Enamored with Christ (Philippians 3:4-10)

Passion fills Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. That passion, however, is not sourced in his success as a missionary. Nor is it founded upon his calling as an apostle. Every ounce of joy and rejoicing of which (and with which) Paul writes springs from his infatuation with his Lord. Philippians 3:4-10 explains how this came to be.

v. 4 – Working towards infatuation with Christ, there are many obstacles. The first thing, however, of which Paul rids himself, is his self. Not only does he renounce any confidence in the flesh (v. 3), but he puts such a renouncement into perspective. If there were ever a man to appear to have the right to glory in his accomplishments it would be the Apostle Paul. He proceeds to prove that claim.

v. 5 – Paul begins by referring to his circumcision which was exactly as the law commanded. From the very beginning Paul was in total compliance with Mosaic Law, unlike many who were proselytes, having lived a large portion of their lives uncircumcised.
He then notes that he was “of the stock of Israel” signifying that he was descent of the patriarch Jacob, which was good in and of itself. However, he goes further to declare himself to be “of the tribe of Benjamin.” This was of special significance for several reasons: because Benjamin was Jacob’s favorite son; the tribe of Benjamin did not revolt with Jeroboam in 1 Kings 12:21; and it maintained a pure repute of not polluting the worship of God by idolatry.
Paul then calls himself “a Hebrew of the Hebrews.” Although he was born in the heathen country of Tarsus, both of his parents were Hebrews. This was a unique title that only those who never had any “strange” blood mixed with that of the Hebrew family. In essence, Paul was Hebrew in nation, in religion, in birthright, in everything.
Next he refers to his office as a Pharisee. This marked him as one that not only received the law and the prophets as coming from God, but belonged to the sect which, of all others, was most scrupulously attached to the law and the prophets.

v. 6 – Paul then moves on to his zeal as a Pharisee which was proven by his persecuting of Christians and was well known by many. Of his personal righteousness, which his Pharisaical background taught as obtainable by observance of the law, Paul declared himself blameless and therefore worthy of justification.

v. 7 – After all that, all the things that could be credited to Paul to establish his achievements, he declares all of that gain as loss. It is as if he took the time to describe all of his credentials simply to bundle them all together and throw them to the wind.
Why? Why were all of those grand achievements loss? Paul’s answer is simple – for Christ.
Paul had it as good as any Jew could have it. Yet all of those things – which he once counted as gain, which were once his confidence, his glory, and even his joy – those he counted as loss, because he realized that they were nothing compared to Christ. He saw all his acts of righteousness were nothing on which he could depend for salvation. He realized that Christ crucified could alone profit.

v. 8 – Just in case there would arise something to lay claim on his affections, Paul leaves no room for doubt. He declares “I count all things but loss.” This includes not only in his Jewish privileges, but anything that men count valuable or gainful, or on which they might depend for salvation.
He does all of this “for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.” Of all the learning that Paul did as a Pharisee, he came to the point where he desired to know nothing but Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul knew Christ with more than a factual knowledge. He knew Christ with more than a personal knowledge. He knew his Lord in the way that makes the things of this earth grow strangely dim.
He suffered the loss of all those things that had for so long been what defined him as a person. Yet Paul was so enthralled by knowing Christ that he did not simply disregard those things. He thought of them as manure! And how much can someone be preoccupied with manure? The word he uses (σκυβαλα) is the vilest substance a creature could excrete. The word shows how absolutely undesirable Paul saw everything but the Gospel of Jesus to be. And, with all of that out of the way, and having his Lord as his ultimate affection, his entire life force was given to winning Christ.

v. 9 – Paul was now found in Christ. He no longer had to carry the burden of going about trying to prove himself righteous. He lifted the empty hand of faith and is trusting solely on the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

v. 10 – Paul’s current life purpose is established: “That I may know him.” He knew Him as the Savior, whose sacrifice has reconciled him to God. He knew the power of His resurrection, which raised him from the death of sin and will raise him unto eternal life. He knew the fellowship of His sufferings as few have. He knew His crucifixion, having taken up his cross and followed Him.

Paul counted all things “loss” so that he might “know” Jesus Christ more intimately by faith. He detested everything which previously had value to him and was enamored with Christ. It has been said that a large portion of the “loss” Paul suffered was that of being disinherited by his Judaistic parents. Nevertheless, for Paul, there was nothing in this world that could compare with the joy found only in knowing Christ personally.

Now, how do we measure up? Are we enamored with Christ? I know I fall dreadfully short of Paul’s example. God help us to know Christ and be evermore enamored with Him!

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