Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul sent unto the saints which were at Philippi. More specifically today’s passage is found in the third chapter of this New Testament book. “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 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: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of 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 I do, 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 3:1-16).
“Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:17-21).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find one of the most powerful and notable passages written by the apostle Paul. It is in this chapter the apostle Paul begins and opens with perhaps one of the most necessary realities within the life of a Christian who trusts and places their confidence in the living God. The third chapter of this epistle begins and opens with the apostle Paul instructing and admonishing the saints to rejoice in the Lord. Pause for a moment and stop and consider how incredibly significant these words truly are within the life that particular one who trusts in the name of the Lord. What’s more is I find myself asking you when the last time was you were able to truly rejoice in the Lord. When was the last time you truly took the time to rejoice in the Lord? When was the last time you took the time to rejoice in the Lord regardless of the situation and circumstances you were facing? Have you ever taken the time to truly let yourself go in rejoicing in the Lord—and not just rejoicing but rejoicing with your whole heart? Have you ever taken the time to rejoice in the Lord even if your whole world is falling apart? Have you ever been walking through something so incredibly difficult in your life and yet there was absolutely nothing that could stop you from rejoicing in the Lord?
WHAT WOULD STOP YOU FROM REJOICING IN THE LORD? I am sitting here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage and I can’t help but think about the tremendous truth of whether or not there presently is or there presently would be anything to keep you from rejoicing in the Lord. In all reality I am absolutely amazed at the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for when the apostle Paul was writing these words he was sitting in a prison cell. We don’t know what prison the apostle Paul was sitting in, however there is something truly incredible about the apostle Paul sitting in a prison cell and instructing others to rejoice in the Lord. Having said these we must needs recognize that it was while the apostle Paul was in a prison in the city of Philippi that he himself was forced to reckon on whether or not he could rejoice in the Lord. If you turn and direct your attention to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle Paul and Silas being put in prison in the city of Philippi. In all reality I would dare say that the foundation and core of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture might have in all reality been directly linked and connected to that time when he and Silas were thrown in prison and secured with stocks. Oh there is a tremendous truth surrounding this particular truth and what is found in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Paul would and could not write something which he himself was not willing to do. The apostle Paul could not admonish the Philippian saints to rejoice in the Lord—especially while he himself was in a prison cell at the time—if he himself had not learned how to rejoice in the Lord in all situations and circumstances. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning to read with and from the first verse:
“Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days” (Acts 16:1-12).
“And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatria, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attained unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the. Name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks” (ACTS 16:13-24).
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house” (Acts 16:25-34).
“And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? Nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed” (Acts 16:35-40).
It is in the words which are found in this passage of Scripture where you find the apostle Paul and Silas being taken from the public place and being thrust into the prison—and not only thrust into prison but thrust into the inner prison and had their feet made fast in stocks. If there is something that truly astonishes and amazes me about this passage it’s that it was in the midnight hour when Paul and Silas prayed before and unto the Lord their God. Not only this but you will find these two men praying and singing praises unto God. There is something truly astonishing and powerful about this passage of Scripture for despite the fact that they were thrust into prison and their feet were made fast in the stocks they found the strength, the courage and the fortitude to pray. What’s more is that while they prayed they also sang praises unto God in the hearing of all the prisoners. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something truly astonishing and powerful about these two men who found themselves in prison and yet they were able to pray and sing praises unto God. When the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippians, saying, “Rejoice in the Lord”—not only did he do so while he himself was in prison but he also remembered what it was like when he and Silas were thrust into prison there in the city of Philippi. It would be there in Philippi the apostle Paul and Silas would be wrongly and falsely accused—and only wrongly accused but also uncondemned and thrown into prison. The apostle Paul and Silas were taken from the city square and/or the city streets and thrust into prison by those who cared only about their wallets, purses and pockets. The apostle Paul and Silas were taken from the public places and thrust into prison simply because they had cast out an unclean spirit from a damsel who followed them declaring that they were men who followed the Lord Jesus.
