Even our best efforts and intentions contribute in no way towards our right standing before God and having peace with him.
This week, in Philippians 3:1-11, we will hear Paul speaking of the very core of the gospel - righteousness which comes from God through faith in Christ; the very essence of faith - counting everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord; and the very heart of God himself as he pledges himself to his people, the 'real circumcision' in redeeming love and covenant grace.
Following his 'meeting' with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul put anything and everything he saw as contributing to his own righteousness, which he had worked his entire life to attain, in a whole new light. Whatever gain he had, he now counted as loss for the sake of Christ. From that point on, his heart's desire was to know Christ all the more and to serve him always, such is the 'surpassing worth of knowing him'.
Paul was determined to ensure others heard, and were kept in, this gospel of sheer grace, without it being contaminated in any way. Two safe-guards he presents in this passage to this end are: to be on the lookout and aware of those who attempt to add anything of our own merit to the grace of God for salvation; and secondly, to find our joy wholly in the Lord.
As we share in these wonderful truths, may we too 'worship by the Spirit of God, glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh.'
Ray is Senior Pastor at Coromandel Baptist Church, South Australia. Before being appointed to this role in January 2012 and during his years of theological study at the Bible College of South Australia, Ray was Student Pastor at the church. Prior to this he was a high school...