Friday, March 18, 2011

Counting All Things As Loss

Paul’s statement, “but whatever things were gain to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7) sums up the drastic change that took place in his life. He had met Christ and now what used to be important to him was no longer important. All of the things he had considered “treasures” in his life before Jesus saved him were now rubbish. What was gain was now loss. He now gained so much more in Christ. Let’s look at five things Paul gained as he counted his former way of life and the things that were important to him as loss.

First, verses 8-9a say he gained knowing Christ. In fact he calls it “surpassing value”. Surpassing what? His former knowledge in verses 5 and 6. The experiential knowledge of knowing Christ personally was far greater than the intellectual knowledge of the facts about Jesus. Question: Do you know Jesus personally and experientially or just intellectually?

Secondly, Paul gained righteousness (3:9b). Paul spent his entire adult life till his salvation trying to gain righteousness on his own by keeping the law. He tried self-effort, external morality, and religious rituals and still was not fulfilled. All these produced the flesh. He gave up all of these and stopped trying to gain righteousness on his own (Romans 10:3). He gladly exchanged the burden of legalistic self-righteousness for the true righteousness that comes by faith in Christ alone. Question: Are you trying to gain riotousness on your own or are you allowing God to make you righteous by what Jesus did on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21)?

Thirdly, Paul gained power. Paul wanted to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection (3:10a). Paul knew there was no power in the Law or flesh to overcome sin or serve God (Romans 7:18). The resurrection was the greatest display of the power of God. Paul knew Christ and had His righteousness imputed to him. He had been given the Holy Spirit and possessed the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. This power would give him victory over temptation and trials, joy, fruit, and a holy life. Question: When are you going to stop trying to live your life in your own power and start living it in God’s power?

Fourthly, Paul gained fellowship. He said, “and the fellowship of His sufferings” (3:10b). He gained true fellowship - companionship, intimacy, and relationship. Sometimes the deepest moments of spiritual fellowship comes in the midst of suffering. Jesus feels your pain, weakness, and suffering. Paul didn’t know fellowship with the other religious leaders before Christ. Question: Do you know true fellowship? Do you have real intimacy and companionship - friendship in Christ?

A final benefit Paul gained from Christ is glory - a guarantee of his future home in heaven - a resurrection from the dead (3:11). Question: Are you assured of your place in heaven?

Everyone one of us are like Paul. We are at a crossroads of either clinging to our religious past, self-righteousness, powerlessness and limited fellowship or forsaking and counting all that as loss in favor of the surpassing benefits of knowing Christ. Have you done this? I pray you realize that knowing Jesus is worth giving up everything.