Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Right Kind of Righteousness

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

If you're able, please remain standing,and let's give our attention to God's word and Philippians Paul's letter to the Philippians chapter, three versus one to sixteen Philippians, three versus one UD,sixteen. Finally, my brothers rejoice in theLord to write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safer for you look out for the docks look out for theevil. Doers look out for those who mutilate the flesh, for we are thecircumcision who worship by the spirit of God and Glory in Christ. Jesus andput no confidence in the flesh, though I myself have reason forconfidence in the flesh, also, if any one else thinks he has reason forconfidence in the flesh. I have more circumcised on the eighth day of thepeople of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews as to thelaw of pharisee as to zeal a persecutor of the Church as to righteousness underthe law blameless, but whatever gain I had, I counted asloss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as lost because oftheir surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus. My Lord, for his sake, Ihave suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order thatI may gain Christ and be found in him not having a righteousness of my ownthat comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, therighteousness from God. That depends on faith that I may know him and the powerof his resurrection and may share his...

...sufferings becoming like him in hisdeath that by any means possible, I may attain the resurrection from the dead, not that I have already obtained thisor am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesushas made me his own brothers. I do not consider that. Ihave made it my own, but one thing I do forgetting what lies behind andstraining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prizeof the Upward Call of God in Christ. Jesus, let those of us who are mature thinkthis way and if, in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that. Alsoto you only let us hold true to what we haveattained. May God bless his word to us. Please beseeded. A Paul begins this next section of hisletter to the Philippians, with some very harsh words fighting words, so to speak. He is being very clear about who is who andwhat is what he calls these people, these Judi isers, who are bothering thePhilippians and bothering on the Church of God. He calls them dogs, he callsthem evil doers. He calls them mutilators of the flesh. He speaks in this very harsh way,though, to make a particular point, he wants the Philippians to understandthat there is something even in their...

...rejoicing to be on the watch for particular people, but also aparticular philosophy or religion, or way of thinking about our place before God. He sets a dividing line, a greatdividing line between righteousness that comes from the law andrighteousness that comes from faith. We want to think about this evening andand Lord willing come away with the kind of clarity that the Holy Spiritthrough his servant. Paul wants us to have about what true godliness is and what it is that we have gained inChrist that we might be willing, like Paul, to lose everything else. So I want to begin in thinking aboutthose kinds of things by thinking about this command to be watchful. To lookout. He begins in verse, one by sayingthings very similar to what he has been saying rejoice. This is somethingthat's come up many times already and he says it in verse. One concludingthese things. Finally, my brother's rejoice in the Lord, but he adds to that a watchfulness. It reminds us that are rejoicing inJesus Christ for all that we have been given and all that we have receivedit's not a party, it's not just a fun kind of thing. The rejoicing that wehave in Jesus Christ is very deep. Sometimes it's very joyful, sometimesit's very serious, but it includes with it a sort of kindof of watchfulness, even in our rejoicing and on ourcertainty of who, God is and what he has done. It doesn't mean that we aresort of out of the woods so to speak in terms of attack.

There are people, Paul says that seekto do to the Philippians and to us as well. Real Harm Satan continues to prowl round like aroaring lion. Peter says, and Jesus in a number of parable says thatwatchfulness is important. Look out for these things beyond guardabout them and he gives the proof of that righthere in their own context. He speaks of these people that they seem to be veryaware of these evil doers these dogs, thesepeople, who mutilate the flesh Paul speaking here, of what are calledJudi isers people that wanted to take Christians back to the law of Moses. They wanted Christians to be obedientto the law of Moses, I'm not only in its particular commands, but also inits symbols, perhaps in its sacrifices and in one particular aspect, andthat's circumcision. That's why that comes up here. They wanted a Christians to show anddemonstrate their obedience to the law and their willingness to be subject tothe old covenant by being circumcised. A PAL evaluates this point of view. He evaluates the efforts of thesejudyish in the harshest terms. First, he calls them dogs, dogs in the ancient world, where I'msometimes pets, but not nearly as much as they are today. I'm often they werescavengers in Israel. They were considered unclean and in the in theJewish world, the dogs was often a a way to name call the gentiles. It wasan attack on those who did not belong...

