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To Win Christ and Be Found in Him
By David A. DePra
The apostle Paul is describing in Philippians 3 HOW he came to, "win Christ, and be found in Him." In addition, he tells us what that means. The great value in this passage is that it is a description of what God wants to do in each believer.
If you scan this passage, you will find the words, "loss," and, "found." Indeed, Paul is going to recount exactly what he had to LOSE in order to FIND Christ. And frankly, what he had to LOSE is not what most of us usually imagine.
No Confidence in the Flesh
For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (v. 3)
This verse is so easy to skip over. But it really does set the stage for everything that Paul is going to share. Some of the terms used may be strange to us if we are not familiar with Paul’s use of them.
For example, he says, "we are the circumcision." What does he mean? The term refers to the Jews who were, through the rite of circumcision, under the Old Covenant. Paul certainly was a Jew, but in this verse he means something much more by that term, "the circumcision." He tells us directly what he means: The circumcision – as used in this passage – are those, "who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ, and have no confidence in the flesh."
Paul is taking this rite of circumcision – which was instituted by God under the Old Covenant – and showing the true spiritual meaning. When a baby was circumcised, there was a, "cutting off," of the flesh. More than that, it was a cutting off of the flesh on the part of the body that perpetuated the Adam race. So the first thing to see about the spiritual meaning of circumcision is that it represented the END to the old creation – and END to the Adam race.
This picture shows that circumcision was a type and shadow of the Cross. Jesus death on the Cross was the end of the Adam race. On the Cross, Jesus bore, yes, all sin. But He also bore US – the entire old creation. Thus, when we come to Him, and take our place in His death, it is the end of OUR old creation.
This is why Paul is able to say in Romans 6 that, "our old man is crucified WITH Him," and in Galatians 2, "I am crucified WITH Christ." The fact that Jesus died FOR us – died a death we will never have to taste – is a foundational Truth. But it is because He died that we are able to DIE IN HIM. This is the basis for all freedom from sin, and of the new creation – that we have first died IN CHRIST.
Paul is gathering up these realities into the representation of circumcision. Some Christian tradition suggests that baptism is the NT counterpart to OT circumcision. That is not directly the case. Circumcision is clearly a type and shadow of the Cross – and baptism is likewise a picture of death via the cross. In that sense, circumcision and baptism represent the same Truth – the fundamental Truth to which they both point is the Cross of Jesus Christ.
Paul is using this picture of circumcision to describe one who is born from above. He is saying, "We are spiritually the circumcision. We no longer worship God with our natural man. We worship God in the spirit. We rejoice, not in ourselves, or in anything about ourselves, but in Christ. And we have come to realize that there is absolutely NOTHING in ourselves over which to put confidence or have faith."
The emphasis Paul is making is that believers are supposed to have realized the Truth about themselves – and if we do, we could not possibly continue basing any part of our relationship with God upon OURSELVES. Indeed, we are not even to worship or live on a daily basis with God on the basis the old man. Rather, all of our faith, and all of our life, IS CHRIST – Christ in us, the hope of glory.
It is important to see that Paul is not here laying down some mechanical principle for people to follow. He is not creating a religious system. He is telling us what will happen if we encounter Jesus Christ, are born from above, and begin to come into the knowledge of the Truth. We will not put confidence in ourselves in any way because we see – not simply that we should not – but we see that there is nothing in us in which to put confidence. We will have our entire faith and motivation based in Christ.
Now, this is all preliminary to the rest of the passage. Paul is about to go on to describe his personal experience as to how he came to be, "the circumcision," and how he came to rejoice in Christ rather than put faith in himself. He is going to tell us in greater detail what he means by these words. In short, Paul is going to tell us what it actually meant for him to lose his life for Jesus’ sake so that he could find true life in the Lord.
The Basis of Righteousness
Righteousness is not merely being RIGHT WITH GOD. It is also to be RIGHT FOR GOD. True righteousness will enable us to fellowship and be one with God, who is righteousness personified.
You will note that in this passage from Philippians 3, as well as in so many of Paul’s other epistles, there is the theme of RIGHTEOUSNESS. Paul continually contrasts, "self-righteousness," which he calls, "righteousness by the law," to the true righteousness that is by the faith of Jesus Christ. We have to grasp what he is getting at regarding this important issue if we are to understand the passage in any depth.
