If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8 Indeed, 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 9 and 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— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
In Philippians chapter 3, Paul calls for the church to rejoice in the Lord. He continues on by warning them of the Judaizers (Jews that taught that Christians had to adhere to Jewish law in order to be saved) that were teaching them that they had to be circumcised. Paul argues that the church is the circumcision who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. Why is this such an important point to be made by Paul? He elaborates by talking about his own experience of being the ‘perfect’ Jew, a Hebrew of Hebrews. He knows what it means to have confidence in his own worldly gain and in light of the gospel everything he was, was now counted as a loss. This becomes more than a mere point being made about laws and rules but about identity, purpose, and hope.
In the world, who we are is so heavily defined by what we can accomplish. Paul was a prime example of worldly success, having been a Pharisee. He was a keeper of the law and religion and a respected citizen. He was defined by his own righteousness. But true righteousness only comes through faith in Christ by the Spirit. Anything outside of Jesus Christ was meaningless. The success, the honor, the wealth, was all temporal but in Christ there was so much to be gained eternally. What is to be gained in Christ, Paul stresses, is simply knowing him. He has gained Christ himself and in gaining Christ, he has been found in Him. His identity is known in Jesus.
Receiving this new identity in Christ means sharing in everything that Jesus had achieved for us; his righteousness, inheritance, the power of his resurrection, even his suffering and death. All these things were considered the ultimate gain to Paul. This new identity also meant new purpose: that we would be more like Christ. His identity also becomes our purpose.
Paul makes it a point to say that he is not perfect in his calling to attain the things of Christ, but he presses on because Christ has made him his own. His new purpose that sprouts from his new identity ultimately gives him hope. And all these things are grounded in Jesus Christ.
When we put our confidence in Christ, instead of our own flesh or the world, we have a new identity, secured in Jesus Christ. We are made righteous, children of God. This new identity also gives our lives new meaning and purpose. We are to strive in the things of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s plan for our lives are not to be seen through the world’s temporal lens but hold significant, eternal value. Our purpose in Christ grants us hope. There is meaning for every struggle. There is a prize at the end of the race. Our hope is not only in Jesus, it is Jesus. He is the only one we can put our confidence and hope in.
20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. 4 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.