...to Israel. These scavengers, theseunclean people, these people that didn't belong or weren't worth verymuch. Those were the gentiles, but here Paul applies that same word. That istypically applied by the people he's addressing to the gentiles. He appliesit to them and he says no, it's not them. Who are the dogs? It's you whoare the dogs? He calls them evil, doers or workers ofevil. Again, this has a way of kind of turning the tables they're claiming touphold the law. They're claiming to come and say here is spirituality. Hereis religion. This is what you need to obey. Here are the laws that God hasgiven his prophet Moses. Follow them, obey them and Paul says that in doingso, it's just the opposite: They are evil, doers not do gooders and they areworkers of evil in posively it even connotes a kind of missionaryenterprise as well that they're not just doing evil but actively seeking onthis in other people as well, so at first he calls them dogs, then hecalls them evil doers are workers of evil, and then he calls them mutilatorsof the flesh. He uses this term to speak and and say you guys wantcircumcision, this term, that sort of a typically referred to as sort of a cutting aroundand and instead you want to to cut off you're cutting against one's selfyou're mutilating rather than doing good. These, it goes without saying, are veryharsh things to say, they're very harsh things to say it's Paul speaking too strongly here.Is He being UNCHRISTIAN in the way that...

...he speaks? Why so strong of those that wanted to turn Christians to Moses Well Paul speaks so strongly because tobe connected to the law in the way that these people were advocating is to becut off from Christ. His point is made in a number of ways Ihear and throughout the pages of the New Testament were told over and overagain in many different ways that Christ is the fulfillment of the law.He is the thing that the law was pointing toward the law, the thingsthat the law would be fulfilled in and so in a sense not only by turningaway from Christ to the law. Are they turning away from Christ but, in addition, in a sense, they'returning away from the law itself because of the law is meant to point toJesus and you're not going to Jesus, but your goal, but you're sort ofemptying the love all that it was meant to do then it's to fail on bothaccounts, it's to fail on account of the law, it's to fail on account ofChrist. This fulfilment in Jesus Christ and inthe things that he brings is why Paul says we are the circumcision. Thesepeople are asking you to go back and to be circumcised, they're saying to goback to the law of Moses, but we are the circumcision they arebut mutilators of the flesh. Why are we to be considered the circumcision,because we are the things that this circumcision was pointing forward to we worshipped by the spirit of God andGlory in Christ. Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. Paul here is being very clear thatthere is a great divide between pride...

...in the law, which is to say the same aspride in the flesh and pride in Christ, a great divide, and to make that reallyclear. He goes beyond this kind of evaluative name, calling to giving a very personal example. He says if you want to play the boasting game,the boasting in the law game. If any one has confidence in this, I have more. He says, in other words, if you want totreat yourself in this way, consider my own example. I will beat you at this.Every single time I did and listen to how he proves his case. He says first of his birth and natural standing in the lawand as a Jew first, he says listen. I wascircumcised on the eighth day now this may seem like not that big ofa deal isn't that what they were supposed to do, but that's kind of thepoint right Paul is saying that the he did. Excuse me he did what and had done to him on whatwas I'm called to do im some, as we know, in the pages of scripture, oftena delayed or in certain occasions delayed circumcision beyond where itshould, and he said this didn't happen with me now, of course, Paul wasn'tactively involved in that, but that's also part of the point too. He saysthat not only am I zealous about these things, but I didn't come to them laterin life from the Vit from the Aith Day I was circumcised. He makes this pointeven stronger by saying I'm an...

Israelite by birth. My parents were Israelites as well.They were not proselytes who came in he it's a way of him, proving hiscredentials as a Jew, he's going about putting these forth and say and showinghow, if anyone belongs, and if anyone could win so to speak in terms ofrighteousness by the law, would be him circumcised on the eighth day andIsraeli by birth, and he also says he was of the tribe of Benjamin. There are number of ways Benjamin andthat tribe are special in scripture. Benjamin was Jacob's favourite son fromhis favorite wife. Benjamin was the only one who was born in the land ofpromise. Israel's first king was a Benjamin night who, as it happens, Saulwas named after the Apostle Paul before his former name Saul. The bed, thetribe of Benjamin, was also a tribe that remained loyal to David duringdisruptions in the monarchy, and even geographically, the tribe of Benjaminwas special and that Jerusalem and the temple were within its boundaries from a number of angles. A Benjamin wasan important and a beloved tribe. Among a God's people- and here you have thisman named Saul of the tribe of Benjamin circumcised on the eighth day andIsraelite by birth, when he goes even further a Hebrew ofHebrews here, he marks out a distinction that was in the Jewishworld at that time, and there were on Jews, a Hebrews that spoke Aramaic orHebrew, and then there were Jews that were more hellenistic or spoke Greek,and it makes a difference if you are trying to prove your credentials as aJew to be not only a Jew not only of...