Most believers who know Christian doctrine can likely explain what is known as, "the doctrine of justification by faith." This doctrine states that if we put our faith in Jesus Christ, that God imputes to us His righteousness, because God has imputed to Christ our sin. It is like a trade off. The result is that God declares us righteous because our faith is in the One who died for our sin.
Now, all of that is true. But it doesn’t go nearly far enough in explaining how God MAKES the believer righteous. If you examine this doctrine of justification by faith, it is really is nothing more than a LEGAL justification. God accepts the death of Jesus as OURS, and imputes to us the righteousness of His Son. We are therefore LEGALLY imputed as righteous. But the question still remains: Does any of this actually MAKE us righteous? And where in this is an actual NEW BIRTH with NEW LIFE from above?
The answer here is that God does more than merely IMPUTE to us the righteousness of His Son. What really happens is that God IMPARTS to us Jesus Christ Himself. In short, God does not give us a THING called righteousness, or give us our own righteousness because of Christ. Rather, God give us Christ and CHRIST IN US becomes the righteousness of God to us.
That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.
Can we see that Jesus Christ in us IS the righteousness of God? That Jesus is the ONLY righteousness that exists? That we are wasting our time looking to ourselves for any righteousness at all – whether it be our works or our character? No. Jesus Christ is the righteousness of God. And when He comes to dwell in us He is made unto us righteousness.
How many see that this is utter in it’s ramifications? If Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption – then Christ in us is EVERYTHING God has to give, everything we need, and IT IS FINISHED. Our lives, therefore, are to be defined by the IMPACT of Christ upon us, rather than defined by us trying to achieve these matters that are already in the Christ who dwells in us.
So we see that God does not merely legally IMPUTE to us righteousness because of Christ. Sure, that is included. If something is moral it is always legal. But God does more. He IMPARTS to us Jesus Christ Himself. And when that happens, Jesus is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption – indeed, Jesus Christ IS OUR LIFE. And His life is righteousness personified.
Now note: Jesus Christ is the entire basis of righteousness. There is no righteousness outside of Him. Thus, when we put our faith in Christ, and He comes to dwell in us, we are declared righteous IN HIM. This is as certain and as final as His life.
Christians like to compartmentalize Truth into doctrinal systems and line them up. But Christianity is Christ in us – and this speaks of a growing relationship – not merely about theology. Because we like to create doctrine systems it sometimes results in not seeing the relationship between some of the great Truths of the Bible – such as righteousness and salvation.
From what we have already discussed, it ought to be clear that righteousness and salvation are inseparable. Both are Christ in us. Salvation means LIFE – the life of Jesus Christ in us. But Christ is also the righteousness of God. Thus, if we are one with Christ, He is our righteousness. In short, all of these things are in Him. They are aspects of His life.
Two Manifestations of Self-Righteousness
The question is never whether you and I are self-righteous. By nature, WE ARE. All who are born in Adam are born with no life in Christ and with no knowledge of God. The default is trust in self; self-righteousness. And frankly, you can see that in everyone – from little kids to older adults. You don’t have to work at it. It is our nature.
There are many people, of course, including many Christian people, who are more than aware of their failures. In fact, many professing Christian people are so aware of them, and constantly lament their failures and sins. If you would suggest to them that they are self-righteous, they would protest on those grounds.
But it is here that we need to understand what it means to be self-righteous. It really means to TRY to be righteous in our selves – through works, or any other means. Thus, if you continually fail, and continually lament those failures, you are trying to establish a righteousness in yourself, but failing. You are frustrated. But it is still a self-righteousness nevertheless.
There are two sides to the same coin of self-righteousness. These are represented by two kinds of people – although surely there is a mix in us all. The first group are those who actually believe that they are righteous because of something about themselves. They might never say that, or allow themselves to think that, but their confidence is in their flesh; in themselves. Thus, they may seem to have peace, be joyous, and can have impressive personalities. But their peace is based in their self-confidence, and they are rejoicing in themselves, not Christ. And even the worst unbeliever can attract others through personality and temperament. None of this means anything. It is all a lie built out of the flesh.