What I so absolutely love about the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle written unto the Philippian saints—those who undoubtedly were aware of his presence in the prison which was present among them in their own city. In fact I can’t help but wonder if some of those earliest converts from that congregation of saints weren’t the jailor and his entire household who came to know the Lord Jesus after the mighty miracle and supernatural work which took place in the prison cell on that night at midnight. Is it possible that when the apostle Paul wrote these words which are found in this passage of Scripture he thought back and remembered his time in the Philippian jail when he and Silas not only prayed but also sang praises before and unto the living God? I find it absolutely incredible to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and consider how the apostle Paul not only admonished others to rejoice in the Lord when he himself was sitting in a prison cell but he also remembered what it was like when he was in a prison cell with Silas in Philippi and prayed and sang praises before and unto the Lord God. There is something truly astonishing and remarkable about the words which are found within the third chapter for the words presented here bring us face to face with the incredible reality of the apostle Paul admonishing the saints which were at Philippi to rejoice in the Lord. I have to admit that as I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I find myself being challenged to rejoice in the Lord—and not only rejoice in the Lord but rejoice in the Lord always.
I am sitting here today and I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly captivated with the words found in this passage of Scripture and how the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian saints and admonished them to rejoice in the Lord. What I find truly incredible about the words found in this passage of Scripture is that the apostle Paul not only admonished them to rejoice but to rejoice in the Lord. There is a great need to recognize and pay attention to this for when we consider the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian we find him not merely instructing them to rejoice but to rejoice in the Lord. We must needs understand that there is a vast difference between rejoicing and rejoicing in the Lord. There is something incredibly significant in recognizing merely rejoicing and actually rejoicing in the Lord. There are those who might very well find reason to rejoice and yet never rejoice in the Lord. What we must needs understand is that when we commit ourselves to rejoicing we must have at the very heart and center of it rejoicing in the Lord. With this being said we need to understand that in the Lord we always have a reason to rejoice—this despite whatever we might go through. When the apostle Paul wrote the words which are found in this passage of Scripture he was bringing the Philippian saints into the place where they recognized that the Lord was the ultimate source of their rejoicing. The apostle Paul had found a place in the Lord where he could rejoice in Him regardless of what he was facing or enduring. In all reality we must needs understand this for those who are not only able to rejoice but also rejoice the Lord it is a place in the Lord where it makes absolutely no difference what you are going through.
With this being said there is something to be said about the words which are found in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. If you turn and direct your attention to the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the second New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints he specifically mentions the afflictions, trials and troubles he experienced within his life—not only as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ but also as a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus. In order to truly understand the words the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture we must needs recognize that he had learned in all things and in all circumstances to be content. Not only had the apostle Paul learned to be content in anything and everything he experienced but he had also learned how to rejoice in his afflictions. What we must needs understand is that when the Lord is at the very center of your rejoicing you can rejoice regardless of what is going on all around you. The whole world could be falling apart around you and yet you could rejoice in the Lord despite and regardless of what you’re facing. You could be enduring trials, troubles and tribulations and yet there is a place in the Lord where you can rejoice in Him despite what you’re going through. The apostle Paul was such that could rejoice in the Lord despite the trials, the troubles and the tribulations which were taking place all around him. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints:
“But we. Have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but nor forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also be Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of may redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not sent: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:7-18).
“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more. Frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am. Not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands” (2 Corinthians 11:23-33).
“It is expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necesiities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).
Having said this I would also like to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. It is in this particular chapter where the apostle not only speaks of the conflict which exists between the flesh and the Spirit but also the suffering and afflictions we face in this life. In all reality the apostle Paul spent a considerable amount of time writing and speaking of the sufferings we face in this life for he recognized and knew that we must through many trials and troubles enter into the kingdom of heaven. The apostle Paul knew and understood that we would indeed experience trials, troubles and tribulations in this life and that there was a need to endure them as good and faithful soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the eighth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome we find him speaking of our adoption as the sons and daughters of the living God and how we are able to cry out unto Him “Abba, Father.” With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the twelfth verse of the eighth chapter of this epistle:
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compoared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth ye yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:12-39).
