Taken from DiscipleGuide’s Pathways Daily Devotionals book
Scripture: Philippians 3:1-14
When Paul penned the words of Philippians 3:3, he was in dire circumstances. Paul was in a Roman prison when he wrote the book of Philippians. Though he may have had the privilege of ministering to other prisoners, he was facing an uncertain future and certainly demonstrated qualities for us to follow when he focused on such joy at this time in his life.
Paul was facing “dogs.” He used this image to communicate with his readers the kind of persons they might encounter. First, dogs had a pack mentality. Wild dogs did not run alone; they did together what one of them could not do alone. Second, their aim was to destroy. He was dealing with enemies of the cross. He was in a situation which would not naturally encourage one to rejoice.
He urged the Philippians to “have no confidence in the flesh.” That had a twofold meaning. The flesh was the response to the world and the devil. The flesh also represented human accomplishment. Paul did not put confidence in his human achievements, though he could have.
In Philippians 3:5, 6, Paul gives his qualifications for being a “Pharisee of the Pharisees.” He was a well-educated man during his day. Education and recognition have their place, but Paul knew they would mean nothing before God’s judgment. Paul was a law-abiding person and did not see himself excused from obeying the Ten Commandments, but this was self-righteousness, which he knew would not merit eternal life with Christ.
Paul had four goals:
To know Christ. It is one thing to know about Him, to be a good person, or to have a good reputation. But Paul knew those accomplishments were not the same as having a personal relationship with Christ.
To know the power of the resurrection. The power of the resurrection was the power of the new life. Paul would tell the Corinthians that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul saw the Christian as being dead to sin, but brought alive by the Spirit.
To confirm knowledge of Christ by suffering. Christ suffered; all who live godly lives will be persecuted. Paul confirmed his relationship to Christ by being willing to suffer for Him.
To conform to death. Paul was willing to die for his beliefs in Christ. Real convictions are lacking today. People with true convictions will be willing to pay a price for them, even death. At Columbine High School (Colorado) in 1999, a teenager was faced with such a test. When she affirmed her faith in God after being confronted by the gunman, she was murdered. Are we that brave? Or is Christ just a nice word and a convenience when things are well?
Paul did not see himself as a perfect Christian. He had not attained that prize. He was still in the sanctifying process, “being made conformable” to Christ up to the last moments of his life. He was pressing on toward the mark of his high calling in Christ. Are you?