...the tribe of Benjamin, not only anIsraelite by birth, but one who was grazed and grew up culturally. In thisway, as well speaking, aromatic knowing Hebrew, itgives him a cultural credibility and probably an academic one as well. Hewould have had access to ancient sources and translations and andvarious other texts that those who only knew Greek would perhaps not have. This kind of very this very Hebrew nessof of Paul as a Jew is proved in his biography in various places. You can imagine these parents Paul'sparents who are also of all these things and they have set for their son,a very intense, we might say program to be aJew of the Jews. It says he's born in Tarsus, we read in Galatians One and at twenty six thathe's born in Selys, but yet he is brought up in Jerusalem and before heis brought to what we learn in other places, one of the premier teachers inIsrael Ganelet. So you imagine a situation where youhave on this husband and wife, this Jewish couple living in tarsus. Theyhave birth to his son and they say we have plans for this young man. He is ofa high pedigree and we are going to keep it that way, and so they don'tkeep him in Tarsus, but they send him to Jerusalem. They provide for him ineducation with one of the best teachers. This is one reason we think that Paulmay have been of some means and of some wealth, I'm also considering his aRoman citizenship, but setting all that aside. What Paulis proving here is that he's not only...

...by birth and by culture and all of these things a Jew, but he'she's one of the best by his birth by his natural standingamong the people, but he doesn't leave it there. These things in many ways he hadnothing to do with, but it goes even further and then in the next part ofthese this list he goes into his personal achievements. So here I was born. I'm a born born faraway but sent to Jerusalem trained there and he took it seriously. Hewasn't some students who wasted his education and his resources that hisparents had given him. He applied himself and he became a Pharisee onewho took it very seriously, took the law as serious as one could, but his phariseeism was not an ivorytower kind of Phariseeism. He goes on to say that that he was zealous in this, though he was very accomplished and andand and good in the law and a knowledge ofit and in upholding it in a theoretical and kind of way. He was zealous about it as well, even to the point of persecuting thechurch, so Paul's not some kind of ivory towertheologian, but he is willing to get down on thestreets and get his hands dirty with blood and murder people, as hehimself says here. You have a picture of of some ofthe people that we hear, even in the news to day people that are socommitted to a particular law that they are willing to kill, destroy, andd murder, those that do notfollow the law. Paul says that was me.

I was that guy not only knowledgeable in my head butactive and its zealous and persecuting the church or the Church of God, as heputs it in other places and then finally, the last one he says, as in terms of righteousness blameless for Paul. This is not a game. He is not going about this in some kindof haphazard way and it's not a charade. Either he's not just these things byway of title or status or something like this. He was pursuing them withall of his heart and it was in his life in accordancewith the law. He says I was blameless. One irony I find in this is that whenwe boast of our righteousness, we often boast in in kind of worldly accomplishments of writingcertain things or going certain places or lifting certain amounts of weightsor whatever it is a Pau here. It is not only boasting ofof these kinds of things, but he's boasting in very spiritual terms. The point of that is just to say again.If anyone is going to be able to get this right, it's Paul and that's whathe's saying I had what everyone was seeking, but here's the conclusion he comes to. After putting all of that forward. Hesays in verse, seven, but whatever whatever gain I had, particularly in the perspective of theJudi Isers, I counted as loss for the sake ofChrist. It was a liability and not an...

...asset and said indeed he says I counteverything is lost because of the passing worth of knowing Christ Jesus. My Lord, for his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order thatI make gain Christ and be found in him so going back to the beginning. Why does Paul put this in such a strongway? Why such a clear dividing line, because he says, compare the value you can have the greatest blessings andso called spiritual accomplishments to be prized among your people to bevalued to be zealous to be blameless in the law and so on and so forth? And yetit's it's nothing. I count it now as all loss because of the surpassing worth ofknowing Christ Jesus. My Lord Paul hasn't given up on obeying God. He calls Jesus his Lord, his Master,the one that he is a slave of, as he puts in other places. E inputs usesthat metaphor and other places, but in terms of pursuing thatrighteousness in terms of the law in terms of one's obedience andaccomplishments, he says it's all rubbish. We use this word rubbish to refer to totrash y. We actually don't even think use itthat often in the United States, but it has behind it. This word thatmeans is sort of combined of filth and worthlessness. It's used of a couplethings,...