I absolutely love the words which are found in this passage of Scripture in the epistle written unto the Philippian saints for what we find here is a powerful word written unto these dear saints. The apostle Paul encouraged them to rejoice in the Lord and rejoicing is something we have an incredible need of doing within our hearts and lives. Even as I am writing these words I am going through one of the most difficult times and experiences in my entire life. When I entered into this year I had absolutely no clue I was going to walk through what I was going to walk through and yet here I am just a couple months before the year ends and I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I am only two days removed from the passing of my father who died of COVID pneumonia at the age of sixty. For more almost two decades he had been battling with diabetes and had been enduring countless surgeries and trips to the hospital to try and help with his health. He spent a considerable amount of time in pain and spent a lot of time suffering in agony and excruciating pain. I have to admit that this is perhaps the most difficult thing I have gone through in my entire life. I have watched others walk through the valley of the shadow of death and never thought I would experience it in my own life. I thought I had more time with my dad and thought he would be around for many more years only to find my whole world rocked and shaken at his passing. I remember what it was like looking at him through a window in a hospital room and how a machine was helping keep him alive and keep him breathing. I remember what it was like when the doctors said he was unresponsive to any type of pressure or stimulants and how they thought he needed to be transitioned to comfort care. I remember what it was like when they removed the mask from him and watching him struggle to breathe and ultimately breathe his last . I was there in the hospital room holding his hand when he breathed his last and when his heart stopped and the monitor reached zero.
In this epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian saints we find him beginning the third chapter by admonishing them to rejoice in the Lord and then declaring unto them how to write the same things to them is not grievous but was for safe for them. The apostle Paul would go on to instruct them to beware of dogs, to beware of evil workers, and to even beware of those who were of the concision. The apostle Paul would go on to write unto them how they as the saints of God were the circumcision which worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in flesh. How absolutely incredible it is that the apostle not only instructed them to rejoice in the Lord but also wrote unto them how they were those who worshipped God in the Spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus. With this being said we must needs understand that directly linked to worshipping God in the spirit and rejoicing in Christ Jesus are intrinsically linked to our having no confidence in the flesh. In fact I would dare say that it is only to the degree and measure that we live without and apart from confidence in the flesh that we are able to worship God in Spirit and rejoice in the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul instructed the Philippian saints to worship God in the spirit and to rejoice in Christ Jesus and I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John concerning Jesus’ coming into the region of Samaria and to a well near the city of Sychar. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fourth chapter beginning to read with and from the first verse:
“When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) he left Judaea and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet in Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: For salvation is of the Jews. But he hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:1-26).
It is absolutely remarkable when reading the words found in the third chapter of this epistle for when you read it you first find the apostle Paul admonishing them to rejoice in the Lord and then speaking of them how they were not only those who worshipped God in the spirit but also rejoiced in Christ Jesus. With this being said the apostle Paul also speaks directly unto them concerning their having no confidence in the flesh which is in all reality intrinsically and directly linked to our worship of God in the Spirit and rejoicing in Christ Jesus. I am absolutely and completely convinced that those who choose not to place any confidence in their flesh are those who are entirely and altogether able to worship God in spirit and rejoice in the Lord Jesus. There is something about choosing not to have or place any confidence in our flesh that delivers and sets us free to be able to freely worship God in the spirit and to rejoice in the Lord Jesus. I am absolutely and incredibly captivated with the words found in this passage of Scripture and how the apostle Paul would link worshipping God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ Himself from a place of absolutely no confidence in the flesh. It is to the degree and measure we are truly able to place no confidence in our flesh when we realize that we are completely and utterly free to worship God in the spirit. It was Jesus Himself who declared that there was coming a time when those who worshipped God worshipped Him in Spirit and in truth. It was Jesus who declared that those who worshipped God would not worship in Jerusalem or in Samaria but would worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Now here in the third chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Philippians we find him writing of worshipping God in the spirit and rejoicing in Christ Jesus and having no confidence in the flesh.
As you continue reading the words which are found in the third chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul going to write concerning his ability to have confidence in the flesh. Although the apostle Paul would and could not place any confidence in the flesh he sought to present unto these saints that which he had within his own flesh. The apostle Paul would go on to speak of his being circumcised the eight day, being of the stock of Israel, being of the tribe of Benjamin, and being a Hebrew of the Hebrews. Moreover the apostle Paul would go on to speak of that pertaining the law and his being a Pharisee and that which pertained to zeal how he persecuted the church. Concerning the righteousness which was of the law the apostle Paul was blameless. It directly linked and connected to the concept of placing confidence in the flesh the apostle Paul would go on to describe how although he could place confidence in the flesh he would choose not to. The apostle Paul would and could not place any confidence in the flesh and deliberately and intentionally chose to lay it all down upon the altar of laying hold of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It wasn’t merely about worshipping God in the spirit or rejoicing in the Lord Jesus for the apostle Paul sought to lay hold of and obtain Christ. For the apostle Paul there was absolutely nothing he was not willing to lay aside, sacrifice and give up for the sake of the person of Christ. If you begin reading with and from the seventh verse of this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous reality of all the apostle Paul was willing to lay down and sacrifice for the sake of obtaining Christ. The apostle Paul would indeed rejoice in the Lord and worship God in the Spirit. It is absolutely necessary we pay attention to the words which are found in the third chapter beginning with the seventh verse for it serves as the foundation for our own pursuit of Christ.
