Philp 3: 3-11 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in the Messiah Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so. . . . But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Messiah. Yet indeed I also reckon all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as dung, that I may gain Christ. . . .
Tomorrow is Pentecost, the 50th day of counting the sheaves of wheat, according to the Law of Moses, which Jesus came to fulfill. The counting does not begin from the day after His death and burial – or even from the time He descended into the lower parts of the Earth to set free the captives – but rather from the day of His resurrection, from the day after the Sabbath. We who believe in Jesus as Lord and Messiah are a new creation. We begin with resurrection life in Messiah and then begin to learn what it is to suffer for His sake, to die with Him to ourselves, to live our lives unto God and His will.
The gospel is not something Jewish, since the Law makes no one righteous, and we can not be justified by the works of the Law. Neither is the gospel something Greek or gentile, because non-Jews were outside of God’s covenant with Israel, and, according to the Bible, the gentiles worshipped demons and not the one true God. So we see that the gospel is neither religion nor philosophy, not man’s wisdom or knowledge, not of demons or angels.
If our fellowship with God the Father and His Son Yeshua and with other believers is based upon any of these things esteemed by the world, then this is what Paul calls “having confidence in the flesh”. Yet Paul claims that to be a true Jew and a true Christian is just the opposite: “to have no confidence in the flesh”, concerning which he writes that he had more to boast in than others. Let’s look at his credentials from our passage and consider how they apply to our identity and hope as God’s children.
circumcised on the eighth day
of the race of Israel
of the tribe of Benjamin
a Hebrew of Hebrews
in regard to the Law, a Pharisee
as for zeal, persecuting the church
as for legalistic righteousness, blameless
Notice that all of Paul’s “confidence in the flesh” have to do with those things of natural birth, supposed keys to citizenship in God’s Kingdom either through no choice of their own, or either through confidence in choosing the right party. Everything here takes pride in one’s self, status, giftings, intellect, or else in one’s “team”.
Paul learned that these outward endowments and benefits are not ultimately those which count for eternity, for God is no respecter of persons. He is after people, like David, who have a heart for Him, whose relationship with Jesus is worth more than whatever else he or she thinks important, who live now with a vision of the everlasting Kingdom of God. All that is of now, Paul counts as rubbish, and he looks for the glory to come, which is all of God.
Have we learned. . .are we learning. . . to reckon all that makes us feel proud to be but refuse compared to the matchless beauty of the meek and lowly Holy One of Israel?
Let’s close with Paul from v. 12-21 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 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 you 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. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk according to the pattern we gave you. . . . For our citizenship is in Heaven, from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our body of the humiliation, that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working of His ability even to subject all things to Himself.