Philippians 3

* The apostle cautions the Philippians against judaizing false

teachers, and renounces his own former privileges. (1-11)

Expresses earnest desire to be found in Christ; also his

pressing on toward perfection; and recommends his own example to

other believers. (12-21)

1-11 Sincere Christians rejoice in Christ Jesus. The prophet

calls the false prophets dumb dogs, #Isa 56:10|; to which the

apostle seems to refer. Dogs, for their malice against faithful

professors of the gospel of Christ, barking at them and biting

them. They urged human works in opposition to the faith of

Christ; but Paul calls them evil-workers. He calls them the

concision; as they rent the church of Christ, and cut it to

pieces. The work of religion is to no purpose, unless the heart

is in it, and we must worship God in the strength and grace of

the Divine Spirit. They rejoice in Christ Jesus, not in mere

outward enjoyments and performances. Nor can we too earnestly

guard against those who oppose or abuse the doctrine of free

salvation. If the apostle would have gloried and trusted in the

flesh, he had as much cause as any man. But the things which he

counted gain while a Pharisee, and had reckoned up, those he

counted loss for Christ. The apostle did not persuade them to do

any thing but what he himself did; or to venture on any thing

but that on which he himself ventured his never-dying soul. He

deemed all these things to be but loss, compared with the

knowledge of Christ, by faith in his person and salvation. He

speaks of all worldly enjoyments and outward privileges which

sought a place with Christ in his heart, or could pretend to any

merit and desert, and counted them but loss; but it might be

said, It is easy to say so; but what would he do when he came to

the trial? He had suffered the loss of all for the privileges of

a Christian. Nay, he not only counted them loss, but the vilest

refuse, offals thrown to dogs; not only less valuable than

Christ, but in the highest degree contemptible, when set up as

against him. True knowledge of Christ alters and changes men,

their judgments and manners, and makes them as if made again

anew. The believer prefers Christ, knowing that it is better for

us to be without all worldly riches, than without Christ and his

word. Let us see what the apostle resolved to cleave to, and

that was Christ and heaven. We are undone, without righteousness

wherein to appear before God, for we are guilty. There is a

righteousness provided for us in Jesus Christ, and it is a

complete and perfect righteousness. None can have benefit by it,

who trust in themselves. Faith is the appointed means of

applying the saving benefit. It is by faith in Christ's blood.

We are made conformable to Christ's death, when we die to sin,

as he died for sin; and the world is crucified to us, and we to

the world, by the cross of Christ. The apostle was willing to do

or to suffer any thing, to attain the glorious resurrection of

saints. This hope and prospect carried him through all

difficulties in his work. He did not hope to attain it through

his own merit and righteousness, but through the merit and

righteousness of Jesus Christ.
12-21 This simple dependence and earnestness of soul, were not

mentioned as if the apostle had gained the prize, or were

already made perfect in the Saviour's likeness. He forgot the

things which were behind, so as not to be content with past

labours or present measures of grace. He reached forth,

stretched himself forward towards his point; expressions showing

great concern to become more and more like unto Christ. He who

runs a race, must never stop short of the end, but press forward

as fast as he can; so those who have heaven in their view, must

still press forward to it, in holy desires and hopes, and

constant endeavours. Eternal life is the gift of God, but it is

in Christ Jesus; through his hand it must come to us, as it is

procured for us by him. There is no getting to heaven as our

home, but by Christ as our Way. True believers, in seeking this

assurance, as well as to glorify him, will seek more nearly to

resemble his sufferings and death, by dying to sin, and by

crucifying the flesh with its affections and lusts. In these

things there is a great difference among real Christians, but

all know something of them. Believers make Christ all in all,

and set their hearts upon another world. If they differ from one

another, and are not of the same judgment in lesser matters, yet

they must not judge one another; while they all meet now in

Christ, and hope to meet shortly in heaven. Let them join in all

the great things in which they are agreed, and wait for further

light as to lesser things wherein they differ. The enemies of

the cross of Christ mind nothing but their sensual appetites.

Sin is the sinner's shame, especially when gloried in. The way

of those who mind earthly things, may seem pleasant, but death

and hell are at the end of it. If we choose their way, we shall

share their end. The life of a Christian is in heaven, where his

Head and his home are, and where he hopes to be shortly; he sets

his affections upon things above; and where his heart is, there

will his conversation be. There is glory kept for the bodies of

the saints, in which they will appear at the resurrection. Then

the body will be made glorious; not only raised again to life,

but raised to great advantage. Observe the power by which this

change will be wrought. May we be always prepared for the coming

of our Judge; looking to have our vile bodies changed by his

Almighty power, and applying to him daily to new-create our

souls unto holiness; to deliver us from our enemies, and to

employ our bodies and souls as instruments of righteousness in

his service.

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