THE PURSUIT OF CHRIST! THE PASSIONATE PURSUIT OF CHRIST! FORSAKING ALL TO FOLLOW CHRIST! If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul going on to emphatically declare to the Philippian saints that what things were once gain to him those he counted loss for Christ. Pause for a moment and just consider the significance of those words and just counting everything loss for Christ. It’s one thing to count everything loss, however, it’s something else entirely to count everything loss for Christ. Stop and think about whether or not you yourself could count everything as loss for Christ. Could you abandon anything and everything you’ve known within and throughout your life for the sake and cause of Christ? In all reality the more I think about this the more I am reminded of the words which the apostle Peter declared unto the Lord when he declared how they had forsaken everything to follow Him. The apostle Peter before he was and became the apostle Peter as we know in the book of Acts was Simon surnamed Peter who would speak unto the Lord Jesus Christ concerning their forsaking everything to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus would respond to him by declaring that there weren’t those who did not lose land, or homes, or possessions or anything in this life and not receive a hundred-fold more in the next life. In all reality that which the Lord Jesus was speaking unto the apostle Peter was the great exchange that takes place when we forsake everything in this life and follow after and pursue Him. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the tenth and sixteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Consider if you will the following words which are found in each of these chapters recorded by the apostle Matthew:
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).
Within each of these passages we find the language of self-denial, of sacrifice within your life and of forsaking everything for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in the tenth chapter we find the Lord Jesus declare that those who loved father or mother more than Him was not worthy of Him and that those who love son or daughter more than Him was not worthy of Him. Not only this but He would also declare that those who did not take up their cross and follow him was not worthy of me. This would all be found by the words which the Lord Jesus declared those who find their life shall lose it and those who lose their life for His sake shall find it. In the sixteenth chapter we find the Lord Jesus declaring once more that if any man would come after Him they must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Him. As if this weren’t enough the Lord Jesus would also declare that those who would save their life would lose it and those who were willing to lose their life for his sake shall find it. Jesus would follow this by asking what a man would be profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul or what a man would give in exchange for his soul. Oh that would recognize the tremendous significance of these words and would understand that which we have been called to in this life—namely, sacrificing our lives and giving up everything for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:1-3).
Please pay attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it the apostle Paul appeals to the saints which were at Rome by the mercies of God that they present themselves and their bodies a living sacrifice which was holy and acceptable unto God which was their reasonable service. This is in all honestly directly linked and connected to the words which are found in the third chapter of the epistle written unto the Philippian saints for the apostle Paul would declare that those things which he previously counted loss for Christ. What we must needs recognize and understand is that the apostle Paul would follow this by emphatically declaring once more that he counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. Not only this but the apostle would follow this up by once more declare that he suffered the loss of all things and do count them but dung that he may win Christ. Three times within two verses the apostle Paul spoke of loss—and not only loss but loss in this life for the sake of winning and laying hold of Christ. This is something we must needs recognize and acknowledge for it speaks to the undeniable reality that if we truly want to lay hold of the Lord Jesus Christ we must be willing to lose, sacrifice, forfeit and forsake all. Perhaps the single greatest question we must needs recognize and understand is that if we want to win, lay hold of and follow the Lord Jesus Christ we cannot do so laying hold of the things of this world. Perhaps this is what is so incredibly unique about the narrative of the rich young ruler for this rich young ruler came into Jesus asking what good things he must do to be saved. Consider if you will the following narrative which is found in the nineteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou s halt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:16-22).
