Bible Topics
in the Christian Library

Philippians 3:1-11

John L. Kachelman, Jr


I. General remarks on the lesson text.

1. Paul begins a discussion on how we can live joyfully without the temptation of material goods. Eleven times in chapter three Paul refers to "things". 

2. The quest for "things" (accomplishments, positions, wealth, etc.) is robbing far too many Christians of true joy. "Things" are to be enjoyed but not bowed down to (I Tim. 6:17b). We must have the proper view of things if we are going to share joy!

3. "Finally" -- does not signify the end. It is best understood as "as far as the rest" or "as to what remains." He is about to introduce new material.

4. Once again we note the command to "rejoice". Paul has clearly shown us how to rejoice when circumstances go against us (chap. 1), and how to be joyful when others irritate and abuse us (chap. 2). Now he turns to the problem of materialism.

5. The key concept which will help us to overcome the attractions of earthly goods is found in the word "count."

a. The basic idea is to evaluate, assess, and judge between two options.

b. The reason why many lose joy to things today is because they do not "count" the values which control decisions and directions.

c. If you want to be free of the concern for things you must "count" the values just as Paul did! (v. 7, 8, 13).

d. Before you make a decision as to what values of life are most important be sure to compare and count the differences!

II. In our text we find Paul's reasoning process as he compared the values in his life.

1. His comparison ended in a monumental decision (v. 8).

2. This is the same decision that all should make. If we would take time to compare the values of the world with those of Christ, we will surely arrive at the same conclusion!

3. Consider the reasoning of Paul and why he chose the values of Christ over the values of the world.


I. We need to decide what things only give the appearance of joy (v. 1-6).

A. In these verses Paul lists several things which people pursue in hope of joy. Yet these never result in true and lasting joy. The reasons why they do not give joy are found in verse 3.

1. They stem from human efforts and not from trust in God.

2. They glory in man's achievements and not in Christ.

3. They fail to emphasize the need for faith.

B. Briefly consider the things which promise joy but never deliver.

1. Association with others who are detrimental to the Lord's church (v.2).

a. The text refers to Judaisers who tried to mix Christianity and Moses. They were a constant menace and nuisance. 

b. Unfortunately there are some in the church who fall into this category--they are among God's saints but sow seeds of doubt, and sap the strength and enthusiasm of many. 

c. Paul's repeated "Beware" tells us to avoid and be careful around such members. They are dangerous and should avoided!

2. Confidence in the "flesh" (v. 3) -- Throughout this letter the "flesh" stands for trust in Self.

a. Those who place too much emphasis upon themselves will never find joy.

b. Our confidence is not within us but within God and until one learns to trust God rather than self, he will never find joy.

3. Racial and regional heritage (v. 5). Pride in one's national heritage is never wrong until it leads one to become arrogant and blinded (Ac 17:26). No one is better than anyone else because of their background!

4. Mechanical religion (v. 5) -- Paul was a Pharisee who carefully observed every minute detail of the Law. He belonged to the purest and most devout group of Jewish worshipers. But such mechanical devotion never gave, and never will give, joy in one's life!

5. Education (v. 5) -- Many today place great emphasis on educational achievements and yet neglect the basic purpose of living. Education by itself will never bring true joy. There must be something in addition.

6. Morality (v. 6) -- Paul was "blameless." Yet morality by itself is never enough (Is 64:6). To be sure a person who lives a moral life will be happier than the immoral, but if all one is trusting for joy is morality alone he will never find joy!

7. Zeal (v. 6) -- Zeal is commanded in the Bible, but it can be misdirected (Ro 10:1- 2). Zeal must be directed if it is to provide a passport to paradise. Paul was zealous, but he lacked true joy until his zeal was guided by God's Will.

C. If we desire joy today we must decide that these things will never give true joy. Some of the most miserable people I know were those who trusted in some of these things for joy. There must be more -- Paul proceeds to tell us what that is.

II. We need to decide what will result in true joy (v. 7-11).

A. What does Paul say will give us true joy?

1. The answer is simply stated in v. 7-8.

2. In essence Paul says that his decision was made because of the great superiority of one outweighing the other.

3. All of the things which the world counts as great, Paul gladly threw aside -- financial stability, physical comfort, and reputation. WHY? Because of the superiority of Christ Jesus (v. 8)!

B. The parable of the pearl of great price illustrates so well (Mt 13:45-46).

1. As the pearl merchant started out he had intended to keep his possessions and acquire the pearl; but he learned that in order to get the pearl he must part with all. So he parted with pearls, gold, home, all was gladly left so that this one priceless jewel might be his.

2. Paul clearly illustrates the parable's message. Whenever he came in contact with the gem of heaven, he counted all things of this world as of no value so that he could possess the wonderful prize!

C. To Paul there was no hesitation in making this decision! The superior excellence of Christ made the choice easy! 

D. Why is it that this decision will result in joy?

1. Because it alone provides true knowledge (v. 8). This is more than an intellectual awareness. True knowledge of Christ will result in joy! Suppose 25 years ago you made a deposit of $150 in a bank. Ever since, you have been drawing $25 a month on that account. "Oh, but that would be impossible," you say. "The account would have been overdrawn years ago!" Precisely so! This is why many Christians, spiritually speaking, are operating in the red. Years ago they obeyed the gospel command and were added to the Lord. They were soundly saved. But all these years, they have been drawing on a beginner's start. They have known Christ, but have not come to fully know Him. Instead of rising in the morning and getting into the Scriptures for a new deposit for their soul's's resources, they hurriedly eat breakfast and rush to work, totally unprepared to face the problems of the day. Little or no time is spent in prayer to solicit God's guidance and strength. They are too busy to spend time with Him. He is crowded out of their lives. To be sure this is why they suffer so many defeats.

2. Because there is true righteousness (v. 9). Joy results when one realizes he is justified in Christ Jesus (Ro 4:1-8). There is a great joy and happiness in salvation! 

3. Because there is fellowship with Christ (v. 10-11). This assures eternal joy and happiness.


I. As Paul begins this third chapter he stresses the need for all to make up their minds regarding how they seek joy and happiness. 

1. Will it be by the standard of the world?

2. Will it be by Christ's standard?

II. Paul commands us to "REJOICE" and he shows us the decision that is necessary if we are to obey this command.

1. Paul assures that whatever losses are suffered we will be more than rewarded by the gains we enjoy.

2. Will you decide to be joyful? Will you make the same decision which Paul did in verse 8?

Copyright 1998 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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