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Standalone Sermon | Christ, Our Righteousness

May 26, 2024
Philippians 3:3-10

3For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—4though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—10that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”

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To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst

To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships

To participate in God’s mission to the world 

Opening Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given us your servants grace by the confession of a true faith to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and by your divine majesty to worship you as One; we humbly pray that you would keep us steadfast in this faith and evermore defend us from all adversities; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Responsive Prayer — Romans 5

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,

We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand,

And we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

And endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

And hope does not put us to shame,

Because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Summary and Connection

This week we are taking a break from our current series so that we can celebrate “Christ, Our Righteousness” from Philippians 3:3-10. Righteousness is not, as some understand it, an external or individual accomplishment, but it is our qualification that allows us to belong to God and to one another. This is part of Paul’s letter to his church in Philippi — a letter marked by significant warmth, affection, and the repetition of joy, joy, and joy. This joy is a result of righteousness and belonging that comes from “knowing Christ Jesus” (verse 8). In this passage from chapter three, the joy that Paul finds in Christ is to such an overwhelming degree that it completely rearranges all of his priorities, all of his losses, and all of his gains until the only thing that matters is “that I may know him and the power of resurrection, and share his sufferings” (verse 10).  

Verses 3-6 contrast the Philippians, who are the true circumcision of the heart (verse 3, see also Romans 2:29), with the Judaizing party, who are circumcising literal flesh. The Judaizers were those in the church who believed that faith in Christ plus Old Testament Law were together required for belonging to God’s people. Paul responds that any confidence in external righteousness is confidence in the flesh, or, as John Calvin put it, confidence in “everything that is apart from Christ.” Paul can even state from his own experience as a blameless Hebrew and Pharisee that the righteousness that comes from the Law is nothing compared to the true righteousness that comes from Christ.

Verses 7-9 describe how the surpassing value of belonging to Christ has converted all of Paul’s previous gains into losses and all of what he had considered losses into inestimable gains. What Paul has lost becomes rubbish, filth, and waste, while what he had once considered loss — the shameful death of Jesus Christ on the cross — is now Paul’s entry into the righteousness that “comes through faith in Christ” (verse 9). This same belonging is shared by all who share the faith.

Finally, verse 10 shows that Paul’s overriding desire is to fully know Jesus Christ in all ways, from “the power of his resurrection” to sharing in “his sufferings.” Because Paul knows Jesus as the one “who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20), Paul is set free by the power of the resurrection to count his losses as gains and to suffer for Christ as he calls on the Philippians to, over and over, “rejoice!” because of the wonderful Lord to whom they belong.

Discussion Questions

1. Looking at the Bible

Observation: Read the passage privately. What does the text say? What according to you is the theme of this passage? Do you notice keywords, parallels, or surprises?

  • What is the confidence in the flesh? What sort of things does Paul warn the Philippians to not put their confidence in?

2. Looking at Jesus

At Central we believe that all of Scripture points to Jesus. In other words, Jesus is the theological center of the Bible. Every passage not only points to Jesus, but the grand narrative of the Bible also finds its fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus.

  • What does it mean for Paul — and for us — to know Jesus Christ as “my Lord?” What does it mean that Jesus Christ knows us and that we belong to each other?

3. Looking at Our Hearts

  • Where do we find our definitions of gain and loss? If you are a Christian, has Jesus changed those definitions for you? If you are not a Christian, how do you think Jesus could change those definitions for you?

4. Looking at Our World

  • What hope can this understanding of loss and gain — and the hope of belonging to Christ and to one another — bring to our world? Think of your friends, family, workplace, or city. 


God’s word is a lamp to our feet. Christ’s teachings are a light to our path. May God’s word take root in our lives. May Christ’s love nourish and sustain us. Amen.

  • View Study Guide Notes

    Question 1: Verses 4-6 list all sorts of different qualifications of which the Judaizers boast. Paul argues that he could, if he wanted to, boast with the best of them, and he writes out his religious resume as it were: He was properly circumcised, which was a sign and symbol of belonging to God’s people; he is an Israelite who can trace his specific tribal lineage through Benjamin; he is a strict and observant Pharisee; he was so zealous that he persecuted the church. In summary, Paul is blameless according to the Law. It may help to understand that “blameless” is a technical term. When it came to the Old Testament laws, Paul possessed an external righteousness. No one could find fault with Paul’s religious observance. But, as Paul goes on to explain, this “blamelessness” is ultimately superficial and nothing compared to knowing Christ.

    Question 2: For Paul, knowing Christ surpasses everything. As we look at Paul’s description of how his own priorities were completely rearranged by knowing Christ, we see the gospel. Though we have all sought belonging through qualifications and hard work — whether by building a sterling resume or an attractive body or an impressive portfolio or a witty personality — none of this can compare to Jesus. Jesus has the eternal resume, glorious beauty, infinite wealth, and all knowledge and charisma, yet he laid it all down to gain the lost. As Paul says in Philippians 2:7, Jesus “emptied himself” for Paul, for the Philippians, and for us. No longer do we need external qualifications to belong to God and to one another. Now all of our qualifications are found in Christ by believing in him who counts us as his gain.

    Question 3: This is a personal application question.

    Question 4: This is a personal application question.