In this chapter, Paul warns the people of Philippi of some dangers and problems that may draw them further away from God. He focuses on the topic detaching himself from the corrupt ways of the world so that he can stay grounded in The Lord whilst accentuating the sinfulness of worldly people.
He states clearly that his actions on Earth are investments in his spiritual well-being and for God that he has no interest in the pleasures of the flesh and the material riches of the world. In fact, he even presents a simple yet radical way of setting his desires.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. — Philippians 3:7
In verse 7, he clearly states that EVERYTHING that used to matter to him is not only no longer important, but he considers as a ‘loss’ in Christ – not just something that he should stop pursuing because it was not godly, but is something’s that is a distraction and causes him to be further FROM God.
This highlights the key biblical theology that good and evil is as clear as black and white. God is what goodness is, so everything not of God’s (or of the world) is automatically ‘bad’. Not only does it not bring goodness, but is detrimental to us spiritually. This also brings the idea of us changing our ways and leaving behind our “old self”, which is something that my church emphasizes on. We want to become free from the desires and the mentalities of the flesh so we can become renewed and more alike Jesus. Only by this renewal can we set our priorities for a healthy spiritual life.
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 is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. — Philippians 3:9
Paul also talks about the focus and approach to serving Christ, which I find to be very applicable still 2000 years later. He says his righteousness is not that of the law, but rather from his faith in God directly. Here, the law does not refer to simply those set by the government but rather anything ‘rules’ we set to give us a sense of righteousness. This is extremely important as it highlights a common misconception that most modern churchgoers have as well as a danger of organized religion.
We often forget our purpose of being made to have a personal and ongoing relationship with God. Humans inherently like to justify their righteousness through “ceremonial” acts – making it their own spiritual ‘law’. Whether it is attending to church regularly, being committed to serve in worship or having daily devotions, we often fall into the trap that doing these makes us righteous or good. This puts us in the position where we believe we’re good Christians from ticking a checklist. Instead, we must put our view of righteousness and Christianly behaviour in our relationship and faith with the living Jesus. We are to follow God’s will and what he speaks to us, not just go to church weekly and sing aloud in worship for our redemption. This is what it really means to be a follower of Jesus, not a follower of some law or standard set.