Now, I emphasize that those who are deceived by thinking they have achieved being right with God through something about themselves are deceived. They would never admit any of the truth about themselves. Read the epistle of Paul to the Galatians. They were saved people who, "had begun in the spirit," but where trying, "to be made mature by the flesh." In other words, they weren’t trying to earn salvation, but were trying to achieve and maintain a right-ness with God through works. And they were good works. They weren’t living in sin like the Corinthians. They were actually trying to follow God’s law. Yet there were under, "another gospel." Paul said they were, "bewitched," that is, mesmerized by false teaching. He needed to wake them up.
Paul told them that he was in travail until CHRIST was formed in them. He told them that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision was of any value – but only becoming a new creation in Christ. Thus, the answer to our unrighteousness is not law-keeping. The answer is not a better religious system. It is not to try harder. Rather, the answer is death to all self-effort and to become a new creation in Christ, who is our only righteousness.
It is never wrong to do good works. But it is unbelief to do them in order to make myself righteous. God’s will is for us to do good works completely apart from becoming righteous, and completely apart from any rewards or punishments for those works. ALL of that is to be put away. We are to know that Christ alone is our righteousness – totally divorced from works. But then, if we know Him, we will do good works out of love – out of wanting to do them.
This is impossible unless we are born from above and know Christ. Yet for the mature Christian there is no relationship between our works and our righteousness before God – because Christ is solely our righteousness apart from works. But the mature Christian does good works anyways, free of charge, and because they have received from God His love. The Truth is, we are saved by grace through faith UNTO good works. Mess up that order and you are in error and under another gospel.
So the first kind of person – the first manifestation of self-righteousness – is found in those who think they have achieved right-ness before God through their own efforts. They are deceived. AND – they are sinning. They are living in unbelief, trying to do for themselves what only Christ has done.
The second group are those who, like the first, are trying to establish their own righteousness before the Lord. Except they live in the constant realization that they are failing. They live under condemnation and guilt. And they continue to try harder. Someone might doubt that a person who is aware of their failure to be righteous could be self-righteous. But they are. All of their efforts, failed efforts or not, come out of unbelief. Their self-righteousness may be a frustrated one, but it is a self-righteousness nevertheless.
Self-righteousness need not be a success. Simply trying to establish it through my own working and doing is enough – it is unbelief and comes from wanting to be righteous in myself. Thus, whether I am of the first group or the second, it is the same problem. I don’t believe. My faith is NOT in Christ.
How much do we think it means what our faith is in, or whether our efforts are working, if our faith is not in Christ? The result is always going to be the same. Christ will be of no effect for us. He will not be formed in us. And we will stagnate. The only solution, regardless of the problem, is that we come to the end of ourselves and put our faith solely in Christ.
After Adam sinned and he discovered that he was naked – and now NOT completed by God – he was ashamed. He tried to fix his nakedness with fig leaves. Today God simply wants to show us we are naked, and that Christ will be our righteous covering. But if we won’t believe, we are going to spend our lives trying to cover up the Truth about ourselves with fig leaves of every shape and size. But in the end, every fig leaf is self-effort and a form of self-righteousness. They are all lies and a substitute for Christ Himself.
Separation of Soul and Spirit
There is the common belief among the saints that God has given us the power to obey Him. But if how we commonly understand this is true, then why are Christians such failures. I mean, did you wake up one morning with some kind of power to obey God? No. In fact, you don’t get far in the Christian life before it almost seems like you are a bigger failure than ever.
One of the reasons we get this wrong is that we think of power as a THING God gives us. Like He someone empowers us. But the Truth is, God never gives us a THING called power. He gives us Christ. And Christ IS the power of God – in Him is all the power of the Cross and of His resurrection.
Thus, if Christ is in me, He is the only power I will ever need. But you see, most of us don’t have our faith in Christ. We still have it in ourselves – and then we try to use some power over sin to overcome sin. No. We have to be broken, through the work of the Cross, of all self-effort. Only then will we put our faith in the Christ who dwells in us – and we will find that He really is the power of God.
Before we continue, we have to talk a little about the reality that Christianity is CHRIST IN US. Do we know what this means? A Christian is one who is IN CHRIST. Everything that the NT saint has, and everything that the NT saint IS, finds its source in the Person of Jesus Christ who dwells within.
