August 12, 2014
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 12 August 2014
The foundation of the gospel (“good news”) is in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:2-6 thus warns believers with regard to legalism (3:2-6), which is an emphasis upon obedience to moral codes or laws based upon the (misguided) assumption that such practice will gain God’s favor. Paul explained that growing in “knowing Christ Jesus” would help them to overcome the false teachers. If one could have “confidence in the flesh” (i.e. obeying moral codes), Paul explained that he was able to boast in who he was and his accomplishments, but explained why he would not.
In verses 4-6 of Philippians 3, the Apostle indicated his devout conformity to the customs of his forefathers, which he “counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (3:7) so he could know the Lord “and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (3:10). All the advantages that he possessed “in the flesh,” Paul regarded as “rubbish” in comparison to what he gained in Christ. Knowing Christ Jesus as Lord – by grace – through faith and therefore possessing his righteousness is vastly superior.
The instruction given to believers is not to have confidence in their own strength or works; rather, Christians are told the advantage of knowing the living Lord and Savior. The knowledge revealed in Philippians 3:8-14 is greater than intellectual facts alone; it is the cultivation of a personal relationship in Christ through faith. To know the living Lord and Savior is to rely upon his power for strength. To learn from the Lord in the context of difficulties and even distress allows one to live with the same attitude of the Savior. Such a perspective is not natural “in the flesh,” which is why one must persevere (3:14).
The reason to pursue maturity in Christ and to be watchful is related to the hope of the believer (3:20-21). The church does have citizenship on earth, but also has citizenship in heaven (3:20). Maturity in Christ is the goal of the believer’s life because heavenly citizenship is eternal as opposed to the earthly life that is but a vapor (Jas 4:14; cf. Gal 4:26; Heb 11:10). Paul’s exhortation is an obvious contrast to those whose minds are focused upon “earthly things” and whose destiny is not eternally minded. One challenge of the Christian life is learning to live as “strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb 11:13; cf. 1 Pet 2:11). Consequently, the believer is to “eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).
Philippians 3 concludes with an exhortation to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:14). The believer will demonstrate this persevering attitude by pursuing maturity in Christ (3:15-16), watching for those who reproduce the biblical standard (and follow their example) and being aware of those who are “enemies of the cross of Christ” (3:17-19), and “eagerly” waiting for the “Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (3:20-21). The heavenly citizenship of the believer parallels Jesus’ words in John 14:1-3, and challenges every Christian to live with an eternal perspective. The hope of the Lord’s imminent and personal return has sustained the church throughout the ages. The expectation of the Lord’s return should stimulate believers to live holy and pure lives “so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (1 John 2:28).
If we can help you in your commitment to spiritual maturity, please let me know, as this is why the ministry of Capitol Commission exists.
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