Consider the significance behind this narrative for what you find in this narrative is Jesus declaring unto this rich young ruler that which would deliver himself from the snares and traps of this world. The Lord Jesus Christ would reveal unto this rich young ruler that if he wanted to truly inherit eternal life—and not only inherit eternal life but also have treasure in him he needed to sell everything he had, give to the poor, and then come and follow Him. In all reality we cannot separate eternal life from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself for eternal life is found in and made possible by the Lord Jesus Christ. In the third chapter of this New Testament passage of Scripture we find the apostle Paul speaking of loss and losing that which we have and are willing to hold on to in this life. If you want to truly understand the words found in this passage of Scripture you need to see and view everything through the lens of being willing to lose everything we have for the sake of knowing and winning Christ. It’s worth noting the language the apostle Paul uses for he initially beings speaking of counting loss for Christ and yet would transition to that which is beyond simply Christ Himself. At the very heart of everything the apostle Paul sought after and desired there was the Lord Jesus Christ for Christ was the end goal and ultimate possession for the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul would begin simply speaking of Christ and yet would immediately speak of the knowledge of Christ Jesus His Lord. What’s more is the apostle Paul would go on to speak about winning Christ and being found in Him. Oh we must needs recognize the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words which we find here bring us face to face with Christ being at the very center—not only of what we have in this life but also of that which we are willing to give up and lose in this life.
The apostle Paul would go on to continue writing about himself how he desired to be found in Christ not having his own righteousness which was of the law but that which is through the faith of Christ—the righteousness which is of God by faith. We must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage for the words and language presented here not only speak about winning and knowing the Lord Jesus Christ but also speak about having a righteousness that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a great need to recognize that at the very heart of the Lord Jesus Christ is our knowing Him and His being our righteousness. We as the saints of the Lord Jesus Christ are such which are willing to lay down our lives for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even as I am writing these words in light of the death of my earthly father I find myself asking what I am willing to lay down in life of eternity and in light of the Lord Jesus Christ. The death of my father absolutely rocked and shook my entire world and has forced me to confront whether or not the Lord Jesus Christ is truly at the center of my life and at the center of everything I am and do. Having lost my father and having death come the closest to death I have ever come I find myself being confronted with whether or not I am willing to give up everything for the sake of knowing and winning the Lord Jesus Christ. Am I truly willing to give up everything that I might know the Lord Jesus Christ, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings as I am being made conformable unto his death?
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary and imperative to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the apostle Paul directly on the heels of speaking of knowing Christ, of knowing the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings as he is made conformable unto his death he goes on to speak of that which he still had yet not laid hold of or apprehended. The apostle Paul would write unto the saints which were at Philippi and would emphatically declare unto them how he hadn’t already attained nor was already perfect but he followed after if that he may apprehend that for which he also was apprehended of Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul did not count himself to have apprehended but the one thing he did do was forgetting those things which were behind and reached forth unto those things which were before. In addition to this the apostle Paul pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. For the apostle Paul not only was the Lord Jesus Christ the journey but He was also the destination—something we must needs recognize and understand within our own hearts and lives. There is a tremendous need within our hearts and lives to recognize and understand that the Lord Jesus Christ isn’t merely our pursuit and the journey but he is indeed the destination. It was Jesus Himself who declared that He was the way, the truth and the life—something we have a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within them we find the apostle Paul recognizing there was so much more that was to live for in this life—namely, following, pursuing and laying hold of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If there is one thing that makes the words which are found in this passage of Scripture so incredibly unique it’s when you consider the apostle Paul going on to invite those—as many as be perfect—to be thus minded concerning their passionate pursuit of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a great need within our hearts and lives to recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ is and must be our main ambition, our main goal and our main desire and pursuit. The apostle Paul would write about those who were enemies of the cross of Christ whose end was destruction and whose God was in their belly and whose glory was in their shame and mind earthly things. This would immediately be followed by the apostle Paul declaring that our conversation is in heaven from whence we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who shall change our vile body that it might be fashioned unto his glorious body according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself. We must needs recognize the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for at the very end of this passage of Scripture the apostle Paul speaks of our being changed—and not only our being changed but our vile bodies being changed that it might be fashioned unto his glorious body. Oh there is a great need within our hearts and our lives to recognize that not only are we to be conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ in this life but we have been called to lay down these mortal and corruptible bodies that we might be made conformable unto Him in His death. It is only to the degree and measure that we are truly willing to be made conformable unto Him—not only in death but also in life. There is a great need within our hearts and our lives to be those who are truly willing to allow ourselves to be conformable unto the Lord Jesus Christ and to allow ourselves to be transformed into His image and likeness in this physical and natural body while we wait for that moment when we are indeed transformed into that which is incorruptible and that which is immortal. Oh that we would be those who are truly willing to allow themselves to be changed and transformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ within our spirits, our souls and our minds while we wait to be transformed into His image and likeness on the either side of time in the realm of eternity.