It is here that we must see the meaning of Jesus Christ in us. What does that mean? Where does that occur in us? Christ is in us through the union or joining of our human spirit with His own spirit. Paul said, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." (I Cor. 6:17)
This means that the resurrection union of our spirit with the Spirit of the Lord is what constitutes the new creation in Jesus Christ. It constitutes the new man. It is where we are saved. Indeed, to illustrate, if we could mechanically draw a circle around our union in spirit with Christ, everything within that circle would be saved, eternal, and from above. It would be so, not because of anything we bring to that union. It would be so because Christ brings all – this is HIS LIFE in us – and we are merely the recipient or vessel.
Likewise, if we could somehow draw a circle around our spiritual union with Christ, everything OUTSIDE of that circle would continue to be natural. It would be of the FLESH. It would not be of Christ, but of the old creation in Adam.
This is the division of soul and spirit of which the Bible speaks. It is the warfare of flesh vs. spirit. On the one hand, we have our resurrection union with Christ (inside the imaginary circle), and on the other hand, we have the flesh or natural man (all that is outside the circle.) The new man is from above, and the old man is from below. The two are contrary one to another. Now, of course, it is the will of God for Christ to grow to be Lord of all. But again, that is the warfare throughout our lives.
Now, what all of this means as it pertains to Paul’s teaching in Philippians 3 is that all of the faith and confidence of, "the circumcision," rests in Christ – the Christ who lives within – and no faith or confidence is to rest in any part of us that is outside of that circle. The same is true regarding righteousness. Our righteousness is not based upon anything outside of Christ – it is based solely upon HIM.
Now note – this is a bit mechanical, but hopefully helpful – that all sin in the life of the believer finds it’s source in that which is OUTSIDE of that circle. Sin certainly does not come from our resurrection union with Christ. No. All sin finds it’s source in that which is outside of that union; outside of that circle. Thus, how are we also going to find the power to overcome sin outside of that circle? How are we going to fight and overcome the sin that is outside of that circle with the assets found outside of that circle? We cannot – but this is what we often do. We try to overcome the flesh through the efforts of the flesh. But we can overcome sin only if all of that is finally at an end. Our faith must be in Christ. Only then can the life that inside of the circle begin to govern us, and sin will eventually fall away.
An Inventory of Assets
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Paul has told his readers that he has become one who has seen and accepted the Truth that there is NOTHING in himself in which to take confidence. He says that he has NO faith in anything about himself. But then he goes on to list the things that he might have used as a basis for such a faith. Paul lists out a number of assets that might have given him cause to consider himself righteous before God – had he not seen the Truth.
Now, the lesson for us here is that each of us have a similar list. We may not have actually written it out, or even given it much conscious thought. Yet, perhaps in a subtle way, we do have things about ourselves that we think can form the basis of righteousness before the Lord. Maybe we do good works, or serve at church, or have passed through a great trial, or perhaps we even, "take faith in our faith." Regardless, there isn’t a human being alive that is not self-righteous. It comes with being born in Adam.
Again – this is why Paul continually pushes the Truth on this matter of righteousness. He knew that, by nature, we are moral creatures. We have a conscience. There is no escape from this – we MUST deal with it. Add to that the fact that we are sinners and you have a bunch of people who are incapable of doing right and of being righteous, and yet know they need to be. So we create some form of self-righteousness.
This is true even if people don’t know God, want God, or have a false religion. All religion, and indeed, lack of religion, is nothing more than people dealing with the fact that they are naked and ashamed. We try to cover ourselves with fig leaves. We try to fix what ails us with some form of self-righteousness or self-justification.
There are only two options on this matter of righteousness. They are SELF-righteousness or Christ as the righteousness of God. We are going to put our faith in one or the other.
Paul lists some of his natural assets – being a Jew was one of them. The Jews were God’s chosen people – and in that day, they certainly considered this an automatic ticket to righteousness – if you were under the Old Covenant. But Paul was more. He was also a Pharisee. He says that concerning the law of God he was BLAMELESS.
That is an incredible statement. Paul is saying that at one time – before he saw the Truth – that he kept every law and every ordinance that God had given. He did this willingly.
There are many professing Christians today who do the same thing. They keep their religion to near perfection. They have principles to follow, laws to keep, and a pattern to direct their lives. All Bible based, of course. And if you listen to them, you can hear them say, if not in words, then through other indications, that the reason God has blessed them, and the reason they are in His grace, is based upon what they have done.
Now, I will guarantee you that not one of these people would consider themselves to be self-righteous. They would probably think of themselves as merely obedient to God. Surely, those who were at Galatia would have said this. Yet Paul said they were under, "another gospel." Think about that. It is quite serious.
I have never met someone who was under the law, self-righteous, or a legalist, who would admit it. That is because the problem with self-righteousness is NOT primarily a false system of religion, or bad theology. No. The root problem is that they have not seen the Truth about themselves, and certainly not about Jesus Christ. They are blind and don’t know it. But the first step to curing that condition is to show people they are blind – only then will they desire to see. This will usually require that they stumble and fall in their darkness. But even then some will not turn to Christ.
Paul had everything going for him as far as righteousness based on himself. He was absolutely convinced that he was righteous before God – and he could give you a list of reasons about HIMSELF that this was true. He would have done this without blinking an eye. He was just that blind.
Loss for Christ
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
What is Paul talking about when he refers to those, "things that were gain to me?" Well, he is talking about all those assets that he just listed. Those were the assets that were GAIN to him. Gain, in what sense? In context, Paul is talking about what would be gain to him in establishing self-righteousness.
Paul does not include in his list SINS. There are not sins listed. Rather, he includes only GOOD things – he lists all of those assets that he might have used before God to stand as righteous. Everything on his list is something about HIMSELF, and everything on his list is RELIGIOUS. Paul is saying that these are some of the things about me in which my faith rested, and which I thought made me righteous before God.
Now, we are also seeing that if we can be righteous before God, then we are also saved. The two go together. Indeed, the Pharisees, because they did not believe that man had a sin nature, did believe that you could earn your way into heaven through good works and the study of the law. Sure. If we are blind to our true condition, and blind to the Savior, that is pretty much going to be the means by which we will think we can become righteous.
Christians do the same thing today. They do good works according to law, and study the Bible. And we think this is what makes us right before God.
It is here that once again we have to see that salvation and righteousness go together. I may say that I did not earn my salvation, but if I am trying to keep right with God through my own doing, then I am actually trying to KEEP SAVED – because I am trying to keep righteous. To try to keep righteous or keep saved is absolutely equal to trying to earn – you are just trying to earn on a continual basis. Acceptance by God unto salvation requires a perfect righteousness, and thus, how we enter into righteousness is exactly how we enter into life.
But lets go back to Paul. He listed out all his assets for righteousness and then tell us that he had to LOSE those assets. Can we see what he is saying? He had to lose those THINGS, yes, but Paul is really saying that he had to actually lose the SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS that he built in himself through those things.
Can we wrap our minds around this? Paul had to lose his self-righteousness. He had to see the Truth that there was no righteousness in himself, and embrace that fact. That is the only way in which he could come to where he had no confidence in himself – indeed, this is what Paul said was essential for him to win Christ and be found in Him.
I don’t know how many of us realize what it means to lose our personal sense of righteousness. To be exposed before God as being NOTHING. We tend to think of self-righteousness as something that pertains only to religious people. But self-righteousness is faith in self – it is a quest for SELF RIGHT-NESS. It is a striving for a self-esteem based upon ME. it is fundamental to the sin nature. It does not need to manifest itself in a religious way. Thus, to lose ones self-righteousness is really basic to losing one life to Christ.
How could we think otherwise? If Christ is to be our life, and if Christ is to be our righteousness, we obviously have to lose OURS. Jesus clearly stated that, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny self, and pick up his cross daily. For whoever would lose his life for My sake will find it. But whoever would seek to save his life will lose it." (Matt. 16:24-25)
If we are to lose ourselves to Christ – lose our lives – then how could then not include losing all self-righteousness? It will not only include it, but losing a righteousness based in self is actually fundamental. Indeed, that loss will be the place to which God will bring us if we want to follow and fellowship with Christ.
Now, we are here not talking about simply agreeing with the doctrine. Rather, we are talking about actual LOSS. Paul is talking about being brought to the place where he SAW and HAD absolutely nothing about himself in which he could put his faith. Most of us might think hat would be awful. Paul said it was something in which to rejoice. Why? Because It was the TRUTH – and because it was the doorway through which he walked to WIN CHRIST and BE FOUND in Him.
Losing to Find
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
If you carefully read what Paul is saying in this passage, you will see that the possibility of, "winning Christ," and, "being found in Him," is basely entirely upon LOSING everything about ourselves that we thought was righteous. The ONLY way in which I can win Christ and be found in Him is as one who no longer has his own righteousness – but instead, is resting in Christ as his righteousness.
We MUST see this. I must lose my own righteousness in order to be found IN HIM having HIS righteousness. Or, if you will, I am found in Him BECAUSE and only because, He is my righteousness. Just like Jesus said – I have to lose my life in order to find His. You cannot win Christ or be found in Him as long as you stand before God only the basis of anything about yourself.
This ought to tell us plenty about what God is doing in our lives. If what Paul is describing is the will of God, then what God is doing in our lives is stripping us of our own righteousness. If Jesus wants us to lose our lives for His sake, then God is working towards that end.
If we do not see this Truth we could actually be walking in a way that is contrary to the purposes of God. How many of us do this and that in order to try to please God and garner His blessings? How many of us have believed that if we follow certain principles that God will honor us and bless us and make our lives turn out the way we want or expect? And what happens when things do not turn out that way? We either blame God, or we assume that we must not be good enough, or maybe have missed the boat somewhere. And so we try harder to get into God’s good graces. There is teaching like everywhere. It is nothing but a disguised way of maintaining a stand before God based on our own merits and righteousness.
God is not forever going to allow those who are serious with Him to continue on under such deception. Rather, He will work to bring us to where we see the Truth about ourselves, and in doing so, relinquish all self-ownership to Him. Primary to how we own ourselves is through self-righteousness. We are going to have to see that self-righteousness is a LIE. We are going to have to see that it is SIN – it is unbelief. And we are going to have to LOSE all of it. Some will NOT. But for those that will lose it, the possibility then opens up to win Christ and be found in Him.
God is going to be guiding us into all Truth. And one Truth into which He will guide us is that there is no righteousness in us. No possibility of it. And only if we embrace this Truth, and then turn to Christ by faith, can Christ become our righteousness. Make no question about it, I absolutely have to lose myself and my own righteousness if I want to win Christ and be found in Him.
Everything Paul is writing in Philippians leads up to this Truth. Indeed, it is a verification of what he wrote to the Galatians:
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (Gal. 5:4-5)
In both Galatians and Philippians, Paul is writing to SAVED people. He is teaching about how to come into the fullness of all that Christ is. If we try to walk with Christ on the basis of ourselves then Christ will be of no effect for us. If we will not lose our own righteousness then we will never win all that Christ is or be found in Him. Why? Because we will remain in deception. We will not be in the light as He is in the light. We cannot know the Truth Himself if we live in error.
This is brought home when Paul said, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." This is a poor translation. It ought to be translated, "I have counted all things as lost BECAUSE OF and THROUGH the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." In short, if we truly come to know Him, we are going to WANT to lose everything into His hands. If we come to know Him, we will no longer be able to live in the delusion of our own righteousness. We will lose it – because we are seeing the Truth in Christ.
To Win Christ and be Found In Him
The necessity of losing ourselves – including all self-righteousness – in order to win Christ and be found in Him, ought to now be apparent. But what exactly does it mean to WIN CHRIST? Or to be FOUND IN HIM?
Again, there could be a better translation. "To win Christ," means to GAIN. What Paul is saying is exactly what Jesus said: I must lose my life in order to find true life in Him. I must lose everything about myself; my self-ownership, in order to realize the fullness of the Christ who dwells in me. John the Baptist said something that applies here: I must decrease that He might increase. Losing our own righteousness is a huge decrease. But it is the only way to experience an increase of Christ in us – a gain of Christ.
"To gain Christ," is equal to the FORMING of Christ in us. Paul said to the Galatians, "I travail until Christ be formed in you." (Gal. 4:19) The Greek word translated, "formed," means, "to be inwardly realized or expressed." This is what Paul is also talking about here in Philippians. He is saying that if Christ is to be formed in us – if we are to gain Christ – His life will expose, push out, and replace ours. But this means we have to LOSE ours. We have to allow God to replace our righteousness with that of His Son.
Paul also wrote to the Corinthians: "Always bearing about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus so that the life of the Lord Jesus might be made manifest." What does it mean to bear about the dying of the Lord Jesus? It means that whatever died in Him must die in us. Christ brought an end to the Adam race – to all of the workings of man. If you will, He died for the sin of self-righteousness. Thus, to bear in ourselves His death – to be made conformable to His death – all self-righteousness must come under His Cross and die. Only then can the life of the Lord Jesus be released and be made manifest in us.
This is actually remarkable, and quite contrary to much Christian teaching. We think that if we strive to obey God and stay right with Him that this will result in other seeing our good works – to us this equals Christ being made manifest. But often this is nothing but the manifestation of human self-righteousness, rather than Christ. No. Only if the self-life – our own righteousness being primary to that – only if that self-life dies can Christ be seen. It is a terrible testimony to the spiritual state of affairs in the body of Christ today that few seem to be aware of this simple Truth.
"To be found in Him," could be translated, "to be discovered," or, "proved to be," in Christ. The whole verse ought to read:
Yes doubtless, I have counted all things as loss because of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may gain Christ, and be proven to be in him, not having any righteousness which can be called mine, which is of the law, but having only that righteousness which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
Thus, we can now ask: What is the only way to be found in Christ? Answer: Not having any righteousness that I can call my own. But with Christ AS my righteousness through faith. If I am not found in that relationship with Christ, I am not yet truly found in Him; He is not yet formed in me. This is why Paul travailed to the Galatians that Christ would be formed in them. They were under a false gospel wherein they were seeking to stand before God on the basis of themselves. Christ was of no effect for them.
If we are coming into the reality of Jesus Christ, and He is being formed in us, what will the impact be upon us? We will lose our own righteousness. We will come to the place where Christ alone is our righteousness, indeed, to where Christ alone is our life. Our loss of ourselves is the only way to gain Christ and be found to be in Him – and if we this happens – we will have no righteousness which can be called our own. Our faith will solely rest in Christ.
Continual RamificationsIt is important the we see that Paul continues his thought at the end of verse 9 into the subsequent verses. He says:
...Not having any righteousness which can be called mine, which is of the law, but having only that righteousness which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith…..…that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Can we see that all that is mentioned from verse 10 through 14 is predicated on the very same Truth -- that we must have no righteousness we can call our own? That we must be found in Christ with Christ as our righteousness?
Note the outcomes of being found in Christ because He is our righteousness: To know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, to be made conformable to His death, all unto an increase of His resurrection life in us. All of these things are based upon, and are the outcome of, having Christ as our righteousness.
Can we possibly see how important this issue of righteousness is? Can we now see why the NT continually addresses it? Often we think of such matters as elementary doctrinal tenants. But we must come into the reality of Christ as our righteousness.
Israel in the OT could not enter into the promised inheritance except it be by faith. Hebrews 3 and 4 reveals that this was a lesson for us – that we cannot enter into the fullness of Christ except we rest from our works as the basis and enter solely on the basis of Christ. Thus, this is foundational. It is actually the gospel.
Paul concludes the passage with these words:
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling (upward calling) of God in Christ Jesus.
This passage proves Paul is speaking of things within salvation – he is speaking NOT about how to be saved, but about the inheritance and fullness of Christ once saved. Paul certainly knew and taught that he was already RISEN WITH CHRIST. But he is talking about attaining to the fullness of what that means. And foundational to doing so is this matter of righteousness.
Those who live from out of the righteousness of Jesus Christ are not focused on themselves or upon their righteousness. They are focused, by faith, on HIM. Someone once said that those who manifest Christ the most are those who are the least aware of it. That is true. And we might add that those who are trying to project a righteousness out of themselves are the most conscious and have to make the greatest effort to do so, and are the most aware of it. A branch that is abiding in the Vine needs to do nothing to bear fruit but live in the Vine. Everything else falls in place.
God is already working in the lives of those who are serious with Him towards this great Truth of the righteousness of Christ. He is showing us we have no righteousness we can call our own – sometimes by simply letting us fail. But all of it is to finally bring us into our full inheritance in Christ. God is faithful to do for us what we don’t know needs to be done. Thus, we ought to ask Him to do whatever it takes to bring us into this upward calling of Jesus Christ.
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