Philippians 3:1-9 Joyful In God’s Righteousness

by | Mar 28, 2023 | New Testament, Philippians

What is “righteousness”? 
The state of him who is as he ought to be; that condition of man which is acceptable to God.

I. Man’s Righteousness 

A. Paul’s Reminder To Them V. 1 

1. Regarding being right with God, the Philippians had two choices.

a. They could rejoice in self-righteousness, which God never accepts.
b. They could rejoice in the righteousness given to them through faith in Jesus.

2. Paul reminded them to rejoice in the Lord, which was spiritual safety for them.
3. Why was it safety?

a. The danger would be to think that their righteousness came from their efforts and own accomplishments, which wasn’t true.
b. They needed to rejoice in the righteousness that God had given them by faith.

B. Paul’s Warning To Them Vs. 2, 3 

1. Paul is warning them about a group of legalists called the Judaizers.
2. Legalists believe that our righteousness before God can be accomplished either partly or completely by human effort.
3. The Judaizers were people who insisted that Gentile Christians adopt Old Testament Jewish religious practices, which were right for O.T. believers, but not needed within Christianity.
4. The legalistic practice in question was that of circumcision of males.

a. O.T. Jews were commanded by God to distinguish themselves in this way
b. They were marked physically, and this was part of their separation to God.

5. Over time, they began to pride themselves in it, and became self-righteous.
6. They began to have confidence in religious procedures and thought that they were righteous before God due to their human efforts.
7. Any doctrine that exalts human accomplishment nullifies the cross.

a. Salvation is reduced to Jesus plus human effort to become righteous.
b. It minimizes Jesus and exalts man.

8. Salvation and righteousness is never “Jesus plus____”.  It is Jesus only.
9. Anything less than sola fide (Latin- faith alone), is not Christianity.
10. Some modern churches insist that it is faith & religious works are needed
11. The cross of Jesus cannot be minimized to simply being part of salvation
12. Righteousness by faith: See 1 Corinthians 5:20, 21; Galatians 2:20, 21  
13. Dogs- mongrels that wandered the streets & fought for food: savage, fighting
14. Evil workers- deceiving men into thinking that they could add to the cross
15. Mutilation- Circumcision was no longer needed.  It was spiritually unnecessary .

a. Paul uses a Greek word that speaks of the ugly mutilation of the body.
b. The Judaizers intent was a beautiful spiritual procedure, needed for salvation.
c. Paul likened it to a grotesque mutilation, done in spiritual pride and arrogance.

16. We are the circumcision- We are the set apart ones, but not b/c of the flesh
17. who worship God in the Spirit- Not according to human accomplishment
18. rejoice in Christ Jesus- Not in the works of human hands
19. have no confidence in the flesh- No confidence in religion, but in the cross.

C. Paul’s Former Lifestyle Of Self Righteousness Vs. 4-6 

1. The opponents of sola fide (by faith alone) had confidence in their human accomplishments.
2. Prior to his conversion, Paul outdid them all re. religious accomplishments.
3. If anyone could brag about being saved by his efforts, it would have been Paul.
4. circumcised the eighth day-per the letter of the Mosaic Law.
5. of the stock of Israel-by birth, an heir of God’s covenant with the Jews
6. of the tribe of Benjamin-One of the two “more faithful” tribes of Israel’s history
7. Hebrew of the Hebrews-Not a convert from the Greek religions.  Some Jews became ashamed of their Jewishness, & even tried to have their circumcisions cosmetically hidden or reversed, so as to enjoy the Romans public baths and not be persecuted.
8. concerning the law, a Pharisee-Pharisees: “Separated Ones”.  Never more than 6,000 in Israel.  They separated themselves from all the commonalities of everyday life, so that they could be fully committed to keeping the Laws of God.
9. concerning zeal, persecuting the church-Paul, before becoming a Christian, was not just an intellectual opponent of Christianity, but physically pursued Christians.
10. concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless-Paul thought that one could be blameless be external keeping of the Law.  Externally, he succeeded.
11. NOTE- Jesus taught that the Law included the attitudes of the heart.
Matthew 5:27, 28  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

II. God’s Righteousness 

A. How To Gain God’s Righteousness Vs. 7, 8 

1. Paul came to realize that his efforts didn’t make him right with God.
2. He realized that God did not accept his righteousness.
3. Paul forfeited his own standard of righteousness, and confessed it insufficient
4. He rejected everything he’d ever done that he thought would make him righteous

a. He forfeited religious accomplishment
b. He admitted his efforts were insufficient to make him righteous.
c. He forfeited the social standing he had in that religious community.
d. He inadvertently became an enemy of those he formerly led and taught.

5. He confessed that he was unrighteous before God, & couldn’t change that
6. He accepted God’s standard of righteousness, & the offer to receive it
7. He realized that his former efforts were like rubbish.  Dung, offal. (Offensive)

B. How Paul Wanted To Be Seen V. 9 

1. be found in Him-When people looked at Paul, he wanted to be seen “in” Christ
not having my own righteousness, which is from the law-unacceptable but that which is through faith in Christ.  He disowned his own righteousness.

C. What Righteousness By Faith Looks Like V. 3 

1. For we are the circumcision- set apart not by external works, but by inward cleansing through faith in Jesus
2. who worship God in the Spirit-as opposed the external, human achievements
3. rejoice in Christ Jesus-not in church rules or self-accomplishments
4. have no confidence in the flesh-But have MUCH confidence in the cross of Christ