for I know that I myself am completely and utterly guilty of Christ not being enough for me. I know that there have been countless times when I have lived my life as though Christ alone is not enough, and Christ alone has never been enough. This is absolutely and incredibly dangerous, and can bring us to a place where we attempt to make every attempt to add to Christ that which is unholy and unhealthy. Oh that we would make it our singular and sole desire and ambition to live with Christ being enough for us, and live the fulness of the reality that Christ alone is enough for us all the days of our lives.