...one is excrement, and the other isrotten. Food filth worthlessness. All of this. All of this that I had all that couldpossibly be gained my righteousness according to the law. I count it as excrement. That is how lovely Paul Esteems it as good as the rotten food that youfind in the back of your refrigerator and don't even want to touch to throwaway, because it's that worthless and that filthy, that's what righteousness by the lawsworth Paul says that is what's proteuses by the law isworth but righteousness and by faith in Jesus Christ. The rightous ness thatcomes not by the law but by God, by this grant by this free grace thatcomes from Jesus Christ and his work on our behalf. Oh now, that's anotherthing, the surpassing worth of knowing ChristJesus, my Lord. He talks about some of the specifics of that in verse. Ten. He says I count all these things aswaste and its filth that I may know him and the power of his resurrection. Ithrow it all away because in Jesus Christ I don't have filth andworthlessness, I have resurrection from the dead. I have one who willobediently fulfill the Law on my behalf and was vindicated in that by his ownreet Resurrection, a resurrection which...

I too can trust in and know that I willshare a share in his sufferings now Paul says: Becoming Liken Him in hisdeath that by any means possible, I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Who Cares about those who arepersecuting me? Who Cares about the shipwreck I have endured and thebeatings and the jail and all the all the rest of it, because I know Jesus Christ. I knowwhat it means to be cleared to be declared not just blameless before men perfect before God. Now he recognizes that, though he hasthis these kinds of things in Christ and his life here and now there isstill work to be gun to work to be done. Heis not. He does not yet consider himself as being resurrected from thedead and made perfect in that sense, verse. Twelve, not that I have alreadyobtained this or I'm already perfect, but I press on to make it my own,because Christ Jesus had made me his own, that's so powerful, it's so lovely Paul is working hard he's strivingtowards what he calls the goal for the prize of the Upward Call of God inChrist. Jesus he's striving towards this goal, moving onwards and upwardseach day of his life, even though he suffering persecutions and set backsand is riding this very letter from prison he's pursuing this prize. This upwardcall of God in Christ Jesus because Christ Jesus has made me his own. He knows who he belongs to, and heknows that this righteousness that comes to him by God is something thatsecures him before God for ever and...

...ever, and so he gladly forgets whatlies behind verse, Thirteen and strains forward to what lies Beha ahead, the author to Hebrews says, issimilarly in Hebrews twelve verse, one. Let us lay aside every weight and sinwhich clings so closely. Looking to Jesus the author and Perfecter of ourfaith, we look the hot we look to Jesusbecause of him behind us on the Cross and before us at the resurrection andwhat he has done and what he is secured. We press on Jesus Christ, Paul says, is not filthy, he's not worthless, it's just the opposite. He's immeasurably valuable, he's perfectly clean and pure in everyway. The righteousness that we receive fromhim is not that filthy righteousness that we try to earn and have thesomewhat possibility of earning and pursuing according to the flesh, but the righteousness that we receivefrom Jesus is the righteousness of God. Sit On that dwell on that. The righteousness of Godis what belongs to us through Jesus Christ. Paul lays aside these things because ofwhat is gained because of what God has done comes to him all as a gift. He receivesthese blessingss freely,...

...and so you can see why anyone who would seek to come betweenhim and his beloved children in the faith, these Philippian Christians,whom he has raised up in Christ, why he speaks of them. This way you are dividing, he says to them. Implicitly, you are dividing or trying to dividethese people from the only thing that is of value, and so he says to them to thePhilippians and to us. BEWARE: Beware Watch out for those who will put you orpoint you to confidence in your own F in your own righteousness, even if it'sa righteousness, that's by the law of God, if it's a righteousness by the law,it is a righteousness that is worthless, but if it's righteous as by JesusChrist, it's worth losing everything for this applies to us, because it's notjust a call to the Philippians, but Paul says it's for all of us. He says they are in verse, Fifteen, butthose who are mature think in this way and of course he means in that- letevery one think in this way, not only those who are mature, but those whoshould be mature and those who want to be mature and those who are maturing. We are to all think in this way. It isa mark of maturity. We are called to think in this way toprize our saviour in this way to pursue righteousness in this way,...

...and it should also cheer us as well to go back to the rejoicing at the verybeginning, though, we are on guard and though weare careful of these things, we also rejoice. It cheers us to know that thelegalists still they should be watched. We need not fear their threats. We need not fear losing righteousnesswith God for not being circumcised or not followingthe mosaic law for not coming again under those commandments. We need not fear these things, for wehave all that we could ever need in Jesus Christ freely given to us by Godhimself. It's in that freedom, of course, that Paul says we are now freeto obey. We are free to give to God the works that he has called us to give, but we don't give them as somethingthat is attempting to earn our righteousness, but we give them, as hesaid earlier, a few verses back, I'm in chapter two merely as a sacrificialoffering as an act of worship and praise to theGod of grace who has saved us. May God grant us this kind of maturity, to rejoice to be on guard and to live livesaccording to faith faith not in ourselves, but faith in Christ? Jesus, Our Lord! Let